Canine help along the bodhisattva path

coloring book entry of dog and palm hamsa

Hamsa Palm Doxie coloring book page by Ed DeLaCruz

I’m a dharma teacher. I work with students all the time, and I think the core teaching of Buddhism is to help people become less self-centered and learn how to give love to others. In my 40s, a beautiful, white Hungarian sheepdog named Chandi came into my life. She broke my heart open to loving unconditionally rather than just loving to be loved. She needed me and wasn’t afraid to show it, and maybe I needed her and didn’t have to show it, and this helped me grow. We were both vulnerable and permeable, and she melted my heart. When Chandi and I were together there was nothing missing; I didn’t think about the future or the past—or even the present. She didn’t care if I succeeded or failed, who I voted for, how much money I made, or whether I was enlightened or not. In the mornings when I walked Chandi, that dog time became the best part of my day, what I came to call my dogitation. It was as fresh and innocent as nowness awareness, every morning for half an hour, an hour, or more. We met dog people along the way and often didn’t know their names or what they did. Being with Chandi allowed me to …

Adapted from: The Dharma of Dogs: Our Best Friends as Spiritual Teachers. Edited by Tami Simon and published this month by Sounds True.

About the Author

Lama Surya Das is the founder of the Dzogchen Foundation and the author of many books, including Make Me One with Everything,...

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