Does a Dog…?

Does a dog have buddha nature?

-Gateless Gate, Case #1

It is About the Dog

This holiday season, Christmas, New Years, has been all about the dogs. I have two official dogs, Panda a Great Pyrenees mix and Lexi, a Husky. Unofficially there is another dog, Fritz, a neighbor German Shepherd puppy who runs with Lexi and Panda. Together they are The Three Stooges.  They spend all day, everyday, together. They get into stuff: horse manure, road kill. And they have a jobs: Chase off the coyotes, dig random holes, and pester the farm cats. They also guard the chickens and calves and their rounds always include a visit with the horses. Of all beings on the farm they seem the most connected linking the equine, bovine, avian, feline and human worlds. It is a nice arrangement. For their service they receive kibble and table scraps.

I love these dogs.

Did I say they get into stuff?

No respecters of human boundaries, on occasion they leave the farm to wander a neighbor’s field. The neighbor’s dogs will most often chase them away. If trespassed upon the dogs of Panola (our neighborhood) have a code — minor injuries are allowed. If the humans don’t get involved things seem to work themselves out. However, the other day the humans got involved and Lexi came home with a bullet wound to the foot.

Did I say I love these dogs? Lexi’s wound became my own. I am heartsick for her and deeply grieved that a neighbor would do this — shoot a dog.

Bring Things Close

In life the big questions are lived. Thinking might help, but that is about. It is in the living that we find awakening. Zhaozhou’s koan is often the first koan given Zen students. The traditional instruction is to become completely “No.” Live, breath, move as No. That’s good, but today, for me, it is about the dog, the wound, the grief — the intimacy that love calls forth. When I was working on No for the first time, my teacher would tell me to let the world come close — the trees, the leaves, the grass, the ravens calling from high in the Redwoods.

Now it’s about the dog. Lexi, the young Husky. When her foot hurts she whines; when she steps on it wrong, she yelps. She will try to scratch her ears through her E-collar, never reaching the itch. I can feel it too as my hind leg reaches for my ear only to find plastic. Then the man who feeds me reaches over and scratches my head. Ahhhh!

This practice is about love, the intimacy of union. We live with, for and as the other.

Wishing you a blessed New Year of awakening, where heart is open and we find our lives woven into the fabric of what is.

Love, David