Think of an animal. Any animal. It can be a cow or a cobra. Or a turtle or a tarantula. It can be a goat or a shark, or it can be a monkey or a mouse.
Any animal – all animals – when you look at them, live in the present. Only the present moment matters to them or exists to them. The past no longer exists and therefore any pain or troubles or vexations or stresses they suffered in the past, do not bother them in the present. Similarly, the future also does not exist in the animal mind. Animals do not fret about from whence or whether they will get their food in the future. They do not worry about the future of their cubs and babies. They do not think about death. They live in the present moment only.
Nor do animals wonder about what other animals think about them. They have no concept of respect, prestige, status and the sense of belonging. A male animal will not endlessly worry about what ‘she’ thinks about him.
Humans in contrast are different. Of course we are different! The past is like a lead weight tied to our ankles that we carry into the present. The past weighs us down. And we worry about the future too. The future presses down upon our shoulders and foreheads like the atmosphere on a denser planet.
We also worry endlessly about what others think about us. We constantly seek affirmation in the minds of others. We seek confirmation in others. Confirmation that we are talented, pretty, fun, funny, handsome, interesting, loveable, sexy, good-looking and worthy.
Such thoughts occupy our minds all the time – and they are the source of the industries of earth from fashion to education.
An animal on the other hand will never know or experience the supreme joy of ‘self-affirmation’ in the eye’s of others, or the sublime feelings associated with a true knowledge of our place in the universe. An animal will never look at the stars and be cowed by their enormity or their avowed beauty.
But then an animal will never either know the supreme torment of a broken heart and a love unrequited. Will an animal ever feel that?
What would you chose? A life of present contentment but with no real hope. Or a life of possibilities but of supreme torments?
That is the question.