Thursday, May 25, 2006

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.


At May 25, 2006, Blogger me said...

What a sad story. I feel bad for that dog & what everyone went through.

At May 26, 2006, Blogger karen said...

Thank you me. It has been difficult and sad. I think it also shows how far reaching our actions can be. Incidents like these remind me of the truth that I found in the explanations of the Buddha. The good that has come from it is that it opened a lot of hearts.

At May 26, 2006, Blogger me said...

My daughter recently spent 2 weeks in the hospital for a ruptured appendix - zen training was helpful for me during that time. I was by her side in the hospital a lot. I'm normally an optimistic guy but zen has helped me to formalize my optimism which helps one get through such difficult times.

At May 26, 2006, Blogger earDRUM said...

These kinds of events can be opportunities to open our eyes.

My brother-in-law died suddenly last Thursday. Tomorrow I am taking my 14 year old son to the funeral... his first one. I didn't go to a funeral until I was in my late twenties. Now I know that they are helpful, so I am glad my son is coming.
I am really going to miss Bill. It hasn't really sunk in yet. His death has made me ponder a lot about death, the idea of a soul, and so on. And it has made me realize how valuable our days on earth are. I can see things a bit more clearly. I realize that I shouldn't waste my thoughts and time on things like insecurity, selfishness, and fear. There isn't enough time for those things. Life is too precious.

At May 27, 2006, Blogger karen said...

I hope everything is well with your daughter.
I'm sorry about your brother-in-law.
We never know what we are going to wake up to on any given day. All of these kinds of events point out to me why I find this path worthwhile. As eardrum said, life is to precious to waste on things that become very petty when you are faced with these kinds of sorrows. Not that all of life is just sorrow, but it is the First Noble Truth. In all of my searching over the years I don't think I've found a clearer explanation of the circle of life than in the Buddhist teachings. Other paths may also point out these same truths, but I'm beginning to think that the way that you follow is the one that you will recognize and feel at home with. So while there may be other philosophies that espouse the same principals, the one that resonates with me most intimately is Buddhist. I have felt compassion at times before in my life, maybe many times. But during these events, the wave of compassion that engulfed me caused me to stop and I thought "THIS is what they are talking about." Now if I could feel that way towards the rest of the planet.....


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