Home » Development of genuine love for nature and her living beings – II

Development of genuine love for nature and her living beings – II

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

(continued from part I: The Soul )

Part II Animals

In the animal kingdom the jīvas have chosen a more dangerous karma: to develop four more external sense organs (smell, taste, seeing, hearing) to their full extent and thus actively pursue of what they perceive as desirable. Thus they consciously learn to be aware of all the elements around them: light by vision, sound by hearing, and taste, smell and touch for earth and fluids. The very concentration on fulfillment of personal desires stimulates the development of personal selfishness, “me myself at the cost of others.” They move in the direction of developing a personal, separate ego, as humans develop to completion. The more primitive animals, as yet without the karma of having a highly developed nervous system, such as insects and worms and other so-called ‘lower’ animals, still have a good deal of altruistic, though unconscious, serviceability within them: insects and worms produce by he thousands, only to give up their bodies by the thousands to feed others, be it unconsciously, that is, they have prepared solar energy and minerals and life-energy in a acceptable and relatively primitive form for higher animals who consume them. This characteristic disappears greatly with ‘higher’ animals,’ who usually take good care of their personal offspring consciously, but care less for other individuals. Higher animals take rather than give. They are close to becoming humans. It is all in the wisdom of the jīva – how else could it be? How else could an inherently pure and omniscient jīva give rise to suffering? Suffering is a temporary and unavoidable provision to allow conscious jīvas to become self-conscious jinas.

Still, if we watch animals, their physical perfection and skills, their cleverness in pursuing their needs, their fantastic expressions of beauty in color, form and song in order to draw the interest of the other gender (and to make humans enjoy), we can hardly doubt that in them there is an inherent intelligence and recognition at work besides a spiritual instinct of what to pursue. We know that the physical abilities and perfection and the quality of the senses of animals, even of some primitive insects, leaves us humans far in the shadow. Don’t just read this! Contemplate it whenever you are in Nature, or with yourself alone, preferably with nobody around and in a quiet, undisturbed place, time and time again, through the years, throughout life. It helps to develop genuine and deep-felt and unshakeable love for Nature and living beings.

Have you ever spent just half an hour watching one insect, squirrel or flower?

The development of individual and personal desire is a necessary foreshadowing, indispensable for the development of the human egoic mind: the human mind alone can distinguish and isolate, and define a difference between object and subject. The higher animals especially, much more than beings of still lower personal consciousness, greatly disturb the energy flows in Nature and thus create karma for themselves. Other creatures start to fear the predators, and they are themselves attacked. They have to hunt by stealth and trick, or by sheer physical dominance, and often live solitary in the dark nights. They cannot live without causing pain to others. At the same time they develop courage and animal intelligence. They prepare themselves to become humans, then gods: a lion and a calve, both can and will become gods, ultimately, but via the human kingdom only. Only the human kingdom leads to final emancipation, self-conscious omniscience.

Sympathy and love for nature and all living beings includes Nature’s forces as well. In Jainism, as in other religions throughout the ages, such as Hermetics and Gnosticism in the past and Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism and Native American religions in past and present, it has been taught that nature’s forces, i.e. the forces of the earth, sea, and air and fire on the smallest scale up to large scale events like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storms and rains, are also living beings, ensouled beings, each of which is guided by a higher deity. This is even more important for divine forces such as those flowing from the stars and planets, and from divine, compassionate minds in general. These too play an indispensable part in the functioning of our planet and beyond. They too are part of life, of jīva. Therefore they earn our respect as much as all those mentioned before.

According to Jain scriptures, every natural force consists of a hierarchy of spiritual beings and their servants, organizers, protectors, executors and their mounts. All of them have their own jīva. At the top of the hierarchy is always an intelligent deity. At the bottom are the forceful executors of the deity’s will and the vehicles through which they work: the physical air, fire, water or earth.

The jīva, when having unfolded five senses, one by one, having attracted an infinite variety of spiritual, psychological and physical varieties, having gained experience and acquired skills and causing and attracting karma after karma, ultimately will manifest the desire to develop a personal, egoic mind. Thus human beings came into existence, time after time again, cycle after cycle after cycle, without conceivable beginning or end. Time after time humanities manifested and were born in parts of the universe, on some of its cosmic continents (dvīpas, literally ‘islands’) where the human type of mind can be.

The supreme difference between superhuman gods and subhuman beings is that the first have self-conscious freedom of choice and have the intelligence to consciously cooperate with Nature, whereas the last help Nature unawares, without self-consciousness, and therefore relatively weakly. The spiritual conquerors are much more useful for nature than human ghosts and hell-beings and than subhuman beings such as animals, plants, minerals. To obey jinas or bodhisattvas, is to serve all.

Evil is a concept that developed only within the human context. Even cruel animals can hardly be called evil, because they have no mind to ponder ethics and philosophy. That does not mean that they exempt from karma however, but it can only be within their own field of consciousness and experience. Humans however do have a mind to ponder ethics, philosophy and to make self-conscious choices – and the more he does so, the nobler that human. Though the lowest among us humans may have an ethics hardly above animals instincts, the best among humans have a developed intelligence combined with high ethics and high moral performance. These have been and are our great philosophers, religious founders, many kings, queens and statesmen and the greatest among artists but also the genuinely religious and good people among the unnamed majority. Such people are naturally kind and non-violent, feel sympathetic love for every and any existing thing and are compassionate by nature, hard working, and, though often unconventional, are serving the divine which is beyond or above religion; beyond or above any religious system, though never above religion per se.

All things discussed here, including suffering and evil, are part of the wisdom of jīva – it must be. Therefore, contemplating jīva is more essential even than environmental living nature. But the last attitude, including the right behavioral attitude, can best be practiced by loving Nature, all beings which exist, and never even have the thought to harm them – as far as possible as our circumstances of life permit.

Human evil is rampant, but it will not exist for ever. Each of us personally has to conquer and abandon the forces that we, as jīvas, evoked by karma in the past: animal passions and instincts, the desire for personal physical existence, the illusion of ego, the misconception of doing possible good for oneself at the cost of other beings. We humans have to overcome the past – the features which were useful in the past, but now bring about our bondage and from now on only work – create karma – for high purposes – until the time has come to overcome these higher properties too. We are humans, and we are in the middle of the universe in which the jīva develops self-consciousness. We are rising in the middle between the lowest one-sensed being and a full-blown God. Only humans can become gods, and therefore every jīva has to pass through the human stage, the middle world, in physical incarnation.

Humans are jīvas too. The jīva can shine forth strongly in some people around us. Contemplate the best qualities of humans, respect them and take them as an example. Watch and study and feel the greatest pieces of art, of temple architecture, of philosophy, humanitarianism, of compassionate activity, of heart-intelligence, of social care, political courage. Look at the souls of those who have the power and valor to overcome their own weaknesses and attachments. Thus learn to love divine nature in man. The great human qualities stream forth from jīva. They are but a foreshadowing of what the gods can do. They are in each of us.

Once one has sufficiently contemplated such ideas as written above, one becomes a positive and ultimately divine self-conscious force in divine Nature: positive, helpful, nonviolent, wise, spiritual. Nothing more than this is demanded to become a jina, ultimately.

 – Rudi Jansma