“When you pet a dog or listen to a cat purring, thinking may subside for a moment and a space of stillness arises within you, a doorway into Being. The vital function that pets fulfill in this world hasn’t been fully recognized. They keep millions of people sane.” from Guardians of Being by Eckhart Tolle
Those who know me, know that I’m about as big of an animal lover as they come. Whenever I see a dog, or cat, or rat–or really any ball of fur–something wonderful happens. When I interact with an animal, my adult-self is put aside and the child within me comes out to play. It’s my care-free child-self who can connect with an animal, because unlike my neurotic adult-self, my child-self is connected to the present moment.
Animals amaze me. There’s something so special about the way they are. It’s ironic that what makes them special is that they lack the thing that makes humans special, consciousness. Not to say that animals are less than we are, but unlike humans they have not evolved to have conscious thinking. They do not question what they are, or that they are, they just are; they delight in just Being, and so do I when I am lucky enough to be near them.
When man ate from the metaphorical tree of wisdom, he gained an awareness that is unknown to all other creatures on Earth. This awareness allows us to ponder our existence, and dictate our future evolutionary path. But this awareness is a double-edged sword. If you live in your mind completely, you can fall victim to your thoughts. Your mind can become an uncontrollable source of confusion, anxiety, and depression. Being conscious, we have all the potential of gods, but the problem is that we are not gods. We have all of the questions, but few of the answers because we can only understand the Universe from our limited viewpoint on Earth, and we are limited by symbolic language to express what we understand.
It’s okay to not understand everything. The purpose of this life might just be to find stillness in the chaos. Or to not only have consciousness in mind, but also to find it in body and spirit. I need no religion to attain this. I’ve got my pets. And they remind me every day to stop, breathe, and play. They are the sacred keepers of my sanity, the source of my enlightenment, and the ensurers of my Being.