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animal rights

International March for Elephants: Los Angeles

Did you know that elephants will be extinct in 12 years?

My husband Brad and I participated in the International March for Elephants in LA on October 4, 2013. He was also asked to make a video of the event. Please take 4 minutes to watch this informative, powerful video. It's awesome, if I do say so myself. (For more of Brad's work, visit www.BradKlopman.com.)


My greatest spiritual lesson, still yet unlearned.

I have a temper. It doesn't come out very often, years can go by without it surfacing. It takes what I consider a huge injustice for it to emerge. Most people never see it. Most people never suspect I have it. A few unfortunate people have been in its fiery presence: my fiance, a couple of my close girlfriends, an ex-boyfriend of a friend, a guy who kicked his dog in front of me. I inherited my temper from my father. My brother got it, too. It's the most unattractive thing about my father, and it's the most unattractive thing about my brother. And I suppose it's the most unattractive thing about me.

The deal with anger, or other ego qualities, is that we don't necessarily see them as unattractive in ourselves. They are our defense mechanisms. We are blinded by our justification of them. We think we are right. Therefore, our anger, or vanity, or greed, or cruelty, or jealousy, or conceit, or lies, or whatever, can't be wrong. But what isn't love is wrong. It's a mistaken choice, based on fear. Love is eternal. Fear is not. Therefore, fear is an illusion. When we are in fear, we are not in reality. And the way I see it, when we are not in reality, we are wasting time floundering about in illusion. Meaning, we are not serving our highest purpose or the world. We're in a dead space. We're ineffective.

I've been thinking a lot about my anger lately, because it surfaced recently. I don't lose my temper driving or anything mundane like that. And I'm calm in crisis. I lose my temper when I perceive I have been betrayed or when there is an injustice against animals. I've narrowed it down to those two triggers.

Being involved in animal rights, seeing the massive widespread cruelty going on every day, isn't easy. It wears on you. It breaks you. Protesting any social injustice will do that to a human being. It's a slippery slope into disillusionment, sadness, depression, and anger, if you're not careful. I will say that I believe that underneath even angry social protesting, like for human and animal rights, is usually a pure intention, stemming from a belief that something isn't right, that there is a better way for us to coexist, and that belief spurs people into action. That's not a bad thing. I've never believed that love is passive. I see love as a very

active

force. The problem is that that message can turn from a healthy sense of needing to say NO into rage.

Gandhi is my hero. Gandhi pretty much singlehandedly freed India and started the animal rights movement in his country. Yet he did it with peace. I wouldn't expect myself to be joyful if I had surveyed the holocaust, and I don't expect myself to be joyful surveying the holocaust that is going on with animals today. I do believe, however, that I can walk through it with peace. It's a great spiritual practice to be able to walk through the horrors of the world and remain at peace. It's my greatest spiritual lesson.

I can only think of one way to do that and that is through daily meditation and prayer. A daily connection to my highest source, that which I call God, and the ability to bring that with me wherever I go. I believe in reincarnation. I believe we keep coming back until we get it right, until we learn those lessons that are ours to learn. And I don't want to come back. I'm pretty sure I didn't want to come this time. But I am committed to learning this lesson in this lifetime. It's mine to learn. And it's doable.

When I lose my temper, we all lose--the animals, the world, as well as myself. My anger binds me to the consciousness that perpetuates cruelty. In those moments, I am strengthening fear. I need to strengthen peace instead. I need to hold the light, not just for the animals, but for the perpetrator of violence against them. I need to hold the light for my clients who come to me everyday to heal. I need to hold the light for my beautiful, brave fiancé; I need to hold the light for my animal companions in my home. I need to hold the light for myself. I need to hold the light for the world.

It's not about backing away from what is scary or difficult or dark, it's not about denying what is happening on planet earth or in my own life, it's about going deeper into it with the light of God shining by my side.

As I write this, it just happens to be Easter morning. It is the day of my resurrection. It is the day of taking off the thorns of anger I have placed upon my own head. It is freeing myself from this cross I have beared my whole life. It is the day I stop crucifying myself and others and the world. It is time to resurrect into the light, where God would have me be. If Jesus can do it, so can I. It is a Holy day, indeed.

Growing into My Animal Rights Activism and Spirituality

 

                                                             

Twenty five years ago on any given Saturday afternoon you could find me on the street corner of Martel and Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, standing behind a beige card table with stacks of anti-vivisection brochures, mostly on cosmetic and household product testing, photos of bunnies with their heads in sockets and their eyes being burned, the usual stuff. I was there representing LCA (Last Chance for Animals, a LA based animal rights organization) encouraging passer-bys to sign my petition and boycott Proctor and Gamble, and the like.

I don't know how I got there. Meaning, I don't know how I got involved in animal rights. There was no defining moment. No person or animal who inspired me. No book I read. No movie I saw. No revelation. Nothing. I don't even remember deciding to become a vegetarian at that time. I just made a sign and showed up at a protest that I somehow heard was taking place. It all happened organically, as if I had no choice but to be carried along the winds of destiny that was my life. It was what was supposed to be.

Growing up, we had tons of pets: unneutered and unspayed cats, constantly having kittens (gasp!), a dog, a bird. I loved them all. But I wasn't obsessed with them. I didn't like animals more than people. Though I do remember becoming abnormally distraught because my brother accidentally ran over a bird with the lawn mower. It wasn't love that ignited my passion, it was injustice. And maybe that is love. I don't know. At a young age, I knew something was unjust when it came to the treatment of animals. I'm a Libra, the sign of scales and justice, so perhaps it was bigger than me, after all.

My grandma worked in a slaughterhouse in Omaha, Nebraska where I was born. I remember the unforgettable stench of death wafting through the air. You could smell it on Omaha back then. It was like the whole city had B.O. The slaughter houses were smack dab in the middle of the town. Today they're hidden away, inconspicuously, on the outskirts, so consumers aren't reminded of the horrors behind the slaughterhouse walls, animals discreetly transported at night when no one can see them. Omaha was smellier back then, but more honest.

I spent formative years in Wisconsin, home of cheeseheads, dairy cows, and hunters, like my dad, who eventually became the Head Editor of the Agricultural Department at Kansas State University. (Go figure he'd have a vegan animal rights activist daughter.) It wasn't unusual to come home from school to find two huge deer hanging from the rafters in the garage, blood dripping from their beautiful majestic bodies into dark red puddles on the concrete floor below. I stepped around the blood, trying not to look at them, trying not to feel anything. We ate frogs, squirrels, fish, quail, rabbits, deer, anything he hunted. I hated it all. I didn't like meat except turkey. He never hunted turkeys. Had I grown up on McDonald's or Taco Bell or processed roast beef deli slices and hotdogs I may have loved meat. But I grew up on a different kind of meat. Meat that tasted like the dead animal it was.

The wind eventually shifted directions, and animal activism took a back seat to my first love, spirituality. I had begun Transcendental Meditation in childhood, and had already been a student of A Course in Miracles for four years by the time I was standing on Melrose. As I delved further and further into the teachings of the Course, I continued to eat vegetarian, phase out dairy products, leather, wool, down feathers, donate money to animal rights groups, and shop cruelty-free, but animal welfare was no longer at the forefront of my consciousness. A Course in Miracles was. I lived and breathed the Course for ten years. It somehow required all that I had. It wanted my full undivided attention. And I gave it to it. So much so that it led me to becoming a hypnotherapist.

Then, about four years ago, the winds of change began to blow again. They gently picked me up and set me down someplace I hadn't been before, somewhere between animal rights and spirituality. I'm no longer solely focused on one or the other. I am laser focused on both. My life isn't about animals or people, it's about animals and people. To me, it's all the same. There's really only one of us here and what we do to the smallest of us, we do to all of us. Likewise, when one of us heals, we all heal. I've come to realize that I had to tip those Libra scales one way and then the other in order to find my perfect balance. I now feel more equipped to tip society's scales toward healing and justice for ALL.


Meatless Monday Recipe: Peanut Butter Dog Treats: "Kookies."

 

Photo: Brad Klopman

Did you know that the world's oldest living dog is a vegan named Brambles? If you'd like to check out this amazing being who could teach us all a thing or two about food, both for ourselves and our pets, click here.

My previous dog, Mason, died of kidney failure, and with 20 fatty tumors plaguing his poor body. I have no doubt it was because I fed him commercialized dog food.

When I adopted Kansas he had degenerative back disease and hip dysplasia from the get-go. He walked like an old man, even as a puppy. I began researching, and found that not only was the cause a lack of proper nutrition, but the solution was also to be found in nutrition.

In fact, there were no cases of hip dysplasia in dogs before commercialized dog food, like 60 years ago. And dogs' ancestors, like wolves, do not have hip dysplasia either. Interesting, no? I wrote a blog post about it. Check it out here.

The post also contains a recipe for stew that I make Kansas each week. His diet is 75% vegan. And although I was told Kansas would not live a long life, he's going strong at 7 years old. (Update: Kansas died January 4th, 2015 from heart failure.)

As Hippocrates, the founder of medicine, said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

Not only do I make Kansas his food, but I also make his treats. I've adapted this recipe from others and added flax seeds for extra nutrition. I've made these many times without flax seeds though. And I have yet to meet a dog who doesn't love them!

Peanut Butter Dog Kookies (K for Kansas)

1/2 cups peanut butter (I use all-natural.)

1 cup water

2 Tablespoons oil (Dogs naturally love refined coconut oil, but you can use vegetable or canola oil.)

1/8 cup ground flax seeds

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups white flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix peanut butter and water and oil, add flax seeds, then slowly add the rest of the ingredients. Knead dough.

I roll the dough out to 1/4" and use a cookie cutter. But you could also just make the dough into a long cylinder shape and slice pieces to flatten. (I mark them with a "K," because I'm ridiculous like that.)

Bake for 25 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Let cool on cookie sheet.

The flax seeds make this a bit gooey because flax seeds by nature are an egg substitute that I use in baking. I usually bake the kookies a bit longer when I use flax seeds.

The treats do go bad so I usually leave about 10 out and refrigerate the rest.

Here's Kansas eating a kookie this morning. A happy peanut butter loving dog!

 

Photo: Brad Klopman

Widening the Circle

A girlfriend of mine pleasantly surprised me with an unexpected visit last week. She was on her way to Mexico for a conference and during a layover found out it had been cancelled due to swine flu. She rerouted her trip to the next warmest place, LA. She’s a psychologist, considers herself a hardcore scientist with “complete faith in mainstream science. If it hasn’t been proven, it isn’t true.” Need I mention she’s also an atheist? I’m none of those things. I enjoy an easy-to-digest book on quantum physics as much as the next layman, but I’m as skeptical of science as she is of spirituality. And I believe in a power greater than myself—a source of love. I call that God.

Nevertheless, my gorgeous friend and I do share plenty of common ground. For one, we’ve both been vegetarians for twenty years. She told me that one day she knew in her twelve year-old little heart it wasn’t right to eat animals and stopped. We also share a yen for hot weather, sunshine and swimming pools, so we hopped in the car and headed to Palm Springs. As the warm desert air breezed through the open windows and Kansas panted in the back seat, we got on the topic of spirituality, namely how “unspiritual” she is. I told her it didn’t matter whether she was spiritual or not. It only mattered if she felt something was missing.

She confided that one of her favorite childhood past times was trying to communicate with animals—squirrels, cats, dogs, and birds—but they never communicated back. I suggested that she can never really know they weren’t communicating. We laughed at the idea that perhaps it was the animals that told her not to eat them. I said, “To me, the definition of spirituality is really simple. It’s oneness.” She thought about it and replied, “That’s an interesting way of defining it.” I said, “And you exemplify that. I think you’re much more “spiritual” than you think.” She said, “Well, I do view the world as one interconnected organism.” Spoken like a true scientist.

Truth is true. As I understand it, all minds are joined. As she sees it, the world is an interconnected organism. The only thing true is that we are one. Nowhere does my energy end and yours begins. Einstein said separation is an “optical delusion of consciousness.” Well, here, I’ll just find his whole quote.

"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

Everything is moving towards oneness though it may not always appear that way. This is true in our own lives as well as in the collective consciousness. There could be no Obama without Bush. Oneness doesn’t require that we perceive it in order for it to be true. As Einstein said, it’s very difficult to be aware of it. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t happening or that it’s a free pass to sit around. On the contrary, we all have a unique and active role in the unfolding of that creation. Each of us has a special part to play in the “task” of healing. In fact that’s kind of what I was trying to say in the previous post.

My friend arrived at the understanding of connectedness through science. I came to it through more spiritual means of study. Someone else may learn it through worldly travel and another through volunteer work. Or golf. It doesn’t matter. We will all end up in the same place. My friend and I were brought together by the swine flu, and even that—swine flu—can be a means for shaking the sleep of separation from our eyes. Anything can be used to help us understand our oneness if we choose to see it that way.

We must change our worldview, as Einstein said, not only for the healing of the world but also for our “inner security.” The cruelty inflicted on a pig in a cage kills us as well. The child neglected by his or her parents and let down by a broken foster care system hurts us too. The question then isn’t how you reach that conclusion. The more important question is how you begin to experience everyone and everything as yourself. For quantum physics attests they are literally a part of you, only your “optical delusion” blocks that awareness. The answer lies in widening your circle of compassion. Within that is the liberation we all seek and the knowingness that there really is only one of us here.