by: Gordon Smith

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Do animals live on in spirit? Will they be there to greet us when we pass? Gordon Smith believes that animals share the same spark of consciousness that makes us all spiritual beings. That spark is not extinguished when they pass: it's the part of any being that moves on to a higher realm. Indeed, in the development of his mediumship skills, Gordon soon realised that animals that have been close to us in life also continue to visit us after their death, bringing messages of love and reassurance from the other side. They remain loyal companions to people who have passed: in the afterlife, as in life, they provide comfort and love. In The Amazing Power of Animals he recounts some of the amazing experiences that people have had with animals, both in the spirit world and our world, including wonderful tales of his springer spaniel, Charlie.
252pp, 128mm x 196mm, Paperback, 2008

Is it so ridiculous to think that a person and animal can be so bonded that they respond to each other as human soul mates would? When you think of the number of people you'll meet in the course of your life and how very few of them will stand out and become friends in the strongest sense, you can see how special such a bond is. The 'owners' in The Amazing Power of Animals all experienced it with those outstanding animals who were surely part of their soul group.

I don't think Charlie could ever have meant the same to his breeder, or his earlier owners, or even the lady who rescued him, as he did to me and Jim. And yet all those adventures, those lessons, all the agonies with his illnesses and injuries, all the times when he made us laugh or made us think and look at our own assumptions and behaviour, all those were just waiting to happen for the right person.

There's a story about a Brahmin called Kukka Ripa who lived in India, centuries ago. He was travelling alone, having renounced the world, and was living on the charity that people in the villages he passed through dropped into his begging bowl. One day he was trudging on to the next town when he heard a noise from the roadside, and when he went to look he found a starving dog. He couldn't leave her there, but carried on with him, sharing his food with her until she recovered and could walk alongside him.

After much journeying with the dog as his constant companion, he reached the caves of Lumbini in Nepal, where he intended to stay and meditate on his way to enlightenment. For 12 years he recited his mantra, leaving the cave only to fetch food for himself and the dog, who stood guard at the cave's mouth while he was away.

The gods of the 33 sensual heavens saw what he had achieved on Earth and how close he was to divine insight, and they invited him to come and celebrate with them in their paradise. Kukku Ripa ascended to join them and found a magical place where there was always feasting and luxury.

The dog waited on Earth, and even when he was all but lost in his heavenly new existence, Kukku Ripa didn't forget her. In fact, he missed her and he could see that she was pining for him. He begged the gods to let him return to her. Baffled, they finally agreed.

When Kukku Ripa arrived back at the cave mouth, the dog was ecstatic, and as he leaned down to tickle her under her ears, she suddenly disappeared and was replaced by a beautiful dakini - a goddess. She told Kukku Ripa that by overcoming the temptations of the 33 heavens and coming back for his friend, he had proved himself fit to achieve supreme realization.

Ultimately, being good for the sake of being a good Brahmin wasn't enough, and Kukku Ripa found that he truly received grace only when he reached out to someone that needed his help - and that could have been a dog, a cow or another person. In feeling love for that animal, that man became enlightened - a compassionate, loving individual, not an ascetic saint.

We can all see ourselves as individuals or we can realize we're part of a bigger consciousness and try to reach out for an unconditional love of all beings.

The essence of love, of those bonds, that runs through our lives, is what gives us meaning. No matter whom we feel love for in this life, human or animal, the very fact that we have loved another being will expand who we are and give us a higher perspective. All animals can touch our hearts if we let them.

From The Amazing Power of Animals, ?2008 by Gordon Smith, published by Hay House.

If we look closely at our animals, it won't take us too long to see that there are all levels of star qualities in them, just as there are in humans. In the same way that we witness people who have shown amazing compassion in their lives, whether through a vocation like nursing or when some harm came to those around them, we can see animals that are truly exceptional. Patch, who was looked after by Terry Davies of Llanelli in Wales, was one of them:

Patch was a mongrel dog who was in our family for 16 years. He was always there for me when I needed him and fitted happily into our household of three cats and later another dog, Tia.

My mother lived opposite us in a terraced house and her friend, a neighbour of ours, was a lovely lady called Rose, who lived alone and loved animals. She was just one of four OAPs that Patch would sneak off and pay social calls to; no matter what we did to keep him in he'd find a way and off he'd go. We worried about the risks he took with crossing the road, but there was no stopping him keeping his appointments! He kept up his daily routine for the last six years of his life and was a blessing to the four elderly people. He really lifted their spirits and they drew great comfort from him.

On two occasions, however, he didn't shift from his basket. Later we got phone calls or visits from some of his friends to ask if he was safe and well, and nothing seemed wrong with him. It turned out, though, that those were the days when my mum and Rose sadly passed. Patch obviously knew before we did.

When he himself got old he would still make the effort to go on his rounds, although he didn't always make it, but his pensioner friends would call us every day to check how he was. It was testament to his loyalty. The good he generated in his life for these people was priceless, as they were in real need of company. Our lesson from Patch was to look more deeply at how we conducted ourselves with friends.

Now, not every dog is like Patch, but then again, not every human is like Mother Teresa! We all have the capacity to go beyond what's expected of us in life, though, and that's just what Patch did. A cynic would say he was just after an extra biscuit or two, but I doubt it. If it had just been a Pavlovian reaction to jammy dodgers, he would have carried on looking for his treats after his friends had passed. That dog was just giving his services, like any person who volunteers to visit the residents in an old folks' home or mentor young kids in their spare time. He was something special, the kind of dog that the Tibetans would say had a consciousness that would give it a higher rebirth in its next life. He was a pure giver of love and a compassionate being, and, as Terry says, if a dog can do that, we have to think about what we humans have to offer.

From The Amazing Power of Animals, ?2008 by Gordon Smith, published by Hay House.

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