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There’s no question that cats enrich our lives in so many different ways. They’re family members, constant companions, they cheer us up when we’re feeling down and, as science has shown us, they even have healing powers. The bond between cat and human can often be deeper than any connection we may feel with other humans. In Buddism for Pet Lovers: Supporting Our Closest Companions Through Life and Death, David Michie explores this close connection between us and our animal companions.
How do animals’ minds compare to our own? Do pets have any purpose besides offering us companionship, and cute social media photos? What happens to animal consciousness when they die?
Drawing on ancient Buddhist tradition and contemporary science, Michie provides a fascinating look at how our relationship with animals transcends the mere physical connection. By caring for them and enriching their lives, our own lives become richer, too. This is a book about the spiritual lives of pets, written from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism. If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness and other Buddhist principles, this is an easily accessible way to do so.
Michie also offers practical suggestions to enhance our day to day relationships with our feline family members, and those sections ended up being my favorite part of the book. Drawing on the principle of mindfulness, he reminds us that we need to make time to spend with our pets to be truly present with them, and to listen to them not just with our ears, but with our hearts. I particularly loved the meditation exercises that encourage readers to be mindfully present with their pets.
Michie also addresses the difficult topic of helping our animal companions through the final chapter of their lives. While I don’t completely agree with the Buddhist approach to death and dying when it comes to companion animals, I found much in this section that I resonated deeply with, especially the idea of being fully present with a terminally ill pet and understanding that there is much we can do beyond just caring for their physical needs to assist them during this time in their lives.
This book is written from the heart by one of the greatest teachers of mindfulness and Buddhism in the West. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to have a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with these wonderful cats (and other pets) who share our lives.
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