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Interfaith Voices: Are animals spiritual beings?

Interfaith Voices: Are animals spiritual beings?

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At the ripe old age of 12, our Golden Doodle Jasmine still radiates puppy nature. While puppies love to play, many dogs “go into retirement” as they approach 2 years old. They seem to say, “I’ve outgrown that!” Over the years several neighbors have asked if Jasmine would help socialize their puppies because other dogs wouldn’t play with them. These ranged in size from Cody, a Havanese lap dog, and Darwin, a Border Collie, all the way up to Jamba, a Saint Bernard-Poodle mix.

Jasmine seems to gauge the size and strength of her playmate, then dials the physicality of her play up or down to match them. When playing with Cody she would lay on her back, and let her tiny friend climb all over her and bite her ears. If Jamba came over, Jasmine would run in large circles at full speed and trade body slams like a professional wrestler.

When Jasmine joined our family, we had two rescue cats—siblings—who had been with us for years. The sister, Mookie, made a “point” of landing a paw on Jasmine’s nose so she knew who the real boss was. Jasmine gave her a wide berth for years. But whenever Mookie got into a fight—and yowled for help—Jasmine was out the door like a locomotive to chase away the invading neighbor cat. Pointy or not, Mookie was family.

Like many dogs, Jasmine has an acute sense of hearing, and hers extends past knowing that someone is approaching the house to knowing who is coming—and whether they like to play. She picks up the sound of their car as it comes down the street, or their keys jingling at the door. You can tell by the tone of her bark, and whether she runs to pick out a toy, if it’s a stranger, friend, or playmate arriving.

My wife and I run a natural healthcare clinic which also provides space for independent practitioners. Jasmine has been a member of the clinic team for years. She spends most of her time lying on her bed near my wife’s treatment table, but when “her peeps” come into the room, she gets up to offer a full-body tail wag and a friendly vocal greeting. If, in her opinion, the time between visits has been too long, Jasmine lets them know about it with a “Roo! Roo! Roo!” that says, “Where have you been? I missed you!”

When a client is in pain, Jasmine demonstrates a keen sense of knowingness. She walks over, tunes in to where it hurts, and sits down next to them. In the past she might even pick up a toy and offer it to them.

One day a new client was sitting quietly in the waiting room: a teenage girl who had suffered several sports-related concussions. The moment my wife opened the door to greet her, Jasmine got up, ran to the waiting room, and sought to comfort the teen by laying down at her feet. The girl got down off her chair, sat next to Jasmine on the carpet, started petting her—and soon began to relax.

The spiritual leader of Eckankar, Harold Klemp, shared these observations in his book, "Animals are Soul Too!" “When an animal does something that looks very human, showing compassion or love and mercy to its owner who is sick or feeling sorrow, some say it’s just instinct. But actually, that animal is far above some people because it can show and express God’s love.” “You, me, our pets—we are all Soul dwelling here in the world of nature.”

Would you like to read more inspiring, real-life stories about the amazing gifts of divine love that animals bring to all of us? Eckankar offers the Animals Are Soul blog as a spiritual resource for people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Alan Coffman is a long-time student of the ECK teachings and a member of the ECK Clergy. In daily life he is an aspiring writer, health coach, and workshop leader.


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