Disease and Animal Rights
By Dr. Michael
exploitation and animal kinship, and between animal abuse and animal
liberation, is fundamentally a spiritual one. This gulf was created by
human ignorance and egotism. It was sanctified by anthropocentric,
patriarchal and fatalistic (karmic) religious traditions, both East and
West, lacking in active compassion and responsive reverence toward all
creatures and Creation. And it became the norm through the
"Enlightenment" worldviews of dualistic (Manichean and Cartesian)
and mechanistic (Newtonian) thinking, the empirical sciences of
materialism, and through the perverted Darwinism of industrialism and
colonialism and by contemporary scientific and economic determinism.
gulf lies between
both our concepts of health and disease and of healthy or diseased
A first step toward health
is to examine our diseased
relationships and to restore these sacred connections. Then our dis-ease
will gradually become transformed into a condition of ease – of equanimity,
openness, vitality, and spontaneity to fully experience the joys and
tribulations of existence. In the wisdom of the open heart, where suffering
and love are inter-twined, wellness means wholeness; oneness leads to wholeness;
wholeness leads to holiness – the conscious apprehension of the Sacred.
translated a relevant passage from the TaoTe Ching written by the
Chinese philosopher LaoTzu over 2,500 years ago:
three treasures that I hold and cherish:
first is compassion (or deep love) (tz’u),
second is frugality,
third is not presuming to be first in the world.
compassionate, one can be courageous;
frugal, one can be generous;
presuming to be first in the world, one can become a leader (or minister).
trying to be courageous without compassion,
to be generous without frugality,
trying to be a leader without humility
to end in death.
compassion brings triumph in attack and strength in defense.
Heaven wishes to preserve it surrounds with compassion. [Ch.67]
of the Sacred,
evident in a lack of reverence for life, is a societal norm today, and so
long as this gulf persists between those who see life as a commodity, a
means to an end for human gain, and those who would treat all life with
respect, including the natural environment, and speak for animal rights, we
and the world will never be well. And no amount of experimentation on
animals in biomedical research laboratories will get rid of our dis-ease.
As we "evolved"
from being gatherer-hunters, domesticating plants and animals and becoming
sedentary, agrarian, and increasingly urban and industrial, we also became
increasingly disconnected (and disoriented) from the natural world. As a
consequence we began to devolve, as Charles Darwin implied in his book The
Descent of Man, losing some of our sympathetic abilities and empathic
wisdom that enabled us to engage in a degree of resonance or
inter-subjective communication with other living beings that to our
diminished sensibilities and rational empiricism of today seems mystical or
Guenther describes such resonance in the African Bushman that I believe is
an innate or inborn ability of our species. Considering the fact that for
some 95-98 percent of our time on Earth as humans we were gatherer-hunters,
this ability may not be lost and could be restored. Sometimes while
treating sick animals and in making a diagnosis I have felt pain or
discomfort in parts of my own body that correspond to the animal’s illness
the hunt the hunter would monitor his every thought, emotion and action, in
order to sustain the bond of connectedness with the animal by which he felt
he could steer the hunt towards an auspicious conclusion…The bond of
sympathy was something set up in the hours or days preceding the hunt, when
the hunters would attune themselves spiritually to one animal species or
another and, in the process, attempt to gather whatever presentiments they
could about the impending hunt: the animals they might encounter, the
direction they could come from, the likely dangers, the duration of the
hunt. These presentiments…activated the hunter’s entire body; they were felt
at his ribs, his back, his calves, his face and eyes. His body would be
astir with the ‘antelope sensation’, at places on his body corresponding
with those of the antelope’s."
If we are
"evolve" we must regain a heightened sensitivity for fellow
creatures and the living Earth, for when we harm others and the Earth, we
harm ourselves. Part of our healing and wholeness therefore involves our
nascent ability to empathize, and we must have the courage to suffer in the
process, before we can put compassion into action and truly love.