by Shivadam

Rather than looking broadly and perhaps too vaguely at our responsibilities toward "the earth," we might specifically look at our relationship with animals (not only our pets) and recognize their essential equality with us, awakening our true identity with them, in our bodies, minds and hearts, as fellow children of God.

My own impulse in this direction has been strengthened and affirmed not only by sessions at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions concerning faith traditions and our relations with animals, but even more so by the dream I had about one week before the Parliament, where the brand new word "biovinity" appeared and meant: We must awaken to a condition of reverence for all life - for every individual living being - not only in word, but in our daily deeds, in what we buy and what we eat and do not eat, those being the most direct actions which most of us have the great fortune and affluence to be able to most easily change. Every living being is sacred. Any harm we do to others is serious and consequential error.

At the Parliament, one speaker pointed out that to love our pets, yet fail to extend that same affectionate love toward ALL animals, reduces our "love" to mere sentimentality.

"Are we willing to, as Joe Miller used to say, really feel without sentimentality?" - Murshid Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz, "Elements of Mastery: Dances of Innocence, Dances of Experience," October 2015

For this, we might take up the difficult and critical work of gazing into the Eye of Nature, most literally into the eyes of our animal friends, into the eyes of the sacred and actual cow. How would we feel if we first met each animal we planned to eat? Would we go ahead?

For me, this is about "reclaiming the heart of our humanity," the theme of the 2015 Parliament. By whatever measure we oppress, however consciously or otherwise, the fellow living beings of our natural world - treating them as "less-thans" - in that same measure we rob ourselves of our own humanity. With loving perspective, we gain strength and courage to become more able to recognize that for too long we have erred in thinking we have some right to oppress others. Only then can we intentionally begin the walk away from actions that have that effect on people of other races, creeds, genders, castes, etc., and on our animal siblings, as well.

"Raise us above the distinctions and differences which divide." - Khatum, Hazrat Inayat Khan

I feel inspired, and also duty-bound, to take up this concentration of looking more deeply into the eyes of Nature, into Her actual eyes, to feel what I feel and to allow these deeper feelings to guide my choices and actions. As more and more people awaken to our shared fate on this Earth, may we all recognize this ground-swell of intention and take up our own parts in it.

May all beings, without exception, be happy and free.