The Consciousness of Everything
Throughout my life I have observed people debating as to what a human being is, and what separates us from other life forms.
The most common explanation is that the human being is conscious, and other life forms are not. We think, we ponder, we create; we use tools because we are conscious. Animals simply do what they do by pre-programmed instincts, without thought and compassion. This perspective in most cultures is quite common. It also, no doubt, is one of the reasons we have separated ourselves from, and anointed ourselves above, all other creatures.
When I was a child, our family had a parakeet. My twin brother and I called him “Rodan”, named after the flying monster in the “Godzilla” movies. My mother had her name for him, which was simply “Perico”. We used to play with Rodan for many hours. He was a very patient and very focused bird, and he was curious about everything we did.
My older brother had an electric train set, and sometimes we would build whole towns around its tracks by building houses out of baseball cards. Inside the houses we randomly placed little plastic toy soldiers; some houses would have soldiers and others would be empty. We would also fill the coal cars with the soldiers.
As we were busy building these little towns, Rodan would always perch on the post of our bunk bed, observing us. He always seemed to know when everything was completed.
As we sat back and watched the train chug down the tracks, Rodan would start pumping his wings, like an eagle might do. He would then drop himself like a dive bomber – with perfect timing – and snatch a soldier from one of the coal cars as the train was moving.
Rodan would then fly back up to the top of the bunk bed and thrash the soldier around, as if attempting to kill it. He would peck at it for a few seconds, put it in the center of the mattress, and then remount his post. As the train passed under the bed – and with perfect timing, again – he would swoop down and repeat snatching up the toy soldiers until the coal cars were emptied, all along building up a pile of soldiers in the center of the mattress.
Then, Rodan would swoop down above one of the structures we had built with baseball cards. He wouldn’t peck at it, but instead hover; and with the force of his wings, he would blow the house down. He would pick the soldiers out of the house, and fly them to the heap that he had created on the bunk bed.
But Rodan would not knock down the structures that didn’t have the soldiers in it. He was focused and observed everything we did, and he had an excellent memory. To finish it all off, he would swoop down on the train and land on the locomotive – and go for a ride. We gave him the name Rodan because of this behavior.
My mother used to enjoy showing people how he would find her keys and fly them back to her; even when we took the keys and tried hiding them, he seemed to be able to find them.
This bird seemed to be very conscious and craved attention. He knew what made us happy, his cage was never locked, and he had free access to the house. He was very much a part of our family. If one were to really observe his behavior, you could see he was always thinking, he wanted attention, he loved being a clown, and he loved taking part in play.
This was not the random acts of ancestral programming; this was the behavior of a living, conscious being. And because of it, he brought joy into our lives.
Even today, 55 years later, it brings joy into my heart as I remember the games we used to play.
I have observed compassionate behavior in every animal I’ve ever lived with. If a creature with a brain smaller than a pea can demonstrate so much compassion and be conscious of its environment, why do we as humans – possessing a brain that weighs approximately 3 pounds – find it so difficult to be aware of our environment and have compassion for other living things?
Consciousness is not restricted to the human being. Just food for thought.
Be at peace.