19 Mar 2005 |
Posted by Lama Surya Das | 1 Comment.
A dog is good luck in soulful form. Love has taken away my practices and left me with a dog, to paraphrase Rumi. I used to be respectable, and chaste, holier than thou. Now I am a disciple of a dog.
I wasn’t always a dog person. I did not grow up with dogs at home, but grew up chasing balls in the backyard myself. I was a puppy once, a veritable household legend, full of anxiety and an insatiable need to please. Now all that foolishness is gone. I don’t chase sticks and stones, but go right to the source and know the thrower.
There were times before my great awakening that a dog meant no more to me than a cat, a turtle, hamster, parakeet, horse, or any other pet. “Nice to see ya, and goodbye– have a happy life!” I’d think before moving on to what The Little Prince used to call Matters of Significance. Always moving on, onwards on the treadmill; never looking to see if the ladders of sources I was climbing, were leaning on the right wall, rarely caring to stop and check to see if I was getting anywhere at all.
A dog stopped me in my tracks. She opened my heart and taught me to love. She got me to stop looking up and look down as well. She taught me how to bow, with her bow-wow. Scratch a dog and find a Buddha. Dog is Buddha spelled backwards. I like cats okay, but their main defect is only one thing; they’re not dogs. I have noticed that dogs have family, owners, friends; cats have staff.
My dog is my muse; she lies beneath my desk across my feet even now, as I write. Most likely it is Lili-pup I am channeling. Meister Eckhart says “Every creature is a word of God.”
Lili’s bark is better than seeing the light, for those with ears to hear. Her love story taught me that love means not having to say anything at all, a lesson worth taking home. Merging, however briefly, with a good dog breeds happiness and, occasionally, holiness. People can be trying; but many a curmudgeon, and even sinners too, have been saved through dog love. Thus have I heard.
Gandhi said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way in which its animals are treated.” We are all animals, after all. And They R Us.
There are many endangered cultures in this benighted world. Fortunately, dog culture is not one of them. Dogs today even have their own magazines, although like children today they don’t read much outside of school. There are an estimated fifty five million dogs in this country today, but has anyone thought to give them the right to vote, and possibly become president? I think they need a voice in government, just like all the other—and might I add, significantly smaller— minorities. Why not? No dog I know has ever lied, reneged on his promises, tried to take over the world, or been convicted of fraud or malfeasance.
A good dog can perform demonic acts, for sure—like when mine chewed up my old baseball glove, or when she chases the cat; oh yes, what about the time she found the food can open, ate herself sick and puked all over, one day while we were away… But dogs can also perceive the light in everyone and everything. Have you noticed how they kowtow and bow respectfully to one and all?
“A Master gives himself to whatever the moment brings him. He doesn’t think about his actions; rather, they flow from the core of his being.” All you have to do to grasp this teaching is to watch a dog leap for a Frisbee. There is an old zen conundrum that goes: “Does a dog have Buddha nature?”… That is, the innate spirit of enlightenment or innate spark of divinity. A good answer is to wonder—Do you? Do I?
Talking to dogs reminds me of praying. It matters not whether or not an answer comes, but it is the very act that matters and can often contain what is perceived as missing.
Buddha says that investigation/questioning is one of the seven factors conducive to enlightenment. Although the baseball season is trying to begin soon, there is still snow on the ground here in Massachusetts. My dog lay on it yesterday afternoon and left a question-mark of brown ground after running off. Room for thought there.
My ex says one should never take home those you befriend at the dog run; keep it on a business-like basis only. Lili comes only when I bang her bowl. A good dog has all the answers. Sit happens. I must have a thousand students and followers, but no one listens to me—they’re too smart.
The years are my friend. Like Thoreau, dogs just need to walk outside every day, eat, reflect, and not much more. So who needs an ageing guru mainly interested in sports and animals? Does a dog need a bicycle or fish? In fact, who needs anything at all?