Time to listen.
It’s a common joke that we see our four-legged companions as our personal, furry Buddhas, the ultimate Zen beings. Now, if you’re Buddhist, you know that animals aren’t in the right place on the wheel to become a Buddha. Nonetheless, whether we are talking about our own stay-at-home pets or the animals discovered in nature, there is a lot we can learn from our ‘less intelligent’ planet-mates.
It’s been a bad day. It’s late, but you finally get home. But the mind doesn’t rest, as soon as you sit down you are plagued by:
Your best employee wants to move on to a new job
You’re a month behind in credit card payments
Your significant other still spends too much time on their phone
You lost that amazing photo you took a few months ago
And to top it all off, you forgot to get gas on the way home and now have to get up even earlier tomorrow to take care of that.
Yet you look down at your faithful Max, a 3-year old Jack Russel terrier, who is just laying there peacefully, completely unconcerned with all the chaos that life seems to create. Give him a treat or play with him, it doesn’t matter if it is 7 in the morning or 7 in the evening, he’ll be happy. He’ll roll around on the rug or sink into the couch and won’t judge us for doing the same.
We don’t hold anything against them for their behavior, nor do they for ours. It’s a special bond and an even better feeling to have someone so indifferent to how rich or poor, pretty or strong we are, though they may have a few comments on our ability to throw a ball. The missed appointment with the accountant, the failed project proposal to a potential client, or the attention of the attractive coworker we long for, matters little to Max.
One of the reasons it is so comforting to have these beautiful creatures around us is that they have no interest in everything we think we want or who we think we are. They almost seem to mock our over-interest in ourselves. Having these modest beasts laying next to us, we can get a much-needed perspective and sense of our true role on this planet.
Beyond our pets in our homes, we have life, animals, all around us; such as hummingbirds on our kool-aid feeders in the backyard, deer in the national park down the street, and snakes in a faraway jungle on the other side of the world.
They don’t wait around for text messages or emails and they don’t care about our jealousy and bitterness. We can simply enter their lives, pique their interest due to our strangeness, then move on with a mouth full of grass. Perhaps, a friend will come up after and have a laugh too.
Life is simple is for them. It’s as simple as it should be for us. There are no great questions that need to be answered. The purpose of life is to live. It’s so simple it is overlooked. Hobble to the tip of the ice and go for a swim if you’re a penguin or sleep all winter if you’re a bear.
There is no economy based on an imaginary unit of measure we all unwillingly agreed upon.
There are no borders to define countries. In fact, we don’t even know we are in a country, we are just here.
Facebook relationship statuses mean nothing.
No calendars to define where in time we are on our made-up schedule of the universe.
Yesterday was yesterday and there is no point for regrets.
This may all be written off as ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but it does not mean we shouldn’t sit quietly and listen to the advice of those wise beings around us from time to time. Most of what we get upset over, most of what we think ruins our lives, really has no significance for truly living.
Which is to make the most of your talents, love and appreciate what you have, and if you have a few extra bread crumbs, feel free to share.
As for dogs being small Buddhas and being Zen:
‘Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.’ - Alan Watts