Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this old Ram Dass story where he was staying at a house that came with a cat. I’ll let Ram Dass take it from here:
“In the morning I’d be meditating, and the cat would come in with its prey that it was going to eat. It loved me, so it would come over and sit between my legs and eat the lizard, or whatever it was. The lizard would be alive and flapping, and I’d be sitting there meditating. I’d feel bad for the lizard, and then I’d hate the cat. But a moment before I had loved the cat. Who should I hate and who should I love? I saw that my judging mind was just my judging mind, and this was the process of the universe. Was I really ready to decide that I was to judge whether the cat was bad in eating the lizard? I saw that I had to stretch further than that.”
Stretch further. That’s why this story has been on my mind. You see, I recently became the primary caretaker for this five-month-old bundle of joy:
Everyone, meet Kala. He’s forty pounds of pure love, mixed with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. He’s my best friend, and definitely the best teacher I’ve ever had. This is because he’s constantly making me stretch further. He makes me stretch further from my judging mind. He makes me stretch further from my reactivity and anger. He makes me stretch further into my intuitive heart so I can connect with him in a place and way that doesn’t require words and hand signals.
Ram Dass often talks about the concept of karma yoga, of using the obstacles of life as the stepping stones through which we can achieve spiritual growth. Right now, this dog is my karma yoga. Because when love bites you in the face, it can really take a minute to recognize that it’s love biting you, not one of Ravana’s demons sent in the form of a puppy. That goes double for the crotch.
Just like Ram Dass and the cat with the lizard in its mouth, do I choose to hate this puppy because he’s being a puppy and wants to use a very sensitive area of my body as a chew toy? Or do I choose love and understanding? Is that path always open for me to take? There are times where I don’t take that path and find myself yelling at a puppy dog with all the authority of a drunk guy yelling into the wind. Do I punish myself for those moments? Or can I reserve a bit of humanity and kindness for myself as well?
So these are the kinds of things that I’m learning about myself with my new teacher. Even better, as time goes on, he’s really teaching me how to be a little more in touch with my intuition. There is a “flow” to the puppy life that I can either deny or put myself in touch with. When I deny the flow, life bogs down and caring for the dog becomes hard. He senses that feels it, and we just feed each other a loop of bad vibes.
On the other hand, when I’m in touch with the puppy flow, life is pretty good. I can intuitively sense his needs and sidestep potential landmines we might come across. I’m “tuned in” to his channel, but only because he lets me. It reminds me a lot of another old Ram Dass story that has to do with animals, this time dolphins. I highly recommend you read it right now, it’s one of my favorites.
The quick version of the story is that Ram Dass gets to swim with a couple of dolphins, one of whom he quickly connects with on a very intuitive level. He says that meeting this dolphin was like meeting Maharajji. I feel the same way getting to spend time with my puppy. Puppy is my guru. Maharajji is everywhere if we are willing to look!