Sacred trees and rituals by... Chimps?

Photo by Bernardo Kastrup, hereby released into the public domain.

In a new study recently published in Nature's Scientific Reports, scientists discovered that chimpanzees perform what seems to be 'sacred rituals' at chosen 'sacred trees.' One of the scientists published a blog post with footage of the chimps' strange behavior and some of her own speculations. She wrote:
We found the first evidence of chimpanzees creating a kind of shrine that could indicate sacred trees. Indigenous West African people have stone collections at “sacred” trees and such man-made stone collections are commonly observed across the world and look eerily similar to what we have discovered here.
Quoted in the Daily Mail, renowned primatologist Jane Goodall said:
If the chimpanzee could share his feelings and questions with others, might these wild elemental displays become ritualised into some form of animistic religion? Would they worship the falls, the deluge from the sky, the thunder and lightning—the gods of the elements?
Many other instances of ritualistic behavior in chimpanzees have been cited in a more cautious New Scientist article on this new finding.

The jury is still out, but the observations are extremely suggestive and intriguing. As discussed in my new book More Than Allegory: On religious myth, truth and belief, the symbolic mind is far older and deeper-rooted than the intellect, anchored in natural realities that transcend our linear logic. Religious myths are the natural expression of this primordial umbilical chord our contemporary culture fears and represses, not a wish-fulfillment maneuver. There are truths about ourselves we are deeply afraid to confront. To many, even the belief in final oblivion—death according to materialism—is preferable to the vertigo of eternity.

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  1. " to the vertigo of eternity." Once again you put it perfectly. That's just what I felt during my times of the bottom had dropped out and you're in free fall. In panic thinking.....what now!

    We never really left eternity however and as the NDErs say it's a familiar place, back home.

  2. It took me ages to figure out that my atheist materialist so-called friends desired not to exist, relished the thought of oblivion, looked forward to it, and went into science partly because it would increase their level of certainty that it is what happens. The worst part was when I found out the only reason at least one of them hasn't topped himself is because he isn't 100% certain oblivion awaits him. I feared oblivion and detested it as a possibility until I got a grasp of it conceptually in my mind after a proponent of it managed to get me to succeed in imagining it (that is possible despite what people say to the contrary). When you understand that oblivion is the never ending absence of any experience at all you equate it with a type of nirvana of sorts. Compare that with reincarnation. It's the brave man that believes in reincarnation, but the opposite is always made out to be the case in the media. What's more, the only true oblivion would be to have never existed in the first place and to never exist ever. If you have existed at all there cannot be infinite oblivion because there is a clear demarcation in time where you have existed. Oblivion is balder dash and a fantasy of the highest order. If there was nothing before birth and there is nothing after death, then the state of nothingness would be the most normal state, making there being something, life, utterly paranormal.

    1. Yes, oblivion is linguistic abstraction with no actual meaning. Once I realized that, my fear of death multiplied, because death to me now is an unknown experience, not the end of all my problems and suffering.

    2. Wow really? To millions of those who've experienced it, it's not unknown and that state of being is to be preferred over this one. It's good to know that joy and love do not end.

    3. Bernardo, having had an NDE myself I would say that there is no reason to fear 'death' at all. We go to a place that is unbelievably more beautiful than being here. Love is at its very core, it permeates everything. Your 'problems' vanish there as does your 'suffering'. Your believing that you will not be free of them is just projecting your state here into somewhere where that state does not apply.

    4. I would agree that if we go into a different state then the rules pertaining to fear and even suffering might not apply. That being said, some form of re embodiment may eventually follow. I understand that another realm may be timeless, which would get around the problem of it being perpetual and thus subject to change, for better or worse. If you study the subject of world creation you'll find choosing the mechanics of any given world is fraught with problems. The best example is pain. It has to be unpleasant in order to get you to do the right thing, such as shift your body weight to prevent fracturing. Granted, in an after world, the body may be made of light or something like that and not prone to fracture, however, in that case, other philosophical problems arise. In order to enjoy a good meal, you've got be hungry. Hunger = a very mild form of suffering. Starvation = severe suffering, and it's the same thing as hunger, only amplified. Perhaps these things will not apply in an after world, but in that case, it'd be a cotton wool world, and maybe there's nothing wrong with that, but if suffering serves some sort of purpose I'm all for it and would opt in for any experience necessary and required of me, in any world, in any time, real, imaginary, or simulated. I'm in the same basket as you Bernardo, ultimately, regarding this. My fear got amplified once I saw through the oblivion hypothesis and realized some form of continued existence is definitely up for grabs but one that I may have no control over or say in, and one that could, at least in my mind, be bad, albeit temporarily, I would hope. To TJS, and Peter, I take on board what you say and if it's true then great.

    5. The idea that you may have no control or say in your continued existence only applies as long as you think yourself separate from the whole. Many NDErs get to the point where they obviously exist but know themselves as everyone and everything. You should always have the choice of seeming to be an individual just as you seem to be one now though really aren't. We probably remove ourselves from the state of being able to feel pain for "awhile" before deciding to dive back in.

    6. I'm all for that TJS, and I would dive back in eventually if it made sense to do so. Even now, as I experience this life, there are many lives I've read about in history books that I wouldn't have minded living myself, despite some of the bad endings involved in them. I'm fascinated by my own life and experiences. It seems like the ultimate form of training and education if not for the fact it isn't explicitly clear that is what it is or is supposed to be. I remember once walking into a famous shop called Watkins, in London, and seeing a book called, 'Life is School.' As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was claiming, and I thought, 'I wish that were true.' I didn't buy it but only because I didn't want to be convinced of something I wish to be true but that isn't. I used to have that same exact fear about many books. Any book that argued for something I wanted to be the case, I would avoid reading on the grounds that I didn't want to be deceived and I perceived myself as vulnerable in that regard because of my little inner wishes, hopes, and dreams. In the end I started reading any book I want and not really minding if I'm wrong. I'm past caring about being wrong. For one thing, I feel much better and that's certainly real, even if it's only while I am alive. Despite all my positive beliefs, I do suspect I won't have access to my memory post death and not only that, even if I did have access to it, the jig might be so different from this one that my knowledge is of no use. A lot of my knowledge isn't even of use in this life where I got it all from in the first place.

    7. The data of the life review already shows that you will remember every detail of your life and as the illusion of identity fades you will remember all lives.

  3. Yes, fascinating.
    On the subject of sacred trees, have you seen this article in The Atlantic, which goes so far as to suggest that the Amazon rainforest might be man-made?

  4. A friend who is a zoo keeper looking after chimps told me about a ritual she witnessed. After one of the chimps died the keepers let the rest of the chimps pay their respects. The chimps picked up a branch with leaves and took turns walking around and waving the branch over the body. Apparently it was a very moving ceremony and everyone was touched by the display.

  5. I suppose that you should have a look at this page

    I suppose that we know very very little about what life on earth really is

  6. "God sleeps in the rocks
    Dreams in the plants
    Stirs in the animals
    And awakens in man"