When we think of the word spirituality, we probably automatically associate it as being exclusively part of the human experience. We do not immediately contemplate on the possibilities of animals embodying elements of spirituality themselves, at least not if we have the 21st century post-modern Western mentality. Some older cultures and belief systems, such as Jainism, philosophical Taoism, and the various tribal and collective societies, did in fact regard animals has having the capacity to be spiritual. All sentient life was regarded as possessing the capability of experiencing and expressing spiritual qualities such as love, empathy, forgiveness, and compassion. Much more than this, animals were seen as being able to show things to humans about themselves, their world, and the whole of reality. Given that many people today feel that ancient cultures were more primitive and as a result were wrong about many things, it is reassuring to find that they were in fact correct about animals having spiritual experiences as shown by recent studies. Far from being the only sentient species on this planet capable of experiencing spirituality, we are joined by a vast and diverse legion of species that can have experiences very similar to ours.
Since animals can’t speak English, or any human language for that matter, it is rather difficult to gather information by speaking to them. Since this is the case, the easiest way to find out something is through observation. We can observe their physical activity as well as their neurological activity. Let’s take a look at how we can observe spirituality in animals by their physical activity. By taking our observations down into the rain forests of South America, we can find jaguars behaving in a kittenish manner after gnawing the bitter roots and bark of yage (Banisteriopsis caapi), a entheogenic vine commonly called Ayahuasca that is also used by native Amazonian tribes in spiritual ceremonies. There are some anthropologists who believe that humans first learned to use the psychedelic vine after watching jaguars eat it and experience altered states of consciousness. Not too long ago, I found a video exemplifying the jaguar-yage relationship that just goes to show us that we still know very little of what goes on for the jaguar during its ingestion of the Ayahuasca vine outside of the overt physical effects that resemble increased happiness and comfort.
We can also observe the inherent connectedness animals feel to the environment…a connectedness that modern humans have stopped being aware of. Animals are in complete harmonic resonance with their bodies, the environment and all life forms around them. They are far better at practicing sustainability than we are and do not pose a threat to the destruction of all life on Earth as humans do. Animals can also demonstrate forgiveness on levels that are unfortunately not seen enough in humans. Think how often dogs forgive their owners when these owners leave them, sometimes for hours, days, and even weeks, without giving any reason that is comprehensible to the dog. Even if they are left in the freezing cold without enough food or water. Since we can’t communicate verbally with them, we don’t know what dogs think about where we are and when we’ll return, but what we do know is that when we finally come back, they are incredibly excited to see us again. They don’t hold grudges or lash out in anger, unlike a human if the same was done to him.
In order to see animals in a way that shows that they are able to experience higher states of consciousness as we are, we need to realize the interconnectedness of all manifestations of consciousness. Everything is a part of everything else within this vast and infinite matrix of consciousness, in which all is and which is all. We can experience this connection with everything including animals by being more aware of the subtle communication that occurs between the different expressions and configurations of consciousness. Subtle ways of communication include such things as telepathy which can be non-local in nature…something that has been proven to be possible with the framework of quantum physics.
There are some who proclaim that they are able to communicate telepathically with their pets. Some of these people meditate with their Buddha-like cats and say that they can sense the energetic coherence between them and their feline friend. Others have expressed their firm convictions in the ability of nonverbal communication between themselves and their pets when under the influence of psychedelics and entheogens. If this is truly the case, we can view communication as thought impulses of energy that contain many aspects of generated experiential energies. The telepathic ‘mind-frame’ reacts to the tapestry of reality, uniting collectively to form the reality, defining and sharing it. In essence, by experiencing direct energetic communication with animals, we are growing and evolving together. This is a heavy thought but contemplate its implications, if true.
There is still much to be understood concerning the spirituality of animals and their experiencing of higher states of consciousness. What we know thus far, from looking at ancient cultures as well as modern observations, is that animals are not as primitive as we once thought. They are capable of expressing elements of spirituality such as compassion and forgiveness that even the homo sapian, that “wise man”, is unable to bring himself to do at times. We can learn much about spirituality from our pets and other animals if we are open to the possibility that they are capable of such higher mind-states. The only thing there is to lose is our superiority complex and some pride. What there is to gain, is a greater understanding of the deeply interconnected nature of consciousness and life.