Be alert as you watch a dog at play or at rest. Let the animal teach you to feel at home in the now, to celebrate life by being completely present. You just watch the tail…with some dogs, you just look at them—just a brief look is enough — and their tail goes…‘Life is good! Life is good!’ And they are not telling themselves a story of why life is good. It’s a direct realization.
~ Eckhart Tolle
The philosophy of Zen comes to mind when I witness dogs “being” themselves. My understanding of Zen (in part) is that it is the practice of “being” 100% present and one with what is in the field of my awareness, or whatever I am doing. Given that meaning, it’s safe to say I have a very wise Zen master in my life. His name is Mac Doodle, aka, “Master Mac.” He is an eleven-year-old Goldendoodle. I receive new teachings from him daily. Today he taught me the value of spontaneously taking a time-out from my usual busyness to play a little, which I did because he wouldn’t leave me alone until I did. This was a win/win for both of us. I was tired and lost my focus, anyway. Now I feel twice as alive, energized, and connected to what needs to be done… and he is taking a snooze so I CAN get my work done.
It’s interesting how the universe knows how to balance the energy for all living things when they are willing to “be” in the moment.
Mac knows when to play and when to take a time-out to rest his mind and his body. We are not always that in touch with our true nature. Being present in the moment seems to take much work for us because we exist on a linear pathway of doing. Regardless of whether it’s work-related or walking through the supermarket, while our bodies are always present moment, often our minds are out in front of us or behind us doing something else. Would you like to know how to rectify that problem? Just “be” the dog!
As an example, see if you can relate with this: Master Mac is so much in the present moment that he will walk from one room into another, then stand there with a curious look on his face. My human interpretation of his look is, “Hmmm, now… why did I walk in here?” Have you ever done that? I have. When that happens it’s because I am on a mission for something my mind has instructed my body to fetch, and my mind has decided to do something else while waiting for my body to return. The only difference between Mac and you and me is, when we do that, it’s because we failed to keep our mind and body in sync and, as a result, we think we are experiencing a senior moment. When Mac does it he has no agenda; his thinking mind hasn’t gotten in the way—he is experiencing the moment and where it takes him, period. It doesn’t matter what mission he may appear to be on, whether it’s fetching the ball or just running wildly through the yard, his mind and body are so much in sync in the present moment he will often stop on a dime, turn, and begin intensely sniffing the scent of some “mysterious” creature, or chase an errant wind-blown leaf, or follow the sound of something into the bushes. Mac’s ability to be open to the present comes naturally, and, as a result, the “direct realization” that life is good is always at hand. Is it possible that we too could have that direct realization more often? Perhaps so.
Dogs may find it easier to be in the moment because they don’t have to go to work, pay taxes, or change the baby’s diaper, but then again, that is not why they were sent here.
Tolle refers to dogs as the “Guardians of Being”—I like that a lot. If we are open to it, having a dog in one’s life can be a sacred experience, always reflecting us our own spiritual nature. (We all know what we get when we spell DOG backwards.) Master Mac’s “soul” puppy-purpose is to help me remember that every moment of my life is good, if for no other reason than I am alive; it’s up to me to “be” in the present moment long enough to realize the blessings contained therein. Mac faithfully reminds me of this every day.
So, the next time you are around a pooch, invite him or her to teach you about the art of being a dog. If you pay attention, you’ll discover that life isn’t as “ruff” as you might think. Be the dog, indeed.