Karlene Stange, DVM Transcript

Karlene Stange, DVM Interview

Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done quite a few, 465 of them now. And if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to batgap.com, Bat gap, and look under the past interviews menu where you’ll find them all alphabetized, then listed chronologically as well, and it’s a sort of a new feature that I built a few weeks ago where you can just type in a name and instantly people show up if I’ve interviewed them. And you can sort it alphabetically by name or chronologically, you know, earliest, first or latest first or any which way. So play around with it. Anyway, this program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. And so if you appreciate it, if you feel like it’s been helpful to you, or perhaps helpful to the world, and you’d like to help support it to any degree, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. My guest this week is Karlene Stange, DVM. DVM means she’s a veterinarian, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. And she’s written a book called, “the Spiritual Nature of Animals,” which my good friend, George Hardeen, who actually trained with the horse whisperer, who was the guy that that movie with Robert Redford was based upon, recommended highly and hands out to all his friends, and so on. And so since we like spirituality around here, and we also like animals, she seemed like she’d be an interesting guest on a topic that we haven’t really covered on this show. And I think she will be. I just finished, almost finished reading the book, and found that it really wove nicely between sort of deeper philosophical considerations as expressed by various ancient cultures, and then Karlene’s, in the mud experience as a veterinarian with various animals having all kinds of emergencies. And it was an interesting read, I thought. So welcome, Karlene.

Karlene Stange: Thank you very much, Rick. It’s an honor to be here.

Rick Archer: Well, it’s an honor to have you. So, you’re in Durango, Colorado. And a couple of other people who’ve been on BatGap are in Durango, Craig Holliday, Doc Roberts, and Lama Tsultrim Alione, not in Durango, but not too far from it (Pagosa Springs), was on not too long ago. And it’s interesting how you describe Durango as being sort of a mixing pot of all sorts of spiritual interests and people can be into like, a half a dozen or more different things and have no trouble reconciling and harmonizing them.

Karlene Stange: Very true. They’re doing sweat lodge, and going to the Dharma Center, and going to church. You know, Agape with Michael Beckwith, they do it all. Yeah, they’re into spirituality. Whatever. Yeah, it’s a great community.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I think it’s somehow or other, spiritual people are drawn to that area, or maybe something about the area inclines people to spirituality. I’m not sure which.

Karlene Stange: Yeah, back in the 60s, was it, they were talking about vortices. Right, one in Sedona and one here? I don’t know. I love it here.

Rick Archer: I was able to interview Joy Sharp was up in Ridgeway if you know, Joy. In any case, we’re looking at the title of your book, you know, “the Spiritual Nature of Animals,” I thought to myself, you know, you could have written a book about the spiritual nature of rocks, and I wouldn’t have batted an eye at that title. Because I think as I think you do that everything has a spiritual nature, ultimately. And maybe we could start by defining what we mean by spiritual nature. Because some people would probably disagree that animals have one and certainly disagree that rocks have one. So how would we define spiritual nature?

Karlene Stange: Well, I go back to science, often being a scientist myself being a doctor of veterinary medicine. And science currently tells us that only 5% of the universe is visible matter. The rest is invisible, unmeasurable, and they don’t know what it is. So, okay, we’re talking about something nonphysical. That to me is spiritual. Plus, when I was in college, I learned that energy is neither created nor destroyed. That’s one of the first laws of thermodynamics. So I asked myself, what happens if someone shoots an elk in the heart and it dies, where did that vital animating life force go? It had to go somewhere, right? So, you want to call it energy, or…we get all hung up about the words to describe it, when words aren’t really adequate to define it. So I think about spirituality as being the nonphysical part. And science also tells us that the 5% that we do see is mostly empty space as well. Right? The only reason we see a table is because of the ways our eyes interpret the light energy reflecting off the energy between the atomic particles of the table, and our brain translates that information and creates the image of the table. Right? So the world is a mental construct. So there, it’s all spiritual.

Rick Archer: Okay, now some people to play devil’s advocate would say, Well, when you shoot the elk in the heart, it’s heart stops. So it’s brain stops getting blood. So it’s brain dies, so it loses consciousness, and now it’s just dead meat, there’s no elk, that went anywhere.

Karlene Stange: But the animating energy doesn’t instantly condense into meat, the meat was there to begin with, it just doesn’t move. So there’s energy that has been created to move that elk. And even if you search this, under scientific, “is there such thing as death,” you’re going to see posts about how the photons live on. The energetic photons have to go on. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to stay in a congealed spirit or soul. It may, like Thich Nhat Hanh says, you just go back to the whole. So it could just be wind, dust, sunlight, that goes back to the whole. Now, people like Abraham, the channel, says, you go back to source. And, the near-death experience people, they go back, and there’s all spirits. I interviewed a shaman, and he told me that, when he goes to spirit realm, an animal may appear as a human or human may appear as an animal. And so he likes to put a crystal around the animal’s neck or the person’s neck, because crystals are the only thing that don’t change in spirit realm. So you can identify them. So I asked him, I asked, “So what’s the difference between an animal and a human then, if they could appear as one or the other in spirit realm?” He said, “I don’t know, who says there is?” From this human perspective, we have this idea that there’s a hierarchy of everything like a corporation, like there’s mid-level management and CEOs, but spirit realm is just spirit. Everything is spirit. So there’s no division, it’s our divisive mind, our human dual thinking that creates all these ideas of not physical and physical. I was just reading something in my book, a quote from Coomaraswamy, that animals and little children don’t have that understanding of a separation of spirit and body. And that’s why I think little children see spirits. They see imaginary friends and such. And animals see spirit realm better than humans can. That’s what I’ve read in multiple teachings from Hebrew, to shamans, to Tibetan Buddhists. They say the animals can see spirit realm. So I think there is a nonphysical reality beyond what our minds create. That’s this illusion, this mental construct we create. And that is spirit realm. That’s mostly what everything is.

Rick Archer: Yeah. I think probably, most people listening to this are on board with what you’re saying. But just to play devil’s advocate a little bit longer. As I’m sure you’re well aware, there’s a debate between those with a materialistic perspective, which I guess is the predominant paradigm in science, who say that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of brain functioning. And so when the brain dies, that’s it lights out, and no consciousness, and then those who conversely say that the brain and everything else is an emergent property or a thing of consciousness, that consciousness is fundamental and that it gives rise to materiality. So I’m pretty sure where you stand on the issue. But is there anything you’d like to say with about that whole debate?

Karlene Stange: Well, it’s very interesting to me that scientists who say that there’s consciousness in the brain, even though extensive searching for decades has not come up with the location of it. But they have faith, that they’re going to find it in the brain. Now, anybody else that has faith in something that there’s no evidence for, is baloney. Right? You gotta have evidence, like saying that there’s no evidence that animals feel love. Well, it’s intuitively obvious that they do. There’s two ways of looking at the reality. There’s the scientific, empirical measuring way, but you cannot measure the 95%. So you have to go with the other way of understanding reality, which is through intuition, or experiential knowing. And that’s what all these great spiritual teachers have come from; that’s where they get their information. So that’s why I had to write this book, because science can’t tell me about it. I had to look elsewhere.

Rick Archer: And as you say, in the book, science revises itself again and again and again. Things that are established science end up being upended, and new theories take their place. And then new theories take their place, and on and on. And so anybody who thinks that science has sort of got it all nailed down in terms of the way the universe works, doesn’t really understand science.

Karlene Stange: Correct. Right. And the most advanced scientists say that, you know, I remember the moment I realized that. I was on the floor of my office surrounded by old embryology textbooks, studying embryology for this book, and it hit me. And I was stunned, and I got up off the floor, I went to my garage, got my vet truck, drove to Fort Lewis College, went to the Biology Department, found my former embryology professor in his office, and said, “Dr. Summers, I just realized, there’s no such thing as a scientific fact.” And he smiled and said, in the slow southern accent. “That’s right. There’s only the current theory based on the prevailing evidence, which is constantly changing.” And I was dumbstruck at the moment. Here I was, I don’t know, 40 years old or something. And I’m just finally understood this. It’s like, I thought science had the truth, man, you know, these are the facts, and it’s not so. It’s constantly changing. And you really can’t put your finger on it. No theory can be a fact, because they’re constantly in revision. So that makes you wonder what is reality? And so science doesn’t have the corner on truth with a little t. It certainly doesn’t know, the big T truth. But they keep trying to find it. And you know, the ancient scientists, that was their goal, they were using science to get connected with God, to find truth. And, we get closer every year, but still working on it.

Rick Archer: Ironically, of course, you would think that science did have the big T truths, because so many scientists are adamantly certain about how right they are about certain things. I mean, someone said science progresses by a series of funerals, because often people won’t change their minds, and they just die out and younger ones come along with different ideas.

Karlene Stange: That’s so true. And so do all the prejudices, you know, there’s financial prejudice, there’s political prejudice; there’s sexual prejudice. It’s just like everything else. The Internet has changed it quite a bit, because anybody can publish their work now. Before, you couldn’t get published if you weren’t in with the right political and financial group, so your information would never be known.

Rick Archer: One point you address in your book quite a bit is whether animals are conscious. And maybe we need to define conscious because it seems to me that anything which perceives or can react to any kind of stimulus is obviously conscious, or it wouldn’t know the perception was there, that the stimulus was there.

Karlene Stange: Yeah, right. But here we have this problem of defining consciousness. I mean, nobody’s really come up with a good definition for it. You know, years ago, Bernd Heinrich wrote “The Mind of the Raven, and he did these tests with these ravens, who are brilliant. He can’t ever catch them. He has to go steal eggs and raise them because they’re too smart to get caught in a trap. But he had a perch with a piece of meat tied to a string from the perch, and the only way for the birds to get the meat is to stand on the perch and reel up the string and hang on to it with their other foot. And he figured it would take them weeks to figure that out, and some flew at it. And some tried to pick the string off the perch. But one stood there and looked down at it, and looked at it, and reeled it up right away the first time. And he said, and he was ostracized for saying this, but he said that that’s consciousness. He had to play the scenarios through in his mind and figure out this problem. And look at the octopus, they can solve any puzzle. I mean, they’re, brilliant. One marine biologist said, If octopuses evolved to live on land, they’d rule the world. They’re amazing. They can change shape, color, patterns. And, get through any little hole, because they don’t have any vertebrae or any bones. They can taste with their suction cups. I mean, there’s so many amazing animals. So consciousness.

Rick Archer: Well, regarding Raven, to me that is kind of a semantic question, how we’re really defined the word conscious, because that to me, says the raven is intelligent. But a paramecium is conscious because it will react to some kind of chemical stimulus or something. It is aware of something in its environment, apparently, and behaves accordingly.

Karlene Stange: Well, since we don’t have a clear definition, and no one can actually define it, it’s really hard for me to say, but I can tell you what other people say. Are you familiar with David Hawkins? He does kinesiology to test truth and falsehood. And, he rates consciousness in levels from zero to 1000, with zero being shame, and 1000 being Christ consciousness. And he puts deer above a lot of people. Alex, the African gray parrot, he was amazing, he was very intelligent. But he put him at 400, which is higher than most of the human race. So it’s really hard to say. I’m quite clear in my mind that they are conscious. They respond. [As a veterinarian, I can make an animal unconscious with anesthesia, so it follows it was conscious to begin with.]

Rick Archer: Well, let’s just kind of frame for ourselves for our conversation, a mutual understanding of the word conscious and consciousness. I mean, I think you and I would both agree that consciousness is like, it’s a universal field. And that individual beings, nervous systems reflect it, or express it, in much the same way that a radio or various radios reflect or express the universal electromagnetic field. And, if you break the radio, or pull out a few of its transistors, maybe it loses the ability to do that, but that doesn’t do anything to the field. The field carries on. Right? And so, you could have like tinny little crystal set radio, like the kind I built when I was about 10 years old, or you could have a really nice $300 Bose radio. And so there’s a range of abilities of radios to pick up that field and transmitted into something that we can appreciate. But it’s the same field. So are you with me so far on that?

Karlene Stange: I am, yes. So, if it’s a brain, then any brain can do it at varying skill levels. Right? And, at the Francis Crick Memorial conference on consciousness in humans and non-human animals, back in 2012, a group of prominent neuroscientists said, there’s nothing about the human brain that is superior to the other animal brains. They can’t find consciousness in the prefrontal cortex, which is what the humans have. So, the brain isn’t necessarily it. So I’m with you. I think consciousness is spirit. Aren’t they similar?  isn’t that the same thing? Spirit and consciousness? I don’t know. The words are problematic always. Rick, that’s what we get hung up about. And that’s our divisive, dual mind trying to say it’s this, it’s that and argue about it. And I don’t really know. And  I think it’s something we sense. You look in an animal’s eyes. You sense they’re there. And you sense when they’re not. When they’re dead, you bury them. So something was there a minute ago. I once euthanized a horse, and there was this old cowboy there, digging the hole for the horse with his backhoe. And this guy never thought much of me, you know–a woman vet–he wouldn’t say two words to me. So I pronounced the horse dead. And he stood there, with hands on his hips, and he said, “Now I am not a religious man. But I let my kids go to Sunday school because they want to go, and because I think it’s a good education. But those Sunday school teachers tell my kids that animals don’t have a soul. And you can’t tell me there wasn’t something there a minute ago that isn’t there now.” And to me, it’s obvious. There’s something that is gone. If it was just the body where everything is, you’d keep it around, right? We bury that. So that consciousness, that spirit, that lifeforce energy is what I’m interested in. That’s the most important part. That’s the only thing we care about, really. I mean, we love the body because it’s our home.

Rick Archer: But we don’t love it when it’s dead. We get rid of it.

Karlene Stange: It’s this eternal thing? There’s something eternal about this lifeforce energy. And that’s what loves us.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Now, I think there’s two ways we could look at the eternality of the lifeforce energy, as you put it; one is the thing I just alluded to, with the radio metaphor, where there’s a universal field of consciousness. And, you know, there’s that verse from the Gita that unreal, has no being, the real never ceases to be. But then there are also all kinds of verses in the Gita, and many other scriptures that you talk about in your book about there’s something individuated about that field that comprises an individual, spirit or soul, and that that soul, according to many traditions, transmigrates or reincarnates, from one vehicle to the other. And the Gita talks about it as being like, you know, if your clothes wear out, you put on a fresh set of clothes, and you continue living your life with a new set of clothes. So you cast off worn out bodies, and you take up new ones. So having said that, I mean, then that kind of gets us into the notion that life is a journey that is not defined by a single lifetime. And that that journey can progress. It is not just static, but there’s a sort of a learning curve and ever-ascending progression to higher and higher expressions, higher and higher levels of consciousness, ultimately, perhaps to enlightenment, whatever we might want to find that as. With me on all that?

Karlene Stange: Yeah. So, I recently have been studying some Taoism because I’ve been lecturing in veterinary conferences on the spiritual Qi of animals. And in traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, there are five spirits in the body, there’s an ethereal soul associated with the liver, and there’s a corporeal soul associated with the lung, and there’s three other souls. Anyway, when you die, the corporeal soul goes down to the earth, and the ethereal spirit goes back to heaven. And the Taoists believe that the purpose of life in the physical body is for the Spirit to come into this all-chemical cauldron of opposites. And through these contrasting experiences, the spirit learns, and the purpose is to transform suffering into wisdom and compassion. And then the Spirit goes back to spirit realm, in bodily form, carrying that information back for Spirit, so that it can evolve and expand. So the purpose of life is the transformation of suffering into wisdom and compassion. And those in the human body, with that dual mind, there’s that really contrasting experience. We’re on the leading edge, as Abraham puts it, the channel Abraham, of suffering. We choose it in a way. We don’t want to suffer. But we choose to come here to experience these yin and yang, the shame and pride, the pain and pleasure.

Rick Archer: Yeah, my understanding of that is that if you’re going to have a relative creation, then there has to be pairs of opposites. If everything were completely the same, you couldn’t have any diversity. And so there’s going to be diversity of all kinds, you know, hot and cold, fast and slow, heavy and light. And of course, happiness and suffering and all the sort of range of emotions and everything else. It is just vast diversity in any way you want to measure it.

Karlene Stange: Yeah, the clairvoyant I talk about in my book, that I interviewed repeatedly, she says that there are many different planets that you can choose to go to. And each planet has its game. And the game we play on this planet is duality. So it’s not this way everywhere.

Rick Archer: Yeah, some of the Hindus, especially the Hari Krishna is like to talk about spiritual planets, you know, where you get to just hang out with Krishna. It’s all bright and beautiful and heavenly. And so that maybe, I mean, Tibetan Buddhists also talk about heavenly realms, it talks about hell realms where it’s all dark and yucky. And you kind of go where your karma takes you, I guess.

Karlene Stange: And that can be right here too. There are Hell realms and Heavenly realms right here.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Now, Maher Baba, and others, have kind of charted out this, you mentioned hierarchies in a somewhat derogatory tone – sense – a little while ago. But they’ve charted out this sort of idea. And you also mentioned that guy, Hawkins, that there’s a vast range of stages of evolution, from rocks, through plants, through animals, through humans, through celestial beings, and so on, there’s just a vast range. And, it seems kind of more fair and egalitarian, to say, well, we’re all of equal worth. And that’s true in a sense, and consciousness obviously, is the same thing, regardless of the light. There’s a line from the Incredible String Band: “Light that is one, though the lamps be many.” So one light, but the lamps, some are brighter, some are dimmer, like electrical bulbs, you know, some are 1000 Watts, some are five watts. And so in that sense, it’s not unfair or narrow-minded to say that there are different stages of evolution. And that some are at a lower stage and are progressing, and some are in a higher stage having progressed. Do you agree with that?

Karlene Stange: Well, I know that my horse was more aware than my mother when she was 93 dying of Alzheimer’s. And my horse could see an elk a mile away that I couldn’t see unless I look where he’s looking like, oh, yeah, I see.

Rick Archer: Well, a hawk could see a mouse from 500 feet up better than the Buddha could if he were 500 feet up. But that doesn’t say anything about the hawk’s level of enlightenment relative to the Buddha’s.

Karlene Stange: Well, how enlightened is a person with Alzheimer’s? Or, does it matter because there’s that story about the Buddha…he had a man who was mentally disabled, and he told him to sweep the floor, and he was enlightened. I mean, I don’t know that it has to do with intellect. If intellect is a matter of enlightenment, and animals, also, there may not be just plain animals. So like the shamans talk about there are various kinds of animals. There are just plain animals. There are animals who are spirit guides; there are spirits in animal form; there are the leaders of the spirit of the animal who are spirits in the animal form. So there’s all these different kinds of animals. So, you know, just like there are all kinds of different people, I don’t think we can say people are more enlightened than animals. And Hawkins was talking about the levels of consciousness from shame, to bliss and beyond, and how to transform your mental shame, or guilt, or anger or worry, by surrendering to God was his classic way to accomplish this. So, you know that the thing they say about animals, they don’t know that they can do this. And then the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist, talks about animals that they have a level of consciousness, but they aren’t as conscious as humans, because they can’t control their thoughts. But I look at a cat stalking something. And if they were just, you know, what’s telling them, “wait, wait a minute. Wait, go now.” That’s telling them that? “You know, there’s this internal guidance thing. And they like to say animals have instincts, okay? All animal wisdom comes from their instincts. Okay, so what are instincts? Instincts are intuition, and intuition is inner truth. That’s your inner guidance. That spirit. So, I can’t divide this all up and say they’re more conscious than them or whatever, certain moments, animals are more conscious than certain people.

Rick Archer: Yeah. But if we think in terms of the soul being something which evolves over a long span of time through a succession of bodies, that could be that someone who’s in a coma or who has advanced Alzheimer’s or something like that, that there’s a more highly evolved soul that has been inhabiting that body and even though the body isn’t functioning very well, that soul is more highly evolved than some, virile young athlete who appears to be in great shape or something. But, we’re just taking a snapshot of the moment–an old body, a young body–but in the big picture of things, you know, souls are at various levels, and they go through a succession of bodies as they progress.

Karlene Stange: Well, what about Lama Tsutrim’s Cat?

Rick Archer: What about him? Oh, that was her father is that the idea?

Karlene Stange: I was having tea in her living room. And, he came over and I started petting his neck and head, and he was really enjoying it. And she said, “Wow, he really likes you.” I said, “He’s a lover.” She said, “He’s my father.” I said, “Pardon me?” Yeah, she said, she had talked to a Tibetan Lama who read incarnations, and asked where her father was and he said, (he only spoke Tibetan), but he said, “He’s an animal with stripes on his face.” And then years later, he came to her house and saw him, and said, “There’s your father.”

Rick Archer: Well, that proves my point, actually, which is that the cat didn’t have any significant intellectual capacity or anything, or many things that humans have, although it had certain cat abilities that humans don’t have. But the soul of the cat, if that’s a true story, that it was really her father, had reached a certain level of evolution, which wasn’t necessarily revealed by the nature of that particular body it was inhabiting. So I guess it proves your point, too, that you can’t make simple judgments about the level of evolution of anything.

Karlene Stange: And if you want to evolve quickly, come out as a high-level spiritual teacher’s cat and hang out on their lap all the time. And by osmosis, you’re going to get high. The clairvoyant from my book, I interviewed her, and she said that a human may choose to come back as an animal for a particular purpose. For example, a man with self-loathing, could not heal that pain in a human body, but as a beloved family dog, without the mental judgments of a human, he could heal that emotion in a short 10-year lifespan.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So I’m sure that’s possible. I mean, I’m not sure of anything, but why not?

Karlene Stange: Right. I mean, so I don’t know, either. I can tell you what these people say? And I’m open to that idea. I mean, you look at these animals sometimes, and they often remind you of a person you’ve known. And people have told me, that they believe their cat is their uncle or whatever.

Rick Archer: You know who Ramana Maharshi was right. No, I don’t. Oh, he was a great saint in Southern India who died and I think 1950. He lived in Tiruvannamalai. And he’s one of the most highly regarded and respected saints of the 20th century. He’s kind of like the gold standard of enlightened people for many spiritual seekers these days. Anyway, he had a cow named Lakshmi, and there’s marvelous stories about this cow and how it interacted with him and everything. But apparently, Lakshmi was the reincarnation of this woman who had tended to him when he was younger and living in a cave up on Mount Arunachala and had been reborn as a cow in order to sort of be around him, and Ramana said that Lakshmi actually did attain enlightenment in a cow’s body. And so an example there of a very highly evolved soul and a non-human body.

Karlene Stange: I’m open to that idea. Yeah, I’ve read a few stories like that, too. And again, when my mother died; she died last December, and I got the call around 6 am. And when I hung up the phone, I heard an owl hooting outside my window and I opened the blind and there was a large owl in the tree right outside my window, hooting, and it just cut right through me. The hooting sound was so haunting. And the Native Americans believe that the owl is the messenger of death. Birds are messengers in general, but the owl calls death, and so I just immediately felt like it was my mother coming to say goodbye. And so I thanked her for coming and said goodbye and the sun rose over the trees in the east and she flew off into the trees. So, a spirit could inhabit an animal’s body willing. The channel Abraham said, you know they’re willing to do this, they offer themselves, “Sure you want to use me? Okay, let’s go.” They’re not closed to these spiritual things because they see spirit. There’s a veterinarian here locally that when she does a euthanasia at someone’s home, she asked that the other animals be present and she says, “Now watch.” And often you’ll see these animals kind of watch them leave. Sometimes I’ve had an animal look over my head, like, I’m looking at them in their eye, and they’re looking up above my head, like they see something, you know, like, do you see my aura? Is there somebody here? You know, what are you looking at? Sometimes? I wonder what’s going on?

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. So just to sort of embellish that point a little bit there. You know, what we’re talking about here, again, obviously, is that there’s a subtler level of creation than gross physical matter, and that there’s a whole realm that is populated by subtle bodies, we could say, astral bodies, or celestial bodies or whatever. And that some beings. I know human beings who routinely perceive those levels and just as they go through life, they see subtle beings attending to people and doing things. And so you’re saying some animals can also. I just want to make clear that I hope I don’t sound argumentative, but I’m just kind of throwing out all these ideas. And I completely agree with everything you’re saying. And I also at the same time, have a sense of I don’t know mind, and mystery, and that there’s a heck of a lot more to the universe. Then, Einstein said that the universe is more mysterious, not only then we can see, but that we can conceive. And so it’s good not to be glib and feel like you’ve gotten got it all figured out. But it’s fun to play with these ideas and, and even to take contrarian viewpoints to see how if you can poke holes in them.

Karlene Stange: And, let me say that I don’t have any agenda in trying to convince anybody of anything, of any particular spiritual belief about animals or anything else. I just wanted to know. The things I saw in my practice, and the things I heard people say about animals’ consciousness; they don’t feel love; they don’t have souls; they don’t go to heaven. Even though they don’t feel pain. Sometimes they said, which is so obviously not the truth. You put, you know, put a rocking chair on a cat’s tail and… I have a truck full of analgesics, for crying out loud people. But, I think human consciousness has evolved to the point where we can recognize this. So I don’t know, I just I had to explore. So I went through every spiritual teaching from creation stories up to modern spirituality to try to find out what the experts say, I thought it’d be simple. I’m going to find the truth. Well, what’s the truth? You know, that was a big, nebulous thing to begin with. Nobody knows what the truth is. Nobody agrees about any of it. And so, what I find fascinating are the common themes, the common themes from all across the planet, things that you come back to over and over again. Those things must be true. You know, so, like, love. You know, near-death experiencers, they come back and say, “We’re here to love and help each other.” And I’ve heard people say, forever, that there’s no evidence that animals feel love. But there’s a test to determine who loves you more, your dog or your spouse. You lock each one in the trunk of a car for an hour and find out which one’s happy to see you when you let them out. And this is a joke, but it rings so true. You know, the spouse will be bitter for decades, right? Do you know what he did to me? When the dog is like, “Hi, Dad.” They’re over it. They might not get in the trunk ever again. But they love you still; they forgive you. They forget. They look for the joy. We’re in the blame, shame, guilt, pain department. And that’s what we can learn from animals, is this non-dual present moment. They’re like better Buddhists than we are? And that’s what Eckhart Tolle pointed out in that book, “Guardians of Being,” it’s a little cartoon book, with Patrick McDonnell does the little cartoons. You know, some of the best Zen Buddhists I’ve met are cats. It’s a cute little cartoon book, but the animals are here to help us. The channel, Abraham said, the primary purpose of the beast on this planet is to balance our energy. And I did an animal communication apprenticeship. And my teacher said that the animals have told her that horses, dogs and cats have signed up to help us; to help humans. They’re here to help us. And we really wouldn’t do very well without them.

Rick Archer: My wife and I experienced that in our own lives. I think that having animals has helped our marriage all the way along, and I don’t know how to explain it. But there’s kind of a joint focus of attention and devotion. I guess people get the same thing with children. But, children are more complicated. More expensive in the long run too.

Karlene Stange: Well, the animals, really, let me mention this, the animals really take on our emotions and are excellent reflectors. They’re excellent mirrors. And this can really become a problem. As a veterinarian, who’s watched animals suffer in divorce, it’s pretty amazing how they can be used as battering rams, punishment, and tools. I watched this one, it was a yellow lab, for crying out loud, can’t be any happier and gentler than a yellow lab, but the people kept telling each other about what to do with the dog and arguing about it, and the dog became vicious and angry. And they would call me and tell me to tell him or her what to do about this dog. And it was… {sigh}, and I could see this dog feeling all the anger that they had. And it’s hard for the veterinarian to fix their dog, right? To fix the people. So I think we can look at our animals all of us and say, “Why is my dog anxious? Why is my dog having anxiety in the car? Why is my dog so worried and needy.” Sometimes you’re at the computer, here’s an example. You’re at the computer and you can’t remember your password or whatever, and you’re getting really tense and who shows up? Cat wants to walk across the keyboard, or the dog is pawing at your leg, whining. And they’re trying to say, “Hey, lady, you need to take a walk. You need to pet me; calm down.” You know, if you just stop for a second and pet them, hug them, say, “Thank you so much; I love you so much. Thank you. Let’s go for a walk,” or whatever. Then you go back, you’ll remember your password. You’ll be happier. The dog did its job; they’ll be happier, less anxiety all the way around.

Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s some great examples of dogs and cats being allowed into prisons and prisoners being able to take care of them, you know, and the beneficial effect that has on them. And the dogs and cats, of course are very nonjudgmental, and they just love the prisoners as they’d love anyway. And then there was a great movie with Burt Lancaster the Birdman of Alcatraz, you probably saw that years ago.

Karlene Stange: Yeah, but I don’t remember it. And children in hospitals. I once cornered a minister behind a chocolate fountain at a wedding and said, “Do you believe animals have eternal spirits or just souls, lower souls?” And he said, “Well, I tend to believe with Watchmen Nee, that they have a lower soul and not an eternal spirit.” And I said, “What about Baalam’s ass? That’s a story from the Bible. You know the story? Balaam’s ass saw the angel of the Lord and the Prophet, Balaam, did not. (The donkey spoke, also.) And he said, “Yeah, I have a sign on my refrigerator that says, “If the Lord can speak through an ass like that he can speak through an ass like you.” But I said, “And what about how Elijah was fed in the desert by the ravens; and how Daniel wasn’t eaten in the lion’s den; and how the whale puked up Jonah? Do you think these animals are just puppets? Or do you think the Holy Spirit works through them?” And he said, “Well, you know, we take animals to see children in the hospital. And we don’t make the kids feel better, but the animals do. So yes, I do think the Holy Spirit works through them. And thank you for knowing your scriptures,” he added. You know, I think that there is spirit, there is divine spirit in these animals. And, if you ask for help…here, the Clairvoyant told me this the other day too, she said she had her heartbroken and is asking for help, “Help me; my heart hurts so bad.” And she said, and then spirit said, “Who wants to go help Dana with her broken heart?” And “Honey Bear” said, “I’ll go.” So here shows up this dog named “Honey Bear” who loves her unconditionally. And so spirit can take the task, “I’m a spirit that’ll take that form of that dog.” That will come in, because she can’t do it with men, men are hurting her. So, here she’s got this dog…so I think Spirit just shows up in the form it needs to be. And perhaps we can only see what our minds will allow us to see. Which reminds me of the white owl I saw in the Bisti Badlands. Here’s this desert in Northern New Mexico, I mean, it is barren. There is nothing there. It’s tan and gray. And that’s about it. There’s petrified wood. They found dinosaur fossils there. I mean, it’s a cool, ancient place. It’s Navajo tribal land. So I’m riding my donkey with two other women on this place. And we saw a naked man. And my friend had said she’d seen a naked man there previously. So that was kind of interesting. He was off in the distance scurrying away. But we’re riding along past these steely hoodoos, and mounds of rock and, all of a sudden, low soars over us, a white owl. And I go, “That looked like a white owl!” My friends go, “Yeah, that’s a white owl.” I say,” There’s no white owls in Bisti Badlands!” The snowy owls live in the Arctic tundra. What was that? So you know, what is it? We knew the Navajo believe the owl calls death. Well, it was silent and it was white. And white is the color of spirit; and white animals are the leaders of their kind, according to shamans. So we thought, well, maybe that naked man was a shapeshifting shaman. But what I came to, after extensively thinking about and talking to shamans and ornithologists and all kinds of people, was that it was a spirit, I mean, this place is vacant of life. But yet, if I saw a spirit, my mind would only be able to see what I could rationally comprehend. And so, mind creates a white owl. It was still like, what? But it would be, not like a ghost. You know, that would or an alien. It was just out there enough to be “wow,” that’s something outstanding to see right now.

Rick Archer: Do you companion see it also?

Karlene Stange: Yes! They saw it too. But we can only see what our minds can see. You know, the observer is the observed. Krishnamurti said, right? Verner Heisenberg, you know, the scientists talk about that, that the observation depends on who’s observing it. Particles form and disappear in this emptiness, this quantum field of emptiness, but they don’t form without the observer. So we are creating all of this. And we don’t see that we’re all one. We’ve created this separation with our dual mind, which is easy to say and intellectualize a little bit but to really feel it is… You know what people like Lama Tsultrim, the Buddha, the Dalai Lama. Those people have experienced this. You know, the Buddha sat in meditation…that’s what cracks me up about the Buddha. He sat meditation around the year 500 BCE and realized that the world is empty. He saw that everything is interconnected and constantly changing and that nothing is permanent.  And that’s what quantum physics tell us. To have that level of consciousness. Wow. You know, that’s what we are trying to get to. I did a little retreat with a Tibetan Lama, Lama Lhanang Rinpoche, and he talked about his meditation techniques and how he had been meditating, and his eyes were open, and everything was stars and lights, and blackness, and emptiness, like he was in some kind of electron microscope or something. And he said, “I went and told my teacher about it, and he said, ‘Okay’.” Like they’re told not to focus on it; like don’t make it special. But you know, minds that practice meditation to that level, realize emptiness, they realize it. And we, our minds are like, I see a white owl.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So all kinds of cool stories in the Carlos Castaneda books about that sort of thing, you know, and that whole Toltec tradition and their, their relationship to animals that are not animals and, so on.

Karlene Stange: Right. Yeah. And that’s a reflection like Rabbi Gershon Winkler. He says, you know, he’s a Hebrew rabbi, but he hangs out with the Apache, he says, you don’t need to take all these classes and read books, you just need to look at the next animal you see that flies by, there’s your reflection. There’s your message.

Rick Archer: For those listening live, if you want to ask a question, during this interview, go to batgap.com and go into the upcoming interviews menu. And at the bottom of that page, there’s a forum through which you can post a question, and one came in from Mark Peters in Santa Clara, California. Before I ask the question, I’ll define anthropocentrism, which is the belief that human beings are the most significant entity of the universe. So Mark asks, “It’s widely held that humans are unique in the animal kingdom and their potential to be conscious of their consciousness, or to awaken quote, do you think this assumption is just another subtle form of anthropocentrism?”

Karlene Stange: You know, I really like the Bible on this point. Ecclesiastes, chapter three is a sermon on vanity. And chapter 3:18, says that God is testing man to remind him that we too are beasts. The argument that animals don’t have spirit is that in Genesis, only Abraham received the breath of life from God. But Ecclesiastes 3:19 states, that man has no advantage over the beasts, that we all have the same breath, ru’ach, which is the breath of life from God. So if consciousness is Spirit, then it’s saying, we have the same breath. And it says, “For all is vanity.” And the ego is the one thing that humans have in superior quantities to the other animals. We don’t have sonar, like bats and dolphins, we don’t have the olfaction of a bear, or the visual acuity of the eagle, as you mentioned; we can’t taste with our tentacles, like the octopus, or change the color of our skin. But we have the egos, and the egos make us more creative than the other animals. And they also make us vain. So I think anthropomorphism, and some of the authors I’ve quoted, they’ve said, you know, why not? Why not attribute these animals with these qualities? They have so many similarities to us. Certainly, they must feel the things that we feel and think the things we think. And who knows how aware they are of themselves. It used to be thought that animals are not self-aware. That was the test for consciousness. And the test for self-awareness was the mirror self-recognition test, where you put a dot on an animal’s forehead, and they’d look in a mirror. And then instead of touching the dot, they touch the mirror, which is what children do until they’re two years old, they’ll touch the mirror, the dot on the mirror. But then they found out that monkeys do it, dolphins do it. Elephants do it; elephants are looking in the mirror in their ears and their teeth. And, you know, okay, lots of animals can recognize themselves in mirrors. And now it’s just called the “mirror self-recognition test.” It’s not a test for self-awareness. If you weren’t self-aware, you’d be bumping into others. So, you know, yes. The one reason that scientists, animal behavioral scientists, don’t like to assume animals have these qualities is that we might be making a mistake. And so they look for the evidence. So I give them that, let’s not make definite statements. But it’s intuitively obvious, so let’s not say it doesn’t exist. That’s the problem. Lack of evidence is not the evidence of a lack. So, you know, we’re egos; we’re egocentric. That’s the bottom line for us. I hope that answers this question.

Rick Archer: I think it kind of does. And I have some more to ask you that might help you elaborate on that. I was once in a meeting with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and he said, the subject of vegetarianism came up and he said, if you have to eat someone, eat lesser evolved life, lesser evolved life. And so the implication there is that nature seems to have more invested in more complex life forms. And as a veterinarian, I mean, you would clear maggots out of a horse’s wound and you had no compunction about the maggots dying; you’re trying to save the life of the horse, because the horse is a more evolved life form than the maggots. I mean, and if you had a choice between swatting 100 mosquitoes or a child dying of malaria, you would kill the mosquitoes, and then hopefully save the life of the child. So we do tend to favor the welfare of more complex life forms, such as ourselves, and perhaps elephants over mosquitoes, or cows over cockroaches, and so on. So, that is still not to say that it’s not the same consciousness shining through the eyes of all these beings, but when we consider the expressed form of consciousness, it’s embodied form, in a nervous system of some kind, it seems that the more sophisticated nervous systems, the more complex nervous systems with the bigger brains, the more complex brains, kind of have come farther along on the evolutionary scale. And so we value their lives more.

Karlene Stange: From this perspective, you know. Is there an evolutionary scale? I suppose, I don’t really know. But I know that the animals don’t think there is death, because they’re already not separated from spirit realm like we are. So there is no death. And they come and go, in and out, no big drama. For them, we make a big drama out of it. And the whole notion of killing, this might be a little bit of an aside, but I am thinking about the Buddhist precept, the first precept to not kill, and this is really not the purpose of the first precept is not specifically to prevent animal suffering. They’re not really concerned about the animal’s consciousness, or the animal’s spirit, or it’s evolution. They’re concerned about their own karma. I don’t want to kill, I’m not going to kill because that’s my karma. And, I so had to asked this Buddhist nun, “Whose side is the first precept on? If my horse breaks his leg, I’m going to shoot him.” I’m not gonna let him flop around until he dies of… and be in pain and agony. I can’t fix it. I’m going to let him go. And she said, “Thank you for what you do.” They don’t want to do it. Yes, they want to evolve their consciousness and become enlightened. And it is selfish in a way.  It is. That’s what I think. But then, some of these spiritual teachings say–that’s ignorance. You don’t really understand what’s going on. I remember a story about Sai Baba who was going through a crowd healing people, and sometimes he passed over little children and healed old people. And one of his disciples said, “Why are you skipping over these children and healing these old people?” And he said, “Can you see their karma?” So, I don’t know maybe it’s my good karma, or the animal’s good karma that I came along to relieve their suffering, and the people’s suffering who are involved with them. So I don’t find euthanasia to be a problem or, like you said, killing a mosquito, or I have to kill strongyle larvae that are going to make this horse colic; it is going to kill the horse. So, you are killing lesser evolved life in order to save higher evolved life. You’re killing simpler, more primitive biological entities in order to save the life of a more sophisticated biological entity. Well, and where did these parasites and things come from? They came from the dual mind of man. When we ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, when we got duality, that’s when all the plagues and parasites, and stuff showed up.

Rick Archer: There were probably parasites around when the dinosaurs walk the earth. Well, if you go with the biblical story fine.

Karlene Stange: It’s not just Biblical. That’s what the Clairvoyant told me too, she said, that our minds create all of this stuff. And so that’s why you can manifest a beautiful, happy, peaceful life, or you can manifest hell for yourself. And so sometimes when the prairie dogs show up in my yard, I have to say, okay, why are these prairie dogs digging holes through my soul? What’s my deal? What’s my problem? How can I fix it? And I’ve had people that come to me and say my horse keeps getting sick, and I’m working on myself trying to fix that. So some people look at it like that. I don’t know, again, as I say, I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything for sure. I don’t have the facts. There’s no such thing as a fact. I’m just dancing around with this information. Having fun with it.

Rick Archer: Speaking of fun, time for Groucho Marx joke, he said, “Outside of a dog a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” So you had an interesting kind of evolution in terms of your own career. I mean, the suicide rate for vets you tell us is four times higher than that of the national average. And as a result of something that people call compassion overwhelm, you just end up seeing so much suffering, you know, so much blood and guts and gore, and tragic situations that stress takes a toll. And, vets end up killing themselves more commonly than the national average. And but your case, spirituality kind of entered the picture and helped you in your veterinary practice, and kind of got you to the point where you had ready access to a state of bliss. And I don’t know, you want to talk a little bit about that whole evolution and how spirituality gave you a perspective which enabled you to deal with the stuff you’ve had to deal with?

Karlene Stange: Veterinary Medicine, it’s pretty disturbing. Really. And I mean, here’s these creatures that you just adore. And you see them in the most tremendous suffering. And you’re euthanizing things all the time. Sometimes people can’t afford to fix them. So it’s like, I know I could help this animal. And so veterinarians own a lot of animals, because we go, “I’ll fix it,” you know, and you’re poor, and we don’t get paid very well. And there’s the people that get angry at you, because they don’t understand that you can’t fix their animal, or you charged them too much, or whatever. And the hours are horrible. You just have emergencies all the time. And I was a self-employed, ambulatory horse doctor. And so when do people see emergencies?  When they first get up in the morning, when they feed their animal, there’s a wreck, or when they get home after work. So my emergency hours were always really early and really late. And then I work all day. And so you know, it’s just exhausting. And you’re out at four in the morning watching some colic horse trying to die, and you’re trying to save it. And then, yeah, so it’s super stressful. And I had these clients that had ragingly contrasting views about what happens to an animal after death. One was a Buddhist. And she had taken a vow, she had taken the first precept to not kill, and she wanted me to help her old dog die. And so I went and met her and, she didn’t want the dog to suffer, but she believed it was better for the animal to suffer it’s karma in this life, so it would have a better incarnation in its next life. And so it took me a while to figure out what to do. I couldn’t euthanize the dog. So I suggested we stop the prednisone medication that was keeping the dog alive, and it died right away. It died that night. So that was nice. Then shortly thereafter, this Baptist woman called me early in the morning and asked me to come euthanize her old horse. And so I went out and euthanized this horse, and she had told me how her husband had died in her arms a few years before. And so I said, “Well, now, the horse and your husband are together.” And she screeched at me, “No, they’re not, my husband’s in heaven, and that horse is just dead.” I said, “Well where did the energy go that was just there?” “I don’t know. It’s just gone,” she said. And she started quoting Bible verses. Well, I can quote Bible verses too. So we had this really long, really interesting, respectful conversation. And then I said, “Do you believe in reincarnation?” And she said, “No, that’s when you come back as an animal.” I said, “Well, not necessarily.” She quoted the Bible again. She said, “There will be a new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem, and body and soul will be reunited.” I said, “That sounds like a definition of reincarnation to me.” “Well, maybe it is,” she said. And so I’m thinking, you know, what is it? Is the animal reincarnate? Is it just dead meat. And so I wanted to know. And then I’d heard these things about animals don’t have souls, animals aren’t conscious; animals don’t feel love. And here I am at Durango Animal Hospital one day, and this woman walks in with a fishing basket. And I come in the exam room, and she starts out by saying, “I’ve never liked cats. And I’ve noticed these feral cats living in the woods near my house.” And she explained that was a warm spring day and she had the sliding glass door open to her deck, and she was talking on the phone, when she saw these two cats come onto the deck. And before she could react, they poked their heads through the door and “…dropped this,” she said, as she opened the fishing basket. And inside was this very tiny, very fuzzy butterscotch-colored kitten. I said, “Looks like you got yourself a cat.” I gave you some kitten milk replacer. She said, “Yeah, I might have to keep it.” And so imagine my confusion. What kind of unconscious, unloving, soulless being would drop their starving baby on the doorstep. It was an emaciated, little fuzzball, really hungry. And so they had to know what they were doing, for crying out loud. So I’m going, What is this? You know, what is this spiritual nature of animals? So I had to figure it out. And so I just started doing research. And I kind of asked the universe as I went along, you know, I need some help with Buddhism and a woman would call who worked at Tara Mandola. I need help with this. And I’d get a story. I’d get a prairie dog story. Where the woman prayed, “God helped me get rid of these prairie dogs. They’re ruining my pasture. I can’t even irrigate, the fence posts are falling in. I don’t know what to do anymore. I can’t shoot them. I can’t hit them–and they hide.” And what shows up? A badger. A badger shows up, right? And kills and eats all the prairie dogs, asking you shall receive, right? And so it’s been just a wonderful thing. And early on, I met this clairvoyant client. And so I wanted to talk to her about spiritual nature of animals. And when I told her how badly I felt when a patient didn’t improve, when an animal didn’t get better, she laughed. And then she laughed some more. She laughed until she cried, nearly fell off her chair. I felt offended and said, “Well, I’m glad I can be a source of entertainment for you.” And she wiped her eyes, and said, “I’m sorry, but it’s not your fault if an animal doesn’t get better.” I said, “Really? Well, what do people pay me for?” She says, “Well, you help for sure. But there’s a lot more going on than just what you do. Maybe the animal had other plans. Maybe the animal and the people are trying to learn something together.” Well, I thought she was nuts. But then I started to realize how egocentric it is of me to think that I can go and heal every other animal, every animal. And so this took some pressure off. I asked, “What do I do then if an animal doesn’t get better?” And she said, “Just pray that the people and the animal get the healing they want.” And so now I put it back in their court. I’m doing the best I can to help you heal. Now go forth and be well; go and sin no more, right. All right, learn your lessons, and then be well. So I didn’t know animals had plans. Really? Animals have plans? “Yes, animals have plans,” she said. Oh, okay. So, from higher perspective, from spiritual perspective, there’s probably all kinds of things going on that have nothing to do with me other than I’m there. And sometimes I think these animals come to me to bring the people to me so I can say, “You need acupuncture. I’m acupuncturing your dog; it’s helping your dog, maybe it would help you,” or something like that, or to get some spiritual lesson that I’ve learned, shared for them. I’m just a little piece in the co-creation. I’m not the responsible party. That was huge for me to not feel so responsible for dying and not healing. And so then, I started studying Buddhism. I quit drinking, so I could meditate. That was huge. I’d come home every night and drink because I was so stressed out and drink half a bottle of wine. And so it didn’t help, and I was exhausted. So that’d be dinner wine and chocolate. Okay, I’m good. No, you know, it wasn’t good. And so I got healthier. And of course, I had meditated off and on for many years, and I had earned a black belt in karate. So I was in with Eastern philosophy, and I enjoyed meditation always. And I just got a stronger practice, a stronger meditation practice, which of course, as you know, is key. And I was raised Christian. And so I prayed. We prayed all the time. And so I was very used to praying, and so mixing prayer and meditation together, and contemplation. I had this most amazing contemplation at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert down near Albuquerque, New Mexico. You know, sometimes you get in a spiritual place where there’s been so much connection with spirit, and you just boom, hook in, like meditating with Lama Tsultrim. The first time I meditated with her, she’s like, okay, we’re in the white light, I’m like, boom, I’m in the white light, you know, it’s like a contact high. It’s super cool to be with you. So here I am hanging out with these most wonderful spiritual teachers and hooking into their energy, and constantly reading spiritual books from every walk of life. You know, you have to read a whole book to get two sentences about animals. That’s how egocentric we are; we only care about us, you know, so I had to really dig. And I did a vision quest. I went on a vision quest, which was fabulous. And that’s where I hooked in, again, with my inner guidance. That was huge. That’s where I got the bliss, was hooking up with my guidance, which you could call God, you could call Buddha-nature, you could call it whatever you want. I don’t care about the words, you know, divine love.  I do that all day long, every day. And now I listen. When I’m treating an animal doing acupuncture, and I’m puzzled. What do I do? And boom, I’ll get it in my head,  “Do this.” I hear it. I know it. And it’s funny how you just have always known things. This was what makes me kind of believe in reincarnation, is sometimes you just know things, right? I remember being the youngest girl at an all-girls camp one summer, and this other girl found a mole, a little mole like a mouse, you know, and she was carrying it around. And I said to her, “You shouldn’t handle it so much.” And she said, “How do you know?” And I was like, How do I know? So I lied. I said, “Well, my neighbor is a nurse, and she told me.” I needed some credibility behind me. And of course, the mole died, she handled it all day until it died. And I even see that with livestock people. They think they’re toys or something. These animals get stressed out by people handling them. Let it be. Anyway, so how do we know? How did I know that? Well, that’s guidance. That’s spirit that’s perhaps knowledge from a previous life.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And even from this life, I think that we sit atop a vast reservoir of intelligence, the way a boat sits on the surface of an ocean. And, you know, we can access that reservoir of intelligence and all the wisdom and knowledge it contains. And, as we go along, we improve our ability to access it. And can be guided more and more by sort of the vast intelligence or the wisdom that governs the universe. It can be the motivating force in our individual life. If we attune to it clearly enough.

Karlene Stange: And so as a little child, here I am seven years old, and I know I want to be an animal doctor. You know, people asked, “What do you want to be?” “An animal doctor?” I didn’t know the word veterinarian. Why did I want to be an animal doctor? Just did. That’s who I was. That’s who I am.

Rick Archer: So a bunch of questions have come in from around the world. And so I want to ask you all these and, Dan that’s good you’re sending me all those? All these questions, keep sending them, Dan. Don’t worry about it. Dan is a guy in London that fields the questions and sends them over. So I’m going to ask you these. So probably our topic will jump around a little bit as we go from question to question. So this one is someone from Mumbai, India, which used to be called Bombay, whose initials I believe, are K. P. And he or she says, I totally agree with you about animal intelligence. I think humans have intellect but everything here has intelligence. In India, the village folks here have deep relationships with cows, cows will sometimes cry if something is wrong in your family. Most people who own them say they feel emotions. And if you are kind, they yield more milk. What are your thoughts on this? Also, do you think injecting animals with hormones to yield more meat or milk affects them?

Karlene Stange: Okay, so animals have a limbic system, that’s where our emotions come from. So to say an animal doesn’t have emotions, denies the fact that they have a limbic system. So they have a limbic system, they have emotions. So yes, they have emotions. And the other part of the question?

Rick Archer: About injecting them with hormones.

Karlene Stange: Definitely, I think that everything we do affects them. And yeah, so you’re affecting their personality and their emotions with hormones. If we get injected with hormones, boy, we know it. It does. And, yes, if you’re kind to them, they yield more. So there’s a built-in karma to animal husbandry, and any good animal producer, any good livestock producer knows this. And as a veterinarian, you see the good producers, and you see the bad producers. The good producers know that if you love an animal, it will make more eggs, milk, meat, wool, whatever. And I’ve had clients in my office that say, oh, I have a pan in my living room where I bring the calves in when it gets cold. You know, these people love these animals, even though they raise them for food, they love them, and loving them makes them produce more. And if you don’t, they get sick, and that costs money, and you lose money.

Rick Archer: Oh, I’m here in Iowa, where I think they’re like 22 million hogs and 3 million people. And most of the hogs are confined in CAFOs. You know, 1200 head in a relatively small building with great big fans on one end, and if the fans break, people have died because of the fumes. And so I don’t know how much love there is going around in an operation like that. And most of these things are owned by multinational corporations. And you know, the hogs, most of the meat is shipped to China, and the people who are raising them aren’t making a heck of a lot of money. And so it ruins the environment here in Iowa. So it’s rather a deplorable situation. And it’s a little bit off the BatGap theme, but I had to vent that.

Karlene Stange: Thanks for venting. I think there’s a Karma. It will get them; if it’s bad, the animals will die, the animals will not reproduce. And so the housing of animals is controversial, for sure. And veterinarians are in charge of animal welfare. And so we are honestly very concerned about it all the time. So let’s look at chickens. Chickens. What is the number one problem if you raise chickens outside? Predators. Everything on Earth eats chickens. [Well, if they are in a safe enclosure?] Well, they go under them, they go through them. My husband just had to beef up a $10,000 chicken coop, because the bears were going through it. There are owls and the hawks, so you have to put them in at night, for sure. So housing, housing works. The other problem they have being outside is parasites. The other housing problem they have outside is social pressure. They pick on each other; they peck on each other. So we find out that laying hens do better if they have their own little apartment with their own little house where they can lay eggs where there are no predators or no parasites. And there are no other pressures from social peckers. So, you know, you dance with it, and it’s like, okay, what do we do, you know, meat production is a huge deal, it’s not going to go away. And so we try hard. Veterinarians do, I promise you, to find the best way. And they’re constantly doing research trying to figure it out. And then there’s disease. And with hogs, they have an all-in, all-out process. You have to bring all the pigs in at the same time, because if you bring a new one in, it could have a disease, and they all get sick and die. So you have to take them all in at the same time and butcher them all at the same time. I am not a meat producer vet. I didn’t want to do that. But I tell you these veterinarians who care about these animals do care and get very upset. I know of one veterinarian who died trying to save a calf from drowning in a pond. Next question.

Rick Archer: Yeah, before I read that question, I’m going to read a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher, who said, “Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be constantly asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.” I thought I’d read that. Here’s a question from Paulo and Santa Cruz, California. Paulo asks, “Last May my dog passed away, she was 15 years-old, flat-coated retriever, and was the brightest light of my life. She was ravaged with lymphoma and kidney disease, so I decided to euthanize her. I’m wondering if I made her passing more difficult for her by demonstrating so much emotion during the process. I wasn’t hysterical or in a state of resistance over her passing, but rather I expressed a combination of gratitude, sorrow, and an upwelling of love. Needless to say, I was a blubbering mess. How does Karlene feel about this? Should I have remained calm during the euthanasia, and save my tears to be shed away from her?”

Karlene Stange: No, you can’t do it wrong, we can’t do it wrong. So, flat-coated, 15 years-old. That’s excellent, really, a lot of them don’t make it that long. So good job for that. And in the last chapters of my book, I go over this. And one of the things that’s really helpful is in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, they talk about a meditation you can do and you can still do it now. Where you visualize the animal as completely healed physically, mentally, emotionally, so maybe get a picture out of the animal in their prime and focus on that, and then visualize that animal turning into white light and dissolving into the light. And you can do this now, and any time. So it’s nice if you can be calm, because it’s such a special moment–death. It’s the transition, right? It’s saying goodbye. And so it’s wonderful if you can be calm and cherish that moment, but the animals don’t do a blame, shame, guilt. They are never going to be angry or upset about your decision, or how you act, right? You can lock them in the trunk of a car and let them out and they still love you. It doesn’t matter. Your dog knows your heart; your dog still loves you, is still with you. And you know, you didn’t do anything wrong, you can’t do it wrong, you have to be true to yourself. If you’re a blubbering mess, that’s because you loved her so much, and you didn’t want to say goodbye. But you didn’t say goodbye because she’s still there. You can access her or you can snuggle in your dreams, or you can just think about her at a happy time, when you’re some trail where she liked to run, or fetching in the river. You know, those flat-coateds are mad retrievers, right? So see her swimming and how joyful she was. And you connect with her then.

Rick Archer: Yeah, we run into people that, I think I mentioned to you before we started the interview that my wife ran the dog adoption program at the local animal shelter for about eight years. And we run into people who say, “Oh, my dog died, and I was so sad. I don’t want to go through anything like that again, therefore, I’m not going to adopt a new dog.” Meanwhile, there are all these dogs being euthanized because there aren’t enough homes, and Irene’s attitude is, we just adopted a new dog because she thought, I gotta adopt at least one more because they need that. They need it. They need homes, and I feel guilty not having at least two.

Karlene Stange: Well, don’t feel guilty, but do bring them home. And you know, your dog might come back as another dog. And come see you and want to be with you again and make you happy again.

Rick Archer: So I didn’t notice this question when we were talking about factory farms. But I think I’ll just loop back to that topic for a moment and see what you have to say about this. So Irina from Somerville, New Jersey asks, “How about the millions of animals suffering in factory farming? Shouldn’t the fact of eating them contribute to bad karma for humanity?” And I know here in Iowa, I often see letters to the editor saying things like you know, 50 years from now we’re going to look back on this factory farming thing, the way the Germans look back on the Nazi concentration camps, we’re just going to feel like it was a horrible thing we did, and people are numb to it right now, because their livelihood depends upon it.

Karlene Stange: So the best thing you can do to eliminate factory farming is don’t buy that meat. But guess what, if you buy dog food, where do you think that meat comes from? Or cat food? Where do you think that comes from? So you know, we all contribute. If you put butter on your toast or eat yogurt, or buy any kind of meat, or buy pet food, you’re part of it. So you know, the consumer rules. If you want something…I remember going in the health food store and my yogurt that I usually buy wasn’t there. And I said, “How come you don’t have this yogurt?” And the clerk said, “Because they weren’t treating their cattle humanely.” Oh, okay. Well, I appreciate the stores that care about that. How many do? That was Natural Grocer. So, I go to Natural Grocer because they care about it. And I don’t buy that kind of meat. But when I travel, what are you going to get? And I do buy pet food. So, you know, it’s a tough deal. And again, I think that we have a little bit of a skewed opinion. Yes, we see all these millions of animals in the factory farms. But, let’s look at cattle. 97% of cattle are raised on small family farms with an average of 40 head. And people don’t believe that but it’s true. Now let’s do the math. What kind of cattle are in the feedlot? What sex? What sex of cattle are in the feedlot. [Males?] Steers, yes, castrated males, typically. Sometimes they’re not castrated, but it’s young males. Okay, so all these cows and bulls are out in somebody’s field somewhere in the National Forest. And they’re eating grass and they’re living a happy life and they’re making more calves. And the female calves are going to be cows, to make more calves, and the male calves, some become bulls, some get castrated and get butchered. Some are sold locally. Some are shipped to the feedlot for fattening for an average of 90 to 360 days. And they are fed intense. It’s you know, Factory Farming is the derogatory term. It’s intensive feeding operations. They’re fed grain to put a lot of marbling into the meat. So you have these choice cuts of meat. Whereas the grass-fed meat, then have all this fat in it. All that marbling, all that fat that comes from that feedlot meat. So that’s that. Okay, now chickens. Well, everything, like I said, eats chickens. I mean, if you raised chickens outside, hawks, owls, badgers, foxes, raccoons, skunks, bears, bobcats, mountain lions, dogs and cats, people. Everything is trying to kill your chickens. And they don’t do it humanely. The skunks just eat the eggs out of them, and go; They eat the eggs, the chickens alive, right? It’s cruel. So nature is cruel. Okay? So now, as I mentioned… Wolves take their prey down live and eat them. They don’t kill them first. So veterinarians want to have humane production, humane slaughter. And so Temple Grandin, she’s done more for cattle than anyone by creating these more humane slaughter facilities. So and as I said, these cattle, and chickens or whatever, if they’re not fed well, they’re not fed the right food, if they’re too stressed out, they get sick and die. So yes, it looks horrible. But I don’t think it’s always as bad as we imagined it to be. And unless you’re going to eliminate it altogether, which is impossible, because it’s millions and billions of dollars, and billions of people’s livelihood. Truck drivers and butchers and, you know, everybody’s involved in this, leather, furniture. I mean, it doesn’t stop. So, all we can do is choose what we want to eat, that is humanely treated and slaughtered. And, find ways to support the humane care and slaughter of these animals. That’s the best thing I can suggest.

Rick Archer: I think that well, obviously people can become vegan if they want to, and many people do for the kinds of reasons that you just described. They don’t want to participate in all that stuff.

Karlene Stange: But even vegans have dogs and they’re buying dog food. The vegans I know, have dogs.

Rick Archer: And so, but I don’t know, I think that maybe a society will someday exist in which the killing of animals is not such a huge industry. But if so, perhaps it will be just a reflection of a predominantly higher level of consciousness in the world. And yet, I know some spiritual teachers, whom I respect a great deal, who eat meat, including beef and whatnot. [The Dalai Lama.] Yeah. And there is actually one, I don’t know if I should mention his name, but one of them, he said he tried being vegetarian for a couple years, but he really was having health problems. He was getting sick all the time. So he came back to eating meat. And so what are you gonna do? You can’t judge. I mean you can do what works for you, but not get too heavy upon people who are. Okay. All right, I think this is the same person, Irina, asking a related question, “As a person being very compassionate towards animals, but also being realistic about growing demand for meat and animal products, I’m a big proponent of lab-grown meat, do you think it’s something which could help effectively all the suffering?” At this point, I think lab-grown meat is kind of working out slowly. But surely it’s like $400,000 a pound right now. But they’re thinking they might get it to the point where it could be a viable alternative to the killing of animals.

Karlene Stange: Well, I like Star Trek. So you know, you just go materialize it–boom. It’s synthahol and synthetic meat and fake protein. I mean, you can do that. Now, the only biggest problem with that kind of thing is that it’s all soy-based.  And, I can’t do soy.

Rick Archer: Well the lab-grown meat isn’t. The lab-grown meat is supposedly like real meat that’s grown through some kind of process in the lab where actual meat cells are reproduced. Oh, really? Yeah, I read a whole article about it.

Karlene Stange: Well, now, I think cells are conscious. So I don’t know if it’s any better or not, I don’t know. Because cells, you know, they have a respiratory system. And if you breathe, you have the breath of life. So I don’t know.

Rick Archer: It gets you back to, if you have to eat somebody eat lesser evolved life argument.

Karlene Stange: Let me mention one other thing. There were a group of animal communicators that tackled the subject of meat, animals, food animals, cattle, milk production, and also vivisection. And these animal communicators were mostly in England and other countries, but they asked these animals, and the animals said that they offered themselves. That they felt honored to give themselves to the whole, in this way. There was a group of swine that were used for some kind of a research project for surgeons, to practice surgery on their bones or something. And they felt very honored to be a part of this. And they reincarnated back into this same herd so that they could do it again every year. And the cattle too, I mean, if you’re gonna come back as a chicken, your food, right? And so maybe you feel guilty about something you did you want to offer yourself. You know, “I’m not gonna come back as a cow and give them milk for, you know, 10 years.” Or, you know, I mean, who knows, I’m just throwing it up there as this is what the animal communicator said is that these animals offer themselves, just like Dana’s dogs, “I’ll come help.” “Who wants to go feed these starving people in Africa?” “I’ll go, and I’ll be a deer.” That’s what the shamans would say. The shamans would pray, they would ask the spirit guide of the deer, “We need a deer, we need some meat.” And the spirit guide would say, “You can have one; it’s in this clearing.” And the shaman would never take more than was offered. They had an agreement with the Spirit. Okay, we get that deer for the tribe. So, it’s just the Spirit coming and going, but you know, the meat is being offered. And that’s the bear sacrifice of that Japanese tribe that every year they catch a bear cub, and they raise it, and they lovingly feed it, and they adore it. And then they butcher it, and they eat it and have this huge celebration. And they thank it and say when you go back to spirit realm, tell them how loving we were so that you can come back again as our little bear God and we’ll honor you with such love again. So there’s a lot of different ways of looking at it.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Which is not to say that a lot of really nasty cruel things are done to animals in this world, which are quite indefensible and which aren’t really helping anybody. You know, such as those bears that are kept in captivity, and their Bile is drained off, you know, and that kind of thing.

Karlene Stange: We definitely have to look at our way we treat animals, but also the way we treat each other. I mean, we’re not very nice to each other or to animals. And yeah, if you see cruelty and you can change it, you can do something about it, you’ve got to. If you can’t, then you got to pray. A woman came in my office one day sobbing. Her neighbor had a dog on a chain, and it was in the winter and it was cold and she went up to the man and said, “You know this dog, with this plastic dog house you have for this dog is not adequate. You really need to give this dog coverage and better care.’ And he grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck and shook it in her face, and really upset her. So she called every government agency, police, animal cruelty, and nobody could do anything. There’s nothing they could do or nobody was willing to intercede. So I told her to pray for the dog’s karma to be forgiven. So, the next time she came, she said, “You know what happened? A Pitbull came and killed that dog.” And I thought, well, there you go. Karma was forgiven. The dog got to go back and got recycled. I don’t know, it made me feel better to know it was done.

Rick Archer: It might also make us feel better to sort of, at the same time rather vindictive to say that that dog owner, who treated that dog that way, he’s not going to have it so easy next time around. I mean, we don’t want to, we don’t know, but if there’s any justice in the universe, things kind of balance out, perhaps.

Karlene Stange: But we don’t know what was going on with the guy. The kid brought home the dog, he couldn’t tell the son he couldn’t have him. The owner of the condo he was renting with let the dog be in the house. He’s losing his job. His wife’s pissed at him. You know, I mean, he could be so stressed out about trying to do the right thing. I mean, we don’t know his story. So judging him as being a cruel beast is a little bit egotistical too. I think we can just pray for the whole situation. And that’s one of the things I learned that really helped me is not being so judgmental, because every time I judge something, I feel pain. And pain doesn’t help me, then I go around being a crappy puss. And I don’t really know; I don’t really know what’s going on. Like Carolyn Mae said to somebody says, “How do you know God didn’t send that guy to you to make your life miserable?” Like maybe there is a purpose behind these things that we don’t know. If I can help, I will help. If I can’t, I can pray. That’s all I can do.

Rick Archer: Nice. You’ve kind of already addressed this point. But this guy, it’d be nice to have a few words for this fellow. Mario from Mexico City asks, my best friend Bruno, who was a basset hound just passed away this Tuesday. It goes without saying it’s difficult. Do you have any words of comfort?

Karlene Stange: Oh, many, read my book, it’s a lot. Um, you know, we attract these friends. And they come to us, because they love us, and Spirit loves us. And, you know, if you connect with your inner guidance…, so a shaman told me that animal language is just a variant of spirit language. And so you can communicate with these animals now when they’re alive, and now when they’re passed. So if you want to talk to him, yourself, tell him anything you want to say, I’m sorry, for the time I yelled at you, I apologize. So I forgive you for chewing up my shoes, whatever; you know, I love you, thank you. Most importantly, thank you for being my friend, for being my friend all those years, and communicating with me now. That’s all we can do is be so grateful for their help and friendship. And then, as I talked about that Tibetan meditation, where you imagine the animal completely healthy in every way, and see them turn into white light, and then dissolve into the white light. And you can do this over and over again. So you don’t have that image of those last moments where they’re suffering and such, but you have this memory of them. And when you visualize them in their perfection, that’s how they are in spirit realm. And you can connect with that and enjoy their company still. You can’t snuggle with their physical body, but you can still feel their presence. I’m sorry, you lost your buddy. It’s the hardest thing. And like Rick says, there are so many wonderful animals that would just adore a wonderful loving owner like you. And I see it happen all the time, because I go through the whole life of an animal with my clients from puppyhood to death, because they don’t live 15 years, right? And then they’re sad, they’re sad. And then they come with a puppy, and they’re euphoric and the puppy is just this joyful, ahh. And maybe you’re not ready yet. And that’s understandable. But at some point, giving another animal a loving home is a wonderful thing.

Rick Archer: Nice. Here’s a question from my friend George Hardeen, whom I mentioned at the beginning. He’s the guy who trained as a horse whisperer with the guy about whom that movie was made. I taught George to meditate in 1971. George says, a question about animal communicators. George lives on the Navajo reservation in northern Arizona, he says, “As a cowboy for 25 years and a meditator for much longer, I’ve had amazing relationships with my four horses. Ever since Dr. Laurie Moore, who has been on Batgap twice, communicated with them for me a couple years ago. They convey their feelings to me every day, and really like me giving them attention more. Laurie just communicated with my nieces, cats. And Jade described it as a powerful experience for her. I guess, Jade, is his niece. Two have my ranching friends seem to communicate with their cattle. Karlene, could you talk about your experience understanding and knowledge of people like Laurie and other animal communicators communicating with animals?

Karlene Stange: Hi, George. Yeah, when I first started writing this book, I was completely skeptical about animal communicators. And, I think it was because a lot of times people would come in with a health issue with their animal and an animal communicator would have said, “Oh, the shoulder hurts.” And I would find a broken pelvis. Or, I’d find a soul abscess when they said it was in the shoulder or whatever. And so I didn’t have much confidence. But I think just like any healer, it’s not perfect. It’s not a perfect deal. And, you know, communicating with animals just like interviewing. So Rick is very good at interviewing, and some people are not as good as he is. So you have to ask the right questions. And then you have to listen. And we’re really good at asking questions. We’re not so good at listening. And so this is what I learned. I did an animal communication apprenticeship with a woman by the name of Kate Solisti, she lives up near Boulder. And she says, you know, you put yourself in the white light. Get yourself in a meditative state. You open your heart, to the animal’s heart. And interestingly, that’s the same way I learned to do pulses from my spiritual acupuncture teacher, Are Thoresen. I open my heart to the animal’s heart, and then I feel my pulse on myself and I get the pulse diagnosis. So it’s communication either, you can either hear words, hear sensations, feel pulses, get fragrances or odors. You might see images. So I think it works really well. One example I can think of is my neighbor lady, a friend of mine, she has three horses, a gelding and a mare, and she brought in this younger mare. And this younger mare is really pushy, and she was pushing the gelding off the food, being a bully, and so she was worried about him. And she told me, I’ll get rid of her if he doesn’t like her. So would you ask him if he likes her? So I asked him, “What do you think of this new mare? He said, “Yeah, I like her.” I could feel and I could hear him say, “I like her.” And so I said, “Well, your person is concerned that she’s bullying you and being mean to you and taking all the food. And she’ll get rid of her, if you want her to.” And I could feel how upset he was. He said, “That’s my mare!” And I went, oh, I’m talking to a horse here. In the wild, the mares are the bosses. These are matriarchal bands. And the stallions just argue about whose mares are there’s. Mares are territory, for crying out loud. Don’t take my territory. So I said, “Okay, you can keep her.” And I said, “Is there anything else you need?” And he said, “We need more food.” And so you know, that’s the thing about animals. It’s the wholeness, right. This is our family. Our group, not me. We’re the egocentric ones. So yeah, he’s egocentric about that’s my mare. But we, my group, my family, my compassionate bunch, we need more food. I find animal communication to be very interesting and educational and humorous. Because each animal’s personality comes showering through. I was talking to a Labradoodle. And I could barely get the question out, he would just start blabbing. And I always doubt myself, but then things will come back that make me think it’s true. For example, I said to him, “Do you have anything you want to tell your mother?” And he said, “I love her, love her, love her, love her, love her.” So I told her that and she said, “Ahh! That’s what I always say to him.” So I feel it is valid.

Rick Archer: Have you ever heard of the Yoga Sutras, by Patanjali? In the third chapter, he lists all these siddhis, which is supposed to be like extraordinary powers or abilities, levitation and invisibility, all kinds of things, but one of them is being able to understand the language of all animals. So, theoretically, if you mastered that siddhi, you could understand what a squirrel is saying, or a crow, or whatever. And I just thought I’d throw that in. And trees and trees. Yeah. Irene was telling me this morning about several experiences she had where she was kind of in-between sleeping and waking, just kind of waking up. And one or another of our animals said something to her that her mind translated into actual English. You know, even though obviously the animal wasn’t thinking or making noises in English. So perhaps a yogi who has that siddhi has learned to sort of reside at that level that we touch on when we’re in between waking and sleeping, you know, some deeper, intuitive level, and they can just sort of routinely at will understand the language of animals.

Karlene Stange: You know, that twilight time is magical. We get some cool dreams then. And, like I said,  you can have the clairaudience, where you hear it, your translation of what they’re saying. You might see things, actually get visions, or smell or feel. I think we get in trouble with the feeling part, because that can be kind of painful sometimes. One of the very first communications I did was an animal that was having separation anxiety. And it was not separation anxiety, it was destroying the home. The lady had been gone, she came home, left again. And when she got back, the dog had eaten the molding around the door, torn it apart. And so I communicated with the dog and I said, “Are you afraid of something?” And she said, “No, I’m bored and lonely.” And I asked the woman, “How long have you been gone?” Well, she’d been gone for days, and then she came home, and then went to the grocery store for an hour. And, I said, “You know, it’s not a stereo system that you can turn off. It has a brain. Not only does it need physical exercise, it needs mental stimulation. You need to either get another dog… So I asked the dog, “Do you want another dog?” She liked little dogs? “How about a cat?” “No!” And so I told the lady, “She doesn’t want to cat.” She said, “No, she hates cats, she’s afraid of cats.” So anyway, she ended up taking the dog to doggy daycare a couple times a week and ended up getting another dog eventually, and that ended the… You know, because they come to me, they want me to calm my dog down, calm my dog Dom, give it some kind of herbs or thunder shirt or whatever to make my dog calm. I’m like, the dog needs activity physically and mentally.

Rick Archer: I know Cesar Milan always says that, you know, the dog whisperer. I think he calls himself but you know, first…how’s it go? First exercise, right? And then discipline. Yeah, The dog has to burn off a lot of that extra energy before it can be expected to calm down and behave.

Karlene Stange: And so, you know, feeling that dog’s…, you know, when I tapped into the feeling of bored and lonely, being so bored and lonely that I wanted to eat the moldy, rip the molding off the door; I felt that and it felt really bad. Really bad. So yeah, the clairsentience part of it can be something worth skipping.

Rick Archer: It’s interesting how some ancient stories attribute very highly evolved behavior to certain animals, like the Ramayana, for instance, is, I think, supposed to have taken place about a million years ago, according to some accounts. You know, one of the main heroes of the story was Hanuman, a monkey, but a very intelligent monkey. And there was a whole army of monkeys and also an army of bears that helped Rama fight this battle. And in the Yoga Vasistha, there’s a crow named something like Kakbhushundi, who is said to be immortal and he actually survives the Pralaya – the dissolution of the universe – and continues on in the next universe. And this has been going on for you know, trillions, I guess, billions of years through the various cycles. You can brush these things off as just myths and so on, and wild legends, but you know, again, coming back to the field of all possibilities way of thinking, who knows, you know, and maybe a time will come when these exceptional abilities that animal communicators have are kind of more routine among human beings and we’ll just sort of communicate with all sorts of species as readily as we now do with other humans.

Karlene Stange: Well, we do it all the time. Anyway, your dog goes, “Eeh.” You know what it means. I walked in the back door of Durango Animal Hospital one day, and there was a yellow lab laying on the floor and he was obviously paralyzed. He could only lift his head and one forelimb. He looked up at me and went “EEH!” And I knew the dog had to pee. I said, “I think this dog needs to pee.” And everyone was busy. They said we know but we were all busy. I said, “I’ll help.” I took it outside and his bladder was like a volleyball and it was paralyzed. I couldn’t express it. The dog had jumped an irrigation ditch and hit its neck and was paralyzed from the neck down. And so I took it back in and they catheterized the dog but you know, one “Ehh!” I know what that means. You know, as a veterinarian, because we hang out with animals all the time, the subtle clues. We don’t have the vocabulary coming to us like with humans. Such as, “My knee hurts.” We have to figure it out. So, you know a flinch to a pinch, or whining, a tail flick, the way they look with their eyes. We learn. We get used to reading the symptoms, but you know your own animal. People know all the time what they’re telling you. And they understand you really well. I mean, my cat knows I’m getting cheese out before I even open the refrigerator.

Rick Archer: That’s funny, I could tell you stories about our animals too. So you kind of have slowed down a little bit. I mean, you’re not quite on the killer schedule that used to be going out, you know, in the middle of the night to euthanize horses and stuff. And you’re focusing a lot more on Chinese veterinary medicine as I understand, acupuncture and stuff. So that you still have a pretty full-time practice, but you’re doing this kind of subtler, alternative kind of treatment.

Karlene Stange: Correct. I mostly practice traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, which is acupuncture, herbal medicine, and nutrition, and massage called “tui na.” And, I use essential oils, things like that, instead of antibiotics and steroids and so on. So I work well with all the veterinarians in town, they’re used to me, their clients see me. I send them back to them for blood work and X-rays. And then they come to me. I have had really great success with things like paralysis. With traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, electro acupuncture has been proven to be more effective than surgery, much more effective than surgery for throaco-lumbar disc disease. So if you have a paralyzed dog or a dog that’s got hind end weakness, go get acupuncture. I mean, it works for everything. I love it: eyes, vision problems, wounds, infections, respiratory, heart, you name it, kidney. It’s a different way of looking at the medical condition. I learned from a man, a third-generation Chinese veterinarian named Dr. Xie, who’s the teacher at the University of Florida at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. And I’ve also studied with lots of other people, including a man by the name of Are Thoresen, who’s a Norwegian, and he’s a clairvoyant and has a very spiritual approach. And he likes to treat using one acupuncture point, sometimes two. But the one point he calls the “Christ point.” And he’s a Rudolf Steiner, sort of spiritual, very esoteric guy. And so I kind of incorporate both. And I’ve lectured at the Qi Institute to a group of veterinarians at a palliative care and end of life conference, six hours of lecture on the spiritual Qi of animals. And I’m lecturing September 7, at the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society’s annual Congress on the Spiritual Qi of Animals. And so as I mentioned that the organs each have a spirit. And so your emotional and mental conditions are associated with those spirits. And there are acupoints and herbs that treat the spirits. And so I really enjoy that part of it. And Chinese medicine is great because I get all these really messed up problem cases, and yet 85% of them seem to improve. I treat cancers. And, things that a lot of times people come to me, and they say, “They gave me two months for my animal to live.” And they’re crying. I say, “It doesn’t look like he’s dying.” They say, “I know, that’s why I came to you.” It appears like we got something to work with here. He might die, but we can always kill them later.” A guy came to me the other day, and he said, “They found a tumor in my dog, and they said I could come back tomorrow and have it euthanized.” And, he said, “What?” He said, “I’m not killing him.” So he came to me. I gave him some herbs, and here are some acupoints we can treat, and many of these animals live for months to years. I’ve seen it. I’m not going to pronounce it dead. And “you can always kill it later,” is my motto. When the animal seems really bad and they’re not having a good life, we let them go. But until then, let’s keep them happy.

Rick Archer: Do you ever dispense advice long distance such as herbal recommendations and stuff or mainly have a local clientele?

Karlene Stange: I try to but it’s wrought with failure. Here’s what I recommend that you hook up with a veterinarian that does traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. You can go to one of two websites: www.tcvm.com, for traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, tcvm.com; or www.ivas.org, for the international veterinary acupuncture society, ivas.org. And, there’s a “Find a Vet” in your area place you can click on; you can put your town in there, and I’ll give you all the vets, their location. And you can contact somebody that can examine the animal, take the pulse, look at the tongue, ask questions and do a real proper job.

Rick Archer: Great, maybe I’ll include the links to those on your page on batgap.com so that if somebody is listening to this while they’re driving or something, they won’t have to stop and write it down. And of course, I’ll include a link to your website and your bio link to your book on Amazon. And anything else you want me to put.

Karlene Stange: Ah, no, just contact your animals, man, and enjoy them. Love your animals and they’ll love you back.

Rick Archer: Good point. All right. Well, thanks, Karlene, this has been a lot of fun. I mean, some people might have, you know, gotten their hackles up when we were talking about factory farming and this and that. People have strong opinions about that kind of thing. And, you know, I have friends who just have a pretty militant attitude about vegetarianism. And I have another friend who’s a longtime meditator who’s into 100%, carnivore, and he actually has a whole Facebook page about that. And I’ve actually pitted people at both extremes of that thing against one another and watched them battle it out in emails. And, I certainly can’t resolve or judge any such arguments. But it’s good to keep an open mind and ponder these things and work out what works best for you.

Karlene Stange: You have to honor your body. You have to love your body. And some people have to eat meat. Such as the Dalai Lama. I am not able to eat the grain. The corn, the soy, and the wheat make me very ill. So I am paleo, but I am very selective in my paleo. And in addition, if you are a vegan, and you have pets, then you got to look at that. What are you feeding them? And cats are obligate carnivores. So if you decide you can’t have a cat for your own karma, then okay, fine. Killing cats isn’t the answer. I know people that hate cats because they kill birds. And, I can’t regulate 600 million cats. There are birds that kill birds; fish eat fish; birds eat birds; mammals eat mammals. I mean, this is nature. We are part of nature, and I commend you if you can do a vegan thing. Great. I was a vegetarian for a long time after I toured Oscar Meyer back in pre-veterinary school. I had to do meat science class. And, it wasn’t really that the animals are being treated cruelly. It was the quality of the animals that ended up in those places. They’re the sick, the cull, the week, the old; that’s meat byproducts. That’s what can we salvage from this decrepit beast. The kind of food that’s not healthy meat.

Rick Archer: And you still don’t eat cold cuts.

Karlene Stange: I do not. It depends if it’s an organic chicken…I try to be very selective. Also, you know Baxter Black, who was a cattle veterinarian and a cowboy poet for a long time. He told a poem at a garden club once about how “…and you rip the heads off the lettuce.” He had this whole poem about how brutal it is to “squish the eyes out of the peas.” And, I go in my garden, and I thank every single plant that feeds me, “Thank you.” And I thank every single animal that I eat, everything on my plate, and every being that went into the creation of that meal, that truck driver, that producer. I just had a book signing in Wisconsin recently, and afterward, people asked questions, and then a man came up on the sly. He said, “I have a question. I don’t want anybody else to hear.” He said, “I raise Longhorn cattle, and I butcher them. And it’s hard. And it’s getting harder.” I said, “You love them, don’t you?” And he got all teary-eyed. He said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Well, if it’s getting really hard, maybe you shouldn’t do it anymore.” He’s said, “Yeah.” But the thing is, you don’t understand. They love the cattle, they love raising them, and they love feeding them. And they love interacting with them. It’s their lifestyle, okay, but he doesn’t have carte blanche. He’s not some billionaire, they can own hundreds of acres, and let all these animals live free until they die of old age. You raise them because they’re for meat. And that makes it economically feasible for him to interact with these animals. And so I told him, I said, “They know you love them. Just be grateful. Just thank them.” And he was nearly crying. So it’s not like people that raise meat, and I go over this in my book, I tell several stories about people, local people who raise animals for meat, they love these animals. And it’s a dangerous profession. When a cattle truck flipped over in downtown Durango recently, who went in to get the cattle out? Now that’s dangerous. You could die in that truck. Who went in?

Rick Archer: The owner? Or, truck driver?

Karlene Stange: Cattlemen were driving by stopped and went in there. One steer died. They got the rest of them out safely. The vegans weren’t running in there to help. I mean, as Temple Grandin points out, there wouldn’t be these animals, these food animals, if we didn’t raise them for food, so maybe they shouldn’t exist. Okay, but they do. And so loving them and caring for them and buying from producers who produce healthy meat, who care for them, who raised them humanely, and slaughter them humanely. That’s what we need to do to stop the factory farms–support the local producers. It costs more; organic meat costs more.

Rick Archer: Sure, like organic vegetables cost more.

Karlene Stange: Right. And so that’s my goal with it, is let’s focus on helping these local producers survive. They can’t compete.

Rick Archer: So it’s nice talking to you. I can keep going on trading stories and stuff, but we might as well wrap it up. So thanks, Karlene. And I really enjoyed this conversation. And if I’m ever down in Durango, which it’s been a long time since we went through there, I’ll look you up.

Karlene Stange: Please do. It’s really been fun talking with you, Rick.

Rick Archer: So let me just summarize, I’ve been speaking with Karlene Stange. And she wrote this book, “the Spiritual Nature of Animals.” I’ll have a link to it on her page on batgap.com, as well as a link to those websites she mentioned. Send me an email with those links, would you Karlene, so I have them. And, I hope everybody enjoyed this conversation. I did. And I think it kind of stretches us to consider many of the points you made. It’s kind of, for me, at least, it sort of knocks me out of certain comfort boxes that I ordinarily dwell in and gets me to kind of contemplate different perspectives than I ordinarily entertain. So I find that a valuable thing to do in life. It’s like trying to do something left-handed, you ordinarily do right-handed. I mean, it sort of builds ambidexterity. And this kind of ambidexterity of the mind here and of the emotions and of the philosophical perspectives to play with it, the kinds of topics we’ve been discussing.

Karlene Stange: Our awareness. Very good.

Rick Archer: Good. So thanks to those who have been listening or watching and we’ll see if the next one. If you’d like to be notified when new episodes are put up, there’s a place on batgap.com where you can sign up for the email. And there’s an audio version of this thing, audio podcast, it’s on iTunes and Stitcher and Tunein and whatnot. There’s a page to sign up for that if you wish, and a bunch of other stuff if you explore the menus. So do that, and we’ll see you next time.

Karlene Stange: Thanks, Rick.

Rick Archer: Thank you