Do Ants Pray?
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Do Ants Pray?Exploring mind, meaning and mysteries.
I recently had the pleasure of joining thousands at the Hay House I Can Do It® conference in Tampa Bay, Florida. It never ceases to amaze me just how much there is to learn. I had the opportunity to share my work, research, and thoughts and to be informed by others during the process, but an unexpected conversation led to a remarkable insight for me.
Years ago, when I was a mere eight or nine years old, I spent several consecutive days burning ants in my backyard. It’s embarrassing to think about it now, but at the time I missed the meaning of what I was doing. I dug up large anthills—and we had many—shot some lighter fluid on the area, and lit a rolled sheet of waxed paper that I used as a torch to spread the fire. Sometimes I placed small milk cartons on the hills and pretended they were houses going up in flames.
My friends did similar things to pass the summer days, so I didn’t think what I was doing was anything other than normal. “So what?” I would have responded to anyone challenging me. Then one night I had a dream in which the ant leaders came to speak with me. They were very courteous and formal, like grown-ups, and they showed me the devastation I was bringing to their families. I’d wrecked their homes and tortured family members, and they’d dragged back to their graveyards the burnt and twisted remains of brothers and sisters. They also showed me around their homes as they were before I’d started burning them and otherwise tormenting these creatures. In the days before my boredom led to this pastime, the ants lived in harmony. They worked together to build, encouraging each other to do a good job so as to create a strong future for the next generation. Their strength, courage, and work ethic were most impressive, even to a child like myself.
I awoke from the dream frightened and nauseated. I felt terrible for what I’d done. I never burned another anthill or ant. I abandoned this afternoon hobby for good, and in time thought very little about ants. Although with 20/20 hindsight I can see that my learning should have transferred from ants to all animals, it didn’t happen quite that way for me. It did work well enough for me to refuse to take biology in high school because I objected to cutting up frogs, but by the time I entered adulthood, most of the message had seriously dimmed.
Then one day, while I was riding in a limo to the airport in Tampa Bay, Florida, the driver and I had a conversation. It started with the nature of spirituality and the distinction between spirituality and religion. After some lofty and elegant philosophies, the driver looked at me and said, “You know what? I believe in prayer.” He then went on to explain why. It was the ants again—ants that he’d seen in a nature show on television. Ants that he said buried their dead and prayed. “If ants pray,” he told me when we parted, “then there must be a reason that goes beyond what we know.”
As soon as I returned home, I checked out the information. Sure enough, in real life, ants lived up to my dream. I pulled a quick article off the Web from Encyclopedia Bugtannica, which began: “They plant gardens, herd and milk bugs such as aphids, raise armies for battles, take slaves, and even bury their dead in ant cemeteries.” The article, titled merely “Ants,” went on to speak of the loyalty, efficiency, diligence, sacrifice, and teamwork that ants share.
I thought of the many times I’d looked out the window of an airplane, down on the anthills of humans. Tiny vehicles traveling along skinny roadways, small houses and other buildings crowded together, itsy-bitsy people, and even more minuscule animals such as dogs carrying out their day—all just like ants, busy little ants with no apparent purpose to the observer flying by in an airplane. Yet on the ground, we learn the purpose of those little specks, their dreams, goals, ambitions, and more. I wondered what more I could learn if I lived with the ants.
How foolish it is for us so-called enlightened human beings to think that we’re the only intelligent and moral creatures on this planet. How will we ever come to understand ourselves if we overlook the world we live in? Just where is the divide between knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of the world we participate in? How could a solitary ant gain personal insight without standing back and witnessing the entire ant world? It’s all too easy to be so busy that we fail to take stock of the everyday things that surround us—or is it just me? Do you notice the lives of all the creatures large and small that dwell with and near you? Do they matter? Do you think there’s a lesson from the ants we all could learn—and if so, what is it? What does it all mean, anyway?