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A Conversation with My Dog

Sparky’s been barking a lot this morning, even by his standards.  So I took him aside, got him calmed down, and pet him.   I spoke to him in soothing tones, gently stroking the soft fur on his head.

“Look,” I said, “I know it’s got to be hard not to bark when you have dog-nature.  It’s a dog’s nature to bark.  But do you know what?  You have Buddha-nature, too.  And Buddhas very rarely bark.”

Then he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Woof!”

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No Winning, No Losing

Recently my dog Sparky and I were playing tug-of-war. He loves this game. I wanted him to enjoy himself and not feel that he was losing, so more than half the time I was letting him win. Then I noticed that he kept coming back for another round, win or lose.

That’s when it hit me: he has no concept of “win” or “lose.” Now, this is rare, even for dogs. I’ve lived with ten dogs in my life, including Sparky, and known countless more. Usually, if a dog doesn’t end up with the toy fairly often, he or she will lose interest in playing. Dogs are competitive by nature. Sparky is competitive with our other dog, Little Man, and doesn’t like to “lose” to him. He’s also competitive with our cat Ivy, and can’t stand it if she’s being petted and he isn’t. But when Sparky plays with me, he plays with me, not against me.

Isn’t that interesting…?

Does a dog have Buddha nature? WOOF!

Sparky during quieter times.  He's an American Eskimo Dog.
Sparky during quieter times. He's an American Eskimo Dog.
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Meditation: It’s Not What I Thought

Earlier this week, I tried mudita meditation.  It’s similar to metta meditation, except that instead of lovingkindness, the emphasis is on appreciation.  As with metta, one begins with the self.  Then the phrases are expressed toward loved ones, people we are neutral toward, difficult people, and finally all beings.

I like the progression of the phrases:

May I be appreciative and grateful.

May I be aware of beauty and joy.

May I be open to beauty and joy.

May I respond to beauty and joy with appreciation and gratitude.

The English teacher in me admires the circular construction.  The lawyer in me approves of the logical movement from each step to the next.  I found it a very pleasant meditation to do.

The primary thing I seem to be learning right now is that if I am to meditate daily, I have to open my definition of “meditation.”  It isn’t just zazen.  I don’t have to light incense, get out cushions, and sit for a prescribed period of time.  I simply have to be mindful.