People often speak about their past lives, believing that they themselves have reincarnated. In some cases, that may be true. Most of the time, however, the knowledge of previous lives to which they occasionally gain access belongs to the soul itself and not to them. After all, we don’t have a soul; the soul has us. We are merely vehicles for its growth. Thus, we can neither lay claim to its past incarnations, nor can we use them as an excuse for our idiosyncrasies or shortcomings. Although the ego is influenced as much by the soul’s previous cycles as it is by our upbringing, spiritual growth is attained by taking responsibility for our total being and working to overcome our handicaps. The experiences and the learning of each individual person contribute to the soul’s growth, until the soul has obtained all the knowledge it requires from this planet.

The soul’s path passes through many human incarnations, but these represent only a part of its journey. Prior to incarnating in humans, the soul reincarnates many times in animals. This idea may be offensive to some people. On the other hand, there are others who are searching for the missing link that will connect humans to their animal origins.

Just as I learned that the soul driving me had, in a previous incarnation, obtained the knowledge of the monk, I also learned that before this same soul entered into a human, it had passed through a wolf and an eagle.

One afternoon, while in a contemplative state of mind, my body suddenly became saturated by a very strong energy. I felt my hands changing into what seemed like an animal’s paws. I reached out to the table in front of me and touched it, feeling the cushions and claws against the wood. I was astonished at how real my experience was; this wasn’t my imagination. My face felt contorted by a pressure on both cheeks that I recognized as being the force of transfiguration. Suddenly, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of sadness and began to howl. I was a wolf in pain, having lost my mate. The intensity of the wolf’s emotion shocked me; I had never before imagined how deeply an animal could feel. I realized then how closely the animal and human were linked.

A few days later, I had a similar experience, this time as an eagle. Again, fully awake, I felt as though my face and body were becoming transformed, taking on the shape of the giant bird. The screeching sounds that I made jarred my nerves. The emotion I felt was one of defiance; I was standing my ground. Again, I was shocked at the similarity between the eagle and myself. Later I learned that the soul driving me had obtained its most basic knowledge through these animals. In a sense, there was no difference between them and me other than time, just as there is no difference between a sprouting seed and a grown tree.

Through these experiences, I learned that there is continuity between humans and animals that is mediated by the evolution of the soul. In other words, the soul evolves as it moves from species to species up the animal chain, through the human, and beyond. The wild dog of Africa, for example, is considered to be a ‘higher’ animal in that it teaches its young both survival and social skills. Through the soul’s incarnation in the wild dog, it obtains knowledge of hunting, protecting and teaching. When that soul reincarnates into a human body, it will provide the human with those same qualities, qualities that we tend to think of as innate or inborn. Therefore, although it is often said that animals exhibit human qualities, it is in fact we who have inherited their qualities.

Author's Bio: 

Ben, who lives on St. Margarets Bay near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada is a spiritual teacher, personal counselor and author of, Don't Water the Stick: The Path of the Psyche, The Spirit and I: The Evolution of Soul, and Water Your Roots: Walking a Spiritual Path. For more information on his books visit