I was visiting my sister in Boulder a couple of months ago, and in a bookstore I saw a book titled the Dharma of Dogs. The subtitle is ‘our best friends as spiritual teachers’. The dog on the cover has an uncanny resemblance to my black lab Bruno, especially in the deep peace and unconditional acceptance that shines through their eyes. I heartily recommend the book to all dog lovers on the path.
I love Bruno and Bruno loves me, sometimes I say it verbally to him though there is no need to do so. We both feel it in our hearts. When I’m alone with Bruno, I feel a deeper connection with the inner spiritual teacher, some like to call this our guru, or our original face. We sit outside together for an hour every day that we can, and this is a very special time for us. It’s a beautiful setting with the surrounding forest, it’s always a time for us to commune in a deeper way with nature.
It feels like outside with Bruno there is a higher vibrational energy that permeates my being, and when Bruno softly licks my hands and gazes lovingly into my eyes, I know that energy is what we actually are, and that we actually are love. All of my dogs lived for love, all dogs do. People do also, but we get distracted and confused about the main point. In these special moments with Bruno, it’s like he’s saying see? It really is all about love.
The most beautiful thing about Bruno isn’t his beautiful black shiny fur, or his bright eyes both of which make him a most handsome animal. The most beautiful thing about him is his loving heart. He’s totally in the here and now, he has no plans, and doesn’t care how successful I am, how well I get along with others, or if I’m enlightened or not. I feel that non judgmental acceptance, and we just bask in the freedom from all confines of thinking.
Nisargadatta says ‘Being free of attachment to thought in the waking state is the deepest devotion.’ That’s an extremely exhalted state for almost all human beings. For a dog like Bruno, it his natural condition 24/7. Meister Eckhart saw every creature as the Word of God. Who teaches and exemplifies that for us better than our own loyal dogs, living in simplicity and delight, reveling enthusiastically in the senses as in eternity, while loving the one who feeds them? A spiritual master gives himself to whatever the moment brings. He doesn’t think about his actions, they just flow naturally from the core of his being. Who better exemplifies this than a dog bounding after a ball or rolled up sock?
Bruno is the best kid dog I’ve ever known. My boys have been with him for about 4 and a half years, and he’s done such a wonderful job of being their play mate with unfailing devotion and the deepest love. In the spiritual context, devoted means one with. When I see how completely relaxed and devoted Bruno is in being intimate with my children, I know he’s teaching them things about the oneness of all life, about loyalty, and unconditional devotional acceptance in ways I know I’m still lacking.
I remember a very wise friend said once in a discussion about dogs and spirituality: It’s people who tell us that dogs aren’t enlightened.