I have recently been blessed with the opportunity to get to know true companionship with dogs. You could have previously used all of the words to describe to me what it means to love dogs but I would have never understood without the experience of living with dogs.
Like any other children, my sister and I wanted a dog. We first had fish as pets and had to learn how to take care of them, show discipline, and then one day we were surprised with a cat. My sister and I fell in love and my mum also grew completely attached to our fat orange male cat named Chi Chi. My dad was never a fan, but he was always more of a dog person. I never understood what that meant, but I guessed that I must be a cat person because of how much I loved our cat and connected with his feline independence and intuitive compassion.
Later, when I lived with my sister and her fiancee and their two cats plus Chi Chi, I experienced one of the most profound moments of love in my life when, after breaking up with my boyfriend of the time, sitting on my kitchen floor crying, all three cats came and sat by me, looking at me with intense care and presence. I knew that they were there for me completely, sending me positive, loving energy through there ever-joyful eyes. I’ve never seen a cat look sad and I think that it is for a reason. I recently learned that cats are the representatives of the spirit world who teach self-healing and I truly believe and felt it on that and other occasions. I believe that through observing cats, we can come to know what it is to have mastered mindfulness.
Dogs, on the other hand, I assumed to only act our of obedience or pure physical calling. In Costa Rica, dogs are everywhere. I don’t know if I explained that right – they are everywhere. Running wild in the streets, in restaurants, in the back of flatbed trucks, shops, offices, whatever. My mum has a dog named Zenek, who was “adopted” by some renters she had a few years ago, who left him behind when their holiday was over. They named him Gringo. She named him Zenek, after the gringo who left him behind. Zenek is a Tico dog, meaning breed: unknown. At first, I didn’t know how to feel about Zenek and I just saw him as a begging, needy, eating machine. I know that sounds awful, but not knowing dogs, I thought that was all there was to him. Of course, he loves to go for walks and gets so excited before we head out, but he is a jungle dog who is allowed to run free whenever he wants, so this bewildered me for a long time. But the more time I spend with him, the more I see how absolutely grateful he is to spend time with me or mum. Any touch, any show of love is met with unwavering gratitude. And since we’ve had two other dogs appear from out of the jungle and join our brood, Zenek has been so protective and defensive of our time and love. He recognizes that it is finite and that we need to go about our business so he does everything he can to keep our attention on him as much as possible.
Lucy is the second dog who came to join us (and who is sleeping on my lap as I type). She is essentially Zenek’s girlfriend, providing daily blowjobs and running and barking companionship. The two of them own these parts, so no iguanas or pizotes better come up in here or they’re going to get f’d up (or at least barked at a lot). And Little Shit is the last pooch to join the troop and despite the nasty moniker (which is a temporary name while mum gets used to the idea of having a third dog hanging around), he is a sweet and curious jungle puppy with ears that are half the size of his body and eyes that will melt the coldest heart. *See, it’s words like this which I could never understand, nor do I feel comfortable using to convey my point. Language fails to express the full capacity of the love that we feel in our core when we experience love in action.
I was attempting to meditate today and I eventually found my Zen mindfulness amidst a cuddle puddle of dogs, all fighting for my attention, gnawing on my hair, licking my knees and trying to crawl in my lap as I sat on my driveway, under the stars, trying to escape my physical presence. This absolute, needful, covetous love is such a powerful source of joy in all of its ridiculousness. I have done nothing to deserve this kind of attention, other than pay them a little bit of attention here and there, all because of the mess of cuteness they provide me on a daily basis. If they weren’t so wonderfully in my face all of the time, I’d probably forget about them and neglect them for periods of time like I have been known to do with plants (working hard this year to change that pattern, but I must admit that I am forgetful).
If cats teach us self-help, I think that dogs teach us to help others. They teach us how to serve; how to be loyal to those who are near us, especially those who take care of us; and that to every small bit of affection that we are shown, we should return it 100 fold. This is how we must breed joy in this life – when we are permitted to feed off of the energy of those who show us love, we must boost that level of love by experiencing the profound joy it holds before turning it back on to the world.
For today’s meditation, as my last official day of Zazen in this 100-day cycle, I want to bring with me the intention of sharing joy with the same capacity of a loved dog. Because what we need more than anything else today is a boundless desire for helping others, for which I am learning that dogs are the best example.
Dogs really do make the world go ’round.
Two week review of Zazen Meditation
Zen practice has taught me the value of reflecting on what our ego tells us. Although I strive to escape my ego, I cannot deny that it is a part of my physical being and likely the part that keeps me attached to my body. By allowing it the space to go where it will but being conscious of its movements, I am able to review the path that my ego wants me to take and to consciously, mindfully decide if it is the best path for my spirit. The ego has much to teach us, in the same way that it’s worth listening to a child. They may be needy and even annoying at times, but they see life in its most vibrant light and are hyper-responsive to outside stimulus. When we take time to listen to our ego, we edge closer to understanding the whole.