Animals in Spirituality
As we travel and grow along the Path of Spirituality, we come to realize that Humanity, from the perspective of the subhuman kingdoms in nature, is the divine intermediary and the transmitter of spiritual energy to those lives whose stages of consciousness are below that of self-consciousness. Humanity becomes to these lives, in their totality, what the Spiritual Hierarchy is to humanity. This service to the animal and other subhuman kingdoms becomes possible only when an individual becomes increasingly soul-conscious and not just self-conscious.
"Nothing's perfect," sighed the fox. "My life is monotonous. I hunt chickens; people hunt me. All chickens are just alike, and all men are just alike. So I'm rather bored. But if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I'll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music. And then, look! Do you see the wheat fields over there? I don't eat bread. For me, wheat is of no use whatever. Wheatfields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful, once you've tamed me! The wheat, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I'll love the sound of the wind in the wheat..."
~ Little Prince- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The following are excerpts from Module 1 of the Humanity Healing Animal Mentorship Program,
De Animalibus Libri: Animals in Spirituality.
Do Animals Have Souls?
But does animal intelligence constitute, per se, proof of the existence of a Soul? Do a pet's emotions and ability to relate to human beings mean that animals possess an immortal spirit that will survive after death? Theologians say no. They point out that man was created superior to animals and that animals cannot be equal with him. Most interpreters of the Bible accept that man's likeness to God and animals' subservience to man implies that animals may have the "breath of life," or nephesh in Hebrew, but not an immortal Soul in the same sense as a man. The word "nephesh," however, has more than a single connotation. Nephesh was traditionally used in many Biblical translations simply as "breath of life," but this Hebrew word also means "creature" as well as "Soul."
For those who use the Bible to stand behind the opinion that animals do not have Souls might want to have a look at these Biblical quotes:
"Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal." (Ecclesiastes 3:19)
"This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as the head." (Ephesians 1:10)
Animals in Buddhist Doctrine
Animals have always been regarded in Buddhist thought as sentient beings, different in their intellectual ability than humans; but no less capable of feeling suffering. Furthermore, according to the Mahayana school, animals possess a Buddha-nature and therefore have an equal potential to become enlightened. Moreover, the doctrine of rebirth holds that any human can be reborn as an animal and any animal can be reborn as a human. An animal might be a reborn dead relative; and, if you looked far enough back in one's infinite series of lives, you would eventually perceive every animal to be related to you in some way. The Buddha expounded that those sentient beings currently living in the animal realm have been our mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, children, and friends in past rebirths. One could not, therefore, make a hard distinction between the moral rules applicable to animals and those applicable to humans: humans and animals are ultimately part of a single-family. They are all interconnected.
Animals in the Kabbalah
Kabbalah divides physical life into four forms: Inanimate or mineral, plant, animal, and human. Animals are a higher life form than minerals and plants. All of Life is a hierarchy of spiritual levels. Minerals are at the lowest spiritual point and are unable to elevate themselves to a higher spiritual level. When minerals (e.g. soil) are absorbed into plants, they are elevated to the next spiritual level. When an animal eats a plant, it raises the plant to the spiritual level of an animal. Humans have a choice and can behave like animals or worse, so when a human eats an animal, he/ she might raise the animal to a higher spiritual rung or may stoop to the animal's level, depending on how spiritually focused the person is.
Animals also have no free choice. A predator cannot choose to become a vegetarian. In this way, animals are similar to angels, although on the opposite extreme. Angels are instinctive creatures that cannot change their nature. Some angels have highly developed intellects, but others are as single-minded as animals.
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Humanity Healing is sharing Module 1 of the Animal Mentorship Program, De Animalibus Libri: Animals in Spirituality.
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"Nothing's perfect," sighed the fox. "My life is monotonous. I hunt chickens; people hunt me. All chickens are just alike, and all men are just alike. So I'm rather bored. But if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I'll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music. And then, look! You see the wheat fields over there? I don't eat bread. For me, wheat is no use whatever. Wheat fields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful, once you've tamed me! The wheat, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I'll love the sound of the wind in the wheat..."
Little Prince- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry