Not Instinctual Machines: Animals Feel and Think

Best Friends

ANIMALS are just instinctual machines, many people believe. But this is not the conclusion of some new controlled scientific studies.

Such studies suggest there are powerful spiritual and intellectual forces embedded in all the kingdoms of nature, as Theosophy maintains.

In the 17th Century, René Descartes, is dubbed “the father of modern Western philosophy.” And according to Wikipedia:  “Much of subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day.”  But our errant intellectual patriarch, as will be shown, started us believing all the wrong way about consciousness. soul and spirit.

“Descartes held the living animal as being simply an automaton,” H. P. Blavatsky commented, “a ‘well wound up clock-work,’ according to Malebranche” — then countered with pointed sarcasm:

One who adopts the Cartesian theory about the animal, would do as well to accept at once the views of the modern materialists.

“But if the animal is an ‘automaton,’ why not Man?” Blavatsky argues. “Thus we find metaphysical Descartes as inconsistent as any one.”

René Descartes

“The animal may think and know it thinks, the more keenly that it cannot speak, and express its thoughts,” Blavatsky insisted. “One thing is shown however by the exact observations of naturalists and that is, that the animal is endowed with intelligence; and once this is settled, we have but to repeat Thomas Aquinas’ definition of intelligence – ‘the prerogative of man’s immortal soul’ – to see that the same is due to the animal.”

(H. P. Blavatsky, Have Animals Souls?)

Koko and Tabby

A woman who clearly did not subscribe to the Cartesian theory, found a young lion injured in the forest on the brink of death. In her compassion for the animal she took it home with her and nursed it back to health.

Later she made arrangements with an animal rescue group to take the lion.

Some time passed before the woman had a chance to visit. A video was taken when she walked up to the lion’s cage to see how he was doing. Watch the lion’s reaction when he sees her!

Lion Kisses Rescuer

The Memory Test

Comparing animals with humans, often the major difference is that animals consistently obey the laws of nature, and of their own species.

Many display a moral sense of caring and cooperation with their own, and even other species, it has been shown.

Although researchers have extensively studied chimpanzee memory in the past, the general assumption has been that it is inferior to that of humans, as with many other mental functions.

Chimp Memory Test

“There are still many people, including many biologists, who believe that humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions,” said researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa, director of the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University in Japan.

No one can imagine that chimpanzees — young chimpanzees at the age of 5 — have a better performance in a memory task than humans.

“Young chimps apparently have an extraordinary ability to remember numerals, and recall them even better than human adults do.”

Early Childhood Development

“Examining the evidence objectively, one wonders if there are, in fact, any important differences between man and the other creatures in nature?

There seem to be very few, and many of those favor nature.

“Matsuzawa said the young chimps’ ability resembled photographic memory, the ability in humans to retain a detailed and accurate picture of a complex scene or pattern,” Fox News reported. “This talent — also known as eidetic imagery — is also known to decline with age in humans, as it seems to do in chimps.”

In the video clip below, a chimpanzee’s memory is tested, and then compared with that of human school children. The results will astound you!

Desire Mind

By contrast, humans will regularly break any rules they want, human or natural, as Aristotle once remarked: “Man, when perfected, is the best of animals …

but when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all.

“Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?” (Book of Job 35:11) “When I hear a dog bark, or a bird twitter, or a cock crow, I do not know whether they are thanking me for all I have told of them, or calling me to account.”

Albino Dolphin

‘Prometheus’ as the myth goes steals ‘fire’ from the ruler gods and brings it down to Earth. The Theosophical metaphor is explained by W. Q. Judge in the Ocean of Theosophy.

But Prometheus remains chained, and the flame of mind is not yet  fully ablaze in the human race in this cycle.

When that mind (Sanskrit – “Manas”) becomes fully active, Judge says, “all will then be compelled to consciously make the choice to right or left.”

Loving Friends

‘When’ is the key word. In this cycle, Theosophical teachings declare, human beings have only a ‘spark’ of mind, only a little more awakened than in other species. But certainly less heart than the case of many the animals. This is how W. Q. Judge explains our situation:

“At the present day Manas [Sanskrit: ‘mind’] is not fully active in the race, as Desire still is uppermost. In the next cycle of the human period Manas will be fully active and developed in the entire race.

Wings of Higher Mind

“But when in the cycle referred to, Manas is active, all will then be compelled to consciously make the choice to right or left, the one leading to complete and conscious union with Atma [Sanskrit ‘Spirit’], the other to the annihilation of those beings who prefer that path.”

desire still is uppermost — hence the people of the earth have not yet come to the point of making a conscious choice as to the path they will take.

“It is owing to this rebellion of intellectual life against the morbid inactivity of pure spirit, that we are what we are — self-conscious, thinking [humans],” H. P. Blavatsky wrote in The Secret Doctrine, “with the capabilities and attributes of Gods in us, for good as much as for evil. Hence the rebels [Prometheans] are our saviours. “

The Secret Doctrine (2:103)

Bella and Tarra

“Let the philosopher ponder well over this,” Blavatsky continued, “and more than one mystery will become clear to him,” 

“It is only by the attractive force of the contrasts that the two opposites—Spirit and Matter—man  can be cemented on Earth.”

And, smelted in the fire of self-conscious experience and suffering, find themselves wedded in Eternity. This will reveal the meaning of many hitherto incomprehensible allegories, foolishly called “fables.”

In her article Have Animal’s Souls? Blavatsky argues:

St. Thomas says that ‘all the souls — even those of plants, have the substantial form of their bodies’ — and if this is true of plants, why not of animals?

“Man is endowed with reason, the infant with instinct; and the young animal shows more of both than the child. Indeed, every one of the disputants knows as well as we do that it is so.”

Mother and her baby.

People who have close ties with animals recognize they have feelings, are capable of love and gratitude. Elephants for example, display compassion — once thought to be an exclusively human attribute.

Elephant Painting

“Watch this elephant paint a beautiful image of an elephant holding a flower,” Exotic World explains: “You’ll be amazed a how her talent unfolds as she carefully completes each stroke.

Her mahout talks to her throughout the process as his gentle touch gives her confidence.

“She focuses on her work and seems to enjoy the approval of the audience and, of course, the sugar cane and banana treats. All of her training has been reward based.”

Fire of Mind

“So touched by their horrific backgrounds and loving personalities,” writes — they now support ‘Starving Elephant Artisans’ by selling their paintings so they can continue to have a new life in Thailand. You can learn more and purchase these unique paintings. Own a print of the elephant art for $35.”

Some Thai elephant experts believe that the survival of the Asian elephant species will most likely depend on the good treatment of the elephants in well managed privately owned elephant camps.

Maesa Elephant Camp

“All of us would prefer that all of the elephants be free to be in the wild,” Exotic World says, but “for many reasons, that is not possible at this time.” (Maesa Elephant Camp)

The Mind (Manas) in Theosophy is always symbolized by the element fire, which also represents the heart quality— manifesting as conscious empathy and aspiration, and altruism.

Researchers have discovered that animals do not “tutor” each other the way humans do, which may be the tell-tale development distinguishing us. Without the unique stage of mind development which humans possess, our world could have easily evolved into a ‘planet of the apes.’ Instead, evolution seems to have favored human beings, as this video clip shows.

A New Humanity

“Real Theosophy IS ALTRUISM, and we cannot repeat it too often,” Mme. Blavatsky wrote. “It is brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men do but realize that in these alone can true happiness be found, and never in wealth possessions, or any selfish gratification

then the dark clouds will roll away, and a new humanity will be born upon earth. Then, the GOLDEN AGE will be there, indeed.

Fire is universal, found everywhere in nature. The lightning of the storm, the spark produced by two rocks struck together. Rub two sticks together long enough, and it will make you a camp fire in the wilderness.


Fire needs fuel to manifest, and this is especially necessary in humans. Without support and encouragement we do not develop our human nature fully.

“Altruism is an integral part of self-development,” wrote H. P. Blavatsky. Self-help advocate, author and lecturer Wayne Dyer’s moving “Story of Teddy” suggests a powerful example of what this means:

Story of Teddy

Nurturing Empathy

“Lacking empathy, people act only out of self-interest, without regard for the well-being or feelings of others,” writes Jane Brody in “Empathy’s Natural, but Nurturing It Helps” – February 15, 2010 NY Times.

The absence of empathy fosters antisocial behavior, cold-blooded murder, genocide.

The Horse Boy

“… in otherwise normal children, the environment in which they are reared,” Brody says in this short but important article, “can make a big difference in whether empathy is fostered or suppressed. Healthy self-esteem is essential to empathy,

…so anything that helps children feel good about themselves will also help them recognize and respond effectively to the feelings of others.”

Mutual respect and empathy.

When two-year-old Rowan was diagnosed with autism, Rupert Isaacson, a writer and former horse trainer, and his wife Kristin Neff, a psychology professor, sought the best possible medical care for their son — but traditional therapies had little effect.

Then they discovered that Rowan has a profound affinity for animals — particularly horses — and the family set off on a quest for a possible cure.

Also please have a look at the Equi-Kids therapeutic riding program headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA here: Equi-Kids Riding Program


The Horse Boy

When Elephants Weep

“The capacity for empathy seems to be innate,” Brody believes, “and is evident even in other species — the adult elephant who tried to rescue a baby rhino stuck in the mud as recounted by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy in When Elephants Weep,‘” despite being charged by its mother.

When Elephants Weep

His latest book, The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving, was published in Fall 2010. Jeff lives with his family in Auckland, New Zealand.

Masson considers the far-reaching consequences of the co-evolution of dogs and humans, drawing upon recent scientific research.

“Over the past forty thousand years a collective domestication has occurred that brings us to where we are today,” he writes, and “humans have formed intense bonds with dogs, and the adoration is almost always reciprocal.”

Jeffrey Masson Moussaieff, credit Corina Koning

Jeff is a prolific writer on the subject of animal emotions and veganism. The video segment is from Erin Scott’s interview with Jeff at Tilden Nature Area’s “Little Farm” for the Palo Alto Humane Society:

The Theory of Mind

You might think you’re smart, but none of your senses rival the keenest abilities in the animal world.

Animals see in the dark, sniff prey miles away, and detect electrical output from muscle twitches in hidden meals.

Deep Immersion

Author Rupert Sheldrake is a British former biochemist and plant physiologist who now researches and writes on parapsychology and other controversial subjects.

Sheldrake shares his research on dogs who know when their owners are coming home and other examples of pet telepathy.

Sheldrake’s books and papers stem from his theory of morphic resonance, and cover topics such as animal and plant development and behavior, memory, telepathy and perception.

Animals Unseen Powers

“This groundbreaking series unravels the extrasensory feats and near-paranormal powers of animals. It journeys to the outer limits of scientific knowledge to find a parallel animal universe where life exists in other realities and has powers that almost defy belief.

Dolphin Family

“Here sharks perceive human electric auras and dolphins use ultrasound to see a human foetus in the womb. There are monkey herbalists, frogs that have mastered the art of cryogenics and lizards that walk on water or cry blood.”

“Is the link between dolphins and humans as profound as some may believe, or is it just a natural mammalian instinct to protect others like it?”

“The extraordinary benefits of dolphin hearing are explained here in this amazing wildlife film from BBC Worldwide.”

The Soul of Things

All life forms are ensouled, Theosophy says, not just the animal kingdom. The advanced consciousness in animals allows them to reincarnate, in their own way — and are wholly legitimate citizens of our conscious world.

They are inseparable from us physically, mentally, and spiritually.

“During the course of evolution, animals have played various roles in relationship to man: predator, food, beast of burden, and companion. What is the ultimate destiny of the beasts and where do they fit into human evolution? In fact, animals have within all the human characteristics such as self-reflective mind and conscience, which are destined to be expressed at some future point.”

(Marilyn O’Day’s article: Animals Awaiting Enlightenment)

Remarkably lifelike paintings similar to the one below, are by artist Jason Morgan. His work can be seen online here: Jason Morgan Wildlife Art.

Jason Morgan, “The Thinker”

Taking the subject of consciousness to another level, Blavatsky writes that “nature taken in its abstract sense, cannot be ‘unconscious,’ as it is the emanation from, and thus an aspect (on the manifested plane) of the absolute consciousness.”

“Where is that daring man who would presume to deny to vegetation and even to minerals a consciousness of their own?”

All he can say is, that this consciousness is beyond his comprehension.


Dogs Know

“One needs to be familiar with the revolutionary research of biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, author of more than 75 scientific papers and ten books, including the internationally acclaimed “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals.”

Dogs Know When Their Owner is Coming Home

In controlled double-blind experiments, Sheldrake has found compelling evidence of “inter-species telepathy,” including the uncanny (yet familiar to many pet owners) ability of dogs to anticipate when their owners are returning home — adding scientific substance to H. P. Blavatsky’s remarkable declaration in her Secret Doctrine:

Everything in the Universe,throughout all its kingdoms, is conscious: i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception.

“We men must remember that because we do not perceive any signs — which we can recognize — of consciousness, say, in stones, we have no right to say that no consciousness exists there. There is no such thing as either ‘dead’ or ‘blind’ matter, as there is no ‘Blind’ or ‘Unconscious’ Law. These find no place among the conceptions of Occult philosophy.”

H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Summing Up

“The Credit Crunch
for Materialism

by Rupert Sheldrake, PhD

Dr. Sheldrake is a trained biologist, and Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project, and author of “A  New Science of Life.” (

Rupert Sheldrake, PhD


“Since the nineteenth century, its advocates have promised that science will explain everything in terms of physics and chemistry; science will show that there is no God and no purpose in the universe; it will reveal that God is a delusion inside human minds and hence in human brains; and it will prove that brains are nothing but complex machines.”

A Telepathic Cat


“Materialists are sustained by the faith that science will redeem their promises, turning their beliefs into facts,” says Sheldrake. “Meanwhile, they live on credit.”

“The philosopher of science Sir Karl Popper described this faith as ‘promissory materialism’ because it depends on promissory notes for discoveries not yet made.

“Despite all the achievements of science and technology, it is facing an unprecedented credit crunch.”

What is Human?

Jason Morgan, “Mountain Gorilla”


He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.

— Francis Of Assisi

Row Your Boat

“Row your boat, your own boat and not somebody else’s. Row it gently, don’t fight it; row it gently down the stream, not up the stream. Be joyful, be merry, live in the moment. Life is but a dream.”

Inextinguishable Mind

W. Q. Judge uses an analogy to open the imagination, the illustration of one candle lighting many. “Given one lighted candle and numerous unlighted ones,” he writes:

it follows that from one light the others may also be set aflame. So in the case of Manas [mind]. It is the candle of flame.

(William Q. Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy, Chapter 7, Manas)

In all the old teachings which modern Theosophy epitomizes, Mind remains a mystery. We need to call upon our highest intuitions to approach any solution to the puzzle.

Symbolically Lighting the Mind

Theosophy explains Universal Mind, like fire, is eternal and inextinguishable, as explained in The Secret Doctrine, Summing Up, 1:274. The effect can be proved in the non-human kingdoms of nature — animals, plants, insects, micro-organisms — and even minerals.

“We men must remember that because we do not perceive any signs — which we can recognise — of consciousness, say, in stones, we have no right to say that no consciousness exists there.”

Crystal Therapy

As shown, many animals exhibit more than blind ‘instinctual’ behaviors. Theosophy claims all animals are born with psychic and noetic powers on invisible planes. Some species can understand and learn language, produce art, and even do mathematical calculations.

Surprising Intelligence
of Plants and Insects

As previously noted, Theosophy proposes that all life is conscious, the differences being not in kind, but in degree. Humans are included in this teaching, and our apparent ‘self-consciousness’ is also a matter of degree — as regards other beings in Nature, and among other humans.

In a 2006 study, baby dodder plants were found to sniff the air, writes Jeanna Bryner in LiveScience, “for signs of plant victims, then attack.”

Close-up of a dodder seedling attaching to a tomato plant. Credit: Justin Runyon/De Moraes and Mescher Labs


Similarly, a western U.S. shrub called sagebrush has a remarkable ability to chat. When one is damaged by insects, it broadcasts the predator’s presence by releasing odors into the air. Other sagebrush pick up on the smells from their wounded brethren and get their defenses going.

Recently, a research team found that insects below and above the ground use the mustard plant like a chemical telephone. (Bugs use plants as telephones)

Bug Telephone

A bug munching on the roots, for example, could send chemical signals up to the leaves to essentially put out a “no vacancy” sign.

It turns out that subterranean insects can also communicate with a third party via the biophone, namely the natural enemy of caterpillars — parasitic wasps.

Eternal Mind

“Eternal Mind, thy seedling spark,
Through this thin vase of clay,
Athwart the waves of chaos dark
Emits a timorous ray.
This mind enfolding soul is sown,
Incarnate germ in earth:
In pity, blessed Lord, then own
What claims in Thee its birth.
Far forth from Thee, thou central fire,
To earth’s sad bondage cast,
Let not the trembling spark expire;
Absorb thine own at last!”

(Old Greek hymn)


Mind is Everywhere

Such findings might be puzzling to some investigators who cling to the standard models in their respective specialties. Yet only a simple framework change would open new and exiting vistas to our fearful scientific explorers. Blavatsky offers such a model in her Secret Doctrine.

Atlas Silk Moth

Blavatsky and her Teachers held to Plato’s “Nous” – is a Mind embedded in the cosmos. In fact, it is taught that Mind IS the cosmos itself, and its presence is potential in every atom! Says The Secret Doctrine:

There is no such thing as either ‘dead’ or ‘blind’ matter — there is no ‘Blind’ or ‘Unconscious’ Law.

This idea speaks not only to the indestructibility of matter, but also to the permanency of consciousness.

Energy Field

“These find no place among the conceptions of Occult philosophy, which never stops at surface appearances.Qa

For Occult philosophy, the noumenal essences have more reality than their objective counterparts…



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