By Cara Gubbins, Ph.D
LG Article for July-August-September issue
“Earth is the school. Love is the lesson.”
This is the saying on one of my favorite bumper stickers. It always reminds that even though it may seem at times that the point of being alive is to achieve more and make more money and buy a bigger house, the real reason we are here is to love and be loved and learn about love in its many forms.
From a spiritual point of view, souls come into this life with a plan and souls often have agreements with other souls that will be part of their lives here on Earth. Sometimes these agreements are called “soul contracts” or “spiritual contracts.” The bottom line is that we have lessons to learn together. And soul contracts are not just between humans. They can also be between humans and the animals in their lives. We are connected to the souls of each other and to the souls of our pets.
Many people wonder what brought them together with their pets. They want me to ask their dog or cat or horse: “Why are we together?” This question gets at the spiritual bonds and soul contracts between animals and their people. The answers are variations on the theme of love.
Q: Why are we together?
A: Just before she made her transition, Iko the Australian shepherd said that she was here to teach her person “love and devotion … and she got it.”
Layla the Rhodesian ridgeback said, “You needed me. I’m here to take care of you and be your kid. Otherwise, you’d never experience that kind of love and devotion for yourself.”
I believe each soul on this planet is here to learn his or her spiritual lessons and at the same time share his or her spiritual gifts. Our spiritual lessons are the challenges that we face in our lives, such as losing a loved one, failing at something that means a lot to us, and struggling through relationship problems. Our spiritual gifts are often the things that give us the most joy. For a singer-songwriter, it might be performing his or her original work to an appreciative audience. For a teacher, it might be having a great day in a classroom full of children.
One of my favorite questions to ask animals (and people!) is “what is your spiritual gift”? I have asked this question to dogs, cats, horses, lions, dolphins, whales, and people. The answers are always interesting and thought-provoking. They always challenge me to expand my thinking.
Q: What is your spiritual gift?
A: A goldendoodle (dog) living with a family in the Los Angeles area told me that her spiritual gift was enthusiastic love. She said, “I am a source of love, unconditional love that can be given out to you and you can receive it. My love is like a balm for the scraped parts of your soul. I am here to love you all [my family] no matter what.”
Frankie, a former rodeo horse, says that the spiritual gift of the horse is “love, powerfulness, vitality, athleticism, movement, speed, and partnership. As a domesticated animal the best possible outcome is interdependence, when the horse and rider merge into one.”
Because we all have gifts and challenges, the flip side to the “spiritual gift” question is “what is your spiritual lesson?” I’ve asked this question to all kinds of animals and people, too.
Q: What is your spiritual lesson?
A: Bianca the cat told me that her spiritual lesson is balancing autonomy with connection to people. Bianca says her challenge is “walking between two worlds—mine and the humans’—and it’s hard to communicate my needs and desires.” When I asked her if it were the same for all cats, she said, “Yes, we all have the challenge of the balance between independence/autonomy and connecting with our people. Where is the line? It can shift and sway and move away.” Bianca is so poetic!
Frankie the horse also told me that the spiritual lesson of domesticated horses is experiencing dedication and devotion. He said, “We are here to learn how it feels to be powerful but dependent on someone else.” Powerful words from a powerful animal.
Molly the dog said that her spiritual lesson was to grow in wisdom through understanding the loving bonds between beings, learning about love in all different kinds of ways, experiencing the joy of love and the pain of disconnection. She told me that that’s what gives her wisdom.
As an animal intuitive, I am privy to some of the coolest insights available on the planet—what animals are thinking and feeling. They also give me all kinds of words of wisdom and spiritual lessons. My life is infinitely richer for having had these conversations with them.
Thinking about what I learn from them, I often ask the animals what their people are learning from living with their pets. One dog told me that her human family is learning from her “that loves lasts. That love is constant. That love softens the blows and even heals. Tell them to let it go, don’t hang on to the hurts, and play.”
Well said, animal kind, well said.