SpiritMag August '०८ : XI. Human Intellect versus Animal Instinct

Dr Harish Chandra's article in SpiritMag
SpiritMag August '08

Volume II, No. 12
XI. Human Intellect versus Animal Instinct
So far in this series, we have covered a wide range of topics related to the inner sciences that are applicable to us. Not only human beings, but all other animal species such as birds and animals are a composite of body, mind and soul – the soul being our consciousness. All conscious beings have an individual soul within. The soul has the property of consciousness inherent within it, thus differentiating life from death. As soon as death occurs, that is, the departure of the soul from the body, the redundant body must be disposed off.

An important philosophical question that is often asked is, how do we humans differ from other species? Is there any basis in considering ourselves as superior to other species? Are we superior to others because we can rule over them, kill them and devour them, or because we can demonstrate love and compassion towards them?

So, how we are uniquely different from all other species? Even the individual tiny soul is same – a single point that has the intrinsic property of consciousness. As the soul cannot be a material entity this means that one soul is the same as another. So, the difference must lie in the mind domain – the subtle body of ours.

Human beings are much more diverse and variable in their behavior. For example, all members of one species of bird will make nests that are identical. So much so, even their ancestors have always done likewise in the past. However, we humans make our houses in widely different ways. Indeed, a particular person will often make her second house in a different way to her first. In every sphere of human activity, not only are there differences from one person to another, but also within one particular person over time. Our clothes, cars, food and innumerable other such features change constantly. This dynamism is a consequence of the fact that our knowledge is dynamic, that is, it is continually changing.

This then is the key difference between animals and us; that our knowledge keeps on changing whilst theirs is mostly constant. Their knowledge is inherited to a very large extent, whereas whatever basal human knowledge that is inherited increases and evolves as we traverse the journey of life. This is precisely why human societies have developed elaborate systems of education for the benefit of their children, so that the potential capacity of our mind domain is fulfilled maximally. Animals and birds have no apparent system of education. Even when humans teach animals (as, for example, in the case of circus performing animals) those animals never transmit their skills to other members of their fraternity.

However, there are areas where they may be equipped with better knowledge than we are. For example, because animals are intuitively superior to humans in sensing that catastrophes such as an earthquake, tsunami or volcanic eruption are imminent far fewer animals die in such events than humans. Therefore, the main difference is not the extent and quality of knowledge, but how it is built up over time. To summarize this simply, animals inherit a quantity of knowledge which they preserve. Humans inherit much less knowledge but, with time, we are able to gain a great deal more.

Recapping the main topic of recent issues, our Mind domain consists of three units: mind, memory and intellect. Seen from this perspective, all that animals need in their life is programmed into their memory unit. However, the memory unit of humans is minimally programmed at the outset, but we have the capability to gain much more knowledge in the course of life. Thus, we humans are able to program ourselves.

The 'natural' knowledge that animals have can be described as instinct. It is that body of knowledge that is identical among all members of a particular species. On the other hand, humans have minimal instinctive knowledge but there is much spare capacity to continually gain knowledge until the last moment of life, utilizing the ability to discern that our intellect unit has. So, the unique difference between animals and humans can be simply captured as instinct versus intellect. However, animals do have some intellectual knowledge (for example, a dog knows its master and many things that the master has taught it), whereas humans have a small amount of instinctive knowledge but a large potential capacity for intellectual knowledge.

To recap:

  • Animals, birds and other conscious beings, including humans are all units in which the three components – body, mind and soul. – combine to function interactively.
  • Their bodies are more or less the same, that is, being made of the same particles of natural matter.
  • The individual soul is the same in all conscious living बेंग्स.
  • The composition of the subtle Mind domain is also the same i.e. sub-atomic particles. The difference between animals and us is primarily in the content of the Mind domain, particularly the memory unit. Their memory unit is largely filled (pre-programmed) with the – instinctive – knowledge they inherit. Our instinctive knowledge is much smaller, but we can gain new knowledge during life using our intellect.
  • Certain instincts are common to us and them। Both want to live and so have a natural fear of death, the survival instinct। Both have the aversion to pain, and possibly an affinity for pleasure – the sources of pleasure and pain may be subjective.

Human beings must understand our place on this planet better. We must avoid using our superiority over them to harm animals. There is no justification at all in killing animals for food. Our superiority should instead be orientated in conduct and behavior aimed for the greater good, such as the current emphasis on protecting the environment. We have caused tremendous harm to it by trying to almost monopolize the earth at the expense of other species. It is an irony that there is no pollution in forests where only animals live, but we humans have become a major source of pollution, in addition to displacing animals from their natural habitat. We have much hard thinking to do about this.

This article is the last in this second series devoted to the application of the inner sciences to 'within us'. The third series, beginning next month, will focus on applying the inner sciences to the 'outside world', after which I will be in a better position to return to this topic. I am, also, committed to comprehensively developing the inner sciences from 'first principles', with the aim of universal acceptance amongst open-minded and intelligent human beings. The inner sciences will stand the test of scrutiny from both intellectual and compassionate viewpoints (from both head and heart). As I see it, the inner sciences are the way to the future – a new world without divisive religious spirituality but based on a scientific spirituality which will lead humanity to long-lasting and universal love, brotherhood and peace.

- Dr Harish Chandra
B. Tech. (IIT Kanpur)
Ph. D. (Princeton, USA)

CIS News

Lecture Tour USA/Canada: Dr Harish Chandra's current lecture tour to the UK ends August 25. His itinerary for the USA/Canada includes: Chicago (Aug 28-Sep 1, 847 362 8449 & Oct 31-Nov 2, TBA), Detroit-Lansing (Sep 2-17, Oct 1-3 & Nov 2-6, 248 848 1182), Central New Jersey (Sep 20-23, 908 722 2608), Richmond (Sep 24-26, 804 740 0350), New York (Sep 27-30, 718 343 9647), Windsor (Oct 4-5, 519 979 6767), London, Ontario (Oct 6, 519 659 3017), Toronto (Oct 7-12, 416 666 1142), Winnipeg (Oct 14 204 269 6417), Calgary (Oct 15-16, 403 244 1524), Vancouver (Oct 17, 604 583 6121), Los Angeles (Oct 19-20, 323 664 8103), San Francisco Bay Area (Oct 21-27, 510 654 3217), Seattle (Oct 28-29, 425 486 7347), Raleigh (Nov 8, 919 307 0072), Atlanta (Nov 9-10, 770 638 9750), Florida (Nov 11-12, TBA), New York-Central New Jersey (Nov 14-17, 908 722 2608/718 343 9647). Those interested in organizing/attending his talks at the above/other locations may write to us at mailto:info@centerforinnersciences.org.

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