In 1956, a 22-year-old British girl received a letter from a former classmate containing an invitation to visit her family’s farm in Kenya.
Four years later, life in Africa had already captured Jane Goodall’s heart when she reached a secluded lakeshore in what is now Tanzania with only a notebook and a pair of binoculars.
There, she observed chimpanzees making and using tools, hunting, and even showing emotions similar to those we call love, joy and fear — behaviors at the time thought to be uniquely human. The remarkable observations she made changed the way we look at animals and people — and the connection between the two. After finding another suitable group of chimpanzees to follow, she established a nonthreatening pattern of observation, appearing at the same time every morning on the high ground near a feeding area along the Kakaombe Stream valley. The chimpanzees soon tolerated her presence and, within a year, allowed her to move as close as 30 feet to their feeding area. After two years of seeing her every day, they showed no fear and often came to her in search of bananas. Goodall used her newfound acceptance to establish what she termed the “banana club,” a daily systematic feeding method she used to gain trust and to obtain a more thorough understanding of everyday chimpanzee behavior. Using this method, she became closely acquainted with more than half of the reserve’s 100 or more chimpanzees. She imitated their behaviors, spent time in the trees, and ate their foods. By remaining in almost constant contact with the chimps, she discovered a number of previously unobserved behaviors. She noted that chimps have a complex social system, complete with ritualized behaviors and primitive but discernible communication methods, including a primitive “language” system containing more than 20 individual sounds.
She is credited with making the first recorded observations of chimpanzees eating meat and using and making tools. Tool making was previously thought to be an exclusively human trait, used, until her discovery, to distinguish humans from animals. She also noted that chimpanzees throw stones as weapons, use touch and embraces to comfort one another, and develop long-term familial bonds. The male plays no active role in family life but is part of the group’s social stratification. The chimpanzee “caste” system places the dominant males at the top. The lower castes often act obsequiously in their presence, trying to ingratiate themselves to avoid possible harm. The male’s rank is often related to the intensity of his entrance performance at feedings and other gatherings.
When asked if she believed in God, Goodall said in September 2010: “I don’t have any idea of who or what God is. But I do believe in some great spiritual power. I feel it particularly when I’m out in nature. It’s just something that’s bigger and stronger than what I am or what anybody is. I feel it. And it’s enough for me
If a letter can spark a world of discovery, imagine what a simple conversation can do. It’s this inquisitive exchange of ideas that can change the way we live.
We often, instead of clearing issues through simple conversations, instead, imagine issues, and justify our views. This is the mind game we get into, and we project this mind out, in terms of the way we view the world and the way we view others. We think others are out to harm us, and the world is out to hurt us. The scriptures tell us, when we allow the mind to take charge over intellect, all we can expect after that is, misery and pain.
We need to recognize that the problems are temporary, and the solutions are permanent. We need to recognize that the suffering is real but the cause of the suffering is imaginary, just like the clouds. The clouds are temporary, they may block the sunlight momentarily, but sooner or later they too will pass, it is the Sun that is permanent.
Likewise, Body, Mind and Intellect are in a constant change. It is important to recognize that all of them are temporary. It is the ‘atman’ that is non-changing, that is permanent. When we in the zone with ‘atman’ nothing can disturb us, but if we associate with the body, mind and intellect, then we are suject to the vagaries of the three.