Planet Earth II

Just found out about this today and glad I did. Will be airing soon in the US. The first Planet Earth was hands-down the most amazing nature documentary I’ve seen and this one looks just as impressive.

Preview trailer:


BTW it’s started airing in the US on BBC America. Absolutely epic, as expected. Also quite sobering from a Buddhist POV: the animal realm is not a nice place to be, to put it lightly.

The first episode can be watched for free on their website.


It can appear (pātubhāvo) amazing & impressive but all of these creatures a driven by ignorance & craving, where for generation after generation after generation, without knowable beginning, they just hunger, hunt, eat, sleep, reproduce, etc, over & over & over again.

We should ask ourselves: “What is being achieved here; what is the purpose here; what is the intrinsic value here?”

In the Anamatagga-Samyutta, the Buddha advises pondering this ‘samsara’ leads to the mind dispassionate.


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One of the most interesting things about this documentary is how you can really see the “intelligence/sentience” of the animals. I am aware that some of this is through clever film editing to make multiple shots seem like they are one (a common technique used to make nature documentaries more interesting), but when you see these animals, through up-close footage never before possible, it really brings out the fact that they are thinking beings. They think differently, for sure, but there is definitely some form of intelligence going on inside their heads, as opposed to some views of animal intelligence that argue that they operate only on instinctual reflexes.

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There is a great book about animal intelligence:

Haven’t read it all yet, but there are many surprising situations described, good read


This looks nice, thanks.

I enjoyed the first episode. It made me think about E.O. Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis. I’ve sometimes wondered if deep instinctive biophilia underlies the Buddhist sense of the harmful karmic consequences of killing, and lies behind the Buddha’s warning not to kill and terrorize beings that seek to live and tremble before death. If we have an underlying love for, and sympathy with the sufferings of, all living things, then when we activate the “will to kill” inside us, we are acting counter to these sympathies, and thus bringing discord into our souls and harm to ourselves.

I have always found it interesting that despite the widespread existence of hunting in the human species, hunting behavior has to be learned, many human cultures also have traditions about a kind of primordial guilt associated with killing.

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