Do Animals go to Heaven

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danielazim
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Do Animals go to Heaven

Postby danielazim » Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:19 am

Do Animals Go to Heaven?

This entry was prompted from questions from a friend interested in the Faith and I did a quick search on Library but didn't find any answers to the question of my satisfaction. There was a thread that occured in 2002 on this topic (though is now closed) with a nice compilation for a reply, but I felt it is due more treatment. (I have no attachment to re-opening this subject for forum discussion, so if anyone can tell me how to just post it as a contributing essay, I'd be fine with that)

There are many people who have very strong relationship with their pets and animals in general and just giving an overgeneralization answer of "NO – animals do not have eternal souls that go to heaven" – can lack sensitivity as well as be missing an accurate overview look of the Baha'i Writings on such a subject. Furthermore, with a broad reading of the Writings and their description of spiritual and physical reality, another view might be developed.

The common assumption that "no they don't" may be based on this record from `Abdu'l-Baha in London:

"When asked about the individual persistence of the animal's personality after death, 'Abdu'l-Bahá said: "Even the most developed dog has not the immortal soul of the man; yet the dog is perfect in its own place. You do not quarrel with a rose-tree because it cannot sing!"" (p. 97)

Other statements by `Abdu’l-Bahá seems to confirm this, such as the following in Some Answered Questions, p. 208:

“The animal spirit is the power of all the senses, which is realized from the composition and mingling of elements; when this composition decomposes, the power also perishes and becomes annihilated. It may be likened to this lamp: when the oil, wick and fire are combined, it is lighted; and when this combination is dissolved -- that is to say, when the combined parts are separated from one another -- the lamp also is extinguished.”


My own current understanding of the subject is that animals do not have an eternal rational soul in the sense that human beings do. Such an eternal ration soul is defined by being engraved with the image of God, created "to know Him and to love Him" and "reflect the greatness of His glory.” These eternal rational souls can "by virtue of their own innate powers" turn towards God, develop virtues, and play an integral part in helping "to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization." This soul will continue to progress after its separation from the body in spiritual realms, growing closer and closer to the Presence of God, and will associate and commune with fellow heavenly souls. These souls, also, to the extent of their purity and sanctity, radiate a light that "is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples. They are like unto leaven which leaveneth the world of being and constitute the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest." This isn't meant to be a treatise on the rational soul but I do want to outline some broad features for the sake of the topic.

The animal – as the Writings state – do not have an eternal rational soul in the sense that human beings do. However, the Writings delineate again and again that everything has a certain spirit in and of itself. `Abdu’l-Bahá – in His talks and writings – classifies things into the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom, or the human kingdom and describe the different powers of each kingdom.

He characterizes the mineral as having the basic property of composition1 or cohesion2 as a result of its power of attraction3 or affinity.4 `Abdu’l-Bahá explains this property of composition is the mineral’s expression of love: “This power of attraction in the mineral world is love, the only expression of love the stone can manifest.”5

In these two passages quoted next, `Abdu’l-Bahá calls this power of attraction as the defining “spirit” of the mineral.

“As to the existence of spirit in the mineral: it is indubitable that minerals are endowed with a spirit and life according to the requirements of that stage. This unknown secret, too, hath become known unto the materialists who now maintain that all beings are endowed with life, even as He saith in the Qur'án, "All things are living."”6

“In the mineral world the spirit shows itself, but limited to that mineral condition. It is proved through science that the mineral has the power of attraction, the vegetable has the power of growth”7

`Abdu’l-Bahá explains that the spirit of the vegetable kingdom, meanwhile, in addition to the power of composition, is the power of growth: “The vegetable spirit is the power of growth which is brought about in the seed through the influence of other existences.”8 He also calls the power of growth as the power of augmentation9 and says that it exists in plant-life by its power of absorption10 of mineral elements. The power of cohesion, of cellular attraction, of absorption, and growth is the expression of love of a thing of the vegetable kingdom.10

Next comes the animal spirit. “The animal spirit is the power of all the senses,”11 says `Abdu’l-Bahá. “The distinctive virtue or plus of the animal is sense perception; it sees, hears, smells, tastes and feels.” 12 In it, the power of love, of attraction, “reveals itself in “certain emotions and sensibilities which produce instinctive fellowship and association. The animals are imbued with kindness and affinity which manifests itself among those of the same species.”13

He tells us that both animals and human beings have “physical sensations,” and so enjoins upon us to show the utmost kindness towards animals:

“Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man. Man hath not grasped this truth, however, and he believeth that physical sensations are confined to human beings, wherefore is he unjust to the animals, and cruel.

"And yet in truth, what difference is there when it cometh to physical sensations? The feelings are one and the same, whether ye inflict pain on man or on beast. There is no difference here whatever. And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities. If a man inflict a thousand ills upon a beast, it can neither ward him off with speech nor hale him into court. Therefore is it essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man.*

"Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let the children try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.” 14


* (It is interesting to ponder how Bahá’u’lláh, in contrast, uses the same reason – power versus inability for utterance – to say that people should be even more kind to fellow human beings: “He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance (Kitáb-I-Iqán, p. 194).” In summary, I understand that this is a good reason to vie with myself in showering loving-kindness upon members of each kingdom of existence.)

In this passage, He then goes on to caution us to have due care with ferocious or harmful animals, such as a bloodthirsty wolf, a poisonous snake, a rabid dog, and others. “Kindness to these is an injustice to human beings and to other animals as well. If, for example, ye be tender-hearted toward a wolf, this is but tyranny to a sheep, for a wolf will destroy a whole flock of sheep. A rabid dog, if given the chance, can kill a thousand animals and men.”

'Abdu'l-Bahá meanwhile “has indicated that in the future human beings will be vegetarians, but abstention from eating meat is not a law of this Dispensation.”
(26 April 1989, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

On using animals for food and clothing, the Universal House of Justice explains:
“Your concern for the prevention of cruelty to animals and for restraint in exploiting them unduly for food and other purposes is indeed praiseworthy; however, the House of Justice is not aware of any absolute prohibition in any Holy Book against the use of animals for food and clothing. As the laws brought by Bahá'u'lláh become known and operative throughout the world, we believe that humanity will find the proper balance in adjusting itself to nature and to the world of animals. As in so many other areas, the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh in this regard follow the golden mean: kindness toward animals is definitely upheld, vegetarianism is encouraged, hunting is regulated, but certain latitude is left to individual conscience and in practical regard to the diversity of circumstances under which human beings live. For example, the indigenous peoples of the Arctic would be hard-pressed to subsist without recourse to animal products.”
(20 November 1992, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

In His talks and writings defining each kingdom, `Abdu’l-Bahá goes to lengths to distinguish the spirit of the animal from that of the human rational soul. It has the power of sense perception, He says “but is incapable in turn, of conscious ideation or reflection which characterize and differentiate the human kingdom.”12 It cannot think of things in the abstract and metaphorical in them selves and, from them, draw new conclusions.

`Abdu’l-Bahá says,

“From the visible it cannot draw conclusions regarding the invisible whereas the human mind from visible and known premises attains knowledge of the unknown and invisible. For instance, Christopher Columbus from information based upon known and provable facts drew conclusions which led him unerringly across the vast ocean to the unknown continent of America. Such power of accomplishment is beyond the range of animal intelligence. Therefore this power is a distinctive attribute of the human spirit and kingdom. The animal spirit cannot penetrate and discover the mysteries of things. It is a captive of the senses. No amount of teaching, for instance, would enable it to grasp the fact that the sun is stationary and the earth moves around it.”
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 260)


In another place, He describes the intellectual power of the human being to be that of comprehending universal principles: “intellectual characteristic…discovereth the realities of things and comprehendeth universal principles.”15

From this power, He says, human beings discover the secrets of nature and transcends its laws, inventing airplanes and rockets, trains, swift ships, the submarine, photography, sound recordings, telephone; it discovers, produces, and utilizes that once hidden energy of electricity.16 He further describes the unique powers of the rational soul to discover both the subtleties of the physical universe as well as the heavenly realms of God’s Kingdom:

“The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul, and these two names -- the human spirit and the rational soul -- designate one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings. But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets.” (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 208)

We should note that in Some Answered Questions, p. 208, `Abdu’l-Bahá places the “spirit of faith” at a higher level than the human spirit itself, and the Holy Spirit above the spirit of faith.

He summarizes many of the abilities and capacities that distinguish the human kingdom from the animal kingdoms in this passage:

"Nature is inert, man is progressive. Nature has no consciousness, man is endowed with it. Nature is without volition and acts perforce whereas man possesses a mighty will. Nature is incapable of discovering mysteries or realities whereas man is especially fitted to do so. Nature is not in touch with the realm of God, man is attuned to its evidences. Nature is uninformed of God, man is conscious of Him. Man acquires divine virtues, nature is denied them. Man can voluntarily discontinue vices, nature has no power to modify the influence of its instincts. Altogether it is evident that man is more noble and superior; that in him there is an ideal power surpassing nature. He has consciousness, volition, memory, intelligent power, divine attributes and virtues of which nature is completely deprived… therefore man is higher and nobler by reason of the ideal and heavenly force latent and manifest in him." (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 236-237)

Besides the general spirit of each kingdom of existence, the Bahá’í Writings enunciate that each individual created thing is an expression of one of the names or attributes of God, and therefore its essential reality is a name or attribute of God. Here are some quotes that state this concept:

“Every created thing in the whole universe is…a revelation of His names…”17

“Know thou that every created thing is a sign of the revelation of God.”18

“The spiritual world is like unto the phenomenal world. They are the exact counterpart of each other. Whatever objects appear in this world of existence are the outer pictures of the world of heaven.” (`Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 9)

“…all things, in their inmost reality, testify to the revelation of the names and attributes of God within them. Each according to its capacity, indicateth, and is expressive of, the knowledge of God. So potent and universal is this revelation, that it hath encompassed all things, visible and invisible…” (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 100)

“Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 65)

“When, however, thou dost contemplate the innermost essence of all things, and the individuality of each, thou wilt…see the spreading rays of His Names and Attributes... And not an atom of all the atoms in existence, not a creature from amongst the creatures but speaketh His praise and telleth of His attributes and names… and none will gainsay this who hath ears to hear, eyes to see, and a mind that is sound.” (`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 41)


Thus, each and every created thing is a sign or expression of at-least one of the names or attributes of God. Bahá’u’lláh, in the section of His Book of Certitude known as the “Tablet of the True Seeker” says that such a true seeker “will contemplate the manifest signs of the universe, and will penetrate the hidden mysteries of the soul… He will discover in all things the mysteries of divine Revelation and the evidences of an everlasting manifestation.”19 Thus, it is fun to think of the bed I sleep on as, perhaps, an expression of its essential reality of the name of God the Comforter; my desk I work on as the sign of the attribute of God the Supporter, or my sleeping cat sleeping with a smile of heavenly delight as a revelation of the quality of God, the Peaceful.

This gets us directly back to our central question: according to the Bahá’í Writings, do animals have eternal life? My answer to this is two-fold, dealing with the physical level and the spiritual essence of each created thing. On the purely physical level, as physicists say, no created thing can be created nor destroyed but can just change form. This is, in one sense – materially, their eternal life. This principle is delineated here:

"Non-existence therefore is an expression applied to change of form, but this transformation can never be rightly considered annihilation, for the elements of composition are ever present and existent as we have seen in the journey of the atom through successive kingdoms, unimpaired; hence there is no death; life is everlasting. So to speak, when the atom entered into the composition of the tree, it died to the mineral kingdom, and when consumed by the animal, it died to the vegetable kingdom, and so on until its transference or transmutation into the kingdom of man; but throughout its traversing it was subject to transformation and not annihilation. Death therefore is applicable to a change or transference from one degree or condition to another. In the mineral realm there was a spirit of existence; in the world of plant life and organisms it reappeared as the vegetative spirit; thence it attained the animal spirit and finally aspired to the human spirit. These are degrees and changes but not obliteration; and this is a rational proof that man is everlasting, everliving. Therefore death is only a relative term implying change. For example, we will say that this light before me, having reappeared in another incandescent lamp, has died in the one and lives in the other. This is not death in reality. The perfections of the mineral are translated into the vegetable and from thence into the animal, the virtue always attaining a plus or superlative degree in the upward change. In each kingdom we find the same virtues manifesting themselves more fully, proving that the reality has been transferred from a lower to a higher form and kingdom of being. Therefore non-existence is only relative and absolute non-existence inconceivable. This rose in my hand will become disintegrated and its symmetry destroyed, but the elements of its composition remain changeless; nothing affects their elemental integrity. They cannot become non-existent; they are simply transferred from one state to another." (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 263)

My second answer to this question is in regards to the spiritual essence (or divine names and attributes) that each created thing expresses. The Writings say that the names and attributes of God endure eternally, just as heat and light are qualities of the sun and thus its perpetual companions. So, in a sense, that created thing endures forever, even though the “outer picture” of the divine attribute of which makes up that created thing will eventually decompose, be destroyed, and its elements become part of something else. The eternity of the names and attributes of God is expressed in the following two passages:

“It is clear and evident that when the veils that conceal the realities of the manifestations of the Names and Attributes of God, nay of all created things visible or invisible, have been rent asunder, nothing except the Sign of God will remain -- a sign which He, Himself, hath placed within these realities. This sign will endure as long as is the wish of the Lord thy God, the Lord of the heavens and of the earth.”20

“Physical bodies are transferred past one barrier after another, from one life to another, and all things are subject to transformation and change, save only the essence of existence itself -- since it is constant and immutable, and upon it is founded the life of every species and kind, of every contingent reality throughout the whole of creation.”21


So, will your pets be with you in heaven? After reading a lot and considering closely these passages, my own conclusion is this: the outer picture or physical aspect of Figaro, Romeo, or Squeaker will not be in this realm of lights and pure spirit. However, the essential reality or spiritual essence of Bow Wow – the names and attributes his physical body expressed – will be a companion and among the splendors and graces in this Kingdom of Love.

Bahá’u’lláh tells us that understanding this concept helps us to comprehend the awesome destiny that is potentially one’s own:

“If such be the blessings conferred on all created things, how superior must be the destiny of the true believer, whose existence and life are to be regarded as the originating purpose of all creation. Just as the conception of faith hath existed from the beginning that hath no beginning, and will endure till the end that hath no end, in like manner will the true believer eternally live and endure. His spirit will everlastingly circle round the Will of God. He will last as long as God, Himself, will last. He is revealed through the Revelation of God, and is hidden at His bidding. It is evident that the loftiest mansions in the Realm of Immortality have been ordained as the habitation of them that have truly believed in God and in His signs. Death can never invade that holy seat. Thus have We entrusted thee with the signs of thy Lord, that thou mayest persevere in thy love for Him, and be of them that comprehend this truth.”
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 140)


1 Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 29 & 267
2 Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 257
3 Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 117
4 Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 4 & 79
5 Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 267
6 Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 337
7 Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 117
8 Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 316
9 Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 29
10 Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 268

11 Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 208
12 Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 260
13 Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 268
14 Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 158-160

15 Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 61-62
16 Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 359; Some Answered Questions, p. 186
17 Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 159
18 Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 184
19 Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 196
20 Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 140
21 Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 157

Jonah
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Postby Jonah » Mon Oct 10, 2005 4:33 am

Apparently not, according to a quotation in Baha'i Scriptures, page 404. From http://www.bahai-library.com/compilatio ... res/7.html :
<blockquote>... In the animal kingdom it is called “sense perception” or instinct. This term soul, as applied to the animal kingdom, is also a natural quality resulting from the mixture of the elements, and it appears from their mingling and combination, for it is a quality which results from the composition of bodies (organisms), and is dispersed at their decomposition. From this we are to understand that <b>the animal soul is not endowed with the capacity of attaining immortality,</b> as the life force is dispersed at the decomposition of the animal tissues.</blockquote>
There's also a compilation on animals at http://www.bcca.org/ief/cmpanima.htm , which probably has an answer.

-Jonah

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[b]Do Animals go to heaven?[/b]

Postby danielazim » Tue Oct 11, 2005 4:40 pm

Jonah,
Thank you for finding those other resources on that topic. The link to notes recorded by Ahmad Sohrab of what `Abdu'l-Baha apparently said as well as the other link to a very complete compilation of Baha'i Writings on animals, are quite useful.

This other quotation does not modify my central thesis - that the individual spirit of a pet lasts the span of their mortal life, but the attributes and names of God that they manifest are expressions of the eternal Attributes of God. Thus, what we are essentially attracted to in our our animals - gentleness, gracefulness, devotion, joy, enthusiasm, tenderness, strength, sincerity, meekness, trust, etc. - are life-forces/attributes that are our companions even all the more in the Kingdom of lights and splendour. So, neither a plain "yes" nor an unfettered "no" gives an accurate answer to this question and providing such an explanation as I have above can be helpful in giving comfort and encouragement to those who have a deep affection for their best friends of the animal kingdom.
Daniel Azim

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Re: [b]Do Animals go to heaven?[/b]

Postby Hasan » Wed Oct 12, 2005 3:59 pm

danielazim wrote:So, neither a plain "yes" nor an unfettered "no" gives an accurate answer to this question and providing such an explanation as I have above can be helpful in giving comfort and encouragement to those who have a deep affection for their best friends of the animal kingdom.


Dear Daniel,

What comfort and encouragement are you talking about?

This is an interesting topic, psychology say that both human and animals have intelligence, but they say we have reason and the animal not. In SAQ even the Master say that a bird can have better memory than a human.

What is the difference? Answer: the SOUL. We have a soul, a "human spirit" or "rational soul". The animal doesn’t have this, but it seems the animal have a little intelligence, psychologists demonstrated that chimpanzees can solve easy problems.

'Abdu'l-Bahá talk about 5 kind of spirit, cohesion (mineral), grow (vegetal), senses (animal), reason and faith (human), Holy Ghost (Manifestations).

In all these 5 realities the "love" is present, represented by the power of atoms cohesion in low world and faith and Holy Ghost in high worlds.

This life or “spirit” is present in the three worlds (the Human world, Will’s word (Manifestation’s world), and God’s world). We can see this in the symbol of the Most Great Name (bahá’í ring).

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Oct 12, 2005 8:33 pm

why would a dog go to heaven? either he sleeps under your table, or he dreams about eating some meat, or he procreates if a bitch in estrus walks by. so, obviously he is just living on his base instincts, and there is no way he can develop spiritually. He is animated by a dog spirit, which perishes after he dies. We have an eternal soul, and the purpose of our existence is to build a "spiritual body," if you will. The dog does not have this capability.

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Postby Hasan » Wed Oct 12, 2005 10:57 pm

Baha'i Warrior wrote:why would a dog go to heaven?


It is true, every material thing is composite, the soul is not material, so the soul is eternal, and it has beginning but not end.

There are three clear Worlds:

World of God
World of Manifestations
World of Human (contingent world)

"Animal Spirit" is figurative, it indicates "animal life", it is an expression of the Spirit, the power of senses (animal) more growing (vegetal) and cohesion (mineral).

So, according to this, the human being has 5 realities:

Mineral (cohesion)
Vegetal (power of growing)
Animal (physical senses)
Human ("human spirit" or "rational soul", also psychic powers)
Spirit of Faith (breath of Holy Ghost, the most important, normative)

* Although every human has the capacity to reflect the Spirit, however not ALL humans reflect it, for that Jesus said: "let the deads bury the deads".

Tony

Postby Tony » Fri Nov 04, 2005 6:13 pm

danielazim, you wrote:

"....the individual spirit of a pet lasts the span of their mortal life, but the attributes and names of God that they manifest are expressions of the eternal Attributes of God. Thus, what we are essentially attracted to in our our animals - gentleness, gracefulness, devotion, joy, enthusiasm, tenderness, strength, sincerity, meekness, trust, etc. - are life-forces/attributes that are our companions even all the more in the Kingdom of lights and splendour."

How true! Within this is the secret - that our beloved pets are with us, and continue to exist in the only real sense, even though their individual animal spirits do not survive death.

Today the decision was taken not to let our dog Muffin wake up from an operation at the local veterinary hospital. Five days ago he became ill, and this afternoon an internal examination revealed inoperable cancer. He was only six years old.

We have had dogs before, but never one quite like Muffin. His affection for family and friends never failed. A good guard dog in the house and garden, he would sit outside in the avenue - we live in a rural village - and allow himself to be patted by passers by, even by strangers. He always loved children especially, and very few of them showed any fear.

I visited him at the vet's yesterday and an assistant spontaneously told me how much they loved him: they all thought he had a lovely expression on his face. He had seemed to be improving every day, but a blood test today revealed a serious problem.

'Abdu'l-Baha said: "The animals are imbued with kindness and affinity which manifests itself among those of the same species." (Promulgation of Universal Peace p. 268). I thank God that Muffin lived in a village which still treats animals with kindness: therefore he had no reason not to display the same kindness and affinity towards humans which he generally displayed towards other dogs (some he instinctively avoided).

Animals are not only superior to us in some mental and physical faculties but we have much to learn from them. Lately Muffin would sometimes squeak when I lifted him into the car, but it never crossed my mind that he was in agony, riddled with cancer. Despite this his cheerfulness and affection never wavered, even after he stopped eating on Sunday (and then could not keep even water down).

Many stories could be told about him. As a puppy he was kicked by a horse. He was unconscious for a long time and everyone thought he was dead. He eventually came to, though one eye was permanently damaged. Another time he collaborated with the cat to attract attention to the fact that a mare had given birth prematurely - an extraordinary story that found its way into the national press.

This photo was taken by the stables a few weeks ago. I wanted to capture the flowers, and didn't notice at the time that Muffin had also entered the frame: http://www.appledene.karoo.net/muffin.html

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Nov 04, 2005 7:15 pm

My condolences to Muffin, Tony. Yes, that is certainly true that we can even learn virtues such as kindness from the dog, or courage from the lion. Baha’u’llah states: “Every created thing in the whole universe is but a door leading into His knowledge, a sign of His sovereignty, a revelation of His names, a symbol of His majesty, a token of His power, a means of admittance into His straight Path....”

Moreover, everything in this world has been created for us (for our enjoyment), including animals, and that is why we must take care not to harm them and treat them with the utmost respect.

After all, a dog is a man's best friend!

C. M.

Animals going to heaven

Postby C. M. » Sat Nov 12, 2005 2:58 am

Nothing in this world was made for our enjoyment. That's the stupidest thing I ever heard. You religious wingnuts are up on your high horses so far that if you fell you would just get caught in orbit and never come back down. Animals are the only ones that deserve to go to heaven. It's an attitute like "Everything is here for our enjoyment." that causes the suffering of so many poor animals. "Hey. I can treat this dog however I like! God put it here for me to rest my selfish, self-important feet on, right?" Right. You wish. Every animal on this planet deserves to go to heaven ten times more than any human. Have any of you ever bothered to take a look at what men have done to this planet. Nothing good. "Oh...but God said...that...and...umm...God..." Oh and moreover Bahai Warrior ...an attitute that the planet was created by god to be our little club house doesn't encourage people to treat anything with respect.

[profanity and some gratuitous content edited out. -moderator]

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Sun Nov 13, 2005 3:02 pm

C.M.:

You are taking what I said out of context. Instead of bashing the Baha'i Faith, maybe you might want to read a few things our religion has to say about the treatment of animals. As you will see, we are instructed to treat animals with more respect than humans because animals do not have language and as a consequence cannot complain:

"It is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness toevery living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man ... The feelings are one and the same, whether ye inflict pain on man or on beast. There is no difference here whatever. And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities ... Therefore it is essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let them try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests."


And when I said that everything on this earth was created for our use/enjoyment, I did not mean that we can freely abuse animals. That is far from what I said and meant. The Baha'i Faith is unique to all the world religions in many ways, and this is one of them: the teaching of kindness to animals. But that is not to say that they are “superior” to us, and it is an impossibility that animals "go to heaven." They do not have souls, they do not have a language, and they do not have the level of consciousness that we humans possess. The purpose of our physical existence, which is, as Baha'u'llah puts it, "less than a fleeting moment," is to develop or build up our "spiritual bodies" for the next life, which is done through prayer, worship of God, following His commandments, and selfless work (we have a principle that work is worship of God). The animal cannot do any of these things; he acts according to instinct, and has no “free will.” Nothing makes one animal different from the other in this respect. While it is evident that we should treat animals with the utmost respect, our lives are worth much more than that of the animal. But because of our spiritual nature and our higher level of consciousness, it is our duty to show kindness to animals, as well as our fellow man:

"Just as the animal is more noble than the vegetable and mineral so man is superior to the animal. The animal is bereft of ideality; that is to say, it is a captive of the world of nature and not in touch with that which lies within and beyond nature; it is without spiritual susceptibilities, deprived of the attractions of consciousness, unconscious of the world of God and incapable of deviating from the law of nature. It is different with man. Man is possessed of the emanations of consciousness; he has perception, ideality and capable of discovering the mysteries of the universe."

danielazim
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2005 12:12 am

Animals in heaven

Postby danielazim » Tue Nov 29, 2005 2:05 am

Tony, thank you for reading carefully my understanding of the Baha'i Writings on this topic, and I appreciated your stories about Muffin which also demonstrate that animals express divine attributes too - by instincts, instead of choice, but they are teachers for us just the same.

Warm Regards,
Daniel
Daniel Azim

Tony

Postby Tony » Sat Dec 10, 2005 3:50 pm

Thanks for your response, Daniel. I must confess that I didn’t read your opening message; the only part I saw was the summary I quoted. Anyway, I went back and read it all - a very worthwhile and interesting post. However, I am replying because I doubt whether Volvo, our cat which has recently died, could properly be described as in your conclusion:

 “So, will your pets be with you in heaven? After reading a lot and considering closely these passages, my own conclusion is this: the outer picture or physical aspect of Figaro, Romeo, or Squeaker will not be in this realm of lights and pure spirit. However, the essential reality or spiritual essence of Bow Wow – the names and attributes his physical body expressed – will be a companion and among the splendors and graces in this Kingdom of Love.

Volvo certainly had affection for a number of humans - and especially for our dog Muffin - but first and foremost he was a hunter, a carnal rather than a spiritual being. Nevertheless, I don’t think it necessarily follows that he doesn’t continue to exist, even though the Baha’i Writings make it clear that an animal cannot spiritually survive death as an independent entity. I think there is another possibility: along the lines that that all things might be found again, if God who created them so wills. Also, we might need to adjust our preceptions (and perceptions), as Albert Einstein said:

   "The distinction between past, present and future is only an illusion, however persistent. The future exists simultaneously with the past."

A few weeks ago a Baha’i friend told me that she would never have another dog, because she suffered so much when her last one died. I only really understood what she was saying after Muffin died. Truthfully, his death hit me much harder than when my Dad passed away a year ago. My Dad had been poorly for a long time and had serious ailments. His passing was a release from all this: “I have made death a messenger of joy to thee, wherefore dost thou grieve?”. And, for Baha’is, of course, there is assurance of “human” reunion on the “other side”. But what of animals?

Only “in God” or “through God” who created them might they be found again, I do believe. So is our faith tested, and rewarded. And perhaps it might be said that animals do go to “a kind of heaven” though not to “a human heaven”, and that the barrier - though not the difference - between these “heavens” could be our tendency to anthropomorphise: putting ourselves rather than God at the centre of the universe, and likewise putting the lower kingdoms in a primary relationship to ourselves rather than to God - as in the common conceptual misunderstanding of the word “dominion” in the verse:

    “And God said,  Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”     Genesis 1: 29

For man is not the only creature God created to know Him, as this famous “Hadith- i Qudsi” attributed to Muhammad states:

   “I was a Hidden Treasure and loved to be known. Therefore I created the Creation that I might be known.”

and many passages in the Baha’i Writings confirm that the non-human creation has a direct relationship with God, independent of man, (as well as a human dependence in some cases, aspects and degrees,) e.g.:

   “So perfect and comprehensive is His creation that no mind nor heart, however keen or pure, can ever grasp the nature of the most insignificant of His creatures; much less fathom the mystery of Him Who is the Day Star of Truth, Who is the invisible and unknowable Essence.”

     Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 62

Thus, the increasing co-operation and reciprocity up through the kingdoms has an inherent value before God, though we may discern it to some extent:

    “In surveying the vast range of creation thou shalt perceive that the higher a kingdom of created things is on the arc of ascent, the more conspicuous are the signs and evidences of the truth that co-operation and reciprocity at the level of a higher order are greater than those that exist at the level of a lower order. For example the evident signs of this fundamental reality are more discernible in the vegetable kingdom than in the mineral, and still more manifest in the animal world than in the vegetable. “

`Abdu'l-Baha, in Huququ'llah, Compilation of Compilations, page 509

As an illustration, ‘Abdu’l-Baha related how he saw a group of grasshoppers crossing a tiny stream: afterwards the insects that had formed the bridge fell in and were drowned. Perhaps these insects were at the end of their life and wished to die anyway, but even so it were still self-sacrifice for the collective. Countless incidents of this type take place in the wild every day. Very often old or injured animals stay with the herd. They will be taken by predators, but the rest of the herd will be spared. We say that the animals are acting by instinct, but on their terms they are creatures of God, and their “instinct” is a response to God’s Will. Moreover, this instinct for co-operation and reciprocity can be refined through beneficial interaction with humankind:

    “Likewise, we observe that animals which have undergone training in their sphere of limitation will progress and advance unmistakably, become more beautiful in appearance and increase in intelligence. For instance, how intelligent and knowing the Arabian horse has become through training, even how polite this horse has become through education. As to the human world: It is more in need of guidance and education than the lower creatures. “

`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 77

It seems to me that this trained co-operation and reciprocity - amity and affection even - can extend beyond human interaction to other species. In this connection I have already mentioned that Muffin and Volvo co-operated in order to warn that a mare had given birth unexpectedly early. Briefly, Muffin witnessed this event, ran to the house and communicated a message to Volvo inside - who then succeeded in attracting someone’s attention through vigorous miaowing and pummeling and, leading to the back door, Muffin took over and led the way to the foaling mare. Another time we thought Muffin was getting a bit fat, so we cut down his rations. Volvo then started bringing him game: a thrush, a pigeon or a mouse, which he gladly ate. Also, Volvo would nearly always follow when I took Muffin for a walk last thing at night. Even if ignorant boys chased him away he would appear from the shrubbery the next night. One night he didn’t appear and a fox happened to run across the avenue. Volvo would have faced down or fought off most dogs, but not a fox.

He wasn’t called Volvo due to his purr, but rather because he arrived as a kitten about 18 years ago in a car of that make and, upon arrival, disappeared through a gap in the upholstery and refused to re-emerge. The car was driven to a garage and had to be largely taken to bits before he could be extracted. There was an article and photo in the local paper about this.

Even after such an expensive beginning, Volvo justifed his keep in a stables by excelling at pest control - he was one of those fairly rare cats not afraid to tackle full-grown rats as well as smaller creatures. He killed a lot of other animals too - birds, squirrels etc. - and would normally eat most of them, though sometimes only the head. Of course in human terms all this is politically incorrect and reprehensible, but I think Volvo might reply that he was actually improving these species by culling their slow and stupid members, and that he had also quickly ended the life of many old and injured animals, just as he had come to me insistently in the early morning of Thurs. 1 Dec., having hardly eaten for three days and evidently wanting to be put down (the vet subsequently discovered serious internal problems). Here’s a photo I took of him about a week before he died:
 http://www.appledene.karoo.net/volvo.html

 In his left eye might be seen evidence of the three strokes he had survived, and in his left ear some rips from an encounter with a rat.


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