Interview on "The Spiritual Life of Animals & Plant

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Interview on "The Spiritual Life of Animals & Plant

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Laurie Conrad is also a divine healer who works with the Distant Healing Network, a group of healers from around the world who send healing to anyone who requests it.

September 9, 2001 Ithaca, New York
Interviewer: Diana Souza

Q: You’ve written a book of true stories about how you began to sense the spiritual lives of animals by observing them closely in your everyday life. Laurie, why did you write this book?

L: For many reasons. One reason, certainly, is the hope that if people understood that animals and plants have a spiritual life, it might make it more difficult for people to mistreat them.

The book is also about Divine Healing. And this marvelous universe we have and all the creatures who inhabit it. That we are all so interdependent, that all creatures should be respected, no creature is too small or insignificant or "just an insect", let’s say. That all these beings are part of the greater whole.

Q: They are all true stories, anecdotal stories?

L: Yes, they are, and I hope they help.

I also wrote the book because I feel that animals are a huge untapped source of prayer and healing. I don’t know if you have ever had the experience of being healed by your cat or dog. You know they’ll come over to you - we just think of it mainly as their love or their caring. But the next time you aren’t feeling well, and you’re lying there and your stomach hurts, see if your cat doesn’t come over and lie on or near your stomach. Have you ever noticed that?

Q: Oh, that’s happened to me. Even if you’re sad, sometimes your cat will come over and rub against you ...

L: So will a horse or a dog. It’s because they can clairvoyantly see and feel the pain emanating from your body. And very often they will go over to the spot that hurts, whether it’s your foot or your hand or your leg or whatever pains you. The will either brush up against it or sit on it or near it, or even lick it sometimes.

My cat Figaro used to come over when I was praying and put his hand on my heart. I would be praying inwardly, I wasn’t even praying out loud. Whenever I’d pray to Mary, the Madonna, he’d come over and put one of his paws on my heart. It was as though he could feel or see the love coming from my heart. It’s the same when we have pain.

Q: Come to think of it, cats are sort of famous for appearing to be staring at nothing.

L: Well, they’re staring at something that most humans can’t see. I remember when I was in New York City, staying with friends for a few months. They had put a mattress down on the floor for me to sleep on and I used to meditate on it every day. Neither of the people I was staying with meditated - and after about a week, when I got up after meditating one of them said, "You know, every time you meditate our cat becomes motionless and just stares at you the whole time you’re meditating." And that particular cat was pretty frisky, in fact he jumped off the terrace one day and we had to pull him up from the courtyard below in a basket on a rope.

Some time later, both my friends learned how to meditate. I guess they were curious about why the cat was so curious.

Q: Like if the cat liked it so much, they were bound to like it too?

L: When you’re meditating, you are totally motionless - so why would the cat be staring at someone who’s just sitting there apparently doing nothing for forty-five minutes. And of course, the cat was probably watching all my energy fields, the auric fields and so forth and the colors changing, light coming in and radiating from me and so forth. But to my friends, nothing was happening! So they couldn’t figure out why the cat was so intrigued.

Q: We forget that animals are seeing a lot more than we’re giving them credit for.

L: We do tend to limit every life form but our own, and we tend very much to overestimate our own, I might add ... in my opinion.

Q: You’ve said that sometimes, animals you’ve known have even influenced the turn of events through their prayers, even healings.

L: One reason people love animals is because they seem so sensitive and loving when we need help and understanding. Well, they are actually trying to heal us - and they also can be taught to heal each other.

In the book I mention that my little cat Figaro received so much healing from me that when my other cat, named, Alice, walked in the room with a headache - he naturally put his paw on her head, the way I’d so often put my hand on his head to heal him. It was pretty remarkable.

Q: I think you said that Figaro wasn’t always so friendly when Alice walked by and that a paw on the head might not always be a beneficent paw.

L: Well, they had a difficult relationship - so I was very impressed with him. He kept this paw on her head until he felt she was healed. And when he removed his paw she looked just fine. It was one of those Kodak moments in the family.

You know, Figaro was a ponderer. He was not an intellectual in the usual sense, but he did ponder. And I think because he pondered he got to some great truths all on his own.

Q: He always did have a very pensive look on his face.

L: Yes, and when I played Rachmaninoff, he would come in and sit on the cushion - which is only a few feet from the piano. And he would get a far-off look in his eyes. When I played other composers such as Chopin or Beethoven or Schubert he would put his head down and close his eyes, as though he were meditating. But when I played Rachmaninoff he would lift his head and look off into the distance.

Back to your original question, why I wrote this book. For five years or so I had my own TV show at the local TV station, "Paths to Spirituality". The shows were an hour long and a new show aired every other week on the same day and time slot. The shows were mainly about different saints of different religions. One week I didn’t have anything planned and I didn’t know what to do. I went to the studio and I thought "hmm ... I’ll just tell stories about the animals I have known and their spiritual lives" - because I couldn’t find a written text on that subject. And afterwards, after it had been aired, I went into a shop to buy some almonds and the woman behind the counter said, "oh, I saw your show on the spirituality of animals, and my cat loved it!"

Anyway, there was a good response to the show, so that more or less propelled me into actually writing the stories down.

Q: Such charming stories. I’m so intrigued by your concept of animals having spiritual yearnings. This is something new for us to think about.

L: Well, the idea that animals have spiritual yearnings was the result of my own observation. For instance, the cat in New York City that stared at me intently as I meditated. But I also noticed that animals react, sometimes very strongly, the first time they meet religious statues. I am in a Catholic framework, I was brought up Catholic, and therefore I have statues and pictures of many saints and Mary and Christ. And I noticed that the animals would actually relate to these statues and pictures. They were drawn to them you might say. And as I mentioned, when I inwardly prayed to Our Lady, I had to ask myself why my little cat Figaro always came over to be with me. And why would he sometimes put his hand on my heart while I was praying or meditating? The fact that I’m clairvoyant, and that they are seeing the same beings as I am, of course, helps. And perhaps their reaction is influenced by my devotion to these Divine beings, I don’t know, it’s all a mystery. I’m just saying that for me it was all observation. A leaflet didn’t fall from the sky, the voice of God didn’t say "Teach the animals how to pray". The animals themselves were showing me that they could learn quite nicely in fact, on their own - and that they progress even more quickly if we put the right materials out in front of them. It’s the same for human children. If a child has an innate artistic talent and we don’t give that child crayons or colored pencils and nice drawing papers and paints - no one will ever know they’re a great artist. THEY won’t even know. So I guess a large portion of the book is suggesting that we expose the animals to these spiritual beings and energies - that we pray inwardly or outwardly in their presence, or that we put spiritual paintings and statues around the house. Clairvoyantly, it’s not difficult to know if an animal is responding to prayer or a statue by seeing the light or "aura" that the animals radiate. That, you might not be able to see as a nonclairvoyant. But anyone can see a little cat or dog going up to or brushing up against a picture or statue of a saint or Mary or Her Son. That, anyone can see - it doesn’t take clairvoyance to see it.

Animals definitely have spiritual yearnings. Not only that, I believe they have their own spiritual systems.

Q: Could you say more?

L: Sometimes they choose a spiritual path from their owners or other animals they meet, but I believe there are hierarchies of angels and higher beings that are already assigned to animals and plants.

As I walk down the street, whenever I see an animal, I always talk to them about Christ or Mary or God. And I ask them - especially birds, who often travel big distances and meet many different creatures - I ask them to tell everyone they meet about God, to tell everyone they meet about the Divine. And I tell them to pray for the world and all souls. Sometimes I give them short prayers to say. I do this with squirrels and cats and dogs I meet, any animal I meet. Some days, as I walk into town, I tell all the trees and the bushes and the flowers and even lawns to pray. And the light around them changes, becomes very clear and also intensifies. And when I’ve finished all my errands in town and walk back home again - there is so much light along the street - it’s pretty astounding. Now I can’t hand people my clairvoyance, so probably it would be a leap of faith for most people to believe all this ...

But there are certain things that you can yourselves look for that I suggest in the book that will perhaps lead you there. Even if you’re not clairvoyant. Sometimes I think that the clairvoyance that some people are given is so that we can tell other people about what we see. And that’s why I talk about it. I feel that it’s an important part of being clairvoyant, to tell the rest of the world about the indescribable beauty and wonder that we are experiencing.

Q: For those of us that can’t see this light, it’s wonderful to hear from someone like you that there IS a light that’s growing in response to these petitions to the plant and animal worlds for prayer.

One of the horses you were friends with on Black Road had a presence, you said, a soul quality that you could even feel at a great distance; yet, you said you’d never had that feeling with a person. Are you suggesting that animals may be even MORE spiritually advanced than people?

L: Well, that’s a loaded question that I think I would rather not answer. Yes, I could feel that horse’s presence all the way across the field, and it was very, very beautiful. I remember thinking what a special experience it was to know that horse. People can also be felt at a great distance, although that is fairly rare. It’s rare in animals and people.

Q: You came to realize that animals, especially your dogs and cats, were responding to what you said silently, inwardly. And this is how you eventually noticed that they could even pray with you.

L: It is true that words to animals and plants do not have to be said out loud. I’m not sure why that is. I suspect that inner response from animals and plants is more frequent than we know. It’s possible that the little ones, the babies, don’t understand the words as well, whether you speak it outwardly or inwardly - you could experiment with your older animals, who are more familiar with human speech, and see for yourself. With my dogs, for instance, I could say inwardly, "let’s go take a walk", and they would walk over to the door. So it might just be that we humans are not experimenting enough with the inner communication that we have with animals - or with each other, for that matter.

Q: You yourself have said to the animals and the trees that people are not listening. And you’ve asked the animals, trees and plants to pray for all of us. Why do you think they are better listeners than humans?

L: Well, for one they might have more time on their hands than humans do - domesticated animals at least - they’re not as busy. But there’s also an innocence about animals and plants, perhaps the lack of a certain intellect that humans are encouraged to develop that can block that natural innocence. Or perhaps because they are at our mercy in many ways - we feed them, we water the plants, the cat can’t get out the locked door unless we open it for them ... They are in many ways more childlike because in these ways they ARE more like children. Except for, perhaps the old, old trees that have watched generations of people and animals and other plants come and go. Even so, there’s a certain innocence, maybe obedience or loyalty to us humans, their "masters". They look to us for teaching and discipline and healing, and to put their dish on the floor with their dinner or breakfast in it, but it’s more than that ... it’s such a special relationship. And as I’ve gotten older, I see that it is also a responsibility.

I think that the S.P.C.A., the Humane Society, Last Chance for Animals, P.E.T.A., all these wonderful animal organizations have instilled in the average person the knowledge that perhaps we are not supposed to beat the dog, kick the dog or kill the dog - or always keep it chained up or in a little dog house, no matter what the weather and without human company. But I feel there’s another step, which is more than teaching the cat or dog commands or the ethics of right or wrong - and it’s more than just treating them physically or even psychologically well. We also have a responsibility, I think, to bring a certain spiritual teaching to them - by our behavior, by praying and leading spiritual lives - and also by giving them some instruction and inwardly perhaps some simple prayers to say.

And, like us, they could benefit from some instruction and the reminder to pray and think about God. The animals that I have personally known have always responded favorably to anything I’ve told them about God, or any saint I’ve introduced them to, or any prayer. In fact, they give it their best shot, just like they will with almost anything else we ask of them. Of course in the book I mention specific stories and some of them are truly amazing, inspiring, I might say. The dog on Staten Island that I wrote about progressed more than most humans I’ve known, and in a very short time.

Q: There are some of us animal lovers who would even suspect that animals might be better qualified to be the teachers than the humans ... what do you think about that?

L: Their innocence is something we need to strive for, to be less caught up in the ego, less caught up in the material ... and in general, animals, the domesticated animals at least, come from such love and trust and loyalty, and those are all wonderful qualities. They’re more childlike, Christ said you have to be like a child to enter the kingdom of Heaven. He meant the innocence and the humility, the obedience of being a child. I think He also said that a child’s angel is always facing God. And as adults our angels, I think, can wander quite a bit.

Q: What about animals and enlightenment, and their capacity for enlightenment?

L: I think they have a huge capacity for enlightenment. And why do we think this isn’t true? Well, we don’t even consider the capacity of human children yet.

Q: And children are underestimated in their ability to perceive things. And you’re saying that animals too are underestimated for their ability to reach for the higher realms.

L: And plants. I think we human beings assume that we are the only valuable, intelligent beings on the earth - it seems to be a human trait. And, of course, we can do things the animals cannot do, that’s very true, and adults can do many things that little children can’t do - that is also true. But this other thing, this mystical appreciation, has nothing to do with intellectual capacity or physical strength or know-how in the world. In fact, the intellectual pursuit and the strengthening of the ego by adult humans often gets in the way of the mystical experience.

Q: So there’s no reason animals are not capable of enlightenment?

L: I don’t see any reasons why not. In fact, I’ve seen much evidence to the contrary.

Q: You’ve seen animals reach enlightenment?

L: Well, I could think of a few.

Q: Or at least animals that have advanced greatly in the lifetime that you knew them.

L: Yes. Both.

Q: It did seem to me that in your book, your sensitivities as a musician cause you to have a broadened perspective, an increased ear to the lives of the animals and plants that you’ve observed in the book.

L: I suppose it’s true. Being trained as a musician from a very young age, I would listen carefully to the world around me. And so many creatures on earth make beautiful sounds and have a beautiful language. I’m not saying that I understand the language but I do understand that they have one. I don’t understand every inflection of every song they sing, but I can certainly hear the changing sounds and rhythms and pitches.

Q: From your writings in the book it seemed as if you were able, in a way, to interpret how they were feeling and what they were perceiving just by hearing their songs or their voices.

L: Well, for instance, the bird practicing his tune.

Q: I especially loved that one.

L: It’s not that I understood the specific words of his tune, as though he were singing it in English - I don’t understand Italian opera either.

Q: But that you got the basic gist of it.

L: When I hear the birds or the crickets or whatever creature, I have more of a feeling from the inflection and tone than a need to understand the words. It’s the same for people who listen to opera in a language they don’t understand. They can still hear the beauty and they can certainly hear the emotion. And in some cases it’s better not to understand the words to some of the operas.

Q: As a musician, it seemed that you heard more and understood more from what you were hearing than an ordinary person might, who wasn’t a musician. And that brought a lot more depth and dimension, I thought, to your viewpoint.

L: Thank you.

Q: You’ve said that your first observation of an animal’s sensitivity to music was your cat Fred - that Fred’s attentiveness to your piano playing led to your noticing that animals have more awareness than they’re usually given credit for having.

L: That’s true. I was always amazed how Fred would sit on the music rack for hours and hours and hours while I practiced. That she seemed to know the pieces after a while, and that she seemed to know when they were going to end. It did start me wondering.

Q: Nell was the cat you first taught to pray, you said in your book ... the cat who underwent a miraculous healing.

L: Yes.

Q: So it really felt that, in a sense, you and the cat were praying together for that healing.

L: Oh, we were definitely praying together for that healing. She was very close to death, the veterinarian had no hope. And she was fully healed by the next morning.

Q: Such wonderful stories ... it’s amazing to think you were able to see what you have seen through your association with your pets. I love the fact that you also have a sensitivity to communicating with insects. Tell us about your association with insects.

L: What comes to mind is an incident perhaps a year ago in the garden. I came across a little wasp, and he was injured, and I was trying to help him. And as soon as you start sending a creature healing, they know that you are their friend, and they respond. And usually insects respond very well to healing. This one, however, was too far gone to be saved, but I was at least trying to make him more comfortable and less alone, so I just stayed with him and kept sending him healing.

And he became very calm and loving, tender almost. Which was good because I’m terribly allergic to the sting of a wasp. I even picked him up on a leaf and moved him to a more comfortable spot - and while I was doing that, another wasp came to check on me. This other wasp came quite close. And as soon as he saw that I was sending his dying friend or relative healing - they can see and feel the energy, you don’t have to tell them "I’m sending your friend healing" - they can see and feel it much more easily than humans can - as soon as he saw that I was sending his friend healing, and not harming him - he stayed there watching us for a while longer and then flew away. He knew his friend was in good hands. But it was so remarkable how connected those two were. The second wasp seemed to come from nowhere, probably from quite a distance - how did he even know I was with his friend? Well, we know we are all connected, the insect world, especially. So I knew that the second friend came to protect the first - he was probably ready to attack me - I’m glad they are as sensitive as they are or I could have been in a little trouble there. But he just hung out for quite a little while, in a very friendly way. Now I’m so used to knowing insects that I almost can’t remember when I didn’t - so this question is a hard question for me now ... I don’t look at them as "just insects" any more. In fact, I have thought about that little wasp more than once, and with much love and compassion. And admiration for his friend or relative, who risked his life to check to make sure I could be trusted.

Q: Most of us are either annoyed by insects or frightened by insects. How did you make that transition towards being able to be friendly with insects?

L: I think it was through healing them. I would meet an injured insect and I would immediately go over to it and send it healing. And as soon as you send healing, of course, you see the best side of everyone - it doesn’t matter if it’s a bug or a person or whatever other creature. And the healing forms a bond of love, because the healee is going to send peace and gratitude and love back. And I know this is going to sound strange, and it would have sounded strange to me ten years ago - but I have felt tremendous love coming back at me from an injured bumblebee or wasp as I sent them healing, for instance the two wasps I told you about.

Well, if you are around a mosquito and they’re getting ready to bite you, you have that instinct, right, that there’s something wrong, there’s aggressive energy around you, that little "yeeee" high sound. In the same way, if you send healing, you can feel the love coming back at you. Even from a bug. So it’s not that we have to understand their language per se; and I notice that even between the different species of animals, they understand each other, but they probably don’t understand the words either. It’s a tone, it’s a rhythm, it’s a cadence, it’s the underlying feeling that we understand. If a Russian comes up to you on the street, you can tell if he’s upset or angry, you can tell if he’s loving or confused, without understanding a word of Russian, right?

Q: Sure.

L: Well, it’s the same thing between species. And I think if they hang out together for any length of time, like Figaro while he was out in the garden on the picnic table with the bugs and the birds and the squirrels - he probably learned a few second or third or fourth languages, just by listening and observing what was going on around him. So it’s not so very different from us. But I think when you are a healer, when you work with that Divine energy, it’s unmistakable. You know, they say "Music is the universal language." Well, Divine Energy is the true universal language.

Q: What could we do in order to better communicate with animals, the way you describe in the book? What can we do to try and understand their communication with us?

L: It’s a complicated question ... Just try to be more sensitive. Observe. Listen. Watch. As we would another human being.

Q: Thank you for your testimony that helping the plants and animals remember God, to be open to the world and for themselves and for us ... thank you for reminding us that we can send our prayers out, even the simplest, like you say, even to the blades of grass, and they could be a resource for contributing not only healing but an atmosphere of Divine Love in the environment in which we live and move and have our being.

L: Well, thank you for having this interview.
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