“Pray to understand what man has forgotten.” —Native American proverb
It’s been a tough several days of news for animal lovers. Right on the heels of the incident that resulted in the tragic death of Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo, the world-famous tiger temple in Thailand has been closed amidst evidence of wildlife trafficking.
In addition, in Miami, a judge dismissed the Orca Network’s case against Seaquarium for violations of the Endangered Species Act. Thanks to this ruling, Lolita—the orca captured at age 4 and kept in the smallest orca tank in the U.S. for 45 years—will not be allowed to live out the remainder of her life in a seaside sanctuary in her home waters where her relatives still live and travel together, protected.
At times like these, it’s easy to become a pessimist and lose faith in the goodness of the human race. How can it be that so many captive, endangered, beautiful animals—even when supposedly being cared for by responsible humans—are suffering such terrible fates? Unfortunately, it boils down to money (as in the case of zoo and aquarium ticket sales), greed (as in the case of selling tiger parts illegally) and a philosophical belief that animals exist for human entertainment purposes (as seen in all three cases).
Stories such as these affect us, as animal lovers, deeply. We feel so helpless—and that often releases emotions such as anger, sadness, frustration and disgust. But we’re not helpless. There is something we can do: We only need to remember what we have forgotten—our inner compassion.
The teachings of Reiki can help us transform and heal the sadness and suffering we see in the world by empowering us with compassion. And compassion has the power to transform negative emotions. It’s the ultimate way to heal ourselves, heal the animals and even heal the world.
Pessimism, meanwhile, breeds pity. So no matter what, no matter how hard it is to do initially, do not pity the animals.
Pity comes from judgment. It creates separation by unconsciously looking down on the animal who is suffering. Pity also focuses on what “I” as the observer am feeling, and condescends toward the animal suffering (even without our knowing it): “I feel so bad … poor you.” Pity can often be equated with the emotion of sadness and helplessness. It creates a victim mentality.
Sometimes pity and compassion are mistaken for each other. In reality, they are really quite different. Pity is a negative emotion that animals run from, while compassion is a positive vibration that attracts animals like a magnet. At first glance they may seem similar: compassion and pity. Contemplating the differences can help us to shift from pessimism into a positive state of mind when confronted with the reality of animals suffering in the world.
Pity is a negative emotion that animals run from, while compassion is a positive vibration that attracts animals like a magnet.
Compassion is the ultimate manifestation of Reiki. It is most often equated with the virtue of loving-kindness. Compassion, by its nature of experiencing the connection of things heart to heart, looks deeper than just the surface of things.
Reiki helps us to remember our forgotten kinship with other species and beings on this planet; it teaches that we are all interconnected—we are all One. Therefore, when one of us suffers, we all are affected. If we see with Reiki eyes, we don’t judge the animal by the suffering he has endured, but see deeper to the strength and healing potential that exists within the hearts of all of us. True compassionate presence (Reiki presence) brings with it the ability to be present with an open heart with the animal who suffers, and to hold him in a space of faith, positivity and love to help him recover.
To help endangered and captive animals, we must let go of our pity and sadness. As long as we look through the pity lens, we will always see them as less than us, as victims of or subordinates to the human race. They will sense our feelings, and it will hinder our ability to connect from the heart. We will miss out on all of the gifts and lessons these animals have to give to the world. As long as we see ourselves as elevated above and separated from “those pitiful animals,” we will never find lasting solutions to conservation problems or succeed in responsible stewardship of this planet.
To help captive and endangered animals, once and for all, Reiki teaches us that we must not give in to the sadness of terrible times, but find new hope again by remembering the goodness that lives within the hearts of all. Meditation is one way that we can begin to experience the healing power of connecting heart to heart. This awakening to Oneness creates compassion. The true result of our Reiki practice is the compassionate work of loving-kindness.
We will find ways to end animal suffering and usher in a new age, one where endangered animals are honored as the healers and teachers they are.
If we want to solve the problems of endangered and captive animals around the world, we have to start with ourselves! Don’t look away and don’t pity. Open your eyes to the suffering of the animals, but don’t stop there: meditate to transform anger, worry, fear and sadness into compassion. In the quiet peace of Reiki meditation, you will find the strength to change the world with acts of loving-kindness. One wise act made from kindness is the starting point for each of us to begin to make better decisions and create a new future for captive and endangered animals.
When we see the world through our Reiki eyes, through the positive lens of compassion and loving-kindness, we will find ways to end animal suffering and usher in a new age, one where endangered animals are honored as the healers and teachers they are, and are no longer seen as mere objects for amusement and entertainment. Perhaps one day, when our Reiki practice is perfected and we’ve truly remembered all that we have forgotten, the suffering of animals and humans alike will be just a distant memory.