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We adopted a dog, continued…

April 19, 2012

by Stephen Damon

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that we recently rescued a dog from a neighborhood shelter.  Over the past few weeks, Zozo has become more and more comfortable in her new home.  Being young and energetic, she loves to play whenever she sees an opportunity—and she is very good at seeing opportunities where others might not.

She has discovered that a good time to jump up and kiss me in the face is during my morning prostrations before my altar.  While I am standing, trying quietly to collect myself she scrambles around for a good position to jump when the time is right.  And as I get closer to the floor she jumps up and either licks me in the eyes or nibbles my nose!  With another animal I might try to keep her away from me, but I have grown very sensitive to her sensitivities.  So I let her have her way with me while I try to stay focused on what I have been doing for the past twenty years: taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. 

This has given me a few deep impressions of myself having two, conflicting emotions at the same time.  Part of me is trying to be serious, quiet, and focused on my bows and silent prayers and part of me tries to engage with Zozo.  When I do this, I see two different parts of myself that are very active—at the same time.  I see myself becoming frustrated that I can’t include both emotions equally.  Instead I see that I identify with one activity and then another, sometimes changing back and forth in an instant.  But, sometimes I see something else.  I notice that there is something  in me trying to reconcile the two and contain them both in my awareness of the moment.  The results, if I can call them that, vary from morning to morning, moment to moment. But what does not vary is my seeing myself in a new way—as a being in transition, moment after moment.  I see that I am not one, but at least two.  I see that I need to include both parts, without identifying with either one.

My new morning routine has shown me that I have to learn how to be more flexible in my practice.  More important, it has shown me that I must practice within the instabilities and transitions of my day-to-day life.  I used to try to create a sacred, inner space within myself as I bowed to the Buddha on my altar.  Now, I am getting used to bowing in the midst of the conflicting emotions of my life.  After I have bowed to Buddha for the last time, I gassho to Zozo.  She has taught me to not only take refuge in the three jewels in a new way, she has also taught me how to take refuge in my life as it is in the moment.  How wonderful!



From → Zen Buddhism

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