60 Questions – Answer No. 10 – What can you learn from animals?
To answer this question, I met with Mr. Josef Hurzelmeier for an interview.
Mr. Hurzelmeier is one of the leading experts in human behavioral consulting.
I met him in his formidable apartment in Merlenbach, a lovely little town in Southern Germany.
Mr. Hurzelmeier, what do you think human beings can learn from animals?
Thank you very much for this exquisite question. Human beings like you can, indeed, learn quite a lot from animals. The important thing is that you need to carefully consider which animal you take on as a role model.
What precisely do you mean by that?
Of course. I strongly advise anybody not to take dogs as a teacher or spiritual master. I believe that cats are the best leaders and role models for humans.
Why do you think this is so?
Look, let me share the wisdom of one of the best novices who was ever educated by a cat master: Robert Gernhardt, the German Poet. He wrote:
„To learn from a cat,
Means learning to be victorious.
Whereas to be victorious means „easy-going. „
So actually: learning how to lie down. „
I see. So this is your basic philosophy as well?
Yes. This seems to be the essence. And I’d like to add something. Sometimes life is not a soft sofa upon one is lying down. Sometimes life is like a rat. Then you must claw into it and bite its head off.
That does not sound too amicable to me – I thought you to have a relatively gentle character.
[Mr. Herr Hurzelmeier quickly licks his right paw. – Obviously, this topic agitates him.]
This is one of the critical problems of human beings. You believe one can either be amicable or fierce. [He purrs briefly.] But true freedom means always having the possibility to choose the appropriate measures in any given situation. If humans could open up their minds for this perspective, humanity would have gained a lot.
You should not do what you’ve always done just out of habit or automatically. Like cats, you should assess a situation and then consciously chose which action is the best one for this very moment.
Furthermore, friendliness or fierceness are only the two extremes of a vast array of possibilities.
What else would you like to mention as essential for us humans?
Easy-going in every situation would also mean that I respond to a demand or a request by „not-doing. “
Humans like you often misinterpret this behavior as ignorance. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is the perfect mastery of our internal impulses. Humans who live with cats know this behavior well and also the „elegant exit “ strategy. Once it becomes clear that a situation is not beneficial to me, and „not-doing“ will not improve it either, I choose this practice. Especially if also practicing „Silent Accusation“ did not yield the proper effect.
All these are very efficient, easy, and very silent and peaceful practices.
Do I understand you correctly that humans can learn from cats‘ flexibility in action as the essential teaching?
That’s it! The only prerequisite without which all efforts will be fruitless is leaving behind the hamster wheel of maximum productivity. Without rest, no wisdom. Or to say it in my own words:
What fools call laziness, the wise cat calls contemplation.
So it is again about „learning to lie down“?
I see there is hope for you, as you seem to understand my lesson now.
Thank you very much. Is there anything else you like our readers to know?
What cats have developed over millennia of living together with humans is one of the most overlooked achievements for day to day life.
We insist on being who and what we are. And this is precisely why we are loved.
We know that we are able to survive on our own if we choose to or have to. That makes us free to choose connection without fawning or submission.
We need and demand coziness and cuddling. And we have claws which we do not hesitate to use if our signals were overlooked.
There would be so much more to say. But I do not want to reveal too much in advance of the up-coming book.*
Mister Hurzelmeier, Thank you very much for this interview.
* Mr. Hurzelmeier’s last successful intervention is turned into a novel right now.
(By the interviewer. That’s me.)