I felt moved in this issue to write about animals and the deep
intelligence they possess. Having a highly intelligent cat who
transcends his species (called Hermes, for this very reason), and
living out in the countryside, I am constantly being reminded of
our link to Nature. In particular, the uncanny secret lives of
animals is something I am beginning to observe on an increasing
basis. The first article tries to convey some of my experiences.
I hope you like it.
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: Lessons From The Animals According to religion and modern science, animals can be taken completely at face value. In essence, the modern notion is that they are little more than robots made of flesh, enslaved to their programming and instincts. Hence, is it any wonder that we are given dominion over them in the book of Genesis? However, if you are willing to divest yourself of the brainwashing, a new and wonderful revelation reveals itself. There is an intelligence, and a sentient wisdom, present in animals. It readily reveals itself as soon as you are willing to look with fresh eyes. This notion is hardly new to tribal peoples, who live in direct contact with Nature. They need no laboratory, or scientific tests, to determine what animals are capable of. The innate respect these people have for Nature opens their minds to many wonders; marvels that remain a mystery to the mass of humanity. Even the tiniest animal, upon closer examination, can reveal a level of individuality that might seem incredible. In her book, “The Voice Of The Infinite In The Small”, authoress Joanne Elizabeth Lack proposes that even insects have a mysterious wisdom about them and, at the very least, a degree of individuality that most of us never observe. I have personally witnessed two remarkable instances of this myself, largely as a result of the increased awareness I gained after reading this book. On one occasion in the woods, I happened to watch a group of ants at work. Two of them were dragging a rather larger insect carcass back to the nest. They were having a very tough time of it, tugging and heaving through the tangled blades of grass. At one point, one of them stopped for a while and walked away, out of direct line of sight of the other ant and their joint labor. It proceeded to clean its mandibles. This went on for at least a couple of minutes. Then, it walked back to the other ant and continued working on the job! This demonstrates a remarkable fact. The ant seemed to have a memory of what it was doing several minutes ago. Yet, it doesn’t have a brain! Rather than wandering off in search of a new task, as a “mindless robot” such as this should do, it went back to the job it had been doing minutes before, despite the fact that there was no direct line of sight between it and the insect corpse. Another instance of insect individuality came when I first moved out to Italy. I was equipping my new home, and had to stay there for five weeks with the minimum of personal belongings or personal entertainment. At this time, three flies took up residence in the living room. After several days, they had still not left. Then I began to notice a remarkable thing. One of the three showed a distinct liking for settling itself on my knee whenever I was reading or watching TV! He would not move, but would just sit there for as long as I was still. Sometimes, it would not be my knee, but some other place, like a fold in my jeans. However, if I looked for him, I would eventually find him somewhere! Indeed, after several weeks, the other two also picked this habit up. If I looked him straight in the eyes, he would always turn himself through 90 degrees after a few seconds and look in another direction! In other words, he did not like me “eyeballing” him! This happened literally dozens of times over several weeks, and so it is definitely no fluke. I also observed that my flies were remarkably well behaved, and never troubled me at meal-times. I would leave my plates on the table for a little while after eating, without washing them. This gave them a chance to have their share. As long as I left them something afterwards, they never seemed to bother me whilst I was actually eating. They would just sit somewhere around the table. Contrary to what people think, flies are solitary and really do not like each other’s company. Whilst one fly was always content to sit quietly on my leg, another was not. He always preferred to creep up on either of the other two and suddenly jump them from behind in a guerrilla attack! He was aggressive, whilst the other two were more docile. This is another example of a level of individuality in animals we consider to be little more than flesh machines. Both in Myth and in the lives of tribal peoples, animals are teachers and guides. They can heal and help us if we open ourselves to their influence. Certainly, I find this to be the case with my cat, Hermes. He is a very calming and healing influence upon me, at a time when I have been encountering some stressful life situations. His presence makes them much easier to cope with. With the aid of a collar and lead, we are able to go for walks together in the local park or in the woods. It is a healing, calming experience to watch him leading the way, stopping to sniff some leaves on a twig, rolling in the earth, or wading slowly through the tall grass. He is very good at Hide and Seek, even though he cheats the whole time; watching where I have gone to hide. On the occasions when I manage to conceal myself successfully, I can peep at him wandering methodically from place to place, checking out my usual hiding places one after the other. It’s a marvel to see him doing it; his little brain at work: “OK. He’s not there,… or there… or there. That means he must be… behind the bathroom door!” And indeed, he is quite right! Anyone who has really spent time loving his cat or dog knows full well their complete capacity to reflect that love back, and to create a deep and mysterious bond between human and animal. It is not an illusion, or our sentimental imaginative projections, as some scientists would tell us. These animals can display a wide range of emotional responses that we can recognize and identify with. For instance, cats are very jealous of their companion’s (a more accurate word than “owner”) love and attention. I was amazed and concerned at the way my Hermes stopped eating and drinking for almost a day, when my father, uncle and aunt came to stay for a while. Initially, I thought he was ill, as he is usually VERY active and naughty. Instead, he just stayed glumly in his box, and even resisted being pulled out. Both my uncle and the vet said that he was jealous because I was paying attention to other people besides himself, and he did not like them on his territory either. All this proved to be the case. Hermes was 100% himself within an hour of my relatives’ departure! Good riddance, he must have muttered to himself! If you ever get the chance to tend to a young bird that has fallen from its nest, it is a blessing to do so, albeit very hard work too. Whether the bird survives your care or not, the experience will teach you a lot. The first sparrow came to me a year ago, within a few hours of the death of my uncle. I have heard tales of such “hauntings”, i.e. visits from animals following the death of a loved one. It was an unearthly experience to actually participate in one. Sadly, the sparrow did not survive beyond the second night, which was apt, given the circumstances of his arrival. I was very sad for over a week. Yet, this little messenger from beyond taught me a huge amount; far too many lessons to mention in this brief space. As I write these words, I am tending to a new baby sparrow. Happily, this small visitor has survived his fourth night with me and is doing well. The difference in care between the two birds is a small but revealing one. These birds need companionship and noise. In the case of the bird that died, he was with me in the bedroom the first night and was fine as a result. On the second night, thinking he might prefer a quieter place, I left him in another room which was silent and dark. In retrospect, I realized that such an environment is not natural for these birds. Too late. He died of fright. Last night confirmed this beyond a doubt to me. The first three nights, the present sparrow has stayed in my bedroom, perfectly happy to remain in the box I have provided for him. However, last night he refused. Every time I put him back in it, he came out again and went scuttling around in the dark, trying to find me. Initially, I thought he was still hungry and tried to feed him. That was not the problem. The problem was that he/she wanted ME. You see, I was mummy now, and the little bird wanted to spend the night sleeping right up close to me! That is what had to happen in the end. Of course, I spent a difficult night sleeping flat on my back the whole time, careful not to turn over, whilst the little sparrow slept contentedly against my cheek, or on my chest, or in my hand. All of this reinforced upon me the fact that LOVE is a universal force, recognized by all beings. It is not the sole preserve of humans. This little being needed something very badly last night, but it was not food or drink, or even a comfortable place to sleep. It needed to know someone cared. That can be the difference between life and death, and literally was in the case of these two birds. In conclusion, even a cursory but open-minded observation of animals reveals that there is a much richer depth to their private lives than will ever be revealed in a biology textbook. First Religion, primarily through Judaism and Christianity, taught us that we were given dominion over the animals, and are hence at the top of the pyramid. Next Darwinism reinforced this with alleged scientific evidence for “survival of the fittest”; most noticeably, US. Now, traditional Science tries to perpetrate the myth that animals are just robots programmed by instinct. Consequently we can, without any guilt, put them in line to be turned into hamburgers, perform cloning experiments upon them, shoot them for pleasure, and perform a whole range of other activities that confirms our deep-seated philosophical belief that these living beings are mere THINGS; apart from our glorious selves. Do not buy into these second-hand notions, without checking out the facts for yourself firsthand. Now is the time to renew your heritage and get to learn the lessons and heart-warming unfoldments available through the animal kingdom. Do not approach them as a superior. Instead, approach with the open-hearted wonder of a little child, willing to learn whatever is there to be learned. A world of wonder will open up to you.
And learn, you most certainly will.
This is a beautiful and utterly unique book for those who care
about the lives and traditions of indigenous people throughout
the world. It deals in depth with the inner lives of the
Australian Aborigines in a way that truly reveres their ancient
culture and sets the record straight forever regarding the
immense store of spiritual and practical wisdom present in one of
the most ancient peoples on the planet. This book shows us that
we have a lot to learn from them.
Voices Of The First Day is lavishly illustrated with artistic
charts, diagrams, sketches and photographs – including many
entrancing photographs of Aborigine people taken over 100 years
ago. Lawlor fascinates us with his account of Aborigine history;
their myths, legends and cosmology; their ancient way of live and
initiation traditions that have remained unchanged for tens of
thousands of years; their shamanic traditions of spirituality and
totemism. He gives us a tantalizing glimpse into the daily lives
of the nomadic Aborigine tribes.
Most importantly, we are introduced to their profound concept of
the Dreamtime, their deep reverence for the land, and their
renowned psychic powers of communication over long distances.
There are so many beautiful illustrations of their artifacts and
arts, as well as vivid descriptions of their daily lives, that we
almost feel as if we have visited with the Aborigines by
exploring this lovely book. You will enter a new world and
experience reality from a totally different perspective!
have ever wanted to learn about the deep world of the Aborigines,
this is the book you need.
The other day, I was doing some research on the internet in an
effort to promote my website and new book. As I did so, I was
momentarily overwhelmed by the sheer number of similar websites
out there, many of them excellent, and offering an immense
variety of products and services. I caught myself feeling a bit
discouraged, and thinking what a long way it was to the top of
this particular mountain.
This feeling lasted only for a little while. I soon recalled all
the testimonials that my ezine, course and book readers have sent
me, telling me how much my work has encouraged and benefited
them. I realized that it is not the quantity of people helped
that matters so much, but rather the quality of that help to any
Yet, that temporary feeling of discouragement led me to think
about how often people can short-circuit themselves through
looking at the competition, rather than keeping their eyes on the
prize. If you habitually focus on the difficulties inherent in
any goal, then you set yourself up for discouragement and
Many people never commence with their dream project because they
look at how much competition there already is out there, and they
become discouraged. After all, look at what a head start these
others have, how advanced they are, and so on.
Yet, the people who become excellent at their chosen profession
are usually heavily self-referential. In other words, their
standard for how well they are doing is set by themselves to
begin with, and they are the ones who constantly measure their
progress against this pre-defined standard. They either stand or
fall according to whether they have lived up to their own high
standards. They are not constantly looking around to see what
others think of them.
Keeping your eyes on the competition can be a
confidence-destroying exercise. Imagine if the young Tiger Woods
had spent his time as a child thinking about how many golfers
there were out there, how excellent many of the were (and still
are), and how tough the road to the top would be in such an
arena of fierce competition. Well, he never would have started,
would he? If Muhammad Ali had started saying “Well, I’m NOT the
Greatest. There are plenty of others better, so perhaps I
shouldn’t try so hard”, would he have got anywhere at all?
You should not expect too much of yourself at the start of any
major new endeavor. Treat yourself gently, whilst at the same
time setting yourself high long-term objectives. This means that
whilst you may, for example, set yourself the goal of becoming a
published author, you should not expect your initial efforts to
be anything like excellent. That should not discourage you from
making those efforts, and continuing to make them day in and day
out, however bad they may initially be. In order to do something
excellently, you must be willing to do it badly at first.
It also helps to remember that talent alone does not go all the
way. Many of the highest achievers in every field of endeavor
were not actually the most talented. At least one gold medal
Olympic athlete is on record as saying that back at high school,
there were others athletes with far more talent than himself. The
only difference is that he kept at it, and they did not. It is a
lesson worth remembering when you face your own personal goals.
In a very real sense, you are only ever competing against
yourself. As you develop to be absolutely excellent, you
naturally surpass the competition and reach ever higher towards
the peak, where few dare venture. Lack of talent will not stop
you. It’s only your own lack of self-belief and persistence that
When you look at competition, you are perceiving others to be
better than yourself. This may or may not be true. Appearances are
subjective. Moreover, even if it is true, it is not a static
situation. You can change it any time you wish. Hence, other
people in the field should only ever be used as a measure of your
progress, and not as a source of frustration and discouragement.
In conclusion, try not to be discouraged by the forces waged
against you. Your contribution is always valuable, even if you
never achieve pre-eminence in the field of your choice. It is a
misuse of your energy to look at the sheer volume of people in
your chosen area, and ask yourself what good you would be, or why
anybody would need or want your contribution. If that sort of
thinking were applied to bread, nobody would ever open a new
Remember that next time you feel overwhelmed by the
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