Other Sentient Beings: Our Family, Our World.
In Buddhism animals are seen as just as important as human beings. In Buddhist literature this is expressed so powerfully as the invitation to think of any animal as the possible reincarnation of a relative, like a grandparent or a parent.
When viewed through this lens the life of the animal becomes a sacred thing. No compassionate being would want to hurt or starve a member of their own family.
The unseen benefits:
For those of us who choose to live with animals and cherish them, this is an easy request to fulfill. We experience the animals that become a part of our lives as people; with desires, thoughts and feelings, like ours. We love them and many of them can express their love in return. In addition, it has been shown in numerous studies that folks who live with animals receive many significant health benefits; like lowering blood pressure and reducing heart disease. For more specifics, visit this link: http://www.pawssf.org/document.doc?id=15.
Understanding the Connections
Fostering a connection to animals and the natural world increases the opportunity to experience our shared one-ness. We can begin to feel on some deeper level, the unity of the planet and how we must care for all of it in order for any of us to flourish. Just as forgetting to put out a bowl of water will cause our pet dog to suffer, using too many pesticides can cause wild birds to suffer. When the chicks die because the shell of their eggs are too thin, we have fewer birds to eat the mosquitoes that suck our blood and transmit disease; or to manage the insects that destroy our crops. With uncontrolled pests we lose crops and more people go hungry; or we use more pesticides and develop more disease from contaminated food.
How we disconnect
It is easy to disconnect from the natural world. For many children, it seems that produce comes from the refrigerator or the supermarket and not the farmer’s fields. We are unaware of the practices that deplete our farmlands or cause suffering to our fellow sentient beings like dolphins and chimpanzees. The connection to other living beings is there and it is real. We can experience it only if we are mindful.
We can begin to heal this ignorance and the resulting harm by inviting ourselves to become more aware, and by educating the generations that will succeed us. Many of us provide temporary shelter for homeless pets or donate to charities that work to stop animal torture or experimentation.
Many of us refrain from eating animals or animal products that were obtained by causing pain or distress. These might seem like big commitments of time, energy, money, or life-stye changes.
How we heal
But anyone can take a moment to notice a sparrow and send lovingkindness to that little precious being. It costs nothing to give a tender caress to our pet dog or cat. Some of us are even lucky enough to live with a cat who meditates (see photo)!
Breathing in I look deeply into the eyes of my fellow being.
Breathing out I send compassion to their heart.
Breathing in I am reminded of my deep bonds with all the living beings on the planet.
Breathing out I set an intention to be part of the healing of all sentient beings.
May this information benefit you, those you love, and all sentient beings, everywhere.
Mind Body Intelligencetm is a trademark of Ellen M. Adelman PhD and the Sage Healing Institute.
For more information visit www.sagehealinginstitute.com.