To lead the instinctive life of the animal would be to live in the true innocence of what is referred to in the story before the Fall of Man.
It would seem that with the gift of free will and spiritual intelligence come the trials, difficulties, queries, disturbances and the responsibilities of human life. We are banished from the purely instinctive life experienced by other creatures, to become an adventurer along a seemingly endless pathway of human experience as we develop our intelligence and seek to understand life. We are inspired to cultivate the refinement that comes to advancing human nature as we aspire to know our Creator and in turn become creative.
We all come to value the power of thought and appreciate our freedom to grow through exercising our capacity to choose. As we think, so we behave and so we become. Accordingly we seek to make our character as we wish it and achieve with our lifetime the things to which we aspire. Should we follow this simple philosophy, our guidelines in the art of living become simple, strong and balanced and capable of supporting us in times of difficulty.
However, we generally stumble into certain complexity by asserting our personal will over our wisdom. Along with other factors, we are inclined to exaggerate the importance of our own ego. In addition we fail to accommodate with our good intentions, the vagaries of circumstances, people and events beyond our personal control.
To match aspiration with our actions and so avoid hypocrisy is difficult and not always obvious to us. For example, a person claiming to be an animal lover would not easily in the same breath, sit down to a meal and eat the carcass of one. This is not consistent nor could it be argued as logical.
Either the ‘animal lover’ is deluding himself and must re-phrase his statements or must, alternatively, cease the action which brands him hypocrite. But old habits die hard. It may be more convenient to follow old habits and tastes than to match actions with ideas by a practical demonstration regarding the welfare of animals.
No one of us who genuinely has affection for animals and is aware of the responsibility of humans to care for them can condone what we do in social animal abuses when using them for chemical experimentation and cruel medical ‘tests’. We may not like all the methods used in animal husbandry, methods of their transportation, or will approve of their fear prior to their mass slaughter for the purpose of ultimate presentation of their flesh on the plates of consumers. At this point thought about what we are eating becomes paralysed and subordinate to sensory appetite.
Yet we can shudder at the thought of eating our pet dog or even roasting our own pet chicken. Once such inappropriate divides between thought and action are bridged we have a chance to live with true integrity, without conflict between our minds and our actions.
This is one of the exercises of Raja Yoga.