Thursday, April 21, 2011
We are all animals
The first principal of animism is that we humans are animals. We are also spirits. Other mammals are also both animals and spirits. We tend to think of animism as a belief in spirits, and that's a big part of the anthropological definition of animism, but animists don't believe in disembodied spirits. We believe in embodied spirits. It's all material. It's all spiritual. That's why the stone can be intelligent. It has soul.
Separating matter and spirit, that's the mistake most people make. We think that we're either truly-animal (so say the scientists) or truly-spirit (say so the religionists). We only have these two choices available to us if we hope to find a niche in the contemporary dominator world, but it's a false choice.
It wouldn't be such an awful choice if it didn't damage us so much. In fact, the religious disgust with the flesh and desire to be rid of it is a source of great suffering among humans. We hold the flesh cheap. We bomb it, feed it plastic and pollution, reject its pleasures and hide it in shame. The scientific view that we're animals only, and that our intelligence is an epiphenomenon of chemical activity in the brain, and that there is no immortal soul is sad, but not so harmful. It can make us careless with one another, though. We may confuse people and things.
Go around for a day with awareness: we are all animals under our clothes. Look, you work with animals, eat with animals, there are animals running the cash registers and driving the automobiles. Oh, what glorious flesh!