It has been a while since I wrote a blog about animals, and I felt the urge today to make that up to them.
The more we think about animals, the more we consider our cruel treatment of them. The more that we consider our cruel treatment of animals, the more we can understand that the problems which we face in our lives and in our world are merely a reflection of our cruel treatment of animals and vice versa.
Just today I received an email from RSPCA asking for emails to cosmetic companies requesting them to stop cruel testing on animals. Yesterday I saw a report about the cruel treatment of horses in the racehorse industry. Two days earlier, I had received an email from Animals Australia reporting cruel treatment of Australian live sheep exports. A couple of days before that there was a report about the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills, and this only served to remind me how similarly poorly we treat our food animals in factory farms.
I began to wonder how we got to such a state.
Just as many indigenous cultures still do, many ancient cultures held great respect for all animals. Although some animals were hunted as food, it was not uncommon to commune telepathically with the animal prior to killing it. This allowed the animal to offer itself as food, and for the hunter to gratefully accept its offering. Hunters would kill only enough to feed their family or their tribe.
Even in our grandparents day, factory farms were unheard of. Farmers may not have had a strong attachment to their animals, but, if nothing else, animals usually had monetary value. As factory farms have been developed, the comparative price of meat has been reduced and the life of an individual animal has less and less value. I have seen great changes even in my own lifetime.
Who can remember when a roast chicken was a treat, which was reserved for once a week lunch or dinner, usually after church on Sunday? All of the parts of a food animal were eaten, including cheaper cuts and offal.
Animals may not have lived out the natural term of their lives, but at least they were normally allowed to live their limited lives in relative freedom and peace.
The increase in cruel treatment of animals has coincided with the development of our “greed is good” mentality. Our culture made the decision that we always have to get what we want, and that it matters not who gets hurt in the process. We decided that we have to get more and more of what we want in order to be fulfilled.
A Course in Miracles has helped me to understand that this “greed is good” mentality is a sign of our favouring our ego-minds over our spirit or God-minds. We have attempted to fulfil ourselves with more and more things and more and more food. Our obesity epidemic is one sign of this. We are looking for our fulfilment in all the wrong places.
Wayne Dyer wrote a book called There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem. In fact, all of our problems are spiritual problems. Every problem we encounter is caused by our turning our backs on our spiritual guidance, which equates to turning our backs on God.
The fulfilment for which we are searching in money, things, and food can only be found in God. We have been listening for too long to our ego-minds, and ignoring the spirit voice which God has provided for us.
Once we begin to listen to our spirit voice more and more often, things have a way of turning out for the best. Even if something happens which may not be what we thought we wanted, we find that it leads to a more positive outcome than the one we had imagined.
As we listen more to our spirit mind, we begin to narrow the gap between ourselves and the rest of God’s creation. In order to find peace, however, we need to forgive our brothers and sisters and ourselves for all of our perceived wrongs. We need to eliminate perceptions of guilt from ourselves and our brothers and sisters.
Our God-mind would tell us that we are one with God and all of his creation. As we take this lesson to heart, we begin to understand that we cannot hope to perceive our brothers and sisters as guiltless, whilst we harbour guilt for ourselves. Even though we may try to overlook our errors, we can only find true peace when we can see ourselves as guiltless as the rest of creation (love your neighbour as yourself).
Although God can remove all of the effects of our perceived errors in the past and the future if we request it, we alone are responsible for what we choose in the present moment. Can we truly perceive ourselves as guiltless in the present moment when we condone the cruel treatment of animals? Can we truly perceive ourselves as guiltless in the present moment when we support a livestock industry which is a) denuding our forests, b) contributing the largest share of greenhouse gases, and c) consuming enough grain crops to feed all of the world’s poor?
People on a vegan diet are known to have a greatly reduced risk of cancer. A plant-based diet is beneficial because of what it adds to the body as well as what it leaves out. However, should we be considering the possibility that the greatest benefit of a vegan diet is the removal of guilt in every present moment of food consumption?
Whilst we are continuing to support industries which we know are contributing to cruelty to animals and to starving the poor, we are reluctant to look within ourselves for other sources of guilt. We are reluctant to listen to the voice of God which would have us look within for the answers to the world’s problems. We are frightened of what we might find there.
Instead, we overlook our complicity in supporting cruelty and starving the world, as we stuff down our guilt, stuff down our problems, stuff down our food.
You might wonder how you can be responsible for cruelty. You’re not the one doing it yourself, are you? You wouldn’t starve another person so that you could continue to eat cheap meat, would you? You wouldn’t confine animals in small cages or crates to have your eggs and bacon in the morning, or send baby calves to slaughter so that you can put milk in your tea?
But remember, we are one. What one of us does to another, we all do. Although we can achieve some peace when we begin to listen to the voice for God, complete peace can only come when we can perceive ourselves as completely guiltless.
I’ll share with you a story which helped me to understand how this seems to work in practice.
I kept seeing an ad on TV for Animals Asia, showing Asian bears which are kept in tiny cages all of their lives so that their bile can be extracted for Chinese medicine. The ad was making me very uncomfortable, I would even say distressed. I couldn’t bear (no pun intended) to watch the ad, and had to fast-forward through it on recordings. No matter how fast I forwarded it, the slightest glimpse of those bears left me feeling…..was it guilt?
I suffered through this for weeks, before I finally decided to go to the advertised website and make a donation to help support bears rescued from this industry. I never would have believed it, but I can now watch that ad without feeling distress. I stopped trying to stuff down my guilt, or fast-forward past it.
The way for me to feel guilt-free may not be the same way for you. You will only begin to know when you start to listen to your spirit voice, your higher self. This is easiest to do during meditation.
Your higher self also talks to you through your feelings, but we have not been educated in how to interpret these feelings. I was interpreting my distress at seeing the suffering bears as my perception of the perpetrators as guilty. In fact, the distress was caused by my seeing myself as guilty for not doing anything about it.
God sees each of us as equally innocent. We cannot hope to acquire the peace of God if we are blaming all of the world’s problems on everybody else. Whilst we perceive one of us as guilty, we make us all guilty. The same applies if we see ourselves as guilty. We are one.
You can ask God and your angels for help in releasing guilt from your past, and for help in hearing the voice for God which you carry within you. With their help, you can learn to find the peace of God, one present moment at a time, but you may be asked to look within, rather than without for the war you need to end.