Buddhism, veganic gardening, compassion, and the vegan life calls all to deepen our relationships with Mother Earth and each other. Live sustainably, authentically, and lightly on the Earth. Manifest compassion for all sentient beings. The world is an altar. Worship in love.
What Do Bees Think?
I’m going to write on a subject that turns off a lot of people. But with the
release of new studies on the subject, it’s a conversation that must get
than a year ago, Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, concluded a long-term
study on the origins of consciousness. Part of their research focused on insect
consciousness, in which scientists conducted studies of insects’ mid-brains –
the area of the brain in both insects and animals that supports awareness.
what they learned: insects are hardwired not only for conscious awareness (a
sense of selfhood), but also the ability to feel, to experience egocentric
behavior, and to sense things within themselves. They feel fear. And they are
capable of suffering.
study concluded that insects have the capacity for all the most basic aspects
of consciousness. Their capacity for awareness has been evolving toward refinement
for thousands of years, just like ours. More than ever, insects are more deeply
experiencing the world around them.
Macquarie consciousness studies have ushered in new ways of looking at
non-human beings, and more importantly, call us to move step-by-step away from
our primitive ideas about insect life and its basic integrity.
intelligence of the natural world is astounding. Except for humans, all the
earth’s inhabitants have found ways to share space without engaging in needless
violence. Incredibly diverse species live together in small spaces and have developed
ways to thrive on available resources. The cycles of birth, life, and death go
forward seamlessly. When something breaks, nature endeavors to fix it, or adapt
to the new paradigm.
most humans live in a state of separation from this amazing natural world. Most
of us were raised in closed homes or apartments, where an insect on the ceiling
was viewed as an intruder. Our parents taught us to quickly kill insects who’ve
wandered into our homes. The standard approach to insect intruders includes crushing,
spraying with poisonous chemicals (which we in turn inhale), flushing down the
toilet, burning, and even torturing. We have no problem with ending an insect’s
one and only life.
relationship with insects is rooted in so much violence. Why?
as we’re taught as children that eating animal meat and drinking cow milk is
natural and desirable – and now we’re discovering that its neither – we’re also
taught to kill insects when we can, in whatever way we can. We perceive insects
as ‘Them’ – those who don’t look like us, sound like us, or have the same
priorities and behaviors as us. Sound familiar?
are not here to harm us. It’s tremendously unlikely that any insect ever
started his or her day with the thought, ‘I’m going to hurt a person today’. In
fact, there are just two known insects – mosquitoes and black flies – that bite
humans for any motivation other than self-defense. They bite human and
non-human animals to feed on our blood so that they may reproduce. Not
pleasant, but not life threatening.
are here for the same reasons we are – to experience, to express, and to evolve
themselves. But we ascribe other, human-like meanings to their motives. We
imagine that they exist with the intent to make us miserable, to frighten us,
gross us out, and to hurt us.
isn’t an insect in the world who sets out to interact with humans in a spiteful
and damaging way. Unlike humans, some of whom, in their greed, anger, lust, and
fear, habitually harm others. Direct experience has taught me to be wary of people, but not
at all of insects.
responses to insects doesn’t just harm the insects, they harm us. When we are
violent toward others, we attract violence to ourselves. When we evoke fear in
others, we become fearful ourselves.
time I indiscriminately kill an insect, I become more comfortable with violence
and the feelings it evokes. I become more acquainted with the frustrations of
powerlessness and feelings of inferiority that come with violence. I become
more attuned to allowing my fears and uncertainties to erupt as violence, to
delight in crushing others into submission. I become a psychological engine of
we know now, experience a sense of self and a modeling of the world. When we
evolve in our relationship with the increasingly awake insect world, when we
value their lives and conscious awareness as we value our own, when we give
them the reverence and respect they deserve, and when we cultivate a
heart-centered approach to all beings we share this earth with, then our minds
will finally meet and we will all begin to evolve. And from this a more
peaceful world will be born.