University of Kentucky neurologist, Kevin Nelson concluded animals can experience spiritual events like humans. Nelson has performed over 30 year’s research into OBE (out of body experiences) and has published a book “The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain: a Neurologist’s Search for the God Experience.”
Scientists recently declared human and animal consciousness the same. Would you agree that to have a soul requires consciousness? This is certainly thought-provoking.
We all have belief systems. Some have faith in the concept of a soul and afterlife. Others count on reincarnation and some are convinced after the body dies there is nothing but a big, black abyss. But if you are one who believes humans have a soul, do you also feel that an animal has a soul?
Nelson’s hypothesis is drawn on the fact that research in humans has shown mystical experiences of wonderment originate in the more primitive parts of the brain called the limbic system. All mammals share similar brain structure, therefore he concludes animals can have spiritual experiences similar to humans.
Some religions believe animals have souls and reincarnate. Others teach animals do not have souls because humans are the masters of the earth and its animals. In 1990, Pope John Paul II said in a shocking statement at the time, he believed that animals do have souls. The Pontiff said animals are “…fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect.” In the Catholic school I attended as a child, the nuns drummed it into us that only people have souls.
In the Jewish faith, author Yanki Tauber talks about souls on Chabad.org.
The Chassidic masters speak of two distinct souls that vitalize the human being: an “Animal Soul” and a “G-dly Soul.” The Animal Soul is driven by the quest for self-preservation and self-enhancement; in this, it resembles the soul and self of all other creations. But we also possess a G-dly Soul”–a soul driven by the desire to reconnect with its Source. Our lives are the story of the contest and interplay between these two souls, as we struggle to balance and reconcile our physical needs and desires with our spiritual aspirations, our self-focused drives with our altruistic yearnings.
These two souls, however, do not reside “side-by-side” within the body; rather, the G-dly Soul is enclothed within the Animal Soul–just as the Animal Soul is enclothed within the body. This means that the Animal Soul, too, is vitalized by the “part of G-d above” at its core. Ostensibly, the two souls are in conflict with each other, but in essence they are compatible.
Hindu belief states all life forms are manifestations of God and therefore have souls that can achieve salvation. Animals, plants and inanimate objects are believed to possess a soul. The difference is in the level of a soul. Human souls are considered the most evolved due to the level of consciousness. After a soul lives many lives as an animal, it will eventually be allowed to reincarnate into a human body and continue to evolve in understanding God and Godliness.
Muslims believe a soul has different parts: the plant or vegetative part of a living being, the animal or sensitive part, the rational part as well as totality of all three parts. The Qur’an states a soul is a creature of Allah.
It [the soul] is blown into every human being when it is just a foetus of 120 days old, it remains in contact if not inside the human being throughout its life on earth, and at the point of death it departs from the body to reside in the heavens.
During their journeys through this universe, the soul and its body travel through four different worlds:
1. The womb – where the soul joins its body.
2. This world – where we all live for a limited period only.
3. The grave – a ‘Barzakh’ period.
4. The Hereafter – The final destination of all human beings.
I find it intriguing how the different religions are so similar in its teachings, don’t you?
Next Page: Personal Stories of Animal Spirituality
Photo credit: Wolf Spirit Sanctuary via Flickr
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