Is Your Spiritual Practice as Good as Your Dog’s?

In your spiritual practice, can you honestly say that you are 100% present all the time? As you go about your daily life, are you unconditionally loving to everyone you meet? Are you able to forgive easily? These are ideals that most of us strive for in our lives, yet we may only catch glimpses of our goals over the course of a lifetime.

Our pets, on the other hand, seem to have mastered these qualities and practice them without hesitation. Animals can teach us so much about our own true nature, since they have never disconnected from the awareness of themselves as eternal spirits.

Animals are masters of living in the present moment. They don’t worry about tomorrow, nor do they resent what happened yesterday. There is no ego with animals, only being in the now.

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My spiritual teachers, Molly and Gilligan.

I live with two house rabbits, Molly and Gilligan. They are my best friends, my family, and, I’ve come to realize, my spiritual teachers. Molly doesn’t need a glass of wine, I observe, to relax on her rug. Gilligan doesn’t need stimulants to express his joy while running in the yard first thing in the morning. They know who they are and they express themselves without hesitation.

Man is equipped with a mind, which gives him the ability to think, perhaps too much. Many of our abilities and senses, especially the intuition, can be blocked by our thinking. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of our true nature and essence.

Many people who grew up in a situation where they felt unloved find it easier to relate to animals than to other people. They may tend to love their animals more than themselves. It’s easier to be less judgmental of animals than we are of ourselves or others. Yet animals will bring us back to our spirituality and soulfulness ­to help us remember that God loves us just the way we are. In some ways, an animal may be like the parent you never had, letting you know you are worth loving.

I’m reminded of this again and again when Molly and I visit nursing homes for Love on a Leash pet therapy. The reason animals are so effective with people with handicaps, in nursing homes, and with illnesses is because they teach us what we should have known as we were growing up: that we are loved; that we are forgiven; that we are an individualization of God.

Animals help us learn that we are God’s creation. We may do dumb things and act in strange ways but we’ll always be forgiven. In this knowledge we can go on, and keep practicing and rehearsing as we become the person we want to be.

It just goes to show, you can teach an old human new tricks.


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