Nothing shakes us up more than having the veterinarian tell us that our pet has a serious illness. Immediately, we go into panic mode and our thoughts start racing and our fearful emotions start to flow. We are so wrapped up in the thoughts and emotions, we are no longer capable of even listening to what the veterinarian may have to say about options for treatment. This is why so many vets send home written information about the disease so that the caretaker, once the mind settles, can review the information and approach the pet’s care objectively.
Many of us go into a downward spiral, living in a persistent stressful state as we try to resolve the problem for our pet. If our pet dies, we are usually left with feelings of guilt, depression and grief. We are shaken to the point that memory of our beloved pet only brings painful thoughts and feelings. This is not what our pet would want for us.
Why does this happen so frequently? It happens because no one has explained how this happens and what can be done to avoid it. To understand this, we have to look at the psychology that is occurring, both consciously and subconsciously.
We humans have created a life of duality. Our intellectual minds have conditioned us to critique our experiences and judge them as either bad or good. Duality occurs when our mind compares opposites. We cannot know hot without knowing cold, happy without knowing sad and so on. Our experiences become a two-sided coin. We can’t have an experience without both sides.
Remember when you were young and had your first romantic relationship? You experienced much joy, but you also experienced fear of the relationship not lasting at the same time. You might have tried to stay focused on the happy thoughts and feelings, but inside you were always aware of the fear that things might change. This is how duality works and will always work.
We try and try to have the good outweigh the bad, but this will never happen as long as our reality is based on duality. The moment that we get our new pet, the joy of having the new pet, comes with the shadow side that at some time, our pet is likely going to die. Most of us choose to hide these thoughts deep inside our subconscious, but when the vet tells us that our pet may die, they come to the surface, stare us in the face and we give into the fear and it takes over our lives.
The Buddha told us that all of human suffering comes from desires. What he meant was that when we desire an outcome, from a mindset of duality, the desire will always be accompanied with its shadow side, the fear of it not happening. When the vet tells us that our pet has a serious illness, our mind desires that our pet can be cured. What we are not prepared for is the shadow side that comes with that desire; the fear of our pet dying.
Our desire becomes a goal and in order to gain fulfillment of that desire, we must accomplish our goal. We set off with gusto, creating a plan to help our pet restore normal health and well being. We put a lot of thoughtful energy into that plan and the desire becomes stronger and stronger, which keeps the shadow side deep in our subconscious. If our pet gets better and normal health is restored, we find temporary fulfillment from achieving our desire. Research tells us that the sense of fulfillment actually is the relief from the anxiety of the shadow side. That is why it is so short-lived. In no time, we are no longer focused on our pet’s health and we have moved on to the next experience.
However, if we do not see improvement in our pet’s health, the energy of our desire starts to diminish and the shadow side starts to reveal itself. We start to feel anxious and our thoughts turn to what may happen if our pet does not get better. Soon, our moment to moment experience is one of fearful emotions and unhealthy thoughts. The longer that it goes on, the stronger the shadow side of the experience gains dominance. The joyful side of the experience is now buried in our subconscious and unless we make a change, it will become the only reflection of this experience. This is why we are left feeling so badly after our pet has transitioned.
So, what can we do to avoid this happening? First, we have to realize that we cannot avoid the shadow-side of this experience. If we try to avoid it by pushing it down, it will grow and fester until it blows up in our face. This is how we have been conditioned to deal with the fear of death, which is ultimately why we are struggling with this experience. We must force ourself to allow the fearful thoughts and emotions to come into our moment. By doing this, we can look at them and see them for what they actually are; nothing but thought and emotion energy passing through our moment, like dark clouds passing across a blue sky. By noticing them and allowing them to be present we find ourselves distancing ourselves from them. When this happens, we realize that we are not those thoughts and emotions and they do not have any control over us unless we allow them to. This is called transcending the shadow side of the experience. When we do this, we find the true fulfillment of the present moment. We find a genuine connection with our pet based on unconditional love and stay focused on that moment and let the imaginary future take care of itself. Our fulfillment comes from our loving expression which is and has always been there and it becomes our seat of consciousness, void of fear. If and when our pet does decide to transition, we are still in that unconditional loving state and know that it is the love that has always connected us to our pet and that love is everlasting. When memories of our pet arise, our heart opens and we feel the love that is always there and the moment is joyful. That is what our pets want for us.