By Sharon Callahan
The endurance of darkness is preparation for great light.
St. John of the Cross
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.
Matt. v. 8.
I am often asked the question "Why do animals, who are so innocent, suffer so much in the world?" As an animal communicator, I have asked this question of many animals over the years and I will offer here a composite of the answers I have received.
When I present this question to the animals they ask a question in return:
"Why did Jesus suffer?" The animal's is a sacrificial love as was the love of Christ; an element of the Sacred Ministry of Animals. Although each creature has its own reasons for being, many groups of animals and individual animals tell me that they are on special assignment to assist the unfolding of God's perfect plan for humanity and all of Earth's creatures. To do this they often offer themselves in sacrifice to the greater good of all beings. At times the only way to shed light on the horror of what occurs when the human heart is closed to the sacredness of all life, is to partake in that horror, so that humanity might make another choice; a choice to live in harmony with all of God's Creation. Just as Jesus descended into the lowest hell, so that He might set us free of all that makes for separation between God and man, so do the animals through their own sacrifice point to much that prevents the lifting of humanity into divinity.
Animals mirror for us our lost innocence. That fragile, sensitive, trusting inner nature that is buried under varying layers of ego, negatively perceived life experience and our own suffering. It seems to be a human tendency to defile that which we no longer possess. Wild animals elicit fear in people who have shut down their own wild natures in favor of "civilized" living. For us to restore the Earth to Her perfection requires that we regain a child like sensitivity to the other beings with whom we share the Earth and that we reclaim our own wild natures.
Since the fall from Grace - the fall into dualistic thinking - man has separated himself further and further from his ability to perceive his oneness with all of God's creation and from God Himself. With this separation he has taken on an air of superiority to cover up the heartache of his perceived loss of oneness with God and all that is. The animals never fell into separation and never left the garden of Eden; the perfect state of oneness with all. The animals suffer at the hands of human beings because humans do not remember that when they harm another being, they harm themselves and that with every animal that is sacrificed for their perceived needs Christ is crucified again.
Over and over I have seen that animals absorb human suffering either directly or indirectly. Companion animals often take on the illnesses and psychological states of their people in attempts to rid them of their infirmities and their neurosis or to point out an area of concern for their human companion's health before the person manifests the illness. Animals less intimately bonded to us are often simply at the mercy of our physical and emotional states by mere proximity to us. Those slaughtered for meat absorb the depravity of minds that think they can survive only at the expense of other souls. Animals in laboratories suffer in response to a society that suffers so badly that it believes the way to health is through the torture of innocent creatures.
It is a vicious cycle. Humanity suffers "separation anxiety." The anxiety and fear that result from separation from God and from God's creation of which man has forgotten he is a part. He has isolated himself between a God he elevates to a place he calls heaven and a creation he perceives as being below him and subservient to him. The animals suffer because we suffer and we will suffer as long as we cause the animals to suffer. We simply cannot find freedom from suffering through the suffering of others. We are all one and what one experiences we all experience.
The animals offer themselves as Christ did, to be sacrificed that we might open ourselves to the possibility of another way to live. A way of Love and Reverence For Life. The animals suffer for our sins, for they themselves do not sin. Like the angels they come from a place where sin - does not exist. Sin, as originally defined in the Aramic language in which the Bible was originally written was an archery term for missing the mark or for an action contrary to truth. The Truth is Love. Anything that is not love is not the truth and is indeed missing the mark.
Animals in the most deplorable conditions have told me that they offer themselves willingly if just one person is touched by their plight and motivated to change. A little rabbit in a laboratory cage communicated that there was one technician who treated her with affection and would picker her up and comfort her when no one else was looking. The rabbit felt that her life had been worthwhile simply by eliciting a response of kindness from this one woman. Animals offer us redemption, for in each encounter is the possibility of choosing love. The animals are warriors - love warriors.
When the topic of animal suffering comes up there is invariably someone who asks why it is important to put an end to cruelty to animals when there is so much human suffering in the world. The answer is that suffering is suffering and love is love and we cannot wipe out human suffering without addressing the suffering of all sentient beings. The person who would brutalize an innocent animal is the same person who would brutalize his wife or child. Any place that suffering can be addressed is a good place to focus attention.
The animals are helping show us the way - the way back to Oneness - the way back to God. To help the animals we must each work tirelessly at our own unfoldment so that we do not fall into separatist thinking. We must love each soul in the world equally and then shine the light of God's love everywhere we go, on animals and humans alike letting no one escape the light of God that shines through us. Make no distinctions. Illuminate those you love and those who are your enemies. To fall into distinctions is to fall into separation which is where the problem began in the first place. It is a process that takes time. Most people have been shut up in darkness for such a long time they can only take the light in tiny doses. To bring them into the light requires a tiny opening like a pin prick and then one a little larger and so on gradually until they can endure the full light. Little by little, light by light the world becomes Illumined.
Pray and meditate each day. Praying and meditating are both wonderful. When we pray we are asking for something. When we meditate we are listening. Do them both. Pray for peace. Listen for the still voice within. In prayer and meditation send the light of God's love like a golden beam to illuminate those animals that are suffering and without love. Send love also to those who are causing the animals to suffer. They will feel it and the world will transform. In your daily life remember to greet each creature you meet as if he were the Christ or Buddha. With each kindness offered to another we make up for all the hurt that has gone before. It doesn't matter to whom or to what our kindness is directed, it is felt by the All. Each of us is the Redeemer; you and I, dog and cat, turtle, tree and raindrop. In each encounter lies the possibility of Transfiguration.