What about people who don't have dogs? Do people with pets have an unfair advantage spiritually?

Well, obviously there are many paths and many ways into the spiritual life. I once discussed this with the Dalai Lama. I work with a small group that meets with him about every year and a half and we discuss and work on world problems. And I had this conversation with him, and I told him about my way with dogs. And he laughed summarily, "Very good way, excellent way! Animals take us to our spiritual depths." I did see an awful lot of cats there at his house, crawling all around. Whether they were his or not I don't know.

I just think that people who have an inkling of the glory of an animal's presence and the beauty and the sympathy -- one is in a state of utter sympathy which really relaxes one to deepen into the largest stages of life.

Are we better off spending our time with animals instead of people?

It was Matthew Fox who said his spiritual advisor was his dog. As I say at the end of my book I really have felt the same, even though I have been blessed with extremely wise and deep and beautiful human teachers. With dogs, my experience is that words and theologies are not that necessary. Because with them you are in the presence, you can pat and caress the most holy [laughs]. You can run and play and dance with spiritual company. And you can also enter into profound silence and they are there with you. They are there as copartner and witness and deep friend of our spiritual journey. That's why since ancient times they've always been the guides through our darkness, guides to our greater journey. And that's why I say at the end of my book, trust your dogs and cats because they know the way to the ordinary extraordinary life in the kingdom.