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ALTON - For ECKists Flora and Sheila, it’s clear to them that animals are carriers of divine love, and they’re excited to share this understanding with others.

River Bend Yoga will host a second “Divine Kinship: Animals as Carriers of Divine Love” conversation from 12–1 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, 2024. Attendees will share their experiences with animals and learn more about how these relationships are viewed in Eckankar, a new religious movement that promotes connection between souls.

“It’s sponsored by Eckankar, the path of spiritual freedom, and we talk about recognizing animals as channels for divine love,” Flora explained. “We’re going to be talking about understanding what animals can teach us. And they’re learning too, that’s the thing, because animals are soul.”

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ECKists, the name for people who practice Eckankar, believe every living being has “soul.” This means animals can connect with humans, and humans can learn from animals. Sheila noted that the relationships between animals and humans are “really reciprocal.”

Sheila and Flora are open about the relationships they have with animals in their own lives. They noted that animals can teach us how to “give and receive unconditional love,” a lesson taught by ECKist leader Harold Klemp in his book “Animals are Soul Too!” Flora pointed out that you can learn a lot about animals and soul by simply spending time with them.

“One of the clues that I have found soul to soul is actually looking in the animal’s eyes, just looking at their eyes, because soul is there in the eyes,” she said. “And when something’s happening, just pause and look at them. Talk to them like a human, like you would talk to a human being. We’re soul, all of us. We’re living in human bodies, they’re living in animal bodies, but we’re soul.”

During the free conversation on May 2, attendees will talk about this “divine kinship” between animals and humans. Sheila and Flora are excited to help people recognize the relationships they have with animals and how these animals teach them about life, themselves and soul. They noted they will also sing the HU song, an ECKist practice meant to connect people with God, which Flora called “a love song.”

“It’s for anybody of any religion, faith, you don’t even have to have a faith to sing HU,” Flora added. “Pets can teach us a great many things…When you’re sad or you’re alone or you’re depressed, this animal comes into your world and looks in your eyes and it’s almost like they’re saying, ‘I love you. It’s all going to be okay.’”

For more information about animals as soul, Van Koten and Sheila encourage people to visit The “Divine Kinship: Animals as Carriers of Divine Love” conversation is scheduled for 12–1 p.m. on May 2, 2024, at River Bend Yoga.

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