Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Dogs of Mindfulness

Kim Duryang-Sapsalgae-1743

Morning sit: rooster.
"Awake! Awake!"
Evening sit: cow, same farm.
Mindfulness dogs all day.

Back in Québec, where my practice first began, I had a neighbour who chained two hunting dogs in his yard. They barked at everything. Sometimes they barked at nothing. But they barked. It was a challenge for a new meditator. No sooner had I settled into a warm Zen hum, but the damned dogs would jangle me out of it, as if they had taken me by the shoulder and shook me.

But I was a serious Zen student, and I took Zen seriously. The world doesn't stop because I'm meditating.

So I struck a pact with the dogs. Henceforward, whenever they caught me playing "oh-look-how-Zen-I-am", they would jangle me smartly. That way I could return to real sitting.

I called them The Mindfulness Dogs. They were the best jikijitsus I ever had. Nothing got past them.

Eventually my other neighbours tired of their constant assistance and The Mindfulness Dogs were shuttered indoors most of the day. I missed them; my meditation suffered their absence.

Because to sustain this practice, you need a good dog at the gate.

(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo of Painting of a Dog by 남리 김두량 (南里 金斗樑) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous photographer.)
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