What Pets Can Teach Us about Spirituality

cat looking at a chanuka menorah

We often focus on what we can teach our pets and forget to look at what our pets can teach us. Animals have certain characteristics which, if we embraced, would help us lead happier, more fulfilled and more spiritual lives.

Pets don’t give up. If you throw a ball at them they will try to catch it every time. Even if they miss every single time, they will keep coming back for more. And more importantly, they don’t give up on love. No matter how many times they are yelled at or rebuffed they keep coming back, expecting to be loved and cared for.

Pets remember a kindness and forget harsh words. They are extremely forgiving when necessary and will go to great lengths to be near a person who has taken care of them.

Pets know how to accept love. They never ask whether they are worthy of it, but simply accept it as their due. And they give back love unconditionally, showing their joy in a human’s presence with no restraints. Animals can teach us about our own capacity for love. Because they are so easy to love, they give us an opportunity to experience unconditional love and to understand how love radiates out and encompasses an ever-widening circle.

Pets know how to ask for what they want. If they are hungry, need to be petted, walked or played with, they will let you know. They are not embarrassed to accept help or to let people know how they can be of service.

Human beings sometimes feel that they are limited to expressing themselves only through language. Through interaction with a pet it becomes clear that communication goes way beyond words and that often wordless communication is much deeper and more meaningful than conversation. Communication with animals is not based on identifying with the other, since humans don’t have the same emotions as their pets. Instead, humans strive to understand what it is like to be different. Compassion is based on seeing others for who they are, not for how they are like us.

Another lesson which can be learned from pets is how to live in the moment. People may spend a lot of time dwelling in the past or worrying about the future but animals know how to be present in the moment. If they are engaging in an enjoyable activity their entire focus is on that activity.

Pets are also one of many ways to connect with creation. The beauty of nature in all its forms gives us the opportunity to be in awe of the complex and wondrous world in which we live.

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