Martin Buber’s I and Thou is one of the pivotal books in my life. I think it is one of the finest works in spiritual literature of the 20th century. This book is about relationship and the infinite grace which is involved in establishing relationship, establishing connection with another person. Buber writes of the “in-between”, what Deepak Chopra would call “the gap” which separates us all. And, actually this “gap” separates us from all objects/persons in the world. To have meaningful communication…or connection…with another human being, we must experience this “in-between” which always comes to our ego consciousness as a loss. (I personally think that this experience is what “the judgment of god” is in Christian literature and tradition). It is knowing our aloneness, our alienation from the rest of God’s creation.
Buber also apparently believed that animals have a soul, noting that this can be experienced when one gazes into the eyes of an animal. I have two dachshunds and I can affirm this conviction. Those beautiful little doggie eyes convey mystery and love, suggesting the presence of another soul. Buber credits the animal with anxiety, the anxiety of becoming, “the stirring of the creature between realms of plantlike security and spiritual risk. This language is the stammering of nature under the initial grasp of spirit, before language yields to spirit’s cosmic risk which we call man.”
If I was more mature spiritually, I would become a vegetarian. Any time I drive behind a Tyson chicken truck, I feel the need to take that leap of faith. But, I don’t think I’m going to pull that off in this lifetime.