As some of you know, in my PhD I’m researching compassion as a means for improved awareness and relationships with nonhuman beings and their worlds, and the larger ecological context. In this semester’s course “Everyday Enlightenment” with Dr. Heesoon Bai we are examining Zen Buddhism for wisdom towards the everyday. For this course, I have began a weekly project on the Tom and Sugi Blog as a contemplative practice. This first post is a bit late because I was gathering courage to post these publicly. Here is the first in a series of posts on Zen and Dogs.
- Lesson from Tom: practice being in the moment including non-annoyance!
- Tom says, “Bruce shit on the deck”
The first reading for the course is Pierre Hadot “Philosophy as a Way of Life”. Today, I’m reading Hadot in the dining room. Dogs are tucked into blankets after their slightly chilly morning walk. Note taking: historical texts portray the philosopher as outside of daily ‘bios’ or life… For the Greco-Roman philosopher ‘meditation’ was not linked to a physical practice as in Eastern thought, but towards rational, imaginative, intuitive practice including the assimilation of ‘rules for living’ which could be available ‘at hand’ in order to apply to life’s daily circumstances…
I hear dog nails on hard surfaces in my office. I go look. Tom is laying on the work table stretching his nose and forelegs towards the triangle of sun on the south-east corner of the table. Bruce, Lauren’s dog we’re baby-sitting, is on the floor under the table, his body in the sliver of sun reaching the floor. They’re after sun-heat.
I climb the too-steep-for-dogs stairs to open the trap door to the sunroof. They’ll enjoy laying in the sun. Tom barks impatiently as Bruce places his forefeet on the first 2 steps. Tom first. I help him climb the steps. Bruce next but slower (he’s smaller). Sugi says he doesn’t want to go. I return to Hadot: Theory is never considered an end in itself; it is clearly and decidedly put in the service of practice…
Tom, through the roof opening: bark, bark, softly: “bring me down”
...Every school of philosophy practiced exercises aimed at spiritual progress…Plutarch: controlling one’s curiosity, speech, consumption, anger, etc...
Bark, Bark, more insistent.
[annoyed] I climb the ladder, step through the opening onto the deck. The air is clear, warm, perfect temperature. A great day! [no longer annoyed]
Tom elaborates, “Bruce took a shit on the deck”, he points
[annoyed] I go get a bag, clean it up, hose down the deck. I should harvest the beans which haven’t been picked since the recent rain. Start on the red-runners on this end of the fence. They need to either be snapped off the stem, or given a forceful tug to get them off. Move around to the other end of the fence and proceed with the stringbeans. Rule for living: “The joyous acceptance of the present moment.” I tug at a stringbean. I notice I’ve pulled off the end of the vine [argh! too much force!] ….On either side it has a white flower + a tiny forming bean…perfect symmetry…[I feel bad]…