“According to less intelligent philosophers, animals have no soul. But factually animals have souls. Due to the animals’ gross ignorance, however, it appears that they have lost their souls. Without the soul, a body cannot move. That is the difference between a living body and a dead body. When the soul is out of the body, the body is called dead. The soul is said to be lost when there is no proper knowledge exhibited. Our original consciousness is Krishna consciousness because we are part and parcel of Krishna.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.22.31 Purport)
Friend1: Animals have souls.
Friend1: For some people that is a true revelation. It’s something they can’t believe at first.
Friend2: I don’t understand it. What else explains why animals can move, make noises, sleep, and eat?
Friend1: I guess it goes back to what people were taught. In their spiritual tradition animals are classified as completely different.
Friend2: Yes, and because of that designation it is okay to kill and eat them.
Friend1: On the largest scale possible, mind you. Round them up, bring them to the slaughterhouse, and then enjoy.
Friend2: It’s one of those things where children have the proper instinct. They understand there is something wrong with the picture. Children don’t get into things like gambling, drugs, or illicit sex, either.
Friend1: It is very interesting. Those harmful activities come about in adulthood, when there is supposedly more maturity.
Friend2: That is a comparison for different stages of life for a single person, but you can use the same comparison to the animals. It is just a different body, after all.
Friend1: What is?
Friend2: The human birth. The animal birth. It’s the same spirit animating each; just the outside covering has changed. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that one of the reasons people think animals have no soul is because of the gross ignorance.
Friend1: Right. Because the animals can’t talk, because they can’t do mathematical calculations, they must be soul-less.
Friend2: Or possessing a different kind of soul.
Friend1: If we accepted that logic, then wouldn’t it mean people with mental disabilities are also without soul?
Friend2: Yes, exactly. The logic doesn’t hold. Moreover, the young child has less ability than many animals. Does that mean it is okay to kill children and eat them?
Friend1: Here’s a question for you. Is it possible to lose your soul?
Friend2: What do you mean? As in, you can’t find it?
Friend1: You’ve heard people say similar things. “I sold my soul.” “Ever since I took this job, I feel like I’ve lost myself. I’ve lost my soul.”
Friend2: That references their essential character. The soul itself cannot be lost. It never ceases to exist. Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that never was there a time that either of them did not exist. The significant distinction is that Krishna can remember the past lifetimes, whereas others cannot.
“Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.12)
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: You could say that anyone in the material world not practicing God consciousness has lost their soul. They are going against their dharma, or intrinsic nature.
Friend1: This is more directionally lost, correct?
Friend2: Yes. It’s like losing your way. You can remain in that state for many lifetimes, millions of years, even. When the time for dissolution arrives, everything goes back into an unmanifest state. When the time for the next creation comes, those “lost” souls manifest again.
“When Brahma’s day is manifest, this multitude of living entities comes into being, and at the arrival of Brahma’s night they are all annihilated.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.18)
Friend1: And the only way to reclaim the lost soul is to go towards the Divine light.
Friend2: Absolutely. That is the real benefit of the human birth. There are souls everywhere, from the tiny ant all the way up to the highest demigod. There are degrees of ignorance, too. Only when there is pure God consciousness does the cycle of birth and death stop. That consciousness must be there at the time of death. That’s why there is so much emphasis in this age on the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. You and I have been lost for so long, let it not continue. Let us regain our original consciousness and feel the bliss of surrender to the Divine.
Excuses making at any cost,
To say animals of souls lost.
So then to kill and eat,
Further in ignorance retreat.
Soul always there, existence to define,
Back on track in devotion to shine.
The proper end for human birth making,
Chant today opportunity taking.