“Foolish men seek after material sense pleasure as a substitute for real happiness, but such foolish men forget that temporary so-called happiness derived from sense pleasures is also enjoyed by the dogs and hogs. No animal, bird or beast is bereft of this sense pleasure. In every species of life, including the human form of life, such happiness is immensely obtainable. The human form of life, however, is not meant for such cheap happiness. The human life is meant for attaining eternal and unlimited happiness by spiritual realization. This spiritual realization is obtained by tapasya, or undergoing voluntarily the path of penance and abstinence from material pleasure.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.13 Purport)
Friend1: Animals have souls.
Friend1: And not specific “animal souls.”
Friend2: Right. That’s as silly as saying “infant souls” or “adult souls.” Spirit is spirit. It is always distinct from matter. Just as we know electricity is electricity.
Friend1: Oh, I like that. It’s the same electricity powering the toaster as it is giving life to the television.
Friend2: The entire house has the same kind of electricity running through it.
Friend1: They may even come from different sources. Like solar, hydro, petroleum.
Friend2: Remember, that is what Benjamin Franklin’s discovery was about. He didn’t discover electricity. He came up with the idea that lightning was electricity, and then he proved it through experiment. That is real science, by the way. Observation and experiment. Not observation, develop theory, and then everyone else believes in that theory, lest they be labelled a “denier.”
Friend1: If animals have the same kind of spirit inside of them, what would you say is the main distinction with the human beings?
Friend2: Intelligence, obviously. And not taken at a specific moment in time.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Look at the infant. It can barely do anything on its own. It is totally dependent on the adults. Many animals have more intelligence than the infant child.
Friend1: That is true.
Friend2: But we would never say the human being is inferior because of that. There is a higher potential for intelligence in the human being.
Friend1: Where does that come from, though? Is it randomly assigned? Is it due to nature?
Friend2: The source of the intelligence is the Supreme.
सर्वस्य चाहं हृदि सन्निविष्टो
मत्तः स्मृतिर् ज्ञानम् अपोहनं च
वेदैश् च सर्वैर् अहम् एव वेद्यो
वेदान्त-कृद् वेद-विद् एव चाहम्
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas am I to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.15)
The difference in potential is due to the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. Picture three colors on a palette. Just because you are limited to three doesn’t mean that the resulting painting can only be in those colors.
Friend1: You can mix them up in different proportions. Combine the ratios and you get new colors.
Friend2: Take the same concept. Three modes of nature. Mixed in so many different ways. The result is 8,400,000 different species.
Friend1: Wow. That is a lot.
Friend2: Whatever you can imagine, really. None of this is amazing to the person who knows the spiritual science.
Friend1: So the modes of nature are different in the animal species?
Friend2: More ignorance. Human beings have more goodness.
Friend1: Does more ignorance mean more sadness?
Friend2: Hmm. The mode of ignorance is characterized by laziness and increased sleeping. You could say that depression is one of the byproducts of the mode of ignorance.
Friend1: Alright, but I don’t think the animals are depressed. Aren’t they happier than a lot of human beings?
Friend2: For sure. They don’t worry about the future. There is fearing, for sure. There is defense of life, but there is no agonizing over how to protect what one has acquired.
Friend1: The human life is torture, in a lot of ways. Sometimes you hear people say that they don’t have a problem if they are born a dog or cat in the next life. They don’t see that as a negative.
Friend2: Listen, when spiritual understanding is lacking, the animal birth is superior in a lot of ways. That kills the entire theory of evolution, by the way. They have concocted a system of fitness, based primarily on length of life. But some trees live for thousands of years. As you mentioned, the animals are free of so many anxieties. How is the human life a result of evolution, then?
Friend1: Umm, you tell me.
Friend2: It is ideally the final destination in spiritual evolution, where the individual spark of spirit travels through different bodies. After the time spent in different species, the human life is the chance to reconnect with the Supreme Spirit. Understand God. Then use that knowledge to your advantage. Follow renunciation, accepted voluntarily. Then watch as everything turns around. You can find happiness in the simplest things, like the leaves changing color in the autumn or the sun rising in the morning. You’ll always be happy since your consciousness has changed. You stay in that transcendental consciousness by constantly chanting the holy names, perceiving substance to the spiritual sound vibration of, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Animals as happier to see,
Just an observation from me.
Since not by pressures suppressed,
Little reason to stay depressed.
Human life superior then,
Interest in spiritual side when.
Such that intelligence to expand,
Consciousness on transcendence to land.