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What's in Our Hearts

Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them wherever they require it."

—Francis of Assisi

Follow Our Heart...

As animal communicators, we wish to follow the mandate expressed above by Francis of Assisi. To be of service within the boundaries of realistic possibilities, without sacrificing creativity and the courage to step "out of the box", is paramount. We follow our hearts as we honor the spirits and needs of both human and nonhuman animals. We follow our hearts as we speak to their needs and perspectives, as we help them to understand and respect each other, as we model compassion, reverence, respect and empathic concern, as we utilize our training and experience to bring to them a positive outcome, and as we release our own wish/need for personal success. We know that while we commit to doing our best to help our clients to meet their goals, holding the need for personal success shifts our focus from being of service to placating our own egos. To follow our hearts, then, requires that we be fully aware of our motivation for doing the work.

At Assisi International Animal Institute, we have spelled out what’s in our hearts and the path for following them. The contents of our hearts, as presented below, provide a broad and deep foundation for providing services of integrity, honor and compassion to our human and nonhuman clients. We humbly hope and we intend that the love in our hearts extends from Francis’ love, and that our work presents opportunities to take action-in-love for and with our clients where possible and appropriate.

Namesake

Saint Francis of AssisiWe honor Francis of Assisi as a very early (13th Century) animal communicator, at a time when nonhuman animals were not commonly held in love, reverence and respect. He was also a very early proponent of their rights and wellbeing. He honored them as spiritual beings within his Christian belief system, a very courageous act indeed in those medieval times. He frequently shared sermons with attentive audiences of birds. He saved the village food animals from a hungry wolf by communicating with the wolf and convincing him that it was in his best interests to refrain from eating the village inhabitants' food source. The wolf complied. Thus, he also saved the wolf's life, which was prominent in his purpose for taking on this project.

Assisi International Animal Institute is a nondenominational nonprofit charitable organization. We honor Francis of Assisi as a very early (13th Century) animal communicator, at a time when nonhuman animals were not commonly held in love, reverence and respect. He was also a very early proponent of their rights and wellbeing. He honored them as spiritual beings within his Christian belief system, a very courageous act indeed in those medieval times. He frequently shared sermons with attentive audiences of birds. It is believed that he also saved the village food animals from a hungry wolf by communicating with the wolf and convincing him that it was in his best interests to refrain from eating the village inhabitants' food source. The wolf would either be killed if he continued, or would be fed by the villagers, if he refrained. The wolf complied. His life was saved, and the villagers learned, expanded and practiced compassion for life of a species other than their own. Francis saved the wolf's life, which was prominent in his purpose for taking on this project. Francis, thus, was also engaged in raising consciousness regarding the needs and wellbeing of nonhuman animals.

Serenity and Authenticity

Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things...

Acceptance has been historically and is currently a major spiritual virtue; acceptance of aging changes in the body and mind, acceptance of loss of loved ones to death, acceptance of one's own death. These are inevitable and the path toward their acceptance is a painful struggle, yet rich in psychological, emotional and spiritual growth.

We humans prefer to deny that inevitability, and to immediately eliminate it. Agelessness and immortality are promoted and supported in many societies via pharmaceutical drugs, designer surgeries and new age health remedies. We are encouraged to accept atrocities committed against nonhuman animals in the name of such advancement of the worldly satisfaction and wellbeing of humans. We, at Assisi, support the health and wellbeing of all species, as long as the health and wellbeing of one is not sacrificed for that of the other.

Our hearts ache, as does the heart of anyone who allows her/himself to really know the pain and suffering experienced by the animals at human hands for our own selfish benefit. Thus, we cannot accept it. We cannot participate in the brutality by remaining silent. To accept it inevitably does tremendous damage to the human soul.

We do accept our limits with regard to "changing the world", and instead invest our energy where our impact is a possibility. We accept where we and our clients are with regard to consciousness growth, knowing that where we are now is not our final resting place. We do learn from each other, however. Our specific and unique responsibility is to offer to our clients food for thought and expansion of consciousness around nonhuman animals and the relationships they share. 

Serenity Prayer:

... courage to change...

The life of Francis of Assisi was about change. As a young man, he gave up his father's riches and a life of rakish debauchery. He lived the serenity prayer before its inception; he lived his spiritual beliefs. He was deeply, thoroughly and passionately authentic. He believed that the life force in nonhuman species was soul, just as it is in humans. More and more of the world is beginning to accept the soul in nonhuman beings. It becomes very difficult then, even impossible, to do harm to them.

Since the beginning of time as we know it, necessity has been the mother of invention. Because of all the possibilities for the "good life" implied in that statement of reality, we are convinced that we do not have to harm others to have a high quality of life. We are also encouraged that change will happen, as long as we do not accept that which can be changed.

The offering of "food for thought" and expansion of consciousness around their own companion animals, based in a context of the species’ capacities and culture, provides our clients an opportunity to perceive their companion animals in a way that supports their individual and mutual goals. Changes then often occur in their relationships and any problem behavior.

Serenity Prayer:

... wisdom to know the difference.

—Charles Rue Woods

Along with the other animal protection organizations, we at Assisi promote and support changing that which can be changed to alleviate and prevent animal suffering and subjugation through compassionate and respectful consciousness raising in every part of our program and in everything we do. We simply address the possibilities as they fit with the clients’ requests, and without proselytizing.

An idea whose time has come...

All animals on beloved Mother Earth deserve reverence, respect and support of their equality as spiritual beings. They deserve to live their lives without harm done to them and according to the traditions and regulations of their own cultures, to the extent that is possible within the human culture for everyone's safety and wellbeing. We humans have accepted the charge of caring for Mother Earth. Since we are in charge, we have incredible freedom. With that freedom comes the responsibility to all beings who reside here. As Francis of Assisi so eloquently stated, "We have a higher mission -- to be of service to them wherever they require it.

We promote and support all animals by helping people understand the spiritual essence and needs of their own companion animals, hoping to enhance the bond between them, and by leading our lives to the best of our abilities without harming any animals. Our consultations and programs are developed to promote this understanding of all animals, domestic and wild.

Hundredth Monkey

As this loving awareness propagates, "The Hundredth Monkey" (Ken Keyes, 1982) comes into play. For those who are unfamiliar, this is the story of monkeys living on an island. They thrived on sweet potatoes. One day, one monkey went to the ocean and washed the sweet potatoes. One by one, the others followed. At the precise moment when the hundredth monkey took her sweet potatoes to be washed, on an island, hundreds of miles away, a monkey took his sweet potatoes to the ocean and washed them.

That is our hope; that each person who gains understanding of the animals as spiritual beings spreads that understanding by how they speak, by how they treat their companion animals and all other animals, and by how they lead their lives. The hundredth monkey bridges the gap between the few and the many. The good news is that it is happening now. Reverence for life other than our own is catching on. We are so encouraged by the openness and commitment of our clients and participants, whatever their level of understanding, acceptance and participation. Those who join us are eager to strengthen their commitment to the animals, and to bring that strength to those around them.

Are we there yet? We are on the way. We have a long way to go.

Peace

Within all the complexities and misunderstandings presented to us by life, reaching peace can be a challenge. To treat all beings within that circle with compassion requires a willingness to understand our own motivations, and a willingness to treat ourselves with that same compassion. We wish and intend to pass that understanding and compassion to our clients in order that they may include themselves and all living things in their circle of compassion. We intend also to support their process in their relationships with their own companion animals. 

Peace in our hearts can only come when we know we are living fully in our integrity. Peace can come when we know that we are doing all within our capacity to right the wrongs that glaringly and subtly confront us that are imposed upon animals, and when we know we are preventing our own participation in those wrongs by monitoring and evolving our own lifestyles.

It is a lifetime project no matter when it starts. Each of us at Assisi International Animal Institute has come to this project at different times in our lives. It has grasped our lifetime commitments. We know that once the door is opened we cannot return to where we were. We know there is no return.

There is absolutely no return.

Jeri Ryan, Ph.D.

Founder, Assisi International

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* The Assisi International Animal Institute has Federal and State non-profit tax exempt status. *