The Role of the Bodhisattva
Yesterday I received a call from my daughter who explained to me through tears that she was afraid to go home because her dog, which has been a bone of contention between her and her boyfriend, had somehow managed to pull her boyfriend's Playstation cord, earpiece and something that you hold in your hand, into its kennel and chewed it to pieces. My daughter adopted "Lady" a year ago without too much background information on her and was totally in love with the dog. Shortly after the adoption, Lady began to show separation anxiety and on one occasion destroyed all of the curtains, blinds and many of the carpets in the house. After doing some detective work, we found out that Lady is what is called a "lurcher". She is a mix between a greyhound and a coonhound. In the state that we live in there are illegal games that involve groups of people who own "lurchers" and they have them trained to kill raccoons. A raccoon is trapped and released for the dogs to chase and kill. Whoever owns the lurcher that kills the raccoon first wins the pot of money that was placed on the dogs. Lady was picked up from the side of a road after apparently being dumped because these dogs are commonly abandoned when their racing/hunting days are over. We understood that this dog may need special treatment and proceeded from there to try and help her. Private trainers were called and helped with some of the basics. But Lady was hostile to other dogs and would move to go after anything small that moved quickly, including my three year old grandson and my own dog, cats and birds. Still, to adults and especially my daughter she was very lovable. She continued to destroy things when she could and was placed on tranquilizers to help her stay calm. She was not a young dog and recently developed some kidney problems. My daughters boyfriend was not raised with the same attitude as my daughter towards animals, but he tried to tolerate the misbehavior. After the Playstation incident, he blew. After talking for many hours with me and taking into account that the dog had developed an illness, my daughter decided, not without reservation, to put the dog down. That was done this morning. What does this have to do with the role of a bodhisattva? I learned something today. Many times I have read what we called at the temple I used to attend "The Way of the Bodhisattva." In this prayer, one wishes to become whatever is needed to relieve the suffering of the multitudes. Today I understood, very clearly, the role of the bodhisattva and the state of mind of the person who wrote the prayer (attributed to Shantideva, I think). More than anything in the world, I wanted to remove the suffering of my daughter, who cried most of the day. And her boyfriend, who has very little compassion towards animals. And for Lady, who by all accounts had probably one good year in her life. I wished that this had happened to me instead of to her. I know I could have handled it. I wished for Lady to be reborn into a higher realm, even though my ideas about such things are not rock solid. I wished it anyway. I was also filled with gratitude to have been exposed to what I think is the heart of Buddhism, the wish for all beings to be free from suffering. I feel silly in a way to be writing about this, but it struck my heart as a clear message. I am indebted to all those who have gone before me that have opened a way that for me expresses that which is the highest in the human realm, the opening of one heart to another and the wish for liberation for all beings.