We can learn more from watching the animals than we can from a guru or a minister. But first we must divest ourselves of the idea our creaturehood is suspect. Our humanness did not emerge by refusing our animal heritage, but upon an extension of it.
I certainly believe that our physical existences and mental experiences are quite “real” in themselves. A good general question, I think, I would like to see discussed with ideas of the inviolate nature of the individual in mind,that has to do with the prevalence of ordinary, daily, conscious-mind thinking and perception throughout much of the world. In historical terms this situation has always existed for the human species and I think it applies almost equally in Eastern lands, especially among the political leaders and ruling classes within them.
Yet Buddhist belief, for instance, maintains that our perception of the world is not fundamental, but an illusion; our “ignorance” of this basic undifferentiated “suchness” then results in the division of reality into objects and ideas. But why call our generalized awareness an illusion, instead of regarding it as one of the innumerable manifestations that reality takes? No one is free of certain minimum physical needs or of self-oriented thought. Each nation strives to expand its technological base no matter what its philosophy may be. Would a widespread use of Eastern religions doctrines be more practical on our earth today, or self knowledge? Even given their undeniable accomplishments, why didn’t the Eastern countries create ages ago the immortal societies that could have served as models for those of the West to emulate–cultures and/or nations in which all the mundane human vicissitudes (in those terms) had been long understood and abolished: war, crime, poverty, ignorance, and disease?
Certainly the species must be putting its conscious activities to long-term use, however, even with the endless conflicts and questions that grow out of such behavior. During the many centuries of our remembered history, those conflicts in themselves have been–and are–surely serving at least one of consciousness’s overall purposes, within our limits of understanding: to know itself more fully in those particular, differentiated ways.