What about the birds and the bees?

10 March 2017

As part of an ongoing conversation my brother, who lives in Canada, has today sent me this quotation of words by the Dalai Lama, and he commented that the Dalai Lama does not take into account, that bees can’t do anything but what they are doing, once they are queen, drone or worker. My brother thinks that "ego" doesn't come into it for the bees. It is the burden of humans that they have the luxury of choice: “Should I do it for me or for the community? Our biggest gift – choice – seems to be our ruin," he says.

Nature’s law dictates that, in order to survive, bees must work together.
As a result, they instinctively possess a sense of social responsibility.
They have no constitution, no law, no police, no religion or moral training but,
because of their nature, the whole colony survives.
We human beings have a constitution, laws and a police force.
We have religion, remarkable intelligence, and hearts with a great capacity to love.
We have many extraordinary qualities but, in actual practice,
I think we are behind those small insects.
In some ways, I feel that we are poorer than the bees.

His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama

This prompted the following reflections on my part:

"I had not seen this quotation from the Dalai Lama before.  But I must admit, that similar thoughts have often crossed my mind.

When I have said in my presentations and talks that I think right now humankind is standing at a threshold, I have had in the back of my mind - though I have rarely expressed this explicitly - that I think crossing this threshold will entail accepting kindness and honesty as normal human behaviour. I include in this all commerce, governance and international relationships.  And I imply that on the other side of this threshold the absence of these two qualities would be regarded as abnormal and pathological - not requiring punishment, imprisonment or retaliation, but ‘treatment’, care and compassion. This I see as the complete practice of ‘Reverence for Life’ in the field of all human activity.
I have also often thought that it is presumptuous of us humans to assume that other forms of life do not have a conscience or self-awareness. We have absolutely no evidence to back up such an assumption. Since we have no means of knowing what goes on in the mind of another human being until this finds expression in some kind of action, how can we know what goes on in the mind of an animal or a bird or a bee?
I would say that the reason we have been given ‘choice’ or 'a free will' is in order for there to be LOVE in the world. Love has to be ‘freely given’ and this necessarily implies that there must be the option that it be withheld.
But who is to say that there cannot be a species that can masters this freedom? And that perhaps the bees have managed that? Or the dolphins? Or any creatures which do not kill other than for their  sustenance and survival? And that, to the extent to which they do fight their own kind and kill beyond their real needs, they fall short of choosing wisely?
It may take centuries or millennia for humankind to cross this threshold, but if we do not learn to choose more wisely, we may be wiped out as an unwelcome member of the global family of LIFE - like a cancer on the surface of Mother Earth."
What does anyone else think?

Percy Mark

Past Chairman and Philosopher

(born 1936)

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