If there’s one thing dogs do well, it is bringing humans together, giving us a pathway to come together in harmony. Sure, they are indeed sentient beings, and we also derive a symbolic relationship with them. They resemble something to us. They bring out what is kept inside.
I was gone yesterday at a conference in Indianapolis on understanding the new ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)’. I didn’t worry about Trace hardly at all. I find that a bit freeing. Of course, my brain was highly occupied by the conference, but part of it too was knowing I have the support of family and friends. I even had one of my very close friends stop by the house midday to take the dogs out. I got a really nice email from my mom and dad giving words of advice and compassion about Trace – they would know as we had three dogs over the course of about 25 years as I was growing up. And I’ve gotten some great feedback from a cousin who is a vet.
It’s nice to know that people care. And even if we have times in life when we feel no one cares, we still have this capacity to still care for others and there’s something humanizing about that.
But the more we pay attention to a person, animal, place, or thing, we begin to feel an intriguing new energy about it – the other becomes sacred to us. A quote from Tara Brach:
“There’s a story of a prisoner who lived in solitary confinement for years. So he didn’t speak to anyone, meals were served through an opening in the wall. Well, one day an ant came in to his cell. And the man contemplated with fascination [as the ant] crawled around the room and over the days and weeks to come he would hold it in his palm and just look at it and watched it move around and watched it’s patterns and he gave it a grain or two of rice and kept it under a tin cup at night. That became his friend. And one day it struck him that it took ten years of solitary confinement to open his eyes to the loveliness of an ant. That basic life, sacred energy that lives through an ant.
Krishnamurti says if you take a stone, any stone from outside just take it and put it somewhere in your living room. And every day pass by that stone at least once and spend maybe 20 seconds paying attention to that stone. Within a few months it will become a sacred stone. Do you understand? That when we give our attention, that presence, that’s a communion, we actually sense what’s really there.
We know it with our dogs, and our pets. It’s always amazing, you can see the dogs all around, and always you love dogs and, ‘oh what a nice dog.’ But your dog is special. You know intimately the specialness of this dog that might look and be like many many other dogs but this dog is special. Do you know what I mean? When we pay deep attention, whatever is there, comes to life. It reveals it’s essence, it’s beingness. And we cherish the beingness that’s there. That’s what we are in love with. It’s the same beingness that’s looking through your eyes right now. It’s the same beingness that’s listening. That’s what we fall in love with.”
What Ms. Brach reminds me of are the dogs from my past. We had a Collie named Mac that my parents adopted in the mid 70s before I was born. I have a faint memory of him but I imagine I gave him as much annoying attention as my almost-three-year-old gives Bella and Trace. In 1989, when I turned 6 we adopted a Border Collie named, Charmin. She was, as we recall vividly, a “maniac.” We ended up giving her to a farmer when we moved back to Ohio – it was the best for both our family and for Charmin. And then there was Ashley, our golden retriever, who we had from 1994 to 2000. With all of these dogs, to this day I can still feel the heart-to-heart connection even though they have “gone back to the earth.” In a way, as weird as this might sound, the dogs of my past share this same beingness as Bella and Trace. In some way, they have “met” each other. The same way the beingness we share with our parents extends through us to our children. It is a transcendent sense of beingness.
Enough philosophy for one day…
I suppose when the Good Lord takes me home, I’m going to have to bring a lot of leashes for all those dogs waiting for me beyond the pearly gates. Until then, I’m gonna enjoy the ones we have – besides, its a lot less poop to clean up!
Four more days! Have a nice weekend!
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