15 January, 2005

The sixth sense

The tsunami that hit South East Asia on December 26th 2004 has touched all our lives in more ways than one. It has pointed out again how utterly helpless we are when faced with Nature's fury.

I think what is most tragic is how the tsunami caught people totally unawares. All the videos and photographs doing the rounds on the Net tell the story of how people on various beaches in S.E Asia were crowding around to watch the initial sight. The uncharacteristic giant waves was something they had never seen and so they were watching with utter curiosity and awe. Most of them did not feel any sense of impending danger until it was too late.

Caught unawares...a simple phrase with gargantuan implications. We were caught unawares because we did not know the appropriate reaction to the situation at hand. We saw the signs but did not read them right.

I was surprised therefore to read how the animals in Sri Lanka's Yala National Park had averted the danger and moved to safety in the higher grounds well in time. Scientists are arguing whether it is a superior acoustic sense or the mysterious sixth sense that helped these animals escape the tragedy. According to the article published in the Guardian, the only other people who had sensed the coming danger were perhaps the indigenous tribes on the Indian archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar islands.

How could it be that these animals and tribes, not having experienced a tsunami before, moved to safety? Is it indeed their ability to read Nature's signals better than all of us? Is it possible that as our civilisation makes quantum leaps in the field of science and technology, we are gradually losing our need and therefore the power to be in tune with Nature?

Also, could it be that the 'sixth sense', rather than being the illusory ESP, is just the ability to train our five senses more effectively to pick up signals from the world around us and harness that into giving the right response? One wonders...

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