Question: “Can our relationship with animals provide spiritual teaching and healing?”
This question is both vital and profound. Its answer gets to the very core of the crisis of survival we now face as violence, disease, famine, and ecological destruction continue to escalate. We long for spiritual healing perhaps more than ever before.
The root of our spiritual longing goes back centuries to a time when a world-view emerged that claimed certain human beings were divinely ordained to dominate and exploit nature, animals, and all people whom they considered “inferior.”
Wars, human slavery, the ownership of women and children, the destruction of ecosystems, and the massive suffering and killing of now over 50 billion land animals and over 100 billion sea animals each year has been the result of this world-view.
While this unimaginable suffering is largely hidden from our sight, nevertheless our souls hear the cries. Our spirits sense the imbalance, the injustice, and long for a new harmony with all beings.
If we are to heal and grow spiritually, then we must transform this world-view and the behaviors that feed it. God’s message to us all is that we are here, not to destroy, but to love all creation.
Gandhi taught that “spiritual progress demands from us at a certain point that we stop killing our fellow living beings...” He, along with Albert Schweitzer, Einstein, Tolstoy, Rachel Carson, and many other great teachers warned that we cannot ever achieve an end to human war until we stop our war on animals. This is because the eating and exploitation of animals interferes with the expansion of compassion and love in the human heart.
A growing number of people are discovering the spiritual joy, not to mention improved health, that comes to them when they give up the eating and using of products made from animals. This gives me great hope for the future of all sacred life that we may one day heal our spirits and live together in peace.
© Judy Carman, 2004
Judy Carman, M.A. is an activist for animal rights, peace and justice, and environmental protection. She is the author of Born to Be Blessed: Seven Keys to Joyful Living, and her new book Peace to All Beings won the Spirituality and Health award as one of the best spiritual books of 2003. She is co-founder of Animal Outreach of Kansas and of the Universal Prayer Circle for Animals.