I don’t know if I knew what to expect. A spiritual organization had contacted me to come teach animal communication in Beijing. We went back and forth with details for months. In the end, the package included myself and one of my senior teachers, Diedra Petrina from my program, Communication with all Life University (CWALU) in the contract. It also included a little sightseeing!
It was like a dream set up. If you knew about my mother, she suffered from the travel bug! If you knew about my father, you would know he was a workaholic. I’m equal parts both my parent’s daughter.
I have a list planned for the next several years of what endangered species I want to help raise awareness for through trips. Beijing wasn’t on that list! Yet, raising awareness between the operative words, I thought, an amazing opportunity just arrived here in my lap. I just don’t think I realized for who…
When I told people that I was going to teach animal communication in Beijing, they had a visceral response. I can’t tell you how many people raised an eyebrow about the idea that China would be interested in this subject because of how they treat animals.
The host made sure that Diedra and I got to fall in love with Beijing. That, we did.
And then there was the class: 3 day Animal Communication Workshop- the same way I do it here, this time with a translator. The class itself has a solid structure, and we stuck to the plan with my trusty translator glued to my side for 3 days!
The ladies (and one guy) who joined the class were lovely. Archetypally, they are the Chinese version of what I get here in my classroom, in conferences across the globe and on my wildlife trips. That archetype is a group of animal loving, big-hearted, passionate, smart, funny, soul family that could fit right in here at home. Any of my students here would fit right in with that group.
Built into the structure of my workshops, we always have plenty of room for Q & A. Often, that Q & A has a philosophical bent. One of the evenings prior to the course, I did a webinar for about 600 people in China. Based on some of the questions to me during the webinar, it was clear the Chinese have different views on “mercy killing” (euthanasia) and on “birth control” (spay and neuter). I wanted to know more about their views.
I was determined after lunch on the 3rd day to have a more philosophical, round table style discussion about our perceptions of each other regarding animals.
So we began…..I shared my intention of having this discussion and I thought they could start with how they perceive us or what they have heard about us.
One woman raised her hand gently, and painfully said something in Chinese that my translator, Francis shared with me. “Is it true in the US that if an animal is in the shelter for 3 months it will be mercy killed?”
I explained it is far worse than that. In some shelters they only have 3 days. I let them know it is a great stain and shame on our society that we have a genocide in shelters. As best we could, Diedra and I shared how as a society, we can’t seem to take responsibility for animals that we have and the shelters are full and there for we have spay and neuter programs. We shared the best we could about the whole system here.
We shared that in the program, CWALU students are required to work with and help shelter animals to become more adoptable and to stay in forever homes. We also shared about how may hundreds of thousands of private rescue groups tirelessly work toward getting these animals out of high kill shelters.
Because of our consumerism (and anthropocentricism) we have a very bad track record and we live in a disposable society. I can see from being there, they are in their “consumer revolution” and I warned that they could end up like us if they didn’t start helping others take responsibility for their actions, particularly regarding the animals and the planet.
Much to my horror to say that all of that out loud, talking about our shelter system here was like admitting the biggest sin of all and I didn’t feel absolved. There aren’t enough Hail Mary’s to get out of this one.
Honestly, what a barbaric story to admit to.
Next up. Eating dogs. I explained that in the United States, many people believe they all eat dogs. They were crestfallen that I should say such a thing. Many of them had no idea that not only was this happening or that we had this perception of them. One woman looked downright angry as if I were accusing her of doing it. I think she growled at me!
According to my beloved students in China, our Chinese sisters and brothers that did know about it say that this is a very small territory in a small province where this takes place. Yet, our news makes it sound like it happens everywhere. Those that knew about it are trying the best they can to make an impact to change this.
Factory farming. We knew this was also a big stain and shame on our society and Diedra just went ahead and blurted out that many of you know about our factory farming. We explained that the US consumes so much animal product that we have whole farms where thousands upon thousands of animals are killed a day.
We continued that we are both vegetarians bordering on vegans and this is nothing we are part of. Yet, it sounds so ugly.
Last up, wildlife for TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). I asked them about the Lion Bone Trade where lions are raised solely for the bullet (trophy hunting) or the bone trade for herbal medicine. Like rhino’s being killed for their horns, sun bears having their gall bladders sucked dry or shark fins, Diedra and I shared that we heard these things are still used in TCM.
One woman explained to me how TCM works and that what the animal offers is a certain chi, and that they honor the animals that gave their life to medicine. I shared that I have only done acupuncture since my early 20’s, I learned acupressure for animals and have a section in one of my books about TCM for animals. I am aware of TCM.
I also shared that some traditions evolve. Like headhunting. They may have had reasons at one point, but it turns out it is not a good idea and they moved on.
When I shared there are no rhino’s left, it was like finding out Santa didn’t exist. You could have felt the shock in the room, it was palpable. I also shared that while they thought our factory farming was a heinous crime, that lions were factory farmed now for their bones. Cage after cage after cage. There was silence.
TCM can find a plant-based replication for the chi, many of our practitioners here have found that. We shared that it would be illegal here to use those things in herbal medicine. The herbs may not be the same, but it is for the greater good.
I remembered what I used to say to my stepson when he was little, back when I was married. I’d remind him that if he was pointing a finger at someone, that 3 fingers were pointed back at him. All of it felt very hypocritical for either of our cultures to point a finger at each other. There is much work to be done.
Looking around the room, you could see how wounded they felt. If they didn’t know about these things, this was a very hard moment. And, they can’t protest, they felt helpless.
We (the US) have stains and shames and horrors in our culture. Maybe we could clean up our side of the street.
We came together in that we know our small part moving forward carries out a vibration for the greatest good for the animals and that we can all hold a higher vision together.
Diedra had us all share what small contribution we would do moving forward. They shared powerful ideas for giving to the animals, wonderful intentions and this exercise brought healing to the session.
While it was a very hard Q & A, it was enlightening. We all agreed it was an important, necessary conversation to move forward with and to always keep the conversation going.
When I originally thought about raising awareness, I thought it would be a package deal with the animal communication. I didn’t know that I would be coming home and saying: “HEY, we also have a lot of work to do!”
By understanding who they are culturally, and by knowing their hearts, we must feel into the fact, these ladies are doing the best they can given what they are given, just as we are. We all must hold each other up to a better world, a better ideal, ultimately, for a better outcome for our animal friends.