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“I died from minerality and became vegetable; And from vegetativeness I died and became animal. I died from animality and became man. Then why fear disappearance through death? Next time I shall die, bringing forth wings and feathers like angels; After that, soaring higher than angels. – What you cannot imagine, I shall be that.” (Mevlana Jelalu’ddin Rumi (12the century Sufi Mystic)

We are reading more and more about interspecies friendship nowadays...something once thought to be rare, even though companion animals have, over the ages, lived together lovingly, e.g. cats with dogs and others. However, there seems to be an explosion in friendships between the most unlikely creatures, elephants and dogs, deer and rabbits, a tortoise and a hippopotamus, parrots and cats or rats… the list is endless. Whereas once it was believed that each species preferred to stick to its own kind, now the most remarkable friendships are occurring and this includes many instances of female creatures of one species feeding and nurturing, even suckling babies of other species, e.g. a dove and baby rabbits, big dogs and a tiny piglets, orangutans and tiger cubs, again the list is endless! Does this mean that the whole of nature, the whole of creation is evolving more rapidly than previously? It is said by some that this present time is a time when a great leap forward in mankind’s consciousness is being made (although outwardly, the opposite seems to be the case in many instances, human behaviour having reached an all-time low amongst some of our members). If this applies to human beings, then surely it applies to the whole of creation, particularly to the members of the animal kingdom.

The ancient wisdom as well as the spiritual traditions of the East tell us that we have had millions of lifetimes in different life forms, starting off in the mineral kingdom and eventually graduating to the human kingdom. Somewhere in the Upanishads, it has been said that each one of us has had as many lifetimes as it would take for a silk scarf, rubbed backwards and forwards on the tip of Mount Everest, to wear it right down to nothing. Now that is a lot of lifetimes and most of them were not in human form! With each life, in any form, no matter humble that form might be, consciousness evolves little by little.

This might explain why love at first sight happens… not just in the human species but also among animals, particularly in the case of interspecies friendships that are often formed instantaneously! And how far back in the succession of incarnations are attachments formed? For example, perhaps your greatest friend in this life was a stone you lay beside on a seashore aeons ago… According to a well-known saying:

“God sleeps in the stone, dreams in the plant, stirs in the animal and wakes up in man.” (Anonymous)

The story of Surya and Roscoe who live at a sanctuary at Myrtle Beach, USA, is an example of this instant rapport. Surya, a rescued orangutan was living contentedly with his carers in this sanctuary when he first met Roscoe, an apparently stray dog. One morning, Surya and his human carers, were riding on their elephant (no less) on their way to have a swim in the river. Suddenly a skinny dog appeared out of the woods and headed for them. On seeing him, Surya, who was not normally interested in dogs, immediately jumped off the elephant and both animals “jumped into each other’s arms and embraced each other ecstatically, just like long lost lovers.” They then played joyfully together for hours. It was just like the joyful reunion of old friends who recognised each other immediately after many years apart. After that, as no one came to claim Roscoe, there was no looking back for Surya literally ‘adopted’ him, even feeding him with his own monkey biscuits…in fact, forcing them down his throat with a kind of grim but loving determination, as if it was in the dog’s best interests, whether he liked them or not! They are the best and closest of friends and I often think, woe betide anyone who tries to take Roscoe away from Surya. Surya is so passionately attached to his canine friend that one dreads to think about the distress which would ensue if that happened.

Such a strong attachment must reverberate over lifetimes, drawing those souls together again and again. The following story also demonstrates just how deep an attachment can be between animal souls and one need only read the story of the two sister lizards as recounted by Shirdi Sai Baba in Sai Satcharita to learn how a strong and loving attachment can exist between even reptiles.

An old grey tabby cat was taken to the vet with a badly fractured pelvis due to a car accident. He could not stand and the vet decided to keep him there so that he could heal naturally. Inspite of his human companions’ pleas that he be sent home to recover because his brother was there… these two had never been separated, not even for a day, in all their seventeen years, the vet would not relent. Not until the next morning, when he noticed the old cat was looking so vacant, hopeless and miserable… he seemed to have lost the will to live and it looked as if there was no hope for the future. Seeing this, the vet called for this cat’s brother to be brought in. As soon as the brother arrived, full of life and energy, the vet opened the door of his sick brother’s cage. The healthy brother rushed in and joyously licked, sniffed and physically comforted his sick brother. It was at that moment that the healing began. The poorly cat’s eyes lit up, he mewed weakly and responded as best he could. For three days, the brothers stayed in that cage, the healthy one circling the injured one with his warm body. They slept together, purred together and after three days, the injured cat began to stand up, with his brother’s help. From then on, he improved day by day. There was such a great bond between these two brothers that the tender, loving presence of the one helped to heal the other. Two years later, aged 19, they were still both strong and healthy. (Recounted by a vet, Alan V. Schoen, in “Chicken Soup for the Cat and Dog Lover’s Soul”)

Many people have had experiences which have lead them to believe that the animal friends they have had in this lifetime have been known to them before, not just in this lifetime but also in past lifetimes. It is quite possible that the lion cub who accompanied you in Atlantis may well be your special feline friend in this life. I once had a sweet cat who died aged 12. She had had the habit of gazing soulfully into my eyes, as she sat on the side of the sofa, chirruping and purring all the while. Returning that gaze, I felt I was looking deeply into her soul… and yes, she really did have a big soul and in that mutual gaze, our souls connected! There was no mistaking it. She was a dark tortoiseshell colour and had been the last one in her litter, the ‘runt’ of the litter, so to speak. About 2 years after she died, I went to see a family of kittens as I wanted to buy one for a child. I then went again, and this time, a new kitten, from a different family, had unexpectedly arrived there. She was also a dark tortoiseshell colour and the last one in her litter. As soon as I entered, she ran to me and frantically climbed up the front of my dress, as if she wanted to jump into my arms. When she reached my chest, she stopped and gazed into my eyes deeply and mewed and mewed in an urgent manner. She seemed to want to tell me something very important and I just knew I had to take her home. As long as she lived, she too would gaze deeply into my eyes, and to be honest, that is what she seemed to love doing most! She did not live long as, sadly, she was run over by a car at the age of five months. I have always felt that she was a reincarnation of Katy, the older cat, and had come back again just for a short while to touch base with me and finish her business.

“I saw deep in the eyes of animals, human souls look out on me” (Edward Carpenter …English visionary poet)

It is interesting and thought-provoking to ponder on how far back, on our way to the Light, we have all travelled together. Much farther, it would seem, than we would normally consider. Apparently, we reincarnate with souls we have known, both humans and animals, coming together, time and again, in different constellations of relationships. This may explain why our attachments can go so deeply, making it difficult at times to even let go of an attachment that is not good for us, one that causes more suffering than joy. True love never dies and the stronger and more powerful and pure that love is, the more likely it is to literally last for Eternity.

“God is in every creature as Love. Vyasa had knowledge of the language of the insects, birds and animals. When he was going in the fast moving chariot, he saw an insect moving fast across. He asked the insect why it was hurrying fast. The insect replied that the chariot of Arjuna was approaching very fast and before it approaches, it had to reach safely its home where its family members were waiting. Vyasa realised that the attachment to wife and children was not common only for human beings, but was there for other beings like the insect.” (Sathya Sai Baba Speaks Vol 31, Ch. 19, page 191/2)

(Article written by Mercini Sherratt for Vedanta Empire's charity incentive)

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