Long after my New Mexico experience with the magpies and crows and their raucous death watch over one of my pigeons, I carried the memory of the event with me and continued to wonder. Had I witnessed animal consciousness in the crows and magpies that gathered at the ‘funeral’ for a dead pigeon? And if this apparent interspecies empathy and interconnectedness wasn’t included in any definition of consciousness, it surely seemed like it should be. My research continued.
I read the book, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals) by Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake is a biologist with a Ph.D. from Cambridge, a pet owner and researcher. Taking special interest in dogs that seemed to know when their owners were coming home, he used a scientific approach to study the phenomenon in order to rule out the dogs’ routine, sense of smell, keen hearing ability, human cueing and familiar modes of transportation. With the usual explanations ruled out in the studies a human-animal interconnectedness along the lines of telepathy is the only reasonable conclusion he could come to. Sheldrake, as a scientist trained in the mechanistic scientific view of nature, has come to a more complex understanding through his experience and scientific studies.
“The mechanistic theory of nature is a theory of nature, and one that I think is wrong, or at least too limited. It’s not an eternal truth.” Rupert Sheldrake
Rupert Sheldrake on YouTube
I have experienced similar interconnections with my own African Gray parrot, Sage and dogs, Livvie (now deceased) and Seurat. It is obvious to me that Sage is able to think abstractly – and there are near daily occurrences that demonstrate his telepathic connection to me. An example: when I think begin thinking about about leaving to make an appointment in town. His response – before I start making preparations is “See ya later!”. Similarly Seurat bounds in exhilaration if I think about taking him for a walk – before I reach for a leash or put on my shoes.
Then in late 2012 I received the email about the elephants of Thula Thula that pushed my wondering about in species interconnectedness into a full and brilliant spotlight.
Lawrence Anthony (1950-2012), an internationally respected conservationist, environmentalist and the long-standing head of the conservation station at the Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, South Africa died. In 2009 he wrote a best selling book, Elephant Whisperer in which he talks about his long standing relationship with the rogue elephants he rescued. His relationship with the wild elephants had developed into a mutually trusting and strong bond.
Two days after his death at his home on the reserve in early 2012, the two herds of formerly violent elephants arrived from different directions. “A good man died suddenly,” says Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Ph.D., “and from miles and miles away, two herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost ‘funereal’ procession to make a call on the bereaved family at the deceased man’s home.” His son reported that they stayed around for a few days before departing as unannounced as they came. These elephants had not visited the house for over a year and a half. Though elephants are known to mourn the death of one of their own, it appears that this mourning was for the death of a human, their friend Lawrence Anthony.
How did the elephants know their friend had died?
Why did they decide to undertake the 12+ hour journey to pay their respects?
Our pets, the magpies and the elephants are all demonstrating that they are empathetic. They are also showing us a telepathic intercommunication that defies our Newtonian mechanistic understanding of reality.
In the early 20th century, the Quantum physicists came up with a theory that perhaps better explains how the world really works. Quantum physicist, David Bohm made a significant contribution back in 1975 when he said,
“We have reversed the usual classical notion that the independent “elementary parts” of the world are the fundamental reality, and that the various systems are merely particular contingent forms and arrangements of these parts. Rather, we say that inseparable quantum interconnectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality, and that relatively independent behaving parts are merely particular and contingent forms within this whole. On the Intuitive Understanding of Nonlocality as Implied by Quantum Theory – Foundations of Physics Vol 5 (1975)
Some of the physicists of the early 20th century came up with a new theory they called Quantum physics that better describes how the world actually works. Quantum physicist, David Bohm made a significant contribution back in 1975 when he said,
We have reversed the usual classical notion that the independent “elementary parts” of the world are the fundamental reality, and that the various systems are merely particular contingent forms and arrangements of these parts. Rather, we say that inseparable quantum interconnectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality, and that relatively independent behaving parts are merely particular and contingent forms within this whole. On the Intuitive Understanding of Nonlocality as Implied by Quantum Theory”, Foundations of Physics Vol 5 (1975)
In other words, our fundamental reality is not about separateness.
Our pets, the magpies and the elephants are all demonstrating interconnectedness and empathy that defies our Newtonian mechanistic understanding of reality. For me, that is a good enough definition for Consciousness. For me it is soothing and most reassuring to believe that all living things are connected. It means that I am never ever all alone. From the animals I call my pets to the wild things that live in and around my home and on to my neighbors and friends and far away loved ones there is connection that can sometimes be felt but is always there. And with more practice I may be able to feel it more. I now understand the Magpie Funeral.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
– Albert Einstein