Posted by Brett Zamir (184.108.40.206) on May 09, 2002 at 18:13:21:
In Reply to: Do animals go to heaven? posted by Tyler on January 31, 2002 at 13:39:28:
While it is true that we may not understand the full context of interpretations made by 'Abdu'l-Baha or Shoghi Effendi, making a blanket statement calling their infallibility in question is wholly unwarranted. The authority conferred in the Kitab-i-Aqdas to 'Abdu'l-Baha and in 'Abdu'l-Baha's Will and Testament unto Shoghi Effendi are too abundant to mention.
The affection which we feel towards animals should indeed increase our faith in that the Writings call on us not only to care greatly about the feelings of all of God's creatures, but also for teaching us about God's virtues...We can see these reflections of love, as 'Abdu'l-Baha states, in the animal kingdom, though they are, based on instinct, unlike the conscientious struggle made by humans to express.
One of the signs of a materialistic age, however, I would say, is an excessive dwelling on "cuteness" which animals provide, to the sad exclusion of human calamity. The Writings indicate that when human problems are dealt with, those with animals will improve (rather than focusing so much on the other way around). Animals (some of them) can teach us a great deal with their unconditional, automated love, and can certainly boost our spirits, teach our children compassion, etc., but their lives are as nothing compared to the great consciousness of the human mind with its choice and ability to know God, and face struggles toward service in His path. This is not to minimize the sadness faced by those struck with the loss of a lifelong pet companion, however, and of course, it is natural for us to be affected emotionally by such a loss. Certainly it would seem to me, these animals can have a lasting impact on having shaped our own consciousness as we go through the worlds of God.
(On a side note, cuteness is obviously an obscuring factor in concern over animal rights (e.g., the recent protest over Koreans eating dog meat seems to ignore Western eating of the more highly intelligent pig). For even some of the cuter animals, we are misled to believe (or willingly ignore) their "darker" side. I was surprised to see a film showing chimpanzees in the wild, for example, hunting down a monkey to eat his brains, or a killer whale cruelly toying with a baby seal before killing it. This is a natural part of the animal world, and as the Writings state, "the survival of the fittest" is its cruel reality--unlike how human beings should be to one another--and have the unique capacity to _choose_ to be.
(If you'd like sources for the quotations I refer to, I can try to find them for you--I omitted them simply for brevity.)
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