Our Pets and Reincarnation

I had a totally different post planned to put up, but then I found this trailer on Twitter. Have your tissues ready.

I watched this and thought it one of the most heartwarming trailers I’d seen. It’s based on the book of the same title by W. Bruce Cameron and it spent 52 weeks on the NYT Bestseller list! So I was more than a little startled to see some haters calling this trailer “horrible” and “depressing” and “worst dog movie ever” because, you know, the dog dies.

Sorry. Spoiler alert. But maybe the title of the blog post was a clue?

The hardest thing any pet parent has to face is the loss of a much loved pet. The very worst part of letting an animal into your life and heart is the sure knowledge that you will eventually bid them farewell. I’ve done this more times than I want to think about, and with more species than your average pet owner.

There was Pagan, and Domino.

DHappy

Magic

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Honda

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Harpo

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Akela

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And that’s not even half. Each one takes a piece of your heart when they go, you feel like that spot in your soul will never again feel right. I have been so fortunate to have a deep bond to many, many animals, to experience the love, communication and understanding that looks magical to an outside observer. I know I’m not alone in this. I know that I’m not the only one to have a much loved pet return to me either, both in a body and in spirit.

What if the premise of A Dog’s Purpose were true? What if our pets (and us too!) come back to experience life after life? The above-mentioned haters also found this tragic. I’m sorry for them. I think it’s beautiful. It means we, collectively, never truly die. That we get do-overs, and a chance to explore every delicious, beautiful, and yes, painful, facet of life.

Reincarnation as a spiritual concept is found throughout many ancient, sacred texts. Even the Gnostic Christians claimed that reincarnation was the true, secret teaching of Jesus. The number of people who believe in reincarnation is staggering. Just counting those who claim to practice religions with reincarnation as a fundamental tenet you’re looking at about 25% of the human population. Even some quantum physicists are now saying our consciousness moves into another universe when we die. First Law of Thermodynamics, right?

But that’s humans. What about animals? Do animals have souls? Just ask that of anyone who’s had a pet that they loved and lost. You can read about how my cat, Magic, came back to visit after I lost her to bone cancer. The internet is full of stories about how the spirits of pets come back, both as ghosts and reincarnated into new, furry bodies.

But how do you know? Truth is, I can’t offer up any proof that would satisfy a cynic.

Answers to the most perplexing questions in spirituality are at their core inexplicable. They must be experienced. They must be lived. It doesn’t matter how many holy books you read, how many churches you sit in, or how many drum circles. They can guide you, point out a path, but you’ll never really know unless you make contact with the numinous.

I have. I know that everything has a soul. A spirit. That spark of the divine that is never extinguished. From the trees in my yard, to the cat curled in my lap, to the wolf puppy that greeted me with recognition in his soul. We had known each other in lives past.

How? You have to be willing to still your mind and listen for those subtle clues. You have to be willing to put in the time to practice – whatever method you choose. Yoga, meditation, dance, journeying all can help you with quieting the mind so you can hear the messages from your soul. More than that though, you have to trust the knowledge that comes to you.

That is the hardest part. Trust. Your mind will want to tell you you just made it up. So will science. So will some of your friends. You have to trust the message and put it into practice in your life. There is a certain element of surrender with this, because sometimes it’ll probably be pretty scary. Not in the ‘you should spend all your money on this stock’ sense. No, this trust usually involves risks of the heart.

Sometimes your heart will break. Sometimes the one you love will leave you. But what if the purpose of life is to experience love in as many different forms and varieties as possible? That’s pretty difficult to accomplish in just one lifetime.

Maybe dogs are the lucky ones. They have so much love to give, and we have so much to learn, that they voluntarily return to us again and again, helping to open our hearts and teach us about unconditional love. And loss. And how to love again after heartbreak.

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Books I Loved – Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews is the pen name of a husband-wife writing team. They have multiple series containing an impressively long list of titles. How am I only just finding out about them? Glad I did though.

Magic Bites is first in the Kate Daniels series. Set in Atlanta after a magical apocalypse, Kate Daniels is a bad-ass mercenary. I kinda love it when female leads are as tough as tougher than the men. In this first offering, Kate is set on the trail of the bad guys that murdered her mentor.

Fast-paced, with lots of action, Magic Bites reeled me in and demanded to be finished. It has what you’d expect in a paranormal thriller – magic, shapeshifters, vampires – but this writing duo gave this jaded paranormal reader vivid new takes on the standard themes. It hooked me hard and I am moving on to the following books.

Head on over to their website and find one for yourself.

Dragged Into Compassion

Lily Pads

I think it was the Dalai Lama who said “Compassion is my religion.” It really resonated with me. I tried my best to follow it, in what I thought were trying times.

There was a co-worker who really tested my resolve on the path of compassion. This was an all-around unpleasant person – to me, to other co-workers, to the clients who came into the office. Often while wearing a false smile and speaking in an over-the-top sugary voice that just screamed condescension. But, in the end it was an excellent lesson. I came to see this person, not as pure evil – and I really, really wanted to paint them into that role! Rather, as a being in deep, never-ending pain. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain ran so deep that lashing out was the only behavior this person had left.

It was sad really. I got to the point that I all could see was this person’s pain. I was very proud of myself for getting to that place. I thought – “Hey, this compassion thing is easy!” HA!

Here’s the thing. Don’t boast to the Universe. She will take you at your word and make you prove it.

I haven’t been around much. Here, posting my bloggy offerings, on Facebook, or Tweeting out to the Twittery peeps, I’ve been gone more than I’ve been around. I should’ve been though. I should’ve been all over cyberspace, sharing my love of all things paranormal and spiritual with my fellow fringe dwellers because I haven’t worked since February 29th. I had big plans to make my time off my big push to really get my blogs dialed in tight.

So instead… The Universe had other ideas.

Right before Christmas, my mom had a stroke. Not a bad one. She could still walk, talk and do all the things that were “normal” for a feisty 80 year-old. But she kept having them. Then other issues cropped up and by March 1 we were both having surgery. I got my shoulder fixed, and she got part of her guts taken out. Twice. Both of us.

And if that wasn’t enough, my siblings had not one, not two but three ICU stays and major back surgery shared between them.

The cherry on top, mom passed away the day of my sibling’s back surgery. Yeah. It’s been a fun year. I had more stress, more pain, more family fights than I had ever dealt with before. And that was just the beginning.

I wanted to say Fuck It! I think I did a couple times. No, no I’m sure I did. But again, the Universe had other plans. Each time I wanted to smack a sibling, or yell, or beg mom to get up and move, because otherwise she wasn’t going to get better, I heard a tiny voice inside me whispering.

“Let go. Let go of that anger. Just love them. That’s all they need. That’s all you need.”

Okay, sometimes I had to go cry, or take deep breaths, or meditate, or all three, but I did it. I let go of the anger. I focused on the love. I held onto that compassion. My previous experience with that co-worker made an excellent practice ground.

You know what? It feels amazing. It’s fantastic, freeing and so very blissful. I know it sounds so freakin’ New Age fluffy bunny but when you let go of anger and just hold onto love, magic happens.

There is a calm that comes over you when you view negative actions through the lens of compassion. So often we react to perceived insults, but is that what was really meant? The truth is, when you see the other person’s motivation is pain and grief, it opens your heart.

It’s not easy. But it is worth it. The Universe is very forgiving.

She’ll give you plenty of opportunities to practice, and reward you generously when you succeed. Baby steps are better than no steps. The real trick is, don’t beat yourself up when you lapse back into thinking “That rotten bitch!” Stop. Breathe. Center yourself and remember something about that person that made you smile. Then, smile. Even if it’s only for a second. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels.

Try it. You have absolutely nothing to lose and so very much to gain.