By Penelope Smith

     For hundreds of years accepted scientific thought has categorized animals as lower on the evolutionary scale, with less complex brains, and therefore incapable of the thoughts, feelings, purposes and creativity of humankind. Now animal researchers credit animals with having complex languages of their own, emotions and potential for thought processes similar to humans.

     Current investigations into interspecies communication often focus on communicating with animals indirectly, getting them to learn our symbols and communicate in human language or respond to our cues. However, with the growing realization that we all are linked physically, mentally and spiritually we are witnessing a dissolution of the idea that thought communication from animals is all just childish imagination and projection.

     Interspecies telepathic communication is a connection a direct link to the spirit present in all beings. It is based on the recognition that all beings are intelligent in their own way and that they can understand, inter-relate and communicate. It is the experience of receiving direct thought transmission, images, feelings, impressions and concepts, from individuals of other species. It is confirmed by positive changes in behavior and enhancement of cooperation, peacefulness and closeness among the beings communicating. When deep mutual understanding occurs, fear, aggression and dominance are usually replaced by harmony, dignity and mutual respect.

     When people divorce themselves from Nature, from the spiritual essence that flows through all of life, and emphasize pursuing material goods, their relationship with their fellow creatures of different forms often assumes the shallow character of owner and possession. Without the spiritual connection, even when they profess love for their "pets," they may expect the animals to supply the emotional and spiritual sustenance that they are lacking within themselves. The animal companions often mirror their humans' deficiencies.

     How different the relationship when our domestic animal friends are viewed as fellow spiritual beings of different forms, who are allowed to live their own lives and express their own dignity, while still enjoying a mutual companionship with us and each other. People who meet members of my animal family often notice how relaxed, happy and independent they are.

     I regard them as wise, intelligent individuals, who are cats, dogs, rats, chickens, llamas and more - the "anima" in animal the spirit, soul, life essence. They act as whole, individual characters with their own dignity, quirks, rights, needs and expressions. They feel connected with our family or community. We listen to each other and change according to our mutual growth and understanding.

     Non-human animals are not some lower form of life, living only on automatic reactions or stimulus-response programming. Yes, they are different than humans. They have different bodies, genetic backgrounds, functioning, senses, and they therefore experience the world differently than humans or any other species. Animals as individuals combine their physical species nature with their mental and spiritual qualities to uniquely express themselves and their purposes in this universe. While it's good to study biology and behavior to learn about species-specific needs and patterns, this will not bring complete understanding of individual personalities, ideas, hopes, purposes and dreams. We can't separate the physical body from the spiritual aspect of a living being. Where there is life, there is spirit.

     When we connect as spirits and share each other's worlds or unique expressions of life, there is no need for categories and hierarchies that separate and cause condescension or alienation. We celebrate the experience of differences and rejoice in the feeling of oneness in essential nature. This opens the door for learning from one another, sharing wisdom and growing together in harmony.

     To be receptive and listen to anyone, of whatever species, requires a quiet attentiveness, a calmness. Our over stimulated modern lives often cause us to shut down our sensitivity to the world around us. We learn to deny the subtle realities, the communication of thought and feeling. We build psychic walls and cease to see, hear, feel and smell most of what's around us. We ignore even our own inner selves and feelings. Our minds race frantically to keep up with all the expectations of the culture around us, so that we rarely or never have a quiet mind, a peaceful outlook, a calm receptivity.

     As babies and small children, we were open to the world, eager and curious about the sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts of all the beings around us. We, as all other species, are naturally telepathic, but we are conditioned to accept only verbal language as valid. But, if we don't understand the thoughts and feelings behind the words, the true meaning of what people communicate, then we don't really understand the words anyway. Dictionary definitions are not enough. So even human language requires reception of thoughts to be complete.

     We lose our telepathic communication skills to the degree we consider it impossible or undesirable. Since we are also socialized that animals cannot think, at least not like we do, and are below us, we lose touch with them on this very direct and deep level. When we close off telepathic reception, we are the losers. We limit ourselves, and because we don't then understand the animals, we call their behavior and intelligence limited.

     So, the first step in learning to communicate with anyone is to calm the buzzing of thoughts in our own heads. We need to slow down, let the thoughts run through until they run their course and we are calmly aware of the environment and the beings in it. If we constantly analyze and project our thoughts onto things around us, we can't see what's there, we are not able to receive and learn from others, and we can't understand another's viewpoint. We need to release the hectic mode of approaching the world and come in quietude. Whatever helps us relax and be aware, such as exercise, meditation, or music can be a means to start on the road of receptiveness.

     When we do slow down and tune in, we become much more aware of the nature of life around us the behavior, habits, feelings, energies and the spirit or essence of the life forms we observe. As we continue to spend time in a quiet, receptive mode with other species, we may get images, impressions, thoughts, messages, feelings, energies in different forms, which we can learn to interpret or understand.

     How do we know we're getting communication from the animal and not just a projection of our own thoughts or feelings? When we are quiet, not thinking or expecting something in particular, but being calm and receptive and open, if another wishes to communicate something to us, or we ask them about something, then we receive their thoughts and feelings, not our own. Our own thoughts do not intrude, but stay in the background.

     Many of us have been trained to use predominantly left-brained skills: to analyze, categorize, judge and project, to keep up with the pace and be sharp-witted. To restore our intuitive, telepathic ability, we need to back up, let ourselves breathe deeply and slowly, and experience the rhythms of other beings and the universe around us. Then their thoughts and feelings come in like a wave on the beach. With no resistance or thrusting back from us, we instead can experience a quiet acceptance and understanding and openness to learn more.

     Sigh like the wind, open your arms, your chest, your heart, and all creatures will hum to you, answer your questions about themselves and the nature of the universe. You'll learn that all of us have our deepest natures, the universal truths, the essence of spirit in common. We can learn from the smallest microbe to the largest whale. While we each may be very different in form and function in the whole ecosystem, we all are intelligent, perceptive, uniquely vital and part of the same Spirit.

     I see the animals, plants, rocks and other non-human forms as the spiritual guardians or keepers on the planet. They never lose their awareness of themselves as spirit and their innate connection to all of Life. Of all species, humans appear to need the most education to master their existence. Humans, unlike most animals, struggle with their analytical complexity and choice to feel either connected to or separate from the whole, to acknowledge themselves as spiritual beings or feel finite and alienated in the material world.

     Ancient and modern tribal people recognized the need for humans to remember and focus on their deep connection to all of Life and Spirit through ceremonial observance of the seasons and stages of life, and prayers and rituals for guidance and protection in their earthly sojourn. They regularly acknowledged all beings as part of themselves and necessary for their physical, mental and spiritual health or wholeness.

     We who are inculcated with the separation of existence through logic, analysis and scientific rationality, need the reconnection to animals, plants and the earth more than ever, before we destroy ourselves and our world. The animals and other non-human beings can teach us who we really are, since most of them always know and never choose to disconnect from that awareness of self as eternal Spirit. Humans need the animals and all other life forms on many levels, from biological to spiritual. All the other beings on this earth, by their presence, their honest communication, their wholeness, can, if we are receptive to their help, lead us back home.