Recently, a movie came out based on a book by Garth Stein titled, The Art of Racing in the Rain. Enzo, the story’s principal character, is a dog and he narrates the story. Enzo believes the canine existence is an apprenticeship to becoming human. How a dog develops in his/her life will determine whether they will return to a new life as a person or not. What the movie depicts is the canine version of the saying “Live, evolve or repeat”.

It would be very inconsiderate of me to reveal other parts of this marvelous story. You should read the book or watch the movie. However, although the story is fictional, its premise reminded me of 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.”

What do you think?

Do living things evolve and advance to a next phase? 

This is the existential question about 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 that both premises are conjecture.

Life, Death, Soul, Heaven and Hell

While growing up Catholic, priests and nuns taught me that 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 devotion to live in accordance to God’s law.

Today, this idea seems flawed, for it does not take into account the effects of nature or nurture on an individual. For example, religion does not differentiate between someone who was unlucky enough to grow up with drugged out, atheist parents who ran a crack house, or lucky to have been born to loving, church going parents who taught him/her all about God’s expectations and laws.

This belief may have served ancient societies well by helping them reach agreements and establish laws about how they would behave towards one another. But I think we have developed beyond relying on our ego consciousness to judge what is right or wrong. We no longer need to compare ourselves with others to measure our righteousness and modulate our behavior with fear and guilt. These feelings rely on our belief that we were born imperfect (original sin) and, therefore, we are unworthy of God’s love. Under this scenario, we must spend our lives hoping our actions will receive God’s eternal approval so we may go to heaven. The punishment for non-compliance is everlasting damnation.

This scenario does not work for me anymore because it sets people up for failure. One mistake in this finite life and you burn in hell for all eternity. Talk about harsh and excessive punishment! This is like trying to catch a mouse in your home by using an atomic bomb!

Fortunately, the view of spirit has developed beyond this. We need not be scared into compliance.

Spiritual beings having a temporary human experience

All spiritual teachings contend we originated from a Higher Consciousness or Spirit we call God. This is the central topic covered in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.

Modern physics and metaphysics support the premise that everything originated from an original being. This supports the premise that all living organisms are spiritual beings because they all have this essence as part of 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 of birth, death and rebirth we frequently see in the material world is the perfect metaphor for what happens in the spiritual world. Just think about your own spiritual evolution through the many endings and beginnings in your life.

Like Wayne Dyer and countless other spiritual teachers, I too believe we are spiritual beings experiencing a temporary human experience. Therefore, I think it is plausible that every living thing serves as a phase of learning and growing for a next and higher being, just like in the example of the Enzo, the dog/hero of our aforementioned story.

I share this view with you because seeing humans as spiritual beings on this earth temporarily to grow and develop 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. 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.

To embrace fully the idea there is a Higher Power at work in your life, it is important to adopt this perspective. Doing so makes you a full partner with your Higher Power in creating your life. It also gives every aspect of your life meaning and value.  You will see that the experiences and people who came into your life were essential elements in your individual life curriculum. You will stop seeing them as good, evil, or as a karmic punishment for your sins. This belief will also open your eyes to the important value and purpose each person, animals, and every living thing contributes to our world.

You can, of course, continue to hold on to the traditional view of the relationship between God and ourselves, salvation and eternal damnation. But it is possible your traditional beliefs about God may be keeping you frozen in place, feeling guilty and afraid of moving in a direction that you fear can expose you to making a mistake. Hanging on to these beliefs doesn’t allow you to see your connection to each other and to our world. I know this firsthand, but I also know how hard it was for me to let go of them as well.

Fortunately, adopting this new perspective has brought great joy and significance to my life. I have never been so content and thankful for my existence, nor have I ever felt so comfortable inside my skin as I do now.

In order to move forward, you must begin to see yourself as a spiritual being learning from this temporary existence and getting ready for the next transition.

Photo by Karthik Thoguluva on Unsplash