Interesting photo above from Amazing Nature site.
Besides my Graphic Arts training recognizing that the photo is likely an enhanced composition, my reactive mind immediately attributed human-like actions to the mantis spreading its forearms wide in a kind of Tai Chi pose; and then my logical mind recognized what was happening in my thought processes, and said, “NO. You are seeing what you want to see, rather than what truly is.”
Not sure who actually said it prior to Stephen Covey, but what is that quote? “We see the world, NOT as it IS, but as WE ARE…” This image and my reaction to it reminded me of that, because for a brief moment I saw what I wanted to see: a Tai Chi dancing mantis.
As humans we have a natural tendency to relate and compare new experiences to previous ones—new images to recognized similar objects or situations, and basically all ‘unknowns’ to that ‘which is known to us’ for our assessment of its safety and threat potential to our existence. We do this through genetically-programmed species survival tactics—we and our ancestors before us have learned from our near misses with death in the past to not trust deadly creatures or hazardous situations a second time. Caution and wariness keeps you alive to fight another day.
But even with that being said, we also have this innate tendency to anthropomorphize all aspects of the world around us, because as humans we are basically a self-aware but extremely self-focused species. Why else would we assume that our GOD—the all-knowing—all-seeing—all-being Omniscient One looks like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling rendition of an old bearded man, supported in the air by cherubs, who is extending a lackadaisical finger to his “new creation” –also male—awaiting animation only at HIS touch?
And why is that? Why do we even think of GOD like that? Because “We see the world, NOT as it is, but as we are…” Sometimes quite literally.
We see the world around us as human-designed and human-purposed, therefore GOD or gods must have human attributes or forms, which often includes having human proclivities and weaknesses like emotional extremes. So of course our GOD is human shaped. Of course our GOD is male because who first scribed the Torah and the Bible at their inceptions? Who was allowed education and training way back then to transcribe and spread HOLY texts and philosophies? Hmm, let me guess: Males. Therefore no-brainer, God in all his wisdom and magnificence must be not only HUMAN depicted, but must be also MALE and should be depicted as the ‘perfect specimen’ of manliness.
In the broadest consideration, I’m fairly sure that GOD, or Grand Consciousness as I prefer to call it, is both genderless and nonhuman-shaped unless it is housing a minute portion of Itself in a human form for the duration of that person’s LIFE. But the assessment of human-relatedness to anything is called anthropomorphism—assigning human characteristics to animate and inanimate everything.
“Anthropomorphism–Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology. Personification is the related attribution of human form and characteristics to abstract concepts such as nations, emotions, and natural forces, such as seasons and weather.” (Wiki)
Now in one sense, this whole subject matter is truly no big deal. So what if that Praying Mantis is doing his Tai Chi dance on that twig under a blazing sun overhead? Who really cares?
But in a broader sense, if we can’t disrupt our own ingrained perceptual patterns to perceiving the world around us solely within “socially and culturally acceptable” limits, then how will we ever know TRUTH if we actually do see it or hear it?
Perceptual patterns define our lives—it’s how we interpret the world around us; and we have developed and solidified in our minds those patterns of thinking and perceiving—of filtering our awareness of the world that we encounter in a certain way—from a very early age onwards.
So when we are preprogrammed to perceive the world around us by the perceptual restrictions that we unconsciously set for ourselves, then it becomes very hard to breakthrough those old programs and patterns of perception to actually see and hear LIFE as it IS, not as WE ARE, because our current perceptions are being tainted by our past associations and by our prior reactions to previous similar situations.
To see things as they actually ARE without our ingrained or learned bias, is to energetically expand our personal awareness outward to resonate with the world that we explore, but it also requires the ability for us to perceive that new world view without biased pre-judgment or expectation. Let it be simply what it IS.
And that’s pretty hard to do when you aren’t even aware that you are constantly filtering/comparing/judging all aspects of the world that you perceive as each input source hits your multiple senses.
That makes it even more difficult for us to take that “AS IS” world view and see it more as an objective witness might, rather than as a biased receiver who sensors the exploration input into ‘acceptable’ or ‘unacceptable’ categories for instant consideration or rejection of that situation’s importance to us.
So maybe we should just let that mantis do his or her thing on that branch without us assigning our biased meaning to it—whatever that thing IS that he or she is doing.