There is a koan from The Gateless Gate where the student asks the master whether a dog has the buddha nature. I don’t know the answer to the koan. What I do know is that my dog teaches me daily, by excellent example and with not a single word spoken, about zen.
If he sees a rabbit, he does not stop and ask me if it’s really a rabbit. He does not ask where the rabbit came from, or where it is going. He does not ask me what rabbits mean. He does not ask me why there are rabbits. He doesn’t ask what should be done about the rabbit. He doesn’t ask what the implications of rabbits are. He doesn’t ask why rabbits are brown and white, and not purple. He doesn’t ask if it’s a sin to chase rabbits, or if he’ll get bad karma.
HE CHASES THE RABBIT.
He just does what comes naturally.
“Act when you need to, without hesitation or doubt. People today can’t do this – what is their affliction? Their affliction is in their lack of self-confidence. If you do not spontaneously trust yourself sufficiently, you will be in a frantic state, pursuing all sorts of objects and being changed by those objects, unable to be independent.” –Linji
If he needs to make water, he asks to go outside and makes water. When he is tired he goes to sleep. When he wants to play, he brings me his ball. He eats whatever food I give him happily.
When I’m tired, or disconcerted from ‘having a bad day’, or when something has made me sad, he comes and lays his head in my lap or cuddles up to me. He does not ask what is wrong. He doesn’t tell me I’m silly to worry or feel sad. He doesn’t ask philosophical or existential questions.
And yes, I’m attached to my dog.
© Babaloo Bonzai and Babaloo Bonzai’s Zen Soup, 2010.