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Re: Animals

Mar 09, 1998 00:28 AM
by Mark Kusek

> > Previously, I wrote:
> >
> > We are more animal than we think. Not that that's a bad thing, just a
> > fact. A lot of what we take for granted as being "Human" isn't at all:
> > it's animal or vegetal or below. Manas is the defining human attribute.
> Then K.Paul Johnson wrote:
> Which sounds a lot like theosophical orthodoxy, but doesn't ring
> true to me.  To define Manas in a way that would exclude the
> cognitive processes of animals is difficult to imagine.  Parrots,
> for example, have been shown to understand and be able to name
> colors, numbers, greater/lesser, various substances (wood, metal,
> etc.).  Higher apes can use language to express feelings and
> desires but also to describe objective reality.  Dolphins, whose
> presence I'd never been in until recently, radiate something that
> simply *knows*-- looking into their eyes is quite different from
> any other animal encounter I've had.  And elephants have
> recently been shown to be have religious behavior, in the form of
> elaborate funeral ceremonies.  All this suggests to me that
> "Manas is the defining human attribute" is hubris, whatever HPB
> and her Masters said.

Ok. Before we go too far may I clarify what I meant?

When I first commented I was really agreeing with you. I believe animals
do exhibit compassion, caring and lots of other traits (patterns of
sexuality) that we sometimes take for granted as being "human" when in
fact they're not. You only have to hang around animals a while to
understand that. I marvel that so much of our so-called "human
personality" is comprised of heritage that we've received from earlier
kingdoms. I only mentioned it because I've run across people who hate
the animal in them so much and evince little understanding or
appreciation of the facts of life in their effort to quickly become
"spiritual" that they set up dangerous and unnecessary conflicts within
themselves. To me that's "hubris."

I also agree with you (and so, I think, does Theosophy) that all of
these traits are, in fact, characteristics of Life itself unfolding
through experience in the kingdoms. I don't think that the catagorical
lines that are drawn for students to understand these divisions are as
concrete as they seem.

Your statement "To define Manas in a way that would exclude the
cognitive processes of animals is difficult to imagine," is true and I
am perhaps at fault for misleading. I didn't mean to say that I think
the animal kingdom does not partake of or ensoul some portion of Manas.
It clearly does and Theosophical teaching admits it:

There is an interesting chart in "Man Visible and Invisible" pg 47-51

that speaks to your examples:

"In the animal kingdom the band shows that there is full development in
the lowest astral sub-plane, showing that the animal is capable of
experiencing to the fullest possible extent the lower desires; but the
narrowing of the band through the higher sub-planes shows that his
capacity for the higher desires is much more limited. Nevertheless it
does exist, so that it happens, in exceptional cases, that he may
manifest an exceeding high quality of affection and devotion.

The band representing the animal shows also that there is already a
development of intelligence, which needs matter for its expression. It
is now generally admitted that some animals, both domestic and wild,
will undoubtedly exercise the power of reasoning from cause to effect,
although the lines along which their reason can work are naturally few
and limited, nor is the faculty powerful as yet.

As the band is intended to represent the average animal, the point
pierces only into the lowest sub-plane of the mental plane; with the
highly developed domestic animal the point might readily extend even to
the highest of the four lower levels, though of course it would remain a
point, and by no means the full width of the band."

Lastly, when I said "Manas is the defining human attribute," what I
meant is that it is the Human kingdom's destiny to fully develop Manas,
as it is the Animals to fully develop Kamas. That's Textbook theosophy,
but it doesn't mean that the lines of demarcation are hard and fast
between kingdoms. Animals share in developing lower Manas up to the
point of individualization when they technically enter the Human


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