Episode 33 - Marc Bekoff and Jane Goodall – The Ten Trusts: Celebrating the Anima in All
Marc Bekoff.& We need wildness, to be the beings who we are, the beings who have evolved in our niche, if you will, on the planet.& Everything is interconnected, and so if you sever those tight bonds, something&’s going to happen, and I think what&’s going to happen is we&’ll move away from the animals, and we will miss them much more than they&’ll miss us.
Duncan.& Well, Marc, I can&’t agree more, and I must say that the specialness of our world is something that keeps inviting us into its embrace, and it&’s up to us to trust ourselves and our own nature enough to meet and accept that invitation.
Marc.& Duncan, it&’s always so great to be on your show.
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In a prior dialogue (scroll down on this site), Richad Tarnas, quoting C.G. Jung, spoke of the anima mundi, the soul of the world, of the cosmos, that animates us all.& In this dialogue, one of several I have done with my good friend Marc Bekoff over the years, we amplify the insights shared by Marc and his co-author Jane Goodall (one of only ten Ambassadors for Peace named by the U.N.) in their book The Ten Trusts.& These center on the evolutionary imperative that we allow ourselves to learn to re-awaken our natural and joyful expression, &“following our bliss&” in the words of Joseph Campbell.& As green architect Bill McDonough puts it:& &“Form follows function; function follows evolution; and evolution follows celebration.&”& Animals are among our most valued companions and teachers in this great adventure, among the &“endless forms most beautiful and wonderful [that] have been, and are being, evolved&”, as celebrated in the last paragraph of Darwin&’s On the Origin of Species.& Trusting and embracing them, we trust and embrace ourselves and all that is.& In Marc&’s words:& &“To survive and continue to evolve, we need to increase our compassion footprint as we reduce our carbon footprint.&”
To order a full transcript of this program, or a CD or MP3 of the complete dialogue with myself and Marc Bekoff, you can contact me at my website:& www.livingdialogues.com& or at [email protected].& Many thanks again for your attentive deep listening in helping co-create this program.& All the best, Duncan
Marc Bekoff: We need nature and we need wildness to be the beings who we are. The beings who have evolved in a niche if you will on a planet. Everything is interconnected and so if you sever those tight bonds somethings are going to happen and I think what’s going to happen we’ll move away from the animals and we will miss them much more than they’ll miss us.
Duncan Campbell: Well Marc, I can’t agree more and I must say that the specialness of our world is something that keeps inviting us into its embrace and it’s up to us to trust ourselves and our own nature enough to meet and accept that invitation.
Marc Bekoff: Duncan it’s always great to be on your show.
Duncan Campbell: From time in memorial, beginning with indigenous councils and ancient wisdom traditions, through the work of Western visionaries such as Plato, Galileo and quantum physicist David Bohm. Mutually participatory dialogue has been seen as the key to evolving and transforming consciousness, evoking a flow of meaning, a dia flow of logos meaning beyond what any one individual can bring through alone.
So join us now as together with you the active deep listener, we evoke and engage in Living Dialogues.
Duncan Campbell: Welcome to Living Dialogues, I’m your host Duncan Campbell and with me for this particular dialogue, I’m truly delighted to have my friend and renowned author Marc Bekoff as my guest.
Marc is professor of Biology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is the author of many books including Minding Animals, Awareness, Emotions and Heart and is the former Guggenheim fellow and a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. He is also regional coordinator for Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program which promotes environmental awareness and community involvement of young people, senior citizens and prisoners in over 70 countries through education and hands on activities.
Marc is the editor of the Smile of a Dolphin, remarkable accounts of animal emotions and most recently a beautiful book with Jane Goodall entitled The Ten Trusts, What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love.
Jane Goodall of course is known to many around the world as one of the world’s leading conservationists, the author of many books including the New York Times bestseller Reason for Hope. She is renowned for her 40 years of work with the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania and was awarded in April of 2002 the title Messenger of Peace by Kofi Annan and the United Nations, only one of ten such awards to be given to people in the world.
And so Marc, it’s just really wonderful to have you back in the studio here on Living Dialogues.
Marc Bekoff: Thanks Duncan, it’s always good to be here with you.
Duncan Campbell: We’ve talked before in prior dialogues about your two prior books, we’ve mentioned the Smile of the Dolphin and Minding Animals and in Minding Animals you say that in mind animals we mind ourselves and that might be a good way to dive into discussing your new book the Ten Trusts and what that means and how you arrived actually at the inspiration for this book that you and your long time friend Jane Goodall have collaborated on.
Marc Bekoff: Well in Minding Animals, I stressed that the word minding means basically two things. Minding in terms of caring for animals and minding in terms of attributing minds to animals and acknowledging that there’s something in their minds something in their brains.
When we start to think of animals as individuals with personalities, with minds we also begin to think of them as feeling, sentient beings who experience a whole array of emotions ranging from joy to grief, embarrassment, jealousy, anger, resentment.
Duncan Campbell: Rather than being simply dumb animals.
Marc Bekoff: Yeah rather than being dumb, automaton, decarte type machines.
Duncan Campbell: Right and we know when we say dumb animals we mean that they don’t have the gift of language but it’s all too often understood in the really other meaning of dumb that somehow they’re ignorant or stupid or not much going on there other than their surface wagging their tail or other kind of behavior but they don’t really experience the world in the complex emotional way that we do and the incredible to me belief that they don’t experience pain and suffering even as they’re being systematically tortured or killed in ways that are approved in medical laboratories.
Marc Bekoff: Right, very few people really equate the word dumb with being language less. People who use the word dumb means stupid. I mean I know that because I ask people so that’s kind of an academic exercise, say well they’re dumb but they’re not really dumb, they’re smart. They’re dumb because they don’t have language blah, blah, blah, blah.
Just doesn’t cut it anymore but you know I think that I started laying the ground work for a lot of these work in the Smile of the Dolphin where I got more than 50 of my scientific colleagues to write stories about animal emotions. Come out of the closet, be honest with yourself, animals have emotions.
The book’s been successful and is actually a mind blower to people because they say wow you mean so and so really wrote that? I mean he or she never did that before and so I say of course they wrote it because anybody who watches animals notice they have emotions.
Duncan Campbell: You mean people like Steven J. Gould you mean?
Marc Bekoff: Yeah Steve Gould, the late Steve Gould by the way wrote the foreword for The Smile of a Dolphin. He was a good friend of mine and I talked to him about it and I thought, well I’ll ask him but he’s not going to do it. He loved doing it. The reason he loved doing it was number one he loves individual case stories. Individual case stories really are the recipe for a lot of evolutionary discussion and he just really realizes that animals do have feelings.
A Darwinian would say well of course they have feelings, humans can’t be the only species which emotions have evolved but that’s not to say that animal emotions are the same as ours. Your emotions Duncan aren’t the same as mine. But I wouldn’t say, well since they’re not the same I have them and you don’t and that’s the basic argument that people make about animals.
So Steve Gould has been a champion of this for a real long time and he’s also been a champion of understanding animals as individuals.
Duncan Campbell: And in fact for our audience who may not be familiar with Steven J. Gould, why don’t you talk a little bit about what his reputation was in the scientific community and why his writing the preface was regarded by many as so important and ground breaking in terms of how animals are viewed.
Marc Bekoff: Well Steve Gould is just about the most well known renowned evolutionary scientist, evolutionary biologist, actually trained in geology, probably in the 20th century there were people like a man named Ernst Mayer and E.O Wilson who people know who’s done so much work for the environment but Steve is really known for making his work accessible to the public.
He wrote 300 columns for Natural History magazine. They’ve been collected in books such as The Panda’s Thumb for example. But he is also just very, very well known for being a very thoughtful man whether people agree with him or not. He asked difficult questions and he was the most impeccable scientist so it’s a great combination.
Duncan Campbell: Yeah and he also as you say was very well known as an evolutionary scientist and wrote brilliantly about Darwin and the evolution of Darwin’s evolutionary thesis and how since Darwin’s death and the writing of the Origin of Species, we’ve become much more sophisticated about how evolution itself evolves if you will and the notion of punctuated equilibrium and how a species can appear and how it can disappear within the evolutionary spiral and particularly important I think for us now is this kind of evolutionary emphasis and perspective since we ourselves maybe a vanishing species if we continue in the behavior patterns which we have evolved into.
We ourselves may turn out to be a failed experiment, one of the countless number of species that appeared for lengthy periods of time on earth but were unable to adapt to environments that in a sense they themselves helped create and it’s a way of looking at what we are doing to ourselves and to the planet and to the environment and the hubris in a sense we have gone into with our technology and our exploitation of the natural world for our own benefit and here we come back I think historically to Francis Bacon the English philosopher who said, “Boldly and baldly” four centuries ago that we will use the benefits of human reason to torture her secrets from nature for the benefit of man’s estate.
And there was a vision that somehow we could use our intellect and our ability to reason to move into the natural world, uncover the mysteries and laws of how it works and reconstruct it for our own advantage and in doing so, we alienated ourselves from the simple connections of companionship with nature that had been the birthright of humans since the beginning and so now just to give a sense of how radical the shift has been, I’m going to quote from a newspaper article that appeared in October of 2002 writing about this issue of animal emotions a particular researcher was saying that other researchers and I’m quoting, have begun to use what I call the “F” word friendship to describe close relationships among apes attributing such human qualities and emotions to non human used to be taboo but quote, “lately primatologists have become more relaxed about using the “F” word.” And to me that is just quite extraordinary that it would be taboo to talk about friendship as if apes or chimpanzees or other of our predecessors were not experiencing some continuum of the same kind of emotions we do.
Marc Bekoff: Right, I mean I’ve always referred to my animal buddies as having friends and Jane Goodall has always named her animals and talked about friendship among these named animals but yeah it is taboo because people will say, well what do you mean by a friend and you can start talking about what a friend means.
It’s a person who you like, it’s a person who you’re close to, it’s a person who you go to in need. It’s a person whom you hang out with, you play with, you talk to, well of course animals have friends. No brainer. So I actually have never thought of it as the “F” word per se. I think what’s happening how is a lot of scientist are rediscovering the wheel and all of a sudden what they’re really learning is that by distancing themselves from the animals who they study they don’t really learn about the dynamics of social behavior and the social organization of animal groups so for me, I know for Jane and for other people to say or even to question whether animals have friends is ludicrous.
Duncan Campbell: And in fact Steven J. Gould in the preface to your book A Smile of a Dolphin says in the end of his preface, “if we can learn how to listen, really listen to the voices of these animals we might distill some stunning surprises from those “endless creatures most beautiful and wonderful” as Darwin chose to put it in a closing sentence in the Origin of Species”.
Marc Bekoff: Right, I mean traditionally, historically people have been a lot more willing to give animals what they deserve rather than rob them of their friendships and rob them of their emotions and I mean but of course as scientists we need to be careful not to imbue them with things and capacities that they don’t have.
Duncan Campbell: And so here I think in terms of robbing animals of their own emotions, it’s really very poignant that in doing so we’re robbing ourselves of our own emotions and their companionship as you say in your book with Jane Goodall, the Ten Trusts, Marc and I quote, “allowing ourselves to sense the presence of other animals to feel their residence in our hearts brings much joy and peace and can foster our own spiritual development and sense of unity” and so there’s the sense of happiness that we get from the companionship of animals, those of us who have companion animals such as yourself and myself and many countless others.
We know these things intuitively and it’s sometimes stunning and surprising that “science or scientists” are not aware of these fundamental and yet to us very obvious truths but most importantly I think from the evolutionary perspective what comes to my mind now is a radical statement by Bill McDonough the architect and designer who is famous for his book From Cradle to Cradle and as Bill McDonough said, “form follows function, function follows evolution, and evolution follows celebration” and it’s that last point that I thought was so extraordinary “and evolution follows celebration” in other words if we look at the whole history of evolution, we find that those species that have survived and proliferated are not “the fittest” in the sense that they’ve been the strongest who have eliminated other predators but they’ve been that species that’s been able to access a joy of life and to celebrate life and there’s a strength in their persistence and an expansiveness that comes from that and we as a human species are on a verge of losing that with our consumer culture and our media which tends to put people in a depressed state of lack in order to sponsor buying things and treating the world as a commodity that can actually itself be purchased to fill the hole in the soul.
Marc Bekoff: Right, it’s interesting I’ve been working on something that old saying old wine, new bottle. I’ve been working on a paper called Old Brains, New Bottlenecks and what I mean by that is that evolutionarily our brains are really old and they haven’t changed a lot for thousands of years and what I think is happening is that we have this primal drive to be one with nature to be one with animals, to really be compassionate and care about animals because our ancestors were so dependent on them.
But our big brains also allow for technology, new socio cultural use and those are the new bottlenecks that we need to deal with that we’re confronted with, but my hope and my dream is that ultimately we will go back to our passions that we reside in our old brain and pull us back to nature and when I was writing a paper for this meeting that I was out with the Dalai Lama, I realized that many people say, “I go to nature when I’m stressed out. I go to nature when I’m not feeling well. I go to nature when I’m out of sorts. I go to my animals when things are tough blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Why do you do that? You go because it feels good and the reason it feels good is because we still have these programs in our brains.
Duncan Campbell: Tell us more about the seminar with the Dalai Lama, the Kalichakra Celebration that you were at. The paper you presented on being with the animals, being with our kin, strolling with our kin as the title of one of your other book expresses it, is so important to the path to nature’s wisdom which was the highlight or the topic if you will, the theme of that particular gathering in Austria.
Marc Bekoff: Right, the name of my paper was called Minding Animals, Minding Birth and what I was trying to do there was since the theme of the meeting was the path to nature’s wisdom, my assignment if you will was to look at animals as a path to nature’s wisdom so I drew up all these wonderful examples of animals making wise choices.
For example there’s a lot of evidence now that animals, chimpanzees, wolves, other animals will not cache food and recover food when they think that another animal will go to the cache or steal the food that they recover, that’s a wise choice to not cache or not to recover food if when you’re being watched by somebody who may take the food.
And there’s millions of examples like that so basically we can look to animals as not only being wise beings but they are really tuned into nature part of the wisdom the awe of who they are is something that we really need to experience and we need to bring it into science. It’s okay but we need to bring it into what I call a science with a heart. We need to bring it into compassion of science and we can do it.
Duncan Campbell: And as Steven J. Gould was quoting Darwin, “these wondrous creatures”. They’re wondrous in the sense because they are themselves full of wonder. They’re not lost in thought if you will or they don’t get too complicated in theory they simply express and we feel it in their bodies, we feel it in how they get up and stretch in the morning, how they shake themselves when they’re getting ready for the day, they’re shaking off whatever it is that needs to be shaken off that sometimes we’ll let reside in our body as stuck energy and there are many body workers and chiropractors are needed and psycho therapists to actually deal with the energy that we’ve allowed to get stuck in our body because we’ve somehow gotten out of a natural flow of expressing ourselves with a naturalness and joy of simply being alive for no other reason than that.
Marc Bekoff: Right, animals don’t have that luxury. They can’t get bottled up. I mean sure they get stressed and they suffer traumas but they can’t spend a lot of time working them out and I think one of the ways that social animals work these things out is that they just are. They express themselves. I mean they modulate their behavior but they can’t walk around saying, “well yeah, for the next two days I can’t really do something until I talk to the alpha wolf who is my counsel.” I’m not being [xx], they can’t do it.
I think because they know they can’t do it they are just there. They really are there and they express themselves beautifully and they challenge us actually to express ourselves in the way in which they express themselves and the fact of the matter is, I think most people feel very, very at ease. Feel a lot of joy, feel a lot of bliss when they do just express themselves. It feels good to express yourself.
Duncan Campbell: And I think it’s actually becoming an evolutionary imperative. One of the things that is most remarkable about our time is that we ourselves as a species have in a dialectical way created the conditions of our own crisis that we must now survive as an initiatory challenge and what do I mean by dialectic? I mean that a certain behavior, once it gets intensified calls forth it’s natural opposite so you have a thesis calling forth an empathetical energy and then they can resolve at a higher synthesis or they can get stuck and fall back into disassociation.
An example of that is global warming. That because of our consumption habits of natural resources we have created certain holes in the ozone layer that are now letting through much more intense radiation, ultra violet radiation from the sun. What that means is, unless we can reprogram ourselves cellularly in the long run we’re not going to be able to accommodate these additional intensity that is now coming through from the sun. What that means is that we have to literally expand our DNA at the cellular level so that it can let in and hold more light.
What’s really remarkable here I think is that recently experiments have shown that strands of DNA that are taken from a swab in the mouth of a subject could be put at a distance of 500 miles or more away and as the subject the person is being shown, lets say violent or distressing images and goes into a reaction of either fear or depression. The DNA strand literally like a slinky toy shrinks down and gets cramped and it twists so it can’t let in light, lets in a lot less light.
Then when the same subject is subjected to stimuli that cause feelings of equanimity or joy the very same strand of DNA stretches out like an animal waking up and reaching for the sky and expanding all of the cells into an ability to let in more light and what that means is that our evolutionary imperative for the future is that we must learn how to allow ourselves to be natural and to experience joy. It’s actually an evolutionary imperative and an adaptive survival strategy if we continue with what one magazine called the malignant depression that characterizes advanced “industrialized societies” and their consumer neurosis, we will not survive as a species so it’s really wonderful in way we come back to Joseph Campbell’s dictum, follow your bliss really is not an option or a luxury. It’s an evolutionary imperative and animals can be the door to that. We can actually look to them for their wisdom, nature’s wisdom as was the topic of the Dalai Lama’s seminar that you spoke at and that was convened in Austria.
Marc Bekoff: Right, I mean animals could be a good catalyst for that because even in their difficult times they do lighten up. They do experience joy and they don’t carry the burdens like I said for too long. They are very wise beings and if we watch them we can learn from them
Duncan Campbell: And as our mutual friend’s Susan Chernak McElroy has entitled her books in one case Animals as Teachers and Healers, and Animals as Spiritual Guides that we can look to them as companions on the path of life who contain great natural wisdom. I think also of Peter Levine’s ground breaking work Waking the Tiger.
Marc Bekoff: That’s who I was thinking.
Duncan Campbell: And so let’s talk about him, you go ahead.
Marc Bekoff: Actually I don’t know a lot about him other than I know that he is looking at animal models to help heal trauma.
For full transcript, please contact Duncan Campbell