Lessons From My Dog

I was reading through some of the great articles available here, and found one were the author had unapologetically posted several pictures of her dog. I commented that I love PhoDOGraphy, and often personalize shots of landscapes or points of interest with our beloved Frankie. Here he is in early March on a trip up to the frozen Bear Creek waterfall in Telluride Colorado. I wanted to feature one of these pictures of Frankie, and then to write a little bit about some of the great lessons he has taught me.

I may as well disclose that I have undertaken a spiritual path which includes the commitment to make one’s spiritual evolution the most important value in one’s life. If this sounds extreme, it’s tempered by the view that spiritual evolution occurs through participation in the school that we all find ourselves in here in this world and in this life. Our path is not one of going into a cave and seeking to find union with a divine force, but rather to develop by fully incarnating our spirit in the here and now. This is not to cast any disrespect on those who follow a path of long and deep meditation, and of course meditation and prayer are very important in any spiritual practice.

But for me, it’s 80/20, meaning that I try to spend 80% of my time fully engaged here in this material world, and maybe 20% in a broader vision. One of the first things we learn in any meditation based practice is that we can look on ourselves from a higher perspective, I have heard this described as realizing that the “I am” is the observer of our thoughts.

Frankie, on the other hand, lives right behind his eyeballs, and this is my favorite lesson from him. I walk him frequently, and he’s always completely in the flow of his immediate adventure. When he finds a stick on the side of the path and pulls against the leash, his focus is complete. He is not wondering whether he should want that stick, or whether sticks make him happy or any of that. It’s just Frankie and the stick.

I am not a practitioner of Zen, but I have studied it a little, and it is my impression that this is what they call present mindedness. It is the “Be Here Now” that Ram Das talks about. I love to witness this, and now in my own life, when sailing, or skiing, or running or sitting in the woods, I try to adopt this way of being absorbed in the present moment.

There is a really great teacher that I have had the pleasure of learning from. His name is Alex Polari. Alex has an amazing history in that he was part of a group that kidnapped someone from a foreign consulate in Brazil in protest of the military dictatorship there, and then was captured by the fascist military police and spent 8 years in prison there. When he got out, he dedicated his life to the pursuit of spiritual study. Alex explained to a group I was participating in that the our purpose here on earth is to fully incorporate our higher self into this material existence.

I’m not sure if I have this just right, but the feeling I get from this is that we are here as witnesses to creation. Elon Musk often talks about the simulation. If you created a world of an amazing simulation, would you not want then to immerse yourself in your creation so you could really experience it? The idea would be to fully incorporate your consciousness from the higher realm into the experience here. And so Frankie is a good teacher of this. He is definitely fully incorporated here.

Another thing I really admire about Frankie is his capacity to accept (and ask for) praise and affection. I take him with me a lot as I go through my day, and so he has met many of the people I encounter on a regular basis, and he always shows his joy in encountering them and ends up getting his belly rubbed and lots of love and affection dumped on him. He has no reservation or doubt about this. I am not this way at all, and that’s probably a good thing. We offer to each other a tepid peck on the cheek and an A-frame hug, and exchange faint praise. This is not at all Frankie’s style. He’s all in for love and attention.

I do recognize that my life is better because I can spend the other 20% of my time in reflection and see myself from a higher perspective. But I’m not sure we are really all that happier on account of all the thinking we do about everything all the time. Maybe if we just spent our lives in pursuit of a good belly rub we’d all be better off.

Peace.

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