A SQUIRREL’S CONSCIOUSNESS AND DISPLAY OF MATERNAL INSTINCTIVE BEHAVIOR LEADS ME TO EXPLORE CONSCIOUSNESS.
IRATE MOTHER SQUIRREL ATTACKED A VISITING TEACHER ON UNIVERSITY CAMPUS :
The Ann Arbor News has reported this story about a mother squirrel’s angry attack. A 52-year-old Detroit Public School teacher was with a group of students touring the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Thursday, April 23. She had spotted some baby squirrels that were outside of their nest. The teacher had tried to alert the mother squirrel that was at a distance about a baby squirrel that was left alone. The mother squirrel could instantly recognize that the teacher was giving unwanted attention to her baby. The mother squirrel was instinctively aroused, turned on the teacher. The teacher tried to run away from the angry mother squirrel. She slipped and fell on the ground and injured her ankle. Seizing the opportunity, the mother squirrel bit the teacher on her leg. The teacher managed to escape and went to the Hospital Emergency for treatment.
PARENTAL CARE IS AN INSTINCTIVE BEHAVIOR :
Parental care is an aspect of social behavior exhibited by all animals. This is a complex unlearned or innate behavior that is influenced by heredity(genetic basis) as well as by experience. The study of behavior provides valuable information about relationships among animals. No animal is ever completely isolated from some kind of environment. Animals exhibit social behaviors and form parental societies to care for their offspring. This parental care/maternal instinctive behavior is highly organized amongst mammals. The young are part of the mother while growing inside the mother and are nourished before birth by the ‘placenta’ of the mother. After birth, the young still seek nourishment from the mother and suck or lap milk produced by the mammary glands of the mother. This ensures that there is a strong family association between mother and the offspring.
BEHAVIOR AND CONSCIOUSNESS :
The mother squirrel while displaying its maternal instinctive behavior has demonstrated that it is a ‘CONSCIOUS’ entity. Consciousness is defined as the state of being ‘conscious’ which has two components. 1. Being ‘conscious’ means being aware or recognizing the fact of one’s own existence. 2. Being ‘conscious’ also means being aware of our natural environment and it represents the state of knowing what goes on around one. Being conscious gives us the ability to interact with our environment and display an appropriate behavior. In higher animals this consciousness or awareness is also characterized by the presence of mental activity which includes an awareness of our own thoughts and emotions. A living entity is always conscious of its own existence. A living entity always exists in a state of consciousness. We identify a person as ‘UNCONSCIOUS’ if the person is not spontaneously interacting with his environment. There are several medical conditions that alter and affect our state of consciousness. Several drugs and intoxicants such as alcohol and poisonous agents like carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide cause drowsiness, stupor, and various levels of semiconscious to deep unconsciousness. Consciousness is very important in evaluating people with head injuries and neurovascular accidents such as ‘stroke’. While a person is unconscious of his environment, he is still aware of his existence. This fact could be easily demonstrated by conducting tests. A living organism or a living cell responds when exposed to a stimulus. For example, an unconscious individual is evaluated by testing to see the response of the pupil of the eye which reacts by constriction of its size on exposure to a light beam.
CONSCIOUSNESS AND SURVIVAL :
An organism uses its awareness to survive in the environment. I could illustrate this by narrating my personal experience. While I was camping in the Himalayas, We were using the quarters left by the British while they ruled India. On a cold winter night, I was sleeping in a small room that was not heated, and the room had no fire-place or a chimney. However, I had used a coal burner to heat the room. The coal burns very slowly giving heat and it lasts for several hours and needs no attention. On that particular night, I did not recognize, the coal was of poor quality and it was not burning as expected and was giving away smoke. The door and the windows were shut, and the smoke started filling up the room. The smoke is lighter than the room air, and it slowly went up filling the room from top. While I was fully asleep in a dark room, unaware as to what was going on around me, I was suddenly alerted when I experienced ‘palpitation’, a consciousness of my heart’s rapid beating. I awoke, but still could not see the smoke in the dark room. I had evaluated my condition to understand my rapid heart rate. I was in good health and there was no reason to experience an increased heart rate. I had decided to investigate my problem and walked up to the door to turn the light switch on. The moment I had turned the light on, I could immediately see the smoke-filled room and the fresh, clear layer of room air was below my bed level. I immediately left the room to get fresh air from outside and saved my life. Many people are not that fortunate, and we read about entire families losing their lives while sleeping in rooms that are heated by improper burners. I was not conscious of what was going on around me while I was sleeping. However, my body was aware and conscious all the time. The chemical sensors in my body worked alright, they sent signals to my brain centers, which in turn sent signals to increase my heart rate to improve the oxygen delivery. It fortunately worked like an alarm for me. Very often, people become more drowsy, become fully unconscious, and lose life while asleep in smoke-filled rooms.
THE SQUIRREL IN THE STORY OF RAMAYANA :
Just like the mother squirrel in Ann Arbor which demonstrated its consciousness, in the epic poem of ‘RAMAYANA’, the awareness and the behavioral response of a squirrel is described. The story narrates the construction of what is popularly known as “SETHU” or a bridge across the sea from the southern shores of Indian peninsula to the island of LANKA. The squirrel was apparently conscious of its environment. It had observed the activities of thousands of monkeys throwing stones to build the ‘ADAM’S BRIDGE’, and recognized the presence of LORD Rama who had initiated the effort to build the bridge. The squirrel had volunteered to help and in its behavior it showed attributes of devoted service. The abilities of the squirrel are very small and yet it won the favor of the LORD and is blessed. The LORD is pleased with the squirrel’s conscious efforts to offer devoted service.
CONSCIOUSNESS AND ENERGY :
The living human entity or man is known as “NARA” in the Sanskrit language, and the superior energy is personified and is known by the name “NARAYANA”. The poem of ‘BHAGAVAD GITA'( The Divine Song) narrates the dialogue between ‘Nara’ known as prince ARJUNA and ‘Narayana’ known as LORD KRISHNA. The LORD describes the relationship between the human soul( ATMA) and the divine soul( PARAMATMA). In Chapter 7 which is called ‘PARAMAHAMSA VIJNANA YOGA'( The Knowledge of the Ultimate Truth), verse 5 describes the ‘energy’ relationships. The material nature which is composed of sky, earth, air , water, and fire are constituted of ‘inferior energy’ of the LORD. The superior energy of the LORD is manifested as the embodied soul of all living entities. This superior energy of the LORD which is in the living entities gives the ability to the living entities to exist in the world by exploiting the inferior material energy from nature.
THE ENERGY PROVIDER AND THE ENERGY SEEKER :
Humans like other living entities supports his existence by deriving energy from the environment. Living cells obtain nutrients such as sugars and use oxygen in their metabolism to generate energy to carry out their vital biological functions. The primary source of energy of all living entities on planet Earth is derived from Sun. The Sun provides energy by burning its hydrogen fuel. It is reasonable to assume that Sun has derived its energy from a higher source of energy or “Higher Power”. This is evidenced by the observation of stars in various stages of their natural cycles of birth , and death. We can observe the birth of stars, the stars that are existing for a long time, the dying stars, the spectacular supernovas, and the dead stars like the white dwarfs, and the brown dwarfs. Human consciousness brings us the awareness and sustains the connection between the energy provider and the energy seeker. We manifest our existence with this unique ability to gain energy from the environment. Just like the squirrel in the story of Ramayana, if we use our awareness, we will become ‘CONSCIOUS’ of LORD’s presence whose superior energy we manifest.
Please also view related blog post titled ‘I am consciousness, therefore I am’.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.
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