I have been a vegetarian for many years for all kinds of reasons: health, morality, energy, ecology, and on and on. I don’t think everyone should be a vegetarian, and I have never proselytized. I think everyone should follow their own body’s guidance toward food that works for them. I just know what works for me.

When Dee and I grew a family of dogs, we decided to feed them meat. That was a big decision for us, since we had never had meat in the house. But we love our “kids,” and we want them to be happy. Why impose our diet on them? So we buy them canned dog food and cook meat for them.

Then our vet recommended we get our dogs a certain type of bone to chew on, which helps to keep their teeth clean. Again we had resistance, since meat on bones is even grosser than meat wrapped in cellophane at the grocery store. But we did it. The dogs loved it like cats love catnip! They spent hours gnawing on the bones and hiding them in the backyard. Some of the bones resurfaced time and again over months, looking like ancient relics, and likewise treasured. Every time I saw the blackened, decayed artifacts I would grit my teeth. Gross.

Yesterday we got the kids a new shipment of bones. This morning I came downstairs after meditating, and found all the dogs lined up in a neat line on the lawn, each chewing on their new treasure, all in a state of total delight.

This time, however, perhaps because my mind was at peace after meditating, my reaction was completely different. Instead of reacting against their carnivore behavior and judging it, I took delight in their delight. The dogs were exuding extreme joy, and I felt that with them. Somehow the frequency on my tuner of perception had shifted, and I met them on an entirely different level of experience, far more pleasing than upset or resistance. I sat for a long time watching and enjoying. What a difference.

Miracles represent shifts in perception, so we might say that I experienced a miracle. I moved from a terrible world of predation and fear to one of inner peace. For a long time I have struggled with the notion of predation. I would stand on a hill looking at the ocean, viewing a magnificent peaceful vista, inspiring by all accounts. Then I considered that at this very moment billions and trillions of sea animals were eating each other, big fish attacking little fish, and bigger fish attacking the big fish. What a horrible universe! I have rarely been able to resolve predation with my pacifistic view of life.

Yet, as I watched the dogs enjoying their bones, I recalled a lesson from A Course in Miracles: “Let all things be exactly as they are.” Letting things be as they are yields more peace than resisting. Try as I might, I will never get ocean (or land) creatures to stop eating each other. On some level that is a natural order. I don’t understand it or agree with it. But God didn’t ask for my understanding or agreement on lots of things. The universe has its own idea of how it’s supposed to be, regardless of my opinion.

Then I consider the great and powerful animals who live on grasses. Horses, cows, and elephants maintain large, muscular, healthy bodies simply by eating grass. They are the most peaceful in the animal kingdom. I hear “experts” tell us how much animal protein we humans need, and I laugh. No one told the elephant.

Each of us, in our own way, must come to peace with what we are and the way things are. Conditions and situations do not weaken you. Resistance does. Saying “this should be otherwise” wears down your batteries and fixes blinders on your vision. Shifting your attention to what empowers you recharges your batteries and expands your vision. “A mind is like a parachute — it functions only when open.”

Allowing things to be the way they are does not mean that you do not seek change or that you must condone abusive situations. There are plenty of things in our individual and collective lives that could use improvement. A fatalistic attitude is as damaging as a resistant one. So change what is not working or could be better, but do it from a sense of vision and joy about what could be rather than a sense of damning what is. What you condemn you continue. Focus on where you want to go rather than what you want to get away from.

Intellectually, I don’t understand life. But I understand joy, an experience that proceeds from the heart and the spirit rather than the mind. When I keep my tuner set on the frequency of inner peace, my life has meaning. “Dog” is “God” spelled backward. I’ll just chew on that for a while.

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Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen is the author of A Course in Miracles Made Easy; mastering the Journey from Fear to Love. Join Alan and friends in Hawaii, February 26 – March 2, for a rare retreat: Unplugged. Put your devices aside for a few days, liberate yourself from technology, and reconnect with yourself and your life. For more information about this program, Alan’s books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses and weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com.

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