Human versus Humane
I am a metaphysician in private practice combining Reiki with other means of transpersonal shamanic healing. My clients include a diverse range of human beings as well as animals. Each different species has shown me overlapping truths as well as unique perspectives.
Departing from the struggle to define “the human being” and dissect what makes us human, I believe there is greater spiritual largess to be had from understanding and embodying “the humane being.” It is a mistake to regard humans as divorced from nature and elite from the common masses of the Animal Kingdom. Commonplace definitions attempt such a severing and compound it by total lack of attention to spiritual or any nonphysical elements.
Shamans, holistic healers, and medicine people understand that energy follows focused intention. Humans and other intelligent beings heal themselves through such practices as guided imagery, biofeedback, faith, prayers for spiritual intervention, and harnessing the energies of color, sound, crystals, Reiki, and more. Linkage between perception and health is a spiritual component of being, reinforcing that physical dis-ease is often a symptom of problems in the subtle bodies.
An example is someone undergoing stress and professional attack at work. That person feels the sacral chakra – seat of personal power – being threatened energetically and attempts to protect this area physically. This results in insomnia, overeating of comfort food carbohydrates, and secretion of stress hormones like cortisol which cause a build-up of fat in the abdominal area, directly over the sacral chakra. This is the physical body attempting to protect what is being attacked energetically and attempting physical compensation for energetic wounding.
However, this same linkage between the emotional, mental, and physical bodies is seen in non-human animals also. I’ve worked for years with a cat who tears his hair out and bites his skin when stressed by changes or emotional turmoil in his environment. Vibrational healing and animal communication to facilitate relaxation, deeper understanding of his circumstances, and a sense of personal empowerment are very helpful for him. Sometimes, he simply needs an outlet for self-expression in order to find emotional and physical relief.
I assist human and nonhuman clients with imagery and affirmations for healing which harness consciousness to engage self-healing mechanisms. Every individual has unique lenses and methodologies for processing stimuli, some unique to species and others commonly shared. Indeed, metaphysics proposes a shared consciousness of the Collective through the interconnection of all spiritual beings, whether presently incarnated, discarnate, human, or nonhuman.
A purely physical description of human chromosomes and DNA is equally descriptive of a mummified corpse as of a dynamic, living human being. So, it is characteristics of the soul which are lacking. The soul is the eternal metaphysical component which uniquely defines each individual and retains its essential definition after exiting the physical incarnation and returning to the Pleuroma where the soul engages both Collective and Divine Consciousness.
Since animals of all species – human, canine, avian, et cetera – possess varying degrees of a soul, these qualities apply equally to ensouled beings, not just human beings. Therefore, definitions of every living creature are inadequate without inclusion of the spiritual essence.
While we use the central nervous system to apply soul functions to the body we inhabit, there is arguably more to emotion, creativity, cognition, imagination, and meditation than a set of chemical secretions and electrical impulses. The soul also experiences all these things without the body.
In regards to awareness, there is physical sentience – the awareness of matter – and metaphysical sentience – the awareness of energy. Observing body language, vocal tone, and facial expression to give us cues to mental and emotional processes is physical sentience. Sensing the emotions or intentions of others through communication with their energy fields (i.e. “you could cut the tension with a knife”) is metaphysical sentience. All ensouled beings possess both types of sentience.
Inference, or the ability to drawn conclusions, is an important cognitive function of many animals, not limited to humans. For example, a dog sees his person pick up his leash and infers that he is about to be taken for a walk. Animals also make more subtle correlations, such as a cat determining her person is ill by physical appearance and demeanor. This is related to the capacity to store and extract memories from the mind, which salmon do when returning to their spawning grounds and squirrels demonstrate when digging up buried food stores.
All of this likening of human and nonhuman animals at the most elemental levels of existence then begs the question – so how are humans different and distinct from other animals? I assert that we are not. The soul is derived from God – made in His image – and is of the same character in all sentient beings. We’re not the smartest, fastest, or most gifted on Earth – only the most lethal which has placed us on our precarious and bloody perch of artificial superiority.
The deeper question I pose is this: What is a humane being? The Bing Online Dictionary offers the following definition of humane:
“1. compassionate: showing the better aspects of the human character, especially kindness and compassion.
2. involving minimal pain: done without inflicting any more pain than is necessary.
3. with emphasis on liberal values: with an emphasis on respect for other people’s views.
Synonyms: compassionate • caring • kind • gentle • humanitarian • kindly • benevolent”
Kindness, compassion, and love are not unique to humanity. As a blizzard raged, my dog Jack was so concerned about the whereabouts of his hospitalized canine brother, he went sadly from window to window, looking everywhere and wondering, “Is he safe?” I know a woman whose dog telepathically expressed such love to his person, she climbed up from the lake in which she was about to drown herself and decided life was still worth living. I worked with a cat who became ill with the same cancer as her human to help bear her burden of sickness and go with her into the afterlife. My very first animal communication client was a Labrador who had a stroke to spare her person – a woman who suffered debilitating headaches for days before the dog became ill. This dog literally took the blow for the person she loved.
Often it is humans who fail to express what is called by the dictionary “the better aspects of the human character.” In the eyes of the dolphins at Taiji who are slaughtered to death in front of their terrified calves, who are then kidnapped and sold into slavery at marine parks, are we humane? To the seals whose only contact with humans is seeing men swinging clubs, reddening the ice with the blood of their family members, are we humane? What do the dogs suffering in puppy mills think of us?
As an interspecies communicator who has asked them, I can assure you they are not worshippers at the self-erected shrine of humanity! I was only recently attacked by a dog who was so savagely abused and tortured by humans that he believed his only chance at survival was killing me – and I couldn’t blame him.
The only animals to demonstrate malice are humans. We are the only ones who kill for pleasure, waste what we kill, and systematically devalue every other species. Homo sapiens is obsessed with superiority, domination, gluttony, and greed at the expense of other living beings and even the planet herself.
The word humane thereby could stand a revision. Rather than representing “the better aspects of the human character,” I would state that humane means: Kindness, empathy, the practices of mercy and charity, and compassionate respect for what is outside of the self.
United We Stand; Divided We Fall
It is in accepting and embracing our oneness with other creatures that we open ourselves to the healing powers of the natural world. When we realize that we are not alien creatures, different and separated from all others, but that we were actually designed for abundant life on this planet and in this cosmos, we understand our true nature as co-creators with the infinite Universe. This empowers us to work together with the macrocosm of external elemental forces and the internal microcosm of the elements which is mirrored in our bodies.
As Dr. Jeanne Achterberg puts it, “It is there, in the body, in its state of relative health or sickness, that the harmony of the person with the cosmos is portrayed.” (Achterberg, p. 5) My work as a Reiki healer and metaphysician is at its core a form of shamanism. An essential role of shamans throughout human history has always been to place physical, mental, and emotional health and dis-ease into a broader cultural and universal context. This is a basis for all spiritual healing – finding meaning and creating new images of health and anchoring them with selective energies from the natural interdimensional world.
I have found the techniques of Reiki that I combine with crystal work, aromatherapy, telepathic communication, and channeling to be equally effective across species. I have done very similar work with humans, horses, dogs, cats, birds, and rodents. The chakras, energy fields, and spiritual components of each (i.e. the soul and spirit with their peripheral issues of reincarnation, karma, eternal nature, and higher purpose) are strikingly similar if not the same. (More on this issue will be available in my upcoming book, The Swift and the Brave: Sacred Souls of Animals to be released in 2014).
I find a great overlap in the meanings of words such as spiritual, energetic, vibrational, and metaphysical. There is also a synonymous thread linking terms like manifest, imagine, and create. It is through spiritual power and awareness that all sentient beings manifest their reality through the persistence of particular thoughts (beliefs) and the construction of images.
A simple definition of spirituality is offered by anthropologist Kewaunee Lapseritis: “Spirituality is having respect for all living things.” (Lapseritis, p. 8) Such a definition inextricably links the physical and the metaphysical and causes us to remember that all matter is formed of living atomic particles, regardless of the final shape assumed.
When we view spirituality in a holistic context such as this, we recognize our inherent ability to commune with and learn from other forms, our opportunities to benefit from them, and our responsibility to preserve and protect them. We then expand our manifestational abilities to include partnership with animal totems, crystal formations, and the Earth herself.
It is our awareness of our familial ties throughout the Universe that empowers this access to holistic healing, recognition of body wisdom, and honoring of the self as part of a greater whole. Seeing even a corner of this expansive picture is what enables us to find our higher purpose and mission in life. This is why exploration of common universal bonds, even while celebrating our individuality and uniqueness, is often of greater value for the spiritual healer and her clients.
Are We Special After All?
In my book, Other Nations, I wrote: “One of the most impressive lessons that animals can teach humans is that we should each be true to our essential nature as beings. Dogs persist in being dogs and do not act like cats even if feline traits are held in higher esteem at some moment in time. If a wolf pack fails to outflank the mule deer they had chosen, they will hunt again according to their given talents and will eventually be successful.” (Eiler, pp. 56-57 )
So what are the essential nature and the given talents of the human being alone? If our uniqueness isn’t possession of a soul, sentience, intellect, or culture – then what is it? We are biologically distinctive. The human genome is unique, comprised of approximately 35,000 genes and containing the chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA of the human being. Honestly, I believe this to be the extent of our singularity.
Elephants perform ritual dances and burial rituals. Chimpanzees make tools. Humpback whales compose and sing complex songs which last for hours. Orangutans and bonobos make beautiful paintings. Cetaceans live in socially distinctive family groups with their own dialectical languages. Many species mate for life. Animals love their families and display tremendous grief and separation anxiety, as demonstrated dramatically by whales, cows, dogs, cats, dolphins, and countless others. Animals build amazing structures, use touch healing techniques, and teach their young. Many learn to understand verbal and nonverbal human language including American Sign Language.
According to psychology professor Alexandra Horowitz, “In light of our persistent interest in finding the feature that makes us special, and other animals less special, I suggest that we may have found it: our interest in finding the feature that makes us special.” (Horowitz, 2009) While human art, culture, spirituality, and language may be unique, the possession of such as a species is not.
Healing, wisdom, spiritual enlightenment, and holistic advancement as individuals and as a species are only open to us when we have a holistic worldview and understand our bonds with other beings. This is a shared world – not the possession of humans, or certain groups of humans. Internalizing this concept and living accordingly is the first step to peace and wellbeing for us all. In other words, it is time for humanity to become humane.
Elizabeth S. Eiler, Ph.D. is the author of Other Nations: A Lightworker’s Case Book for Healing, Spiritually Empowering, and Communing with the Animal Kingdom which has received rave reviews internationally. Her new book exploring the soul nature and mission of animals, The Swift and the Brave: Sacred Souls of Animals will be released in 2014. For more information, you may visit her at www.amazon.com/author/elizabetheiler or www.sevenstarshealing.com.
Achterberg, Jeanne, Ph.D. 1985. Imagery in Healing: Shamanism and Modern Medicine. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Eiler, Elizabeth S., Ph.D. 2012. Other Nations: A Lightworker’s Case Book for Healing, Spiritually Empowering, and Communing with the Animal Kingdom. Denver, CO: Outskirts Press.
Horowitz, Alexandra, Ph.D. (2009, July 14). Are humans unique? Psychology Today. Retrieved February 9, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minds-animals/200907/are-humans-unique
humane. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved February 07, 2014, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/humane.
Lapseritis, Kewaunee, M.S. 2011. The Sasquatch People and their Interdimensional Connection. USA: Comanche Spirit Publishing.