A talk by Adi Da Samraj
February 8, 1997
ADI DA SAMRAJ: When human beings look at other human beings, they take the face of another human being to be all personality, you know—it’s the person, male or female. But when human beings look at non-humans, they generally don’t feel that, just as a generalized observation. There is not this immediate presumption that the face of a non-human is its personality—it’s just sort of its species, its head with this and that functional feature on it, and so on. You don’t take the horse’s head to be its personality. You look for it a little bit, maybe it’s in the eyes there somewhere, you know. You don’t take its whole face to be its personality. Some people do, but generally speaking, they do not.
The sensitivity to that, the sensibility that would notice that, is not typical of human beings relative to non-humans, for all kinds of reasons: the lack of a certain sensitivity of human beings to themselves, the fact that human beings abuse—feed on—non-humans. I’ve even observed that when human beings have non-humans as pets, they like to feel this personality, but you don’t take what’s there in the face to be all personality, whereas with human beings, there’s not a speck of it that you don’t think is personality. You feel that every part of it articulates a personality.
[The conversation then turned to Quiet Pete, a Nanday Conure (a species of parrot).]
Yes, you see, that’s a conure’s head there. After you interact with it for awhile, you can feel the personality there somehow, but you don’t take the features to be articulating personality. It’s interesting to consider whether that presumption is a correct one.
Maybe the horse’s head not only expresses its personality and a little bit in the eyes and so forth, but even the horseness of it is the expression of a personality.
I mean, every detail of it. Just as you take—each of us looking at any of us here—you take every feature to be an expression of personality, every feature. Every little articulation about it, you take to have been developed by a personality, so to speak, behind that.
But I’m not talking about likenesses. I’m talking about these non-humans being just like you, in every respect. They don’t have your education, experience, and so forth, but neither did you when you were a year old, or two or three years old, you see. And yet, if you have any memories of your early life, your sense of yourself is intact in those memories. It’s you, right? Like you right now. So you were you then, even though you hadn’t gone to school yet.
So what makes you think this conure here, Quiet Pete, isn’t just like you, before you went to school? Exactly the same self-awareness, not detailed in its social ritualizations and so forth, exactly like yours, because he had another function. Same person, same being. Just as much a person, being self-aware, and wanting to continue to exist. And suffering under the same conditions, positives and negatives. Can’t depend on it for another minute. And there’s things you like about all this, and things you don’t. All kinds of stress. And he knows what it’s like to have no-stress or to be relaxed. He’s making calculations about survival and surmising his situation and his amusement.
And one might presume that, like human beings, however they might articulate it, non-humans are considering some very profound matters inherent in the condition of being aware under such conditions as these.
Perhaps, you see, these non-humans in their natural state, associating with one another, whatever they’re doing with other species even, are here to exchange some matters, even energies, upon which individuals in the species depend for growth and development, even realization of a kind. If you take one out as a pet, you must provide it with more than food and shelter and some mere contact. How are you going to replace its culture of transmission and development?
If you dare to take this poor little guy [referring to the conure] out of his situation, then you’re going to have to articulate a connection with him, insofar as he requires it, that serves these purposes. Otherwise, it would not have seemed to be a good idea altogether to have taken him and made a pet out of him. So you have to provide him with everything, and you must not deprive him of those requirements, and somehow grant him the associations, the process—even replace it with something that you do, that human beings do. But no just bringing the food dishes in and out, you know, “cutesy-poo”.
Non-humans are trying to work out emotional things, physical things, disease things, mental things, wonderings, puzzles. They try to work that out in their circumstance. But his circumstance here includes not only sitting in that cage, but associating with you, you see. How do you know what his articulations, or his mumblings or his words and chatterings mean, if you don’t give him some really sensitive awareness time?
Like you should with other human beings. It’s not that you even do that much with other human beings. It’s all pretty much a rattle of patternings. How much sensitivity do you bring to it? How much meditation do you bring to existence altogether?
This talk was given following a visit Adi Da made to Fear-No-More Zoo (Feb 1997).