ANIMAL RIGHTS WATCH
News, Information, and Knowledge Resources

THE SPIRIT AMONG US: We’re Not the Only Animals Who Feel Grief and Spirituality

Take Jane Goodall’s famous chimpanzees at the waterfall. Of course, it is possible that they had a powerful and meaningful spiritual experience even if they’ve never developed a theology out of it.

MARC BEKOFF: It’s clear that humans are not the only animals who experience grief and loss and it’s narrowly and anthropocentrically arrogant to think we are. Along these lines, a new and wide-ranging trans-disciplinary book titled Enter the Animal: Cross-species perspectives on grief and spirituality by Dr. Teya Brooks Pribac, an independent scholar and multidisciplinary artist who lives in the Australian Blue Mountains with sheep and other animals, convincingly argues that nonhumans experience loss and embodied experiences, and so do we because we’re also animals. Here’s what Teya had to say about her new book, a significant addition to the literature in the field of Animal Studies…

MB: What are some of the topics that are woven into your book and what are some of your major messages?

TBP: The central topics are animal grief and spirituality… When I talk about spirituality I have in mind an embodied experience that is separate from interpretative solutions. I make a distinction between religion and spirituality. Religion includes a strong cognitive closure (interpretative) component. In contrast, I see spirituality as an effective opening. It emerges at an encounter with perceived agency that the brain can’t automatically squeeze into a known category, leaving space for direct engagement. This engagement is experienced as meaningful without having to be “converted” into meaning through the interpretative apparatus.

Take Jane Goodall’s famous chimpanzees at the waterfall. Of course, it is possible that they had a powerful and meaningful spiritual experience even if they’ve never developed a theology out of it. Both responses, grief and spiritual engagement, are rooted in the intrinsically relational nature that is characteristic of animals…

When we consider other animals’ grief we also tend to get derailed by satellite questions, which can obscure the potential emotional impact of loss… When we peel off the layers of assumptions and prejudice, I think it becomes clear that differences in the experience of grief manifest on an individual rather than species level (at least for mammals and birds but probably wider) and these differences are dependent on the nature of the lost relationship, the psychological constitution of the bereaved individual, and similar more intimate factors. SOURCE…

RELATED VIDEO:

You might also like
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

ENTER CAPTCHA CODE BELOW: