Do Animals Have Souls?
Do animals have souls?
What is a soul?
The definition of what a soul is varies greatly by your personal religious and spiritual beliefs. Which in turn will affect whether or not you believe an animal has a soul.
However, the broad definition of what a soul is, is this; a spiritual or immaterial part of a human, animal or life-form, regarded as immortal.
I personally identify with simply "being spiritual". I personally feel any living thing has a "spirit" or "spiritual breath" sometimes called an "essence" or "energy", this would include plants, animals, humans, minerals, and even objects. I believe animals DO have souls. A better way to describe this is that animals have consciousness, although they are not as consciously evolved as humans. Human souls evolve on greater levels than an animal. Animals are commonly believed to be more sensitive to spirits than humans and have often been the subjects of the most intense paranormal activities. If animals or our domestic friends were void of consciousness they would not perceive many things humans do not.
Do you believe animals have souls?
The reason I decided to discuss this topic, is because throughout my life, I've lost 3 cats, all of which I've loved very dearly. Each cat had a unique set of qualities, and personality. I cared for them with every resource I had until they were no more. All lived relatively long healthy lives, and when they passed, I was heart broken. It's a shame to me that they simply do not have the lifespan of a human. My cats have always been part of my family, they were my babies, and the thought of them not continuing past this life in one form or another simply broke my heart, and is unimaginable.
Losing an animal can give someone extreme grief. Animals not only provide unconditional love, but they become friends, companions, and some even work very hard to assist handicapped people. They have been known to bond with each other, with us, and even other unlikely species. A very popular show by National Geographic that illustrates this is Unlikely Animal Friends. They protect and love us without question.
When you lose or have lost a beloved pet, either by natural death, illness or tragic event, you may find yourself questioning whether or not you'll see that animal again.
A few common religious beliefs about animals having souls
Bahá'í The Bahá'í faith is one of the youngest of the world's major religions. It was founded by Bahá'u'lláh in Iran in 1863. The essential identity of each person is a rational and immortal soul. Our existence on earth depends on our physical bodies, and that human nature is fundamentally spiritual. After our soul separates from the physical body, it then enters into a spiritual realm of existence in which it draws close to God. Progress depends on preparation that has been made on the earthly plane in response to the teachings of God’s Messengers. Essentially Bahá'í practitioners do not believe animals have souls the way that humans do.
Buddhism Buddhists do not believe all life forms survive as individuals, but rejoin a universal "whole", essentially "new" and eventually "complete". Therefore Buddhists do not believe we connect with souls the way we would recognize them on earth, but as a universal source energy. Being that we are all made of that "source", we would then all be joined and complete. Some Buddhists believe that animals are souls that were created out of karmic past life misdeeds, this is obviously a big setback. Buddhists highly value all forms of life and believe all can reach and obtain perfect enlightenment. And that souls can reside in human and non-human vessels. They oppose cruelty and suffering for all life. Unlike Sikhism, all Buddhists are not vegetarians.
Hinduism This religion has a god whose form is that of animal and human: Ganesha. Hindus believe animals do live on after death. But we go through reincarnation first. Every single being and life form has a soul, in a sense we "level up", Hinduism is very fond of transcendentalism.
Catholic Based on what I've been able to find on Catholicism, their beliefs are conflicting. Going as far as to believe that animals, or life other than human being, has a "temporary soul", others say that since God created everything, including man, that man is identical with living creatures. The concept of a "temporary soul" is upheld by Catholic.com. I was unable to identify with this view.
Christianity Christianity has many denominations, so discussing all of them will not be done. The primary Christian view is that animals do not have souls the way humans do. Genesis 2:7, God breathes into the nostrils of man and gives him life, but all land animals have this same breath as well. Breath refers to "spirit", but spirit/life energy is not defined as a soul. Animals give God his due worship, and therefore they are loved and cared for. In the bible God describes his creation of animals to their "own" kind. And clearly outlines and delineates that man was created in Gods own image, being one of an eternal being containing the Holy Spirit. Evangelicals follow suit with the same belief. They believe that animals have no place in the afterlife, and that animals do not possess an eternal spirit. Orthodox views; animals have souls, but are unsure of their immortality or placement in the after life. Mormons believe each life has a specific place and purpose in the afterlife.
Islam They believe animals have souls, but what happens to them when it's time to be judged is another story. Some claim animals will return to the earth, and will cease to exist, others say they will transform and their spirits will then live on eternally.
Judaism They believe that the soul evolving capabilities of an animal is lower than that of a human. Human souls are considered divine, filled with the holy spirit itself. Divine souls are reunited with God upon death. This is not to say the animal soul does not survive death, but that it is not "with you" in heaven.
Sikhism Values respect for all forms of life, and all life forms. They believe humans and animals undergo transformations into different states and stages until a pure and perfected state is reached and we become "one with God". Sikhism beliefs are very similar to Hindu and Buddhists.
Treat all life with respect and purpose
Whether or not you believe an animal has a soul, you should always treat living things with respect, kindness, dignity, compassion, and acknowledge that they have a purpose and reason for existence. Even though they do not walk, communicate, or accomplish other great feats as humans have, they do deserve to be cared for and treated well while we share the planet with them.
If you have recently lost an animal you loved, I hope this information will give you comfort and peace as you move through your grieving process. Hopefully reassuring you that the animal you loved so much is no longer in pain or suffering, and that you will once see them again. Perhaps it will also cause you to be mindful and respect others views on the topic of animal souls, or cause you to reevaluate some, if not all of your religious perspectives.
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