'Animal Matters' (January 2015):
“Manana (deep contemplation) will confirm the fact of God being in every living being, bird, beast, tree and when this awareness is established, you will not be tempted to hate or ridicule or envy any other living being in creation. For you are He and He is you, fundamentally. Until you come to this stage, you are only a partial devotee, still a long way to go.” (Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 10, ch 12)
When I first read the words above, I was puzzled... are there really people who hate, ridicule or envy other living beings in creation? Perhaps they hate them out of fear and yes, we have good reason to feel afraid of certain wild and dangerous animals, poisonous insects and so on. That is understandable. But 'ridicule' other creatures? Because of the way they look or the way they walk? Well, human beings aren't always physically prepossessing or pleasing to look at! However, as time has gone by, I have realised with great sadness that there are people who actually despise and feel contempt for the animal kingdom. Even sadder is the fact that many of these people would regard themselves as 'spiritual' people. (In fact, many people who would not call themselves 'spiritual' often demonstrate a much greater love towards God's other creatures). Their attitude may be due to cultural conditioning and inherited attitudes and/or to the fact that they never had the good fortune to keep pets when they were children. Most small children feel an affinity with animals and want to befriend them if allowed to. Often, of course, this natural feeling is discouraged by the adults around them and thus, their hearts start to close where once they were open. No matter what, I feel sure that if such people took the trouble to really observe animals with an open mind and heart and educate themselves in this respect, their attitudes would change. Especially if they realised that animals not only help humans in times of need and distress but they also help each other, even those of different species, as is shown by the following stories.
On March 23rd, 2008, CBS News showed the following amazing CCTV footage. A street dog was shown on a motorway in Santiago, Chile, singlehandedly carrying out a remarkable rescue operation. On seeing another dog that had been run over by a car, this dog braved the fast oncoming traffic, darting between cars and risking its own life until it reached the wounded one. With its front legs and paws alone and using all the strength it could muster, in the midst of all the traffic, it dragged the wounded dog, by its shoulders, across the road to safety. No small achievement! It took dedication, courage and dogged determination. Highway workers came to the aid of the two dogs, at which the brave rescuer ran off, sadly never to be seen again. Whether or not the wounded dog lived or died is not clear, but one thing was clear, this noble act will be inscribed in the ethers forever.
“The task of every avathar has been to protect the sadhus, punish the wicked and support right conduct (dharma). By sadhus, I do not mean monks and ascetics alone, as it is generally understood. It means the ones who practise goodness, uprightness and virtue. Note that these virtues can be possessed by animals and even insects... (Sathya Sai Baba ,Thought for the day, Prashanti Nilayam,1st February 2012)
Well, Lilica is an animal sadhu if ever there was one. This sweet natured and sweet eyed stray dog lives by a junkyard in Sao Paolo in Brazil where she was first abandoned. Daily, she renders the most remarkable selfless service for the other homeless creatures living there: dogs, cats, hens and other animals. A favourite of the junkyard owner, she brings joy to her and the children who come there. When Lilica gave birth to eight puppies, she knew she had to feed her babies somehow. So every night, she hit the road under cover of darkness to find find food for them. As time went by, she not only brought food back for her puppies but also for the other animal residents there. Even though her puppies have now been adopted, Lilica still continues with this special service, going out every night and coming back with a plastic bag full of food. She puts this down in front of her animal companions and one by one, they feed from the bag. Where does she find this food? One night, a teacher named Lucia was feeding her own rescued animals and noticed Lilica wandering around outside. Realising Lilica was hungry, she brought her some food in a bag. Lilica ate some but not all. Then she picked up the open plastic bag and ran off, spilling a little food on the way. The next night, Lilica returned and this time, Lucia tied up the plastic bag before allowing her to take it away. Since then, for several years now, Lucia has left home at 9 pm every night to meet Lilica with a bag of food and every night Lilica risks her own life on the busy roads, walking four miles, to keep her appointment with Lucia and collect her precious food parcel. Loving, angelic Lucia hardly ever goes away as she knows Lilica relies on her help to feed not just herself but the other animals living at the junkyard. Two beautiful and saintly souls, only in very different forms (first shown on You Tube in 2013).
(Article written by Mercini Sherratt for Vedanta Empire's charity incentive)
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