The chimp messiah, the cow Christ ?
Posted on Saturday, 24 June, 2006 | 10 comments
Columnist: Ken Korczak
Is it possible that animals have a sense of God? Do animals worship, have religion, possess a belief of afterlife? There is evidence that they do, and we began with man’s closest cousin -- the chimpanzee. Dr. Jane Goodall spent more than 40 years observing chimpanzees in their natural environment. One day in 1960, she witnessed something amazing. Watching a group of chimps that had just finished eating, a bolt of lightening suddenly struck nearby, followed by a loud clap of thunder. Immediately, one of the big male chimps stood up and started dancing rhythmically, foot to foot. It then rushed up to a small tree, climbed it and tore off a branch. Two other males, watching, tore off their own branches and began moving toward the chimp in the tree, seemingly using their branches as talismans or wands, waving them ahead of themselves as they ran. The rest of the chimps in the group watched the ceremony, and then joined the males in odd chanting and rhythmic behaviors.Goodall also noticed that certain places, especially those involving moving water, seem sacred to chimps.
At one particular 80-foot water fall in the African jungle, Goodall said: “Sometimes the chimpanzees, hair bristling, perform their displays in the stream bed below the falls, swaying rhythmically upright, hurling rocks, climbing the slender hanging vines, and pushing out into the spray. Afterwards a male may sit on a rock at the edge of the streams, looking up at the sheet of living water as it falls, watching as it flows past him on its way to the lake.”Elephants have large brains and are obviously very intelligent. It seems they mourn their dead, perform funeral-like ceremonies, and even gather the bones of dead elephants into graveyards. Early European explorers found many “elephant graveyards,” collections of elephant bones arranged in tell-tale patterns. At first, human cults were suspected, until explorers actually observed elephants themselves collecting the bones of their dead.Elephants have also been observed mourning a recently killed member of their pack, performing elaborate rituals around a dead elephant's body, and sometimes, sitting with their back to corpse, touching it with their tails, while facing the setting sun. You can see photos of this by Wouter Theron at the AnimalSentience.Com web site.All of this makes me recall one spring day when I was 16 years old. My uncle kept a herd of beef cattle on his small northern Minnesota farm. I got an unexpected call one afternoon from my uncle who asked if I could come out and help him butcher a young bull.
In a bizarre accident, the bull had broken both its front legs. The only thing my uncle could do was shoot it, and take the meat.By the time I arrived, my uncle was out in the cow pasture. He had the dead bull hoisted up and hanging upside down the front-end loader of a tractor. I joined him, he handed me a large knife. We began the grisly task of gutting and skinning the bull. As we continued our gory job, the rest of the herd of about 30 cows gathered in a near-perfect circle around us. They stood wide-eyed and silent, watching us with their soft bovine eyes, breathing evenly, rhythmically through wide, moist nostrils.My uncle, a Polish Catholic, was nevertheless fond of making slightly irreverent jokes of a religious nature. He said to me: “They way they’re looking at us, it’s like we’re crucifying the Cow Christ.” Never to be outdone, I quipped back at my uncle: “Yes, and remember what Christ commanded. ‘Take my body, and eat of it.’ ”I stopped for a moment, covered with blood up to my armpits, and looked back at the cows. They looked me in the eyes, and looked back to their fallen herd mate. Despite my and my uncle’s waggish humor, the sense of solemnity was palpable. The very air in the center of that cow circle in that green pasture seemed to vibrate at a different level.
I felt like an ancient Druid performing a sacrifice, or perhaps like a shaman of the mysterious Catal Huyuk culture of the neolithic, a forgotten civilization known to worship bulls.When our job was done, my uncle trundled the cleaned body of the bull away on the tractor, and the spell was broken. Yet, that feeling -- that sacred cow vibration -- stayed with me. A few years later during my study of physics, I learned about a phenomenon called “entrainment.” My mind leapt back to that day I helped my uncle butcher a bull. Here’s how entrainment works: Put ten grandfather clocks in a small room, and set all of their pendulums going at different times. Come back an hour later, and all the pendulums will be swinging in unison. The reason is entrainment. The vibrations created by each pendulum are transferred through the air, causing all them all to swing in alignment.Maybe that’s what was happening in the center of those cows I had stood among on that day, long ago. Perhaps the prayerful solemnity emanating from the brain impulses of 30 cows in prayer had entrained the very atmosphere within that circle, catching me up in a sacred send-off composed of pure animal spirituality -- of Buddha nature. And get this: There is a famous story of a young Buddhist monk who asked the Zen master Chau chou if it was possible for “a dog to have Buddha nature.” And Chao chou’s famous reply? He said: “Mu.”
Ken Korczak: www.starcopywriter.com
Article Copyright© Ken Korczak - reproduced with permission.
Ken Korczak is the author of Minnesota Paranormala: