Well, We All Shine On: Karmic Lessons from the Animals

     “Well, I didn’t see that coming!”  “What goes around comes around.”  “I hope he gets what he deserves."

     We can all identify with having uttered or heard these phrases after falling victim to someone’s ill intentions or witnessing an unprovoked self-serving or predatory act.  Every such action has more than one victim but we will likely not see the justice we crave in this lifetime. While we might want to even the score, we are better served by allowing the laws of karma to heal the effects naturally.  And that means, essentially, learning from our mistakes on higher levels, sometimes in future incarnations.

     But we want it, and we want it now

     Sometimes we expect karma to engulf us like a huge wave, and as John Lennon said, knock us off our feet, forcing us to learn that pestering lesson once and for all. But a life outside of isolation doesn't always allow for such easy returns.  Usually   karma presents itself in more evolutionary ways, and in reality, it can take multiple lifetimes to achieve karmic balance.  But even if we are lucky enough to welcome such justice into our current lives in one fell swoop, we might be too distracted or imperceptive to recognize it it. 

     The Buddhists define karma as “the law of moral causation”(Buddhanet.com).  The explanation includes the Buddhist understanding that “In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve. Usually, men of ordinary intellect cannot comprehend the actual reason or reasons… the result of our own past actions and our own present doings...We are the architects of our own fate.”  A less refined and more mass conscious definition of karma on dictionary.com shows how the word has been hijacked and thus disempowered  as a weak substitute for “energy” or intention: “the good or bad emanations felt to be generated by someone or something:  ‘Let’s get out of here. This place has bad karma.’”  Western religion teaches its own version of karma. In Galations  we read, "whatever a man soweth also shall he reap," which echoes Job: "they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same."   We can find many more examples in both the Old and New Testament.


     Surfing only the edges of consciousness limits human growth,  causing  myopia and putting obstacles in our peripheral vision.  Instead of understanding the cause/effect relationship set in motion by even our smallest actions, we sometimes plant our feet in the center of our own universe and apply ethical principles only to that which immediately affects us.  This  malady exemplifies the “I, Me Me, Mine”  that George Harrison lamented.  In truth, we incur karma with every thought, every intention, every action, every interaction with the whole, rich, natural world, not just humans as they relate to our self-centered desires. 

     Here’s what appears to be the mundane case of a middle aged man who, after buying his first townhouse, decided he wanted his first canine companion.  Upon researching dog breeds, he determined the Basenji was most appealing for variety of reasons: they’re small, barkless, light on their feet, clean. He reserved a female from a Canadian breeder but because the breeding didn't take right away , he grew impatient and found a local breeder who sold him a male puppy.   However, within months, the first breeder did have a successful breeding, so he acquired that girl, too, (double the fun, caretakers of multiple dogs know).  The male was adorable but needy and mischievous, sometimes to the detriment of his own health, true to Basenji character. A few years later the man decided he’d prefer living on the beach and found a condo with a one-pet restriction. “It’s a lifestyle choice,” became  his mantra as he gave the male away, "it's a lifestyle choice," he repeated,  keeping the more even-tempered female. Very soon, his now only  dog became critically ill, requiring emergency abdominal surgery.  His sweet girl ate part of a blanket and the threads wrapped around her intestines.  Two days after what seemed to be a successful operation, she unexpectedly died.  To astute observers it was a swift but brutal visitation by karma.

            And the dog?  The physical pain was temporary and she lives on.  Animals have souls just as pure and divine as ours, and they choose their lessons and students as we do before they incarnate on earth.   They accompany us for so short a time, willingly serving as teachers and guides so that we may learn the lessons of commitment, unconditional love, and sacrifice.   One would hope that at some point, more of us would “get it” and rise to thank teachers like Becky the Basenji, karmic emissary, for their gifts.

            Witness the unfathomable murder of Cecil the lion, illegally and immorally shot with a crossbow, tracked, left to suffer for 24 hours before he died, then beheaded to become a trophy for a cowardly Minnesota dentist who measures his manhood through his collection of carcasses.  Those of us who love, respect, and honor all life still grieve in ways the average observer may not understand.  And even then, many of us fell prey to the demand for instant justice and extradition to Zimbabwe of the killer who shall not be named here.  “Off with his head!”  “He should be killed the same way!” were the cries of millions of outraged animal lovers.  Many of us gathered in spirit, in prayer, in meditation and healing circles, and still do, trusting that karma will be the great teacher rather than fearsome equalizer, and that this will somehow serve the greater good for all living creatures.

Rev. Lisa Shaw is an animal communicator, intuitive counselor, writer, and award winning professor who lives in South Florida with her furry and feathered companions.  Her website is www.Reikidogs.com, and her book Illlumination: Life Lessons from our Animal Companions, is available for download on Amazon.

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Comment by Lisa Shaw on November 8, 2015 at 9:54pm
I've lost multiple animals myself, many before their time, so I understand suffering very well. The example I gave was a true story that illustrated the swiftness of karma, and not meant to be suggest that all who lose a loved animal somehow "deserve" it. I would hope people would understand the illustration as one very particular example that stood out. It was not meant to infuse guilt in anyone's grief. BTW, I have an M.A. in ministry specializing in loss and healing and have served as a hospice chaplain, so I know how to be sensitive with people facing loss.
But if you think it's too sensitive an illustration, I accept your decision.
Comment by Kathy Custren on November 8, 2015 at 8:42pm

Hi, Lisa - In response to you inquiry about what might be too sensitive, we must walk a very fine line when it comes to our illustrations. With the work you do in the Reiki group, I am sure you are keenly aware of the suffering of both pets and their people. When using examples of 'what goes around,' we must be careful not to tread into those same murky, energetic waters that may come back to [re]visit us, either directly or indirectly.

This is one of those topics where writers are a little insulated from some of the negative feedback that can come from others who feel they are justified in either using OMTimes or your piece to further rile additional anger and possibly 'perpetuate the hate.' As your opening line states, "Well, I didn't see that coming!" If we can avoid any extenuating pain, that starts with us not recounting something that will echo negatively with readers. 

The Cecil the Lion section, in particular is no longer topical, and the part about the dog dying from the blanket can affect someone who has just lost a pet, perhaps in a very similar fashion. I can get the whole karma idea, but if you can rework the illustrations in a way that is less exacting and/or painful to read, then we can consider the message you would like to convey. 

Hope this helps? ~ Blessings! 

Comment by Lisa Shaw on November 8, 2015 at 5:56pm

Thanks, Shelly.  Which part do you think might be too sensitive?

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