Just like human beings even animals have spiritual experiences, says a prominent neurologist.
Research suggested that spiritual experiences originate deep within primitive areas of the human brain-areas shared by other animals with brain structures like our own.
"Since only humans are capable of language that can communicate the richness of spiritual experience, it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty what an animal subjectively experiences," Discovery News quoted Kevin Nelson of the University of Kentucky as saying.
"Despite this limitation, it is still reasonable to conclude that since the most primitive areas of our brain happen to be the spiritual, then we can expect that animals are also capable of spiritual experiences," added Nelson.
The finding is an extension of his research on humans, which has been published in many peer-reviewed journals.
"In humans, we know that if we disrupt the (brain) region where vision, sense of motion, orientation in the Earth's gravitational field, and knowing the position of our body all come together, then out-of-body experiences can be caused literally by the flip of a switch.
"There is absolutely no reason to believe it is any different for a dog, cat, or primate's brain," he said.
Other mammals also probably have near-death experiences comparable to those reported by certain humans, he believes. Such people often say they saw a light and felt as though they were moving down a tunnel.
The light aspect of near-death experiences can be explained by how the visual system defines REM (rapid eye movement) consciousness, he believes.
"In fact, the link between REM and the physiological crises causing near-death experience are most strongly linked in animals, like cats and rats, which we can study in the laboratory," he said.
Mystical experiences-moment that inspire a sense of mystery and wonderment-arise within the limbic system, he said.
Since other animals, such as non-human primates, horses, cats and dogs, also possess similar brain structures, it is possible that they too experience mystical moments, and may even have a sense of spiritual oneness, according to Nelson.
Marc Bekoff of the University of Colorado also said animals have spiritual experiences, which he defines as experiences that are nonmaterial, intangible, introspective and comparable to what humans have.
Both he and primatologist Jane Goodall have observed chimpanzees dancing with total abandon at waterfalls that emerge after heavy rains.
Some of the chimps even appear to dance themselves into a trance-like state, as some humans do during religious and cultural rituals.
"Perhaps numerous animals engage in these rituals, but we haven't been lucky enough to see them," wrote Bekoff in a Psychology Today report.