by David P. Stang, May 15, 2021
[Ed. Note: Because this post was far too long to include in any of the MillersTime Favorite Reads lists, I am posting it here for those readers who have interest in this topic as well as in David’s personal experiences with telepathic communication with animals.]
Many decades ago when I first began to read ancient Buddhist texts in English translation I became quite curious about what the sage old Buddhist authors meant when they employed the term “Sentient Beings.”During my high school and college years I remember being taught that only human beings can be considered to possess consciousness. The Skinnerian Behaviorist writings asserted that the most intellectually advanced animals are capable of nothing more sophisticated than a simple reflex derived from “operant conditioning”.
Part of the reason why I became so confused about the meaning of the term “Sentient Beings” was that I got sucked into believing that B.F. Skinner knew what he was talking about. One magical and unforgettable day about a couple of decades ago I was enriched by an epiphany concerning the consciousness of animals and how we are capable of relating to and communicating with them. This sudden understanding occurred during a visit to the home of my good friend, Dan Dreyfus, who lived in McLean, Virginia. Dan was very bright, earned a Ph.D., and whose cognitive reasoning was consistently quite exceptional. Yet I discerned that neither his doctorate nor his well-honed cognitive and empirical skills constitute the energetic essence of his feeling vibrantly connected to creatures of Nature.
My friend Dan, in order to expose me to how he connects to and communicates with such lovely creatures, took me out on his patio and asked me to sit very still. Then he went inside and came out with food for the birds, squirrels and chipmunks. As he sat down in his chair the birds dropped down from the trees, perched on his arms and wrists and ate the seeds out of his hands. They also flew down to feed on those that had fallen to the patio floor next to his feet. Then the squirrels scampered down from the branches above and ate seeds out of the cup which my friend held firmly against the trunk of the tree.
After he had finished feeding the birds and the squirrels my friend noticed that a chipmunk had arrived on the scene. Dan poured some seeds into the palm of his right hand and sat down holding his hand about three inches above the patio’s red brick floor. The chipmunk headed straight for the hand holding the seeds then stopped dead in its tracks as he noticed my presence. Dan said to the chipmunk, “Don’t be afraid. He won’t hurt you. He’s just a spectator. Now come and eat your seeds.” The chipmunk trotted over to my friend, rubbed his nose against his forearm, then hopped up on my friend’s wrist and ate contentedly out of his hand. The little furry creature filled his mouth with seeds until his cheeks puffed out like little balloons. Then he hopped down and scampered over to the edge of the patio to masticate his mouth full of seeds.
Just then about seven or eight of the birds who had just previously eaten their fill re-landed on the fence at the edge of the patio chirping away as they looked down at my friend. Facing the birds Dan said, “Did you have a good feed?” He then looked at me and said, “They have returned just for the company. They do it all the time.”
He told me that several days each week a wild Fox in his neighborhood walks to the edge of his patio while he is sitting in his chair. The fox will simply stand there and look at my friend and he at the fox. Dan told me that this communion with the wild animals means a lot to him. He said, “I really feel connected to these critters and they to me. I talk to them and they understand me. You can imagine what a transformational effect my experiences with these wild creatures has had upon me.”
As I reflected upon this astounding experience it occurred to me that without a shadow of a doubt both wild and tame animals as well as humans are sentient beings.
I began to wonder if other forms of life could also be considered sentient beings. This curiosity resulted in my discovering a number of fascinating books which shed much light on my longtime quest to understand the nature of sentient beings and their diverse interconnections. I’ll discuss each publication briefly below in the form of mini-book reviews. But having read most of them over the past at least eight or ten years and begun to experiment with communicating with non-human sentient beings I became quite interested in learning more about their consciousness and our consciousness of them and the realities of how we communicate with each other.
What I discovered is that there are a number of different ways of learning about and communicating with non-human sentient beings. First, we exhibit an intensifying curiosity about them. We observe them. We read about them and we ask ourselves a number of questions concerning them. This often becomes a subject-object undertaking. By this I mean that we employ our analytical minds in the exploration of a particular object such as, for example, a dog or a cat or a horse or a cow. Then we make mental notes about what we observe as we continue our intellectual quest to learn more. Now if we become fanatically curious and therefore obsessively pursue our investigations we can spend nearly a decade earning a PhD and doing postdoctoral studies pertaining to our animals or plants of choice. There are a multitude of scientific or quasi-scientific academic disciplines of various sorts that focus on animal behavior, cognition and other faculties. There are yet comparatively few academic investigators of plant consciousness as many scientists remain persuaded that no plant possesses any kind of sensibility equivalent to an animal brain. Accordingly, they are persuaded that plants neither possess what could be called a mind or are capable of any kind of complex thought.
While some of us who are less academically inclined tend to prefer relating to animals than intellectualizing about them. Everyone who has ever had a pet of any kind quickly learned to appreciate the day-to-day experience of relating to that animal. Yet academic scientists who become fond of the animals they study usually go out of their way to prove that what they hypothesize about such animals is irrefutably empirical, avoids all subjectivity and is experimentally replicable.
Then there are psychically gifted human beings who were born with, and came to further develop, an ability to communicate telepathically with animals. They prefer to ask the animals to explain themselves telepathically rather than conduct laboratory experiments to find their answers. Beginning with the next paragraph we will briefly explore several books written by authors devoted to all kinds of sentient beings with a focus on the nature of the connectedness between humans and other types of living organisms.