When the American Indians rode forth to hunt bison on the Great Plains 150 years ago, they first said a prayer of apology to their ‘Younger Brothers’, the animals, whom they were to hunt only to feed their families. Such an attitude of humility and identity with the kingdoms of life below us humans has, in the past, been little in evidence in our ‘civilized’ society. Christmas/Summer Solstice is rapidly approaching and it is a time when we celebrate Peace and Universal Brotherhood. But, how often do we stop and think that Universal Brotherhood includes all of Nature’s kingdoms and not just our fellow humans?

Our spiritual teachers from all parts of the world have made it clear that man is indeed intimately interlinked with the animal kingdom. The essential difference between man and the animals is that man has developed more of his inner potential and therefore his capacity for self-consciousness than have the animals. Unlike the animals, man has begun to unfold his divine capacity for Mind which enables him to choose right from wrong and thus realize to some degree his responsibilities and obligations to all life. One author put this thought beautifully:

“In each animal, as in each man, there shines a visible but feeble radiance of a divinity at its heart. In the animals, this glory shows only the faintest glimmerings of its power. They are on the way towards humanhood, even as we are on the pathways to becoming gods.” – G de Purucker: ‘Is karma ever unmerited?’: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/fso/fso8b.htm

A hidden truth of this ethical obligation is that the animal kingdom is deeply rooted in the thought life of humanity. The Ancient Wisdom tells us that, strange as it may seem, the animals are the offspring of mankind, not the other way around as is taught by Darwinian evolutionary theory. This occurred in the far past when inter-breeding between the human and animal kingdoms was still possible and man’s own reproductive processes were quite different from the two sexes as we have them today. Even today, esoteric science teaches that the animals’ inner/invisible constitutions are mainly built of the ‘life atoms’ thrown off by men. This means that disharmony in the human kingdom is eventually reflected in kingdoms below man as anybody knows who has pets who seem to sense what we are thinking before we seem to know it ourselves! Consequently, man is, in the main, spiritually and morally responsible for suffering in the animal kingdom in addition to the physical deprivations we inflict on the lower kingdoms of life. The Ancient Wisdom makes it clear that this is a karmic debt man will have to repay, not the animals.

In the 21st century there is plenty of evidence of an awareness of our responsibilities to our ‘Younger Brothers’ the animals with the activities of such organizations as Greenpeace, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Society for Animal Rights, Animal Spirit, and many others. A sense of compassion and empathy with the animals and our environment has spawned these wonderful organizations advocating a variety of causes to alleviate animal suffering from vegetarianism through to conservation of endangered species and anti-vivisection. More than at any time in known human history, there is now a global awareness of our duties and responsibilities to the lesser kingdoms of life and the planet itself.

With Christmas coming in the next few weeks, we celebrate the oneness of all life. It is therefore a suitable time right now to consider the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom that the Universe is a living being composed of consciousness on many levels all interlinked and interdependent. In our hearts, let us take the opportunity of the approaching sacred season of the Christmas/Summer Solstice to ponder the true meaning of Universal Brotherhood across all of nature’s kingdoms.