When humans watch insects they often think they are ‘clever’. For example, if we watch an ant colony work together to build a nest their co-ordination is amazing. Dung beetles may seem like simple beings, but they follow the stars to navigate and to prevent themselves from rolling in circles or close to known competitors. And then there’s the honey bee which is a social animal, which forces it to have many intelligent abilities that non-social insects (like, say, flies, or beetles) don’t need, and its smarts are legion: the insects are able to recognise and distinguish between human faces, a surprising trait given that it isn’t really necessary for their survival. Even more impressive is that when they swarm, as a whole they are able to communicate, make decisions democratically and organise themselves efficiently as a swarm.
But what we need to bear in mind is that this cleverness is called ‘instinctive’ and differs very much from what is considered ‘clever’ in humans.
In humans, what we consider clever is usually the result of education or upbringing. But, considering the mess we are in now with climate change are we really the clever ones?
You could say that an insect is ‘born clever’. It never has to go to school, nor, as far as we can tell, does it have to do any thinking. Yet from the moment it emerges into this world to the last moment of its life it is doing wonderful things, and everything seems to ‘turn out right’.
To understand what ‘instinct’ is, it might be best to watch insects and their activities.
Think about a caterpillar which, having eaten all the food it needs, spins a cocoon within a wrapped over leaf, so that it will have a cosy place to sleep before it wakes up as a moth. Before beginning work on the cocoon, however, it carefully fixes the leaf stalk to the twig using silk thread, which comes from a ‘spinneret’ close to its mouth. As a result, when autumn comes, the leaf does not fall and stays safely in the tree. We might think, “What a clever caterpillar!” But is it? It has never studied hard and diligently practiced until it got it right. Its parents died long before it hatched from the egg. And it never had a teacher. It just did it. It simply acts in obedience to certain mysterious inner promptings, or ‘words of command’, which it can neither ignore nor forget. It can be compared with an ingenious piece of clockwork, which, once it has been wound up, goes through all manner of wonderful movements which only cease when the spring runs down.
But what is behind these clockwork movements that we call instinct? Who or what did the winding up or programming?
“There is a universal, intelligent, life force that exists within everyone and everything. It resides within each one of us as a deep wisdom, an inner knowing.
We can access this wonderful source of knowledge and wisdom through our intuition, an inner sense that tells us what feels right and true for us at any given moment.” Shakti Gawain.
Consider now the leaf-cutting bee which cuts the leaves of roses and other plants, and uses them to make pots, or cells, which it builds up in a burrow made in decaying wood – an old post perhaps, or a rotten beam. The bee almost fills each cell with a sort of ‘batter pudding’ made by mixing pollen and honey together – ingredients which it collects from the flowers. Each finished cell also contains an egg; and the grub which hatches from the egg finds that there is just enough ‘pudding’ to help it complete its development into a perfect bee, the counterpart of its parent. One thing that is particularly interesting here is that the leaf-cutting bee covers each cell with several circular pieces of leaf and they are so truly circular you’d think the bee had used a compass.
Now consider the experiment where there’s a rat in a cage with two sides: one bright and one dark. One of the rat’s survival mechanisms is to favour the dark side and avoid the bright side at all costs. But when the rat goes into the dark side of the cage, it gets shocked. After a few shocks coincide with its favourite habitat situation, it remains on the bright side despite its lifelong instincts. Is the rat now afraid of the dark, or is he simply trained to avoid it?
For us humans, our basic animal instincts are suppressed by the subliminal messages fed to us by society and by parents whose thought processes have also been dimmed by an industrial age education and lack of creative thought.
Intuition is our inner voice and that place of knowledge without reason that we all have access to. It is the bridge between the conscious and the unconscious, tying together what we know and what you feel to be true.
Intuition, when cultivated, holds a strong power that can help you maximize your life.
“At times you have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” Alan Alda.