My cute friend, Kenna, told me the sweetest story last night. She brought to my awareness a simple and profound truth. To us humans, a dog is a very small part of our life, but to a dog, we are their entire life. My mind flashed back to Zoe standing on the other side of the gate that keeps her restrained to just one room in the house. She waits there for me each morning to come and feed her. She is completely dependant on me. As I approach the gate she looks me right in the eyes and wags her tail…. Her attention is solely focused on me. She greets me fully present, not thinking about yesterday or even about what will happen five minutes from now… she is just eager to see me and wants to fully engage in this moment with me.
I always think of my dogs as being dirty and messy, stinky and a giant pain in my butt. There is crap all over my back yard, dog hair all over the house, dirty paw prints on every surface they can reach, and dog toys, beds and dishes cluttering my floors. The truth is, dogs are pure. Dogs may not be clean, but they are pure.
In the Yamas and Niyamas, we study Saucha, which means purity. Purity is a Christ-like trait that teaches us not only to be pure in thought, word and deed, to be pure physically and spiritually, but also to greet each moment with purity, to greet each person we meet, every single time we meet them, as if it were the first time, without any pre-conceived ideas about who they are, what they have done, or what we might expect from them in the future. This is exactly what Zoe does. If I yell at her and smack her mouth for barking yesterday, she doesn’t even remember that today. She loves me purely every single time she eagerly greets me, full of unconditional love. I’m guessing she may have a bit of a hope when she walks to the treat cupboard and wags her tail, but I don’t know that I would call it an expectation. As soon as I walk away from the cupboard, her demeanor and love for me don’t change in the least.
When I walk with Zoe she isn’t concerned about returning at a certain time, recording her speed or heart rate, or even avoiding a fellow dog. She maintains her quality of purity as she greets each moment with fresh new eyes. She pauses to smell the fire hydrants, the trees and the piles of poop. She walks with her head up and wags her tail as she appears to be seeing the same sidewalk as if for the first time.
I wonder if Zoe arises each morning with an extensive to do list. “I need to play with the blue bone for 12 minutes, take a dump in that one bare spot on the lawn to create a perfectly even mine field for the people to walk through, I’ll take a 45 minute nap at precisely 12:15 and sit on the back of the sofa to piss Jackie off and four o’clock.” I wonder if she lays in her kennel at night and scolds herself for not accomplishing these things each day? I wonder how many times she beats herself up for once again barking when the doorbell rings, even though she knows she’s not supposed to?
I’ve been plotting and pondering over how to get rid of the dogs in my house. Instead of approaching them as my teacher I have been thinking that I was smarter than them and didn’t need the extra work they cause me. This morning I am re-thinking that idea.
I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer here. Once again I find myself living in the questions, learning line up upon line, precept upon precept.
I wonder if it was a coincidence that Kenna shared with me, a simple but profound truth last night. I wonder if there are any coincidences. I wonder what life would be like if I never wondered…. If I thought I knew everything and never allowed myself the gift of wondering.