Not too long ago, a movie came out based on a book by Garth Stein titled, The Art of Racing in the Rain. The story’s main character, a dog named Enzo, narrates the story. According to Enzo, the canine existence is an apprenticeship to becoming human. If the dog finishes their years having evolved enough, they will return to a new life as humans.
This is not a spoiler alert, for I will not reveal any other parts of this great story. But, although the story is fictional, its premise supports Doctor Wayne Dyer’s belief that;
“We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a temporary human experience.”
Do living things evolve and advance to a next phase?
This is the existential question about human life. While Quantum Physics can support the probability that living things evolve and advance to a next phase, it can also support the premise that living things begin and end with just one life, period. Since no living being has ever returned from death to prove either theory, we must accept both premises as conjecture. This means we have the freedom to choose the one that best fits us.
Life, Death, Soul, Heaven and Hell
With the Catholic Church as the foundational teacher of my religious beliefs, I learned human beings are born with a soul that our death sets free to live in heaven or burn in hell. Each person determines their soul’s fate by their ability to live in accordance to God’s law.
This idea that our human acts govern our spiritual fate seems flawed to me, for it does not take into account the effects nature or nurture have on an individual. The church contends it is each person’s responsibility to find his/her soul’s salvation. This is the same whether one grew up in an affluent family with well-educated, loving parents or under the influence of drugged out parents who ran a crack house. Therefore, this is the theory that our human existence stumbles through life in search of the right spiritual truth and then we can ignore it or commit to follow it to save our souls.
This belief may have served early humans well, for it helped societies reach agreements and establish laws that would protect communities and define nations. But I don’t think this serves us well today because it counts on ego consciousness to judge what is right or wrong. Relying on our ego, we set out to compare ourselves with others to measure our righteousness and modulate our behavior with fear, guilt, violence, punishment and revenge. It also forces us to see ourselves unworthy of God’s love because we have been convinced that we were born imperfect and, therefore, must spend our lives trying to earn God’s eternal approval.
This idea we are here in search of a spiritual experience does not work for me. It is the philosophy that the cup of our life is always half empty. Fortunately, the view of spirit has evolved beyond this.
Spiritual beings having a temporary human experience
All spiritual teachings contend we originated from a Higher Consciousness or spirit we call God. For example, this is what the first chapter of the Book of Genesis addresses. Modern physics and metaphysics support the premise that everything originated from an original being. This means that all living organisms are spiritual beings because they all have this essence in them.
Using our surroundings to guide our thinking, we can see that everything is part of a never-ending cycle of birth, evolution, transformation and death. But endings are never final, for they lead to new beginnings and forms.
It makes sense then that this cycle we witness daily in the material world is the perfect metaphor for what happens in the spiritual world. Just ponder about our own spiritual evolution through the many endings and beginnings in our lives.
I am convinced we are spiritual beings experiencing a temporary human experience. This makes the example of Enzo—the hero of our aforementioned story—possible. This may not just apply to dogs; it is plausible that every living thing serves as a phase of learning and evolving for a next and higher being.
Seeing ourselves as spiritual beings on this earth temporarily to grow and evolve fills me with hope, serenity and gratitude. This belief converts my life into a wonderful package of experiences and people meant to teach me important lessons on how to express the divine spirit that is part of me.
We can, of course, adopt the traditional view of the relationship between God and ourselves, salvation and eternal damnation. But these beliefs have fueled great divisions and tribalism among human beings. We still argue over whose god is the one true God and who are the true believers and infidels. These beliefs don’t allow us to see our connection to each other and to our world.
Considering ourselves as spiritual beings here to learn and grow give every life meaning and value. This does not judge our experiences and people as good or evil, but as essential elements in our individual life curriculum. It also sheds light on the important value and purpose each person, animals, and every living thing contributes to our world.
Adopting this perspective has brought great joy and significance to my life. Knowing the people and experiences in my life were there to help with my spiritual development defuses my anger and desire for revenge and fills me with gratitude for them. It gives the full span of my life meaning and purpose and gives me the energy and openness to accept new challenges for as long as I live. I have never been so content and thankful for my life nor have I ever felt so comfortable inside my skin as I do now. I am a spiritual being learning from this temporary existence and getting ready for the next transition.
Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will bring you great joy and contentment.