Judy Carman is a former therapist and program director for mental health clinics, and a dedicated activist for animal rights, environmental protection, justice and peace. She is the author of Born to Be Blessed: Seven Keys to Joyful Living, founder of the Circle of Compassion initiative, co-founder of Animal Outreach of Kansas and co-coordinator of the Prayer Circle for the Animals.
Reviewed by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Unitarian minister Gary Kowalski has written: "Finding peace within and bringing peace to the world may start with the capacity to look into another's eyes and recognize there a kindred soul, whether the eyes belong to a German, a Dutchman, a friend, a chimpanzee, or a wolf." If you find it natural and pleasurable to look into the eyes of animals, then this is just the book for you. Judy Carman is founder of the Circle of Compassion Initiative, co-founder of Animal Outreach of Kansas, and co-coordinator of the Universal Prayer Circle for the Animals. This handy little volume is overflowing with insights, prayers, affirmations, and concrete steps individuals can take to reverence and protect the lives of all living creatures. From the opening dedication page where Carman writes "Let us take a moment each day to breathe deeply, close our eyes, visualize and say: Compassion Encircles the Earth for all Beings Everywhere" to the closing chapter which includes a list of animal advocacy organizations to be prayed for, this resource is a treasure trove of material for animal activists. Anatole France once stated: "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." Carman is convinced that this connection with living creatures adds to the growing fund of love and compassion in the world. To prove her point, she finds advocates of this process in all religious traditions. Here is one example: "The Indian saint Ramana Maharshi showed great reverence for the animals who were drawn to his ashram. One was a cow named Lakshmi who would rest her head on Ramana's feet while he sat with his devotees. When Lakshmi was dying, Ramana sat with her and laid his hands on her heart and head. He told his devotees that her heart was filled with love for God and that she had attained enlightenment before she left this realm." But the real hub of Peace to All Beings is Carman's wonderful prayers for all the animal nations, for the persecutors of animals, Albert Schweitzer's prayer for animals who are suffering, and prayers for specific situations--such as when passing a factory chicken farm, if you are at an amusement park and see captive dolphins, or when passing places where fur, leather, perfume or other products are sold or made from the bodies of our animal friends. We liked this short blessing for the animals: "May all my sacred brothers and sisters, walk, fly, swim and move in love, peace and freedom."-- (03/06/2006)
This devotional book by a former therapist and animal rights activist inspires the reader to stay his/her violent course towards animal compassion and reverence. It provides a source of inspiration and words of faith and hope in the face of overwhelming animal suffering. Famous people share their vision of a world of humans and animals in total harmony with each other and nature including Jesus, Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Albert Schweitzer, John Denver, Albert Einstein and Mother Teresa, just to name a few. This gentle and uplifting book fills the reader with hope. I can tell you that this author not only talks about peace she radiates it. All you have to do is open this wonderful book and let it in.-- (03/06/2006)
I am not a fan for feel-good books filled with inspirational anecdotes, prayers, and meditations. Peace to All Beings is chock-full of inspiring anecdotes; it has nearly a hundred pages of prayers and meditations (many composed by the author); and reading it made me feel good. So I should have hated it. But I didn't. I loved it. What disappoints me about books like Chicken Soup for the [insert your favorite consumer demographic]'s Soul--besides the fact that you have to kill a chicken to get the eponymous soup--is that all too often they make the reader feel good by ignoring the painful truth that many who suffer will never find solace. They are daydreams that promise peace, but deliver only warm fuzzies. With the holidays coming up, Peace to All Beings will make a great gift for the vegan who has everything or the activist in danger of burnout, not to mention pastors, rabbis, and spiritual leaders of all traditions who have not yet fully realized the importance of making peace with what Carman respectfully calls "the animal nations."-- (03/06/2006)
Soup or Friend? She quotes spiritual leaders from many cultures, and tells how an admirer sent ailing St. Frances, a pheasant to make soup, but the saint befriended the beautiful bird instead. She contrasts stories of cross-species altruism by individual animals with statistics on their exploitation. The second part of the book contains positive thoughts, prayers, affirmations, visualizations, and more anecdotes, including one about the two beaver kits who led Grey Owl to stop trapping; "Their almost childlike intimacies and murmurings of affection, their rollicking good fellowship not only with each other but ourselves...To kill such creatures seemed monstrous. I would do no more of it."-- (02/14/2006)