Zen & Enlightenment: As Taught by My Dogs

Written by MacArthur H. Flournoy

Pema Chödron, Abbott of a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery teaches “this moment is the perfect teacher.”

So, I am convinced that my dogs, Zeus, a 4 year old pit-bull rescue, and Apollo, a 7 month-old Bernese Mountain Dog, are here to teach me, in this moment, how to attain Zen-like enlightenment.

They are consistently playful, uncomplicated and loving. When they are not exploring the world, they exhale with loud sighs, that come from deep breathing. Who lives like that, everyday?

Their ability to concentrate is intense. It’s almost as if nothing or no one else is in the room. Once they place their brown-eye gaze on you, it’s clear, they are living in the moment fully present.

They are particularly focused when I have bacon on my plate – not to mention their addiction to warm chunks of sour dough bread, slathered in herbs & garlic butter. I have no idea how they  developed such a bad habit.

Back to my point: they keep it simple, play often and they are curious about everything. Still, they move through their days nonchalantly, holding things lightly.

They both live their lives with transparency.  If they don’t understand something – they tilt their head to the side, give you that quizzical look, as if to say “huh, excuse me,  I didn’t get that.” They are less interested in being right – far more invested in understanding others.

I can’t resist – what if we as people, embraced core values of our pets? So, class is in session. Our pets, whatever form they embody, may have something profound to teach us about life, loving, living and laughing – if we pay attention and listen.  If practiced imperfectly, it’s possible we may even eexperience a state of Zen-like enlightenment in this moment.


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