A Lesson From a Barking Zen Master

Meditation

by Jayaram V

One day when I sat down to practice meditation, my dog sat at the entrance to main door of the house, which was and is his favorite spot, and kept barking at anything that moved outside. Sometimes, it was a bird, sometimes a car and sometimes someone going on his or her regular walk. In his little world, the dog was probably trying to protect me from all those perceived threats, but for me it was a constant source of disturbance. In the beginning, the barks tested my patience and caused me a lot of upset. All my attempts to keep the dog quiet failed.

One day, as I was getting angrier by minute for the constant barks, I suddenly realized that I was overlooking a great blessing. The dog was indeed giving me a great opportunity to control my thoughts, impulses and reactions. Was that not why I was supposed to practice meditation and right living? I was looking for knowledge in high places, ignoring the ground reality and the lessons which I could learn in my natural surroundings from mundane experiences. The teacher in the form of the dog was in plain sight, and I was totally oblivious to it. In that instant, I realized that my dog was helping me as a Zen master or a Buddha monk would, teaching me the importance of patience, detachment, tolerance and acceptance.

For me, the bark had a cryptic message. The dog was not the source of my annoyance or disturbance. I was the cause and the effect., and I was  the problem. I was vulnerable to disturbance, and lacked equanimity, control and concentration. I was disturbed because of my likes and dislikes, and expectations. I expected the dog to act in a certain way and wanted to be in control of the situation rather than letting go and surrendering to the situation. Truly, the Buddha in the dog awakened me to an important realization.

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