A journey through 20,000 years of history and myth in search of the answer to a single question: Do animals have souls?
Anyone who has ever mourned the loss of a cherished pet has wondered about the animal soul. Do animals survive the death of the body, or are they doomed to disappear completely when they leave this world behind? Both scientists and religious authorities have long scoffed at the idea of animals in heaven. Yet the question endures. In this wise, immensely readable book, Ptolemy Tompkins embarks on a quest for the answer—taking us on a top-speed tour of the history of the animal soul.
Equally at home with mainstream and alternative spiritual philosophies, Tompkins takes us from the savannas of Africa to the earth’s first cities to the early days of the great faith traditions of both East and West. Along the way, he shows that, despite what many of us have been taught, the world’s various spiritual traditions all have profoundly meaningful things to say about the animal soul, if we simply know where to look. Rescuing these ancient insights and blending them with vivid stories about animals today—from a dwarf rabbit named Angus to a manatee named Moose to a black bear named Little Bit—The Divine Life of Animals paints a gloriously inclusive picture of the cosmos as a place made up of both matter and spirit, in which animals are every bit as important, spiritually speaking, as the humans with whom they share the world. Though it is startlingly original, The Divine Life of Animals also feels strangely and instantly familiar, for it reveals truths that many of us have held in our hearts already, waiting only for someone to give fresh voice to one of the oldest and most trustworthy intuitions we possess.
The Divine Life of Animals offers a compelling and timeless vision of the relationship between humans and animals that will have you looking at the animals in your life with new eyes.
About the Author
Ptolemy Tompkins is the author of four critically praised books, including Paradise Fever: Growing Up in the Shadow of the New Age and The Beaten Path: Field Notes on Getting Wise in a Wisdom-Crazy World. His writings have appeared in three editions of The Best Spiritual Writing, as well as in Harper's and in the New York Times Magazine Lives column. He currently writes a monthly column The Winged Life for Beliefnet.com and is a regular contributor to Guideposts and Angels on Earth.
"Guideposts writer Tompkins (The Beaten Path) tackles the puzzling question of animal afterlife in this delightfully insightful and well-researched narrative. Tompkins's book is incredibly entertaining while it also raises deep ethical questions about our human understanding of the animal soul. Compellingly, he makes the cogent argument that the enriching bond between man and beast suggests more than an earthly existence for both."--Publishers Weekly (Starred review)
"You do not have to be a die-hard believer in the animal soul to be grabbed by the stories in The Divine Life of Animals. Whether you agree with Tompkins’ arguments or not, his search for a basis for belief in the spiritual life of animals will leave you charmed, entertained, and deeply impressed."— Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Ph.D., coauthor of When Elephants Weep
"For anyone who has ever wondered about the mysteries of the animal soul, this compulsively readable book is the one you’ve been waiting for. I kept wondering, How come no one’s ever explained it all so clearly before?"—Michael Mountain, co-founder, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
"This unforgettable and surprising book will make you reconsider everything you’ve ever thought or felt about animals. The question of whether pets survive beyond the physical world has never been addressed so movingly—or unpredictably. After reading Ptolemy Tompkins’ conclusions, you’ll never look into your pet’s eyes the same way again."—Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America