My friend and mentor, Uncle Vijaya, and his wife, Aunty Amitha, thought I should have a diversion, so they invited me to attend an inter-religious workshop this evening. It is also something I am very interested in - to understand the various religious teachings and see the similarities in them. After all, when I am not at work or doing animal charity, I am a public speaker on leading a more spiritual life.
So I went to the workshop this evening. It was held at the temple and I really liked going to the temple. A temple, like most religious and spiritual places, has this air of serenity and peace about it which is very calming and soothing, especially to a troubled or grieving heart. Just being there is already very comforting.
Aunty Amitha gave me a warm motherly hug when she saw me, and said she had wanted to call me when she heard about Vixey, but Uncle Vijaya stopped her for fear she might say "all the wrong things". Gosh, Aunty Amitha is the epitome of motherly love and cannot possibly say "anything wrong" at all.
Anyway, we got talking and I just had to tell her about the butterfly incident today. I knew Aunty would empathise and wouldn't dismiss it as something foolish. More than that, Aunty told me when her mother passed away, a small white butterfly came with a message for them too.
Then, later, I told Uncle Vijaya about it, and he too said, "Now, this I believe, I really do", and he told me about the little white butterfly at this mother-in-law's wake. Coming from such a wise, learned, scholarly and spiritual person, I am comforted to know that we share the same feeling about butterflies being messengers from our dearly departed. I was almost afraid that my learned friends would pooh-pooh at me (again) for being a sentimental old fool.
Sometimes we humans think we know everything about life, and that everything has to be scientifically-verified and proven to be true before we accept it. To this, I like to paraphrase Shakespeare who says, "There are more things in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy." So, no, we think we are smart, but we don't know everything....not yet.
Coming back to the butterfly, Uncle Vijaya said it's Vixey's way of telling me I have to let go and move on now because she is in a better place. So, I need not be sad anymore.
I know I have to let go, but not yet. There are a number reasons I am sad, which I shall not elaborate here as talking about them would bring me pain. Most of all, I miss her very much.
So, what did I learn at the dialogue today? Something beautiful, and something that is the foundation of every religion that I know of - that our purpose in life is to be loving person. To love unconditionally and not expect anything in return.
To this, I always say that loving animals is practising unconditional love because you cannot possibly expect anything in return. The chances are when you help an animal, it cannot help you back in return, yet you still help it because it is in need.
That is unconditional love.
Animals already know this, and they don't need to have established religious institutions to teach them such things. It comes very naturally to them. It is we complicated humans who need to re-learn what is supposed to arise very naturally in us.
So, love for the sake of loving, simply because it is the right thing to do.