"1. Animals can teach us radical forgiveness. Many domestic animals demonstrate an attitude of forgiveness toward humans even after being horrifically abused by humans. The American pit bull terrier offers the most stunning example. Rescuers of pit bulls report that in the majority of instances of neglect and abuse, when the human mind reasons that an animal that has experienced such mistreatment should only fight back in hostile rage, the pit bull is gentle, kind, and forgiving and demonstrates a general willingness to remain with humans, even in this situation. It is as if they know how tortured and distressed we are, yet they still have compassion for us.
"2. Animals can teach us unconditional love. Their love is a given, and it's not dependent on anything we do or don't do. They love wholly, innocently, finally, and forever. They demonstrate the clearer signs we could have of what mystics know is the infinite love at the core of the Godhead.
"3. Animals can teach us profoundly balanced, tender, and embodied love. Human beings have over sexualized eros. Animals guide us into a full-bodied, full-hearted, unpossessive, luminously intelligent and divinely tender eros that is at once absolutely spiritual and cellularly radiant. This is embodied, divine love, and it is this kind of love that we find in the most whole and evolved saints such as Rumi and Kabir. We can find it in our amazement and awe at the tabby purring against our chest or the supremely trusting dog lying with its ear against our chest listening to our heartbeat, or in the blue jay singing for us alone on a sun-drenched windowsill, or in a white lion stepping out of the dark bush into moonlit shadow, still and ablaze in majesty.
"4. Animals can teach us radical acceptance of the rhythms of life and death, light and dark – that radical acceptance that mystical systems celebrate as the gateway into enlightenment. Animals are masters of surrender — masters of the secrets of being. While animals do not long for or welcome death, and generally resist it, they also instinctively know that it is an inherent part of life, and they need to meet it with fearless grace. . . .
"5. Jungian commentator Shamdasini says that Jung saw that one of the crucial tasks of complex psychology is that of 'coming into a right relation with the animal. . . . There could be no individuation without establishing a new relation to animals.' In fact, Jung made clear that 'a critical task of analysis is that of "becoming animal." ' Jung understood too something of vast significance for us in our journey to purify our shadow of rejection of our animal nature. He understood that in nature the animal is a 'well-behaved citizen . . . It does nothing extravagant. Only man is extravagant. So if you assimilate the character of the animal, you become a peculiarly law-abiding citizen.'
"We believe that we must now build on Jung's crucial insights to help birth on the Earth human beings who are whole because they have blessed, embraced, and integrated their animal nature and realized in the deepest sense that this leads, not as the patriarchal traditions have implied to surrender to chaotic instinct, but to a profound alignment with the subtle balancing laws of nature. It is to this new human being that our book is dedicated, for we have experienced with Jung the joy and groundedness that are engendered when the so-called civilized sides of ourselves are married to our own inner divine animal.
"6. Animals are natural masters of self-protection and the establishing and guarding of boundaries. Too often patriarchal tradition has characterized these qualities as blind territorial instinct. In fact, as the indigenous traditions know, such qualities are essential for our full human growth and human survival. Without being constantly attentive to the signals and subtle movements of energy without our animal nature, the naturally dissociated, even hubristic nature of our minds can lead us into the most dangerous situations and the most lethal forms of abuse.
"If humanity does not heed the ever-shifting wisdom of its animal nature, it will continue on its disastrous, dissociative fantasy of dominating nature, so ensuring its own destruction and the destruction of a majority of the natural world. If we were fully attuned to our animal nature, would we build monstrous, sterile cities where people live lives of lonely alienation? Would we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a delusional vision of space travel or of colonizing Mars when our own planet is convulsed in crisis? Would we refuse to listen to the warnings of scientists in their increasingly apocalyptic clarity about climate change? Would we continue to turn a blind eye to the epidemic of child abuse, rape, and the degradation of LGBTQ individuals? Would we blindly worship the potential benefits of artificial intelligence and embrace a world run by robots? Would we allow the continuing genocide of animals if we realized that what we are also killing is an inestimably precious part of ourselves which, when gone, will leave us utterly at the mercy of the madness of our dissociated minds and ravaged hearts?
"7. Animals also teach us how to rest in being so as to refuel for becoming. They never waste their energy, and they love silence and contemplation and non-conceptual immersion in the real. This is the state that our various mystical systems struggle against great odds to initiate us into. And all around us if we dare to look, we have masters as great as Jesus or the Buddha showing us how being itself can sustain us, inspire and invigorate us through everything. To reiterate Eckhart Tolle: He has had many Zen masters in the form of cats.
"As we navigate the global dark night of all species and struggle against immense odds to live and act from our deepest wisdom, we will need to learn how to rest so as to refuel for what is bound to be a long and grueling journey towards a new world. What better teachers could we have to help us incarnate this marriage of opposites than the animals who do it so effortlessly?
"8. Animals can teach us to play. Montaigne wrote in the Apology for Raymond Sebond, 'When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her, more than she is to me?' Montaigne's own work shows us the delicious freedom that can come to someone eased out of his or her self-seriousness to understand what the greatest mystics know: That in the deepest sense the universe and life are games played by divine reality. As Heraclitus said, 'Life is a child playing draughts.' And as Kabir wrote, 'In the beginning . . . this whole universe is endless dance.' The genius for play that animals have can be our most direct guide into this blossoming bliss."