Bibliophile | David Michie’s Buddhism for Pet Lovers

Buddhism for Pet Lovers
by David Michie
Allen & Unwin

Subiaco author and practicing Buddhist David Michie’s latest book is dedicated to his teachers and all the animals that have made his “journey through life immeasurably more fulfilling, fascinating and fun”. For those of you who have read any of his other books, such as the marvelous The Dalai Lama’s Cat series or The Queen’s Corgi: On Purpose will know that he explores the inner consciousness of animals from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism.

Growing up in Zimbabwe, he had opportunities to volunteer to feed lions and wash elephants at the local game reserve as well as keeping a menagerie of pets. He regards animals as “our closest companions on our journey through life”, noting that we sometimes spend more time with our pets than with friends. He shares intriguing stories of empathy, intuition and even telepathy of furred and feathered creatures.

Michie doesn’t think the pets in our life are there by chance and he looks at the key principles of Tibetan Buddhism to guide people to relate to their pets – in life and death. He has written about meditation and mindfulness before and offers an interesting experiment at being mindfully present for our pets and what can result. He includes instructions on how to meditate and but stresses that you don’t have to believe – just keep an open mind.

It’s a two-way process as pets also help their humans. By cultivating the causes of happiness (which are not ‘out there’ but within us) and avoiding cultivating the causes of suffering, we are open to greater connections, more self-acceptance and more happiness. Michie gives steps that can result in having more love and compassion in our lives. This is interesting for non-Buddhist and he also gives more complicated meditations as well.

We usually out-live our pets so the chapter on supporting our pets through death and beyond is just as beneficial for us as it is for our animals. Having specific healing techniques replace a sense of helplessness is certainly valuable and the Buddhist concept of rebirth is comforting according to the many accounts from readers of Michie’s blog.

This book helps us get the best from our pets as well as ourselves. It is a gentle guide to becoming more interested in the consciousness of our fellow beings and expanding the caring part of our lives to embrace more of the world around us and the creatures in it.

Lezly Herbert

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