Below is a fascinating exploration of reviews of biological data about "killing of their own kind" by our primate cousins - chimps and bonobos.
Our life practice is being human, with all that entails - all the inheritances of karma that we call biology, psychology, environment and so forth - and yet not being trapped by that. In the midst of the arising circumstances, the karmic tendencies - whether we call them the traditional poisons of greed, anger and delusion or something else - we manifest this True Nature, Buddha Nature, that we are. Inheritances are this moment life opportunity, this moment practice opportunity - it is up to us to manifest this as Three Poisons or as Three Treasures.
Here are some highlights:
"A recent paper in Nature addressed this debate. The authors, an
all-star team of primatologists, had a collective 492 years of
experience observing chimps. Pooling their data, they examined whether
rates of “lethal aggression” across populations were best predicted by
intrinsic features of the social lives of the chimps or by extrinsic
factors reflecting human impact (for example, proximity to humans, or
whether the chimps lived in a protected game park)..
Remarkably, the 152 killings worked out to about
3.5 murders for every decade of observation. Males made up 92% of the
killers and 73% of the victims. Killing occurred in 83% of these
populations across the African continent. In most killings, groups of
males ambushed someone from a neighboring troop, with an average of
eight males ganging up on the victim. And about 90% of males
participated in a killing at some point in their lives...
Critiques and rebuttals are flying online and in the media, because
this is a big deal. If this sort of violence is fundamental to chimps,
if it’s “in their genes,” then it’s overwhelmingly likely to be in ours
But that wouldn’t be the right conclusion to reach.
Because the chimp research was only half the paper. The authors also
examined bonobos, the “other” species of chimp, famed for their social
affiliation and female dominance. What is the bonobo rap sheet after 92
years of behavioral observation? One suspected killing, a mere 3% of the
rate in chimps.
Critically, we share as much as 99% of our DNA
with bonobos as well (and chimps and bonobos share about the same
percentage of genes with each other).
We’re not chimps. Sadly,
we’re not bonobos either. We’re their cousins, the species that invented
both Quaker pacifism and the atrocities of Islamic State. What a
cross-species analysis like this teaches us, in short, is the
evolutionary roots of our potential, not the inevitabilities of our
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