Hi there. My name’s Tenzin.
Mom’s at work right now, so I’ve decided to write this elephant journal post as a guest writer. She’ll be okay with it, because I’m the love of her life.
I’m a six-month-old Italian greyhound puppy. I weigh seven pounds and I’ll stay that size for the rest of my life.
I am in the unique position of being able to observe the life around me with a different set of (color-blind) eyes. So today, let me share some important insights from my tiny but mighty buddha puppy self.
What I see as I’m trotting down the street or grooming myself at home is so much dukkha, or suffering.
So much of human life is built on impermanence: devices that will die eventually, holding on to relationships that aren’t built to last, or money that is exchanged on a rolling basis. So many of you try to find happiness in things that are temporary—you cling to what will inevitably be lost.
As a dog, I have fewer years on this planet, yet to put it as the Buddha does, “Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.” This short time is my dukkha, but as a Buddha-minded puppy, I know that I do not have to stay trapped in the knowledge that my life is impermanent. Instead, I choose to measure my life in the moment, as it happens. This is my pranja (insight).
To live my life of wisdom, I like to follow the four Brahmaviharas (virtues).
First, maitri. Love and kindness. Being good to everyone. I show my mom that I love her every day by snuggling close to her at night and licking her hand to calm her down when she is upset. I bat my eyelids at people on the street, and daintily lick my whipped cream puppaccino at Dunkin Donuts in such a way that even the cranky old man in the store laughs.
None of these things are tangible, yet they are all permanent as memories and feelings. Love, once given, never diminishes. It is either used by the receiver because they need it, or it is sent out again; I merely begin this chain of kindness.
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” ~ Buddha
Second, karuna or compassion. Not only do I recognize the suffering around me, but I take it on as my own. I am sensitive to how my human feels. I can tell when she comes home from a hard day that it’s not the best time to poop on the couch. Rather, I know that it’s time to curl up under the blanket and be a little spoon while we take a nap. I know that just the fur to skin contact when mom pets me will spread my puppy heat and Buddhist mentality into her as well. I feel for her, and I work to help her feel better.
Thirdly, I embody mudita, or joy. This one is my favorite. As a puppy, I am so good at being joyful. And because I have Buddhist joy, I am still happy for someone else even if I wasn’t the direct cause of their joy. Happy humans means more playtime with me and yummy treats.
Sometimes when I’m chilling at home and one of the humans gets really excited, I’ll get up and start running around the house and barking my congratulations. Empathetic joy is the true joy of living. I don’t care if you’re happy because I did a cute puppy thing or because you had a success at work. I just want the world to smile and wag its tail with me.
Lastly, upeksa. Essentially, this is the Buddha’s version of the Golden Rule. He says, “Just as I am, so are they. Just as they are, so am I.” I treat every person, dog toy, and animal friend as my equal. To me, there is no difference between human and dog when it comes to living a fulfilled and happy life. In fact, if anything, our lives are intertwined. As a dog and a pet, I become integrated into the fabric of my human’s life.
Just as I know Mom would never let anything hurt me, I protect her, in my own way. What she gives me in basic necessities and love, I return with my own devotion and care. I am a vehicle to bring her life into perspective. I remind her of the importance of appreciating the now, letting go of the past, and not worrying about the future. We feed off of each other.
As a Buddhist pup, I am extremely aware of the relationship built between a human and her dog. But I am not unique in my capabilities. I simply voice the philosophy that all pets embody, in which we value love, compassion, happiness, and equality.
I can only hope that one day the humans that I see around me with so much suffering will realize these truths as well. I know that I’m only here for a short while, but I will fill that time with as much devotion as I can fit into a seven-pound body.
I am Tenzin, the Buddha dog. I am here, as are all pets, to guide you to reach the most human and vulnerable parts of you, dear reader.
As a last thought, remember that the Buddha says, “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
Come take a walk with me, my beloved friends.
Woof and Namaste.
Author: Rowena Kosher
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Lieselle Davidson