Jasbinder Garnermann
Jungian Analyst, Teacher & Writer
Jung Centre, Dublin

“The thing I think about most of the time is the place of animals. So far we’ve very much used them for their meat, their skin, for medical experiments and things like that. But really, that is not what animals have come to us with, or for.

“I think one of the great, karmic or cosmic laws is that until we can get a grip on how we treat animals, we are never going to solve our problems.
“There are many levels on which to think about this. One one level you could say it’s our own animal nature: that the way we treat animals is also how we relate to that aspect of ourselves, which Anthony Stevens calls The The Two Million Year Old Self. It’s also a measure of how divorced we are from ourselves. On one hand, we have completely suppressed or mutilated our instincts because we consider them to be worthless and inferior. On the other hand, we completely fall into them in an exaggerated way through greed, addiction, etcetera.
“We don’t have a wholesome relationship to our instincts: we are afraid of them. And all the stuff we feel about our own animal nature is of course projected on to animals. As you know, whatever we don’t like about ourselves or whatever we fear about ourselves, we project externally. And of course, animals are ideal for projecting this onto because they are completely helpless. They also remind us of the terrible struggles from which we evolved. So that brings us to the [challenge] of not just integrating our own animal side, but [the] an incredible moral problem of treating people as objects of [our] own projections.
“Then of course, there’s all the stuff that we used to come up with to justify our treatment of animals. We used to say, ‘Oh, they don’t have souls’, that only we had souls. Then it moved to ‘Oh, they don’t have feelings’. I just find it so absurd. And now it’s moved to ‘Yeah okay, they do have feelings. Even fish have feelings, but maybe they don’t have consciousness, maybe they don’t have memory in the same way that we have memory.’ [Regardless of] the nuances, we’re always looking for reasons to continually exploit them.
“For me it reaches something very far down when you’re wrecking things on such an archetypal level. I think of how much animals love their young and how they will sacrifice their lives for them; and how in the farming industry we get animals to reproduce simply to tear their young away from them and slaughter them.
“For me that is the ultimate transgression against life.
“If you think of the most sacred of feelings and instincts: the instinct of the mother towards her young, and the fact that this is what we are mutilating and bloodying, it cannot lead to anything good. It’s bound to be mirrored back. The cruelty, the sadism and the cynicism is informing our relationships to each other is not something that can be compartmentalised.
“When I first came to Ireland and was at Trinity, one of my friends, said to me somewhat facetiously, ‘Don’t they worship cows in India?’ And immediately the answer came to me, ‘Well it’s better than eating them.’
“Jung said something wonderful about animals. He said ‘Animals are the true servants of nature: pious in the real sense of the term. They lead their lives with incredible dignity and grace, taking only from the world what they need.’ So I always think it funny when people say ‘Oh, they are behaving like an animal.’ And I think, ‘Well if only they did.’
“So I think we have a very long way to go in simply being sane. I do think our treatment of animals is the big moral insanity, and if we don’t take it on, it will finish us off.
“The whole economy is on the backs of animals. As a philosophy of living, that we actually call this industrial process ‘farming’ gets me. We need to consider the incredible richness that we are twisting, losing and perverting.
“I think it very much affects the vibrational level on which people live. It’s bound to profoundly affect one’s sensibilities, so that one becomes cruder, one becomes grosser, one becomes nastier in a lot of ways.
“This will have far reaching effects on our evolution.”
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