Dogs Have Buddha Nature

by William Toyo Sensei

dod
‘Do dogs have Buddha nature?” 

It’s mostly about our dogs, Bijoux and Dante, two Coton de Tulear’s (hence its name in French, “Coton”, meaning cotton), they have very soft white hair (as opposed to fur). The Coton de Tulear developed on the island of Madagascar. I have found that our dogs have compassion and I believe also Buddha Nature.

We all know of the infamous and most debated Koan, “Does a dog have a Buddha-nature or not?” The answer being “Mu” literally meaning that dogs do not have Buddha nature, and has been interpreted to mean that such categorical thinking is delusion and that yes and no are both right and wrong. The term is often used or translated to mean that the question itself must be “unasked” no answer can exist in the term provided.

But let’s get back to dogs and compassion. Our dogs are full of natural goodness and have rich emotional lives. It has been proven that these animals possess empathy and compassion, the emotions upon which moral sense is built. Dogs develop this great sense of trust. We’re linked, and there is something spiritual about that unity. We can learn a lot by observing the emotional behavior of our dogs and many times find the Dharma hidden in their behavior. We often take compassion for granted and let it flash by many times during the day (Awareness). We are so distracted during the day living in the element that we live in. Dogs are sentient, emotional and highly reactive beings, they rely on the compassion of the humans they know as family. They are not immune to anxiety, which lead to pain and illness, and they get frightened when they find themselves deprived of companionship in a stressful environment.

It will seem familiar to most of us who have dogs to notice that: Dogs have a sense of fair play. They dislike cheaters. They experience joy in play. They delight in friends. Dogs get jealous when the other gets more or better treats or treatment. They are resentful, and maybe saddened by unfair behavior. They get afraid. They are embarrassed when they mess up or do something clumsy. They feel remorse or regret when they do something wrong. They remember bad things done to them, but sometimes choose to forgive. Does this seem familiar to us, we should pay a lot more attention to our animals and learn compassion and awareness from their well –being. Dogs have affection and compassion for their animal and human friends and family. They defend loved ones and comfort us when we are ill or injured.

How wondrous and far reaching compassion can be among all living beings. Each of us is capable of limitless love.

What is your dog doing right now, my two are lying at my feet, waiting for me to finish writing this Dharma Glimpse to take them out for a walk and don’t forget the treat!

 

William Toyo Sensei is a Lay Minister with the Bright Dawn Way of Oneness Buddhism. 

Being Distracted

By Clarence Ratliff

 

For the last two weeks I’ve tried to think of a topic for my Dharma glimpse, only to come up empty at every turn. Until Tuesday morning that is. I spent all that time looking, and then it just hit me. Quite literally in fact.
66139-rear-end-collisionI was on my way to work early Tuesday morning and was stopped at a red light. Then bam…someone ran into the back of my truck. It was really more of a bump than a rear end collision. We both pulled off the road to inspect what happened. Fortunately there was no damage to either vehicle. The driver of the other car said he was distracted by swatting at a mosquito and must have taken his foot off the brake. Since there was no damage we had a laugh, shook hands and wished each other a good day. Aside from his embarrassment there was no harm done. But it got me thinking about the topic of distraction.

If you’re anything like me, you get distracted kinda easily. Oh, look at that shiny thing over there! It seems an ever present part of being human.

In one of Rev. Gyomays books he talks about focusing on something with your whole attention. He uses the commonplace activity of vacuuming the carpet as an illustration. He points out that when doing common repetitive tasks most people’s minds wander all over the place, not giving their whole attention to what they’re doing in the present moment. Thich Nhat Hanh uses the illustration of washing dishes to make the same point. We spend a great deal of time and energy distracted by so many things that we’re often careless and miss things. Sometimes very important things.

Our culture doesn’t help alleviate this problem. We’re encouraged to be distracted by the overwhelming amount of inputs all vying for our attention. We’re asked to ‘multi-task’ at work, trying to juggle several tasks at the same time. Advertising arouses desires that compete with true needs. Is it any wonder that our minds are filled with so much stuff that we can’t stay mindful of the really important things that deserve our full undivided attention? I know I have a very hard time with it.

Anyone who has spent any time meditating can see just how busy our minds really are. 12sere5454ereThere seems to be an autopilot feature in the human brain that is constantly churning out thoughts from every random piece of input that the senses are exposed to. Hence the term, “Monkey Mind”. Our minds are constantly chattering away like a barrel of hyperactive monkeys. Then of course if we’re not paying

attention, we latch on to these stray random thoughts and hitch a ride. Very often taking our attention away from things that are important. This is one of the things that regular meditation practice can help us with.

When practicing meditation, we focus our attention on the breath. When these stray thoughts arise, we notice them, and let them go their way. We may notice them for quite a while before we remember to let them go and refocus on our breathing, but that’s ok. The goal isn’t to quiet the mind or stop thinking as people sometimes assume. The goal is to see the constant chatter in our mind for what it is and work on not attaching to it.

I’ve also found that recitation of the Nembutsu can achieve the same result. It re-centers the mind from the chatter, pulling you back to the here and now. And doing physical activities like the aforementioned vacuuming the carpet or washing the dishes with full mindful awareness can help break us of the distraction habit.

And I do believe that it is a habit. We’re so used to our minds and lives being this way it’s an ingrained behavior. But it costs us a lot. A single distracted mistake can be devastating. Distraction keeps us from being fully present with others. It keeps us from being fully aware of ourselves. It keeps us mired in anxiety and stress from not being able to follow all the threads and the delusional expectation of wanting to ‘do it all’ or that we should be able to ’do more’.

Dharma practice, in my opinion can, over time and with diligence, lead us to slowing down the rush of sensory overload that gives us such anxiety. It can help us see things like thoughts for what they are, transient phenomena that we don’t have to cling to and identify with. And in doing so, reduce the suffering we contribute to the world.

Gassho

 

Clarence Ratliff is a Lay Minister with the Bright Dawn Center of Oneness Buddhism.

 

Gratitude

by Seiyo Thomas DeMann

dharmawheelcoloring

Gratitude has always been a shortcoming of mine.  Recently, however, this has begun to change slowly.  With this in mind, I have started to have thoughts of things that I need to be grateful for as I travel on my current path.

Shakyamuni Buddha tells a story of how lucky one is to be born a human.  Gautama says that being born a human is as difficult as if a blind turtle rises to the top of the ocean once every hundred years and his head slips into a yoke as he reaches the top, improbable but not impossible.   How fortunate am I!  Because I was born a human, I have the ability to hear and accept the Dharma which can lead me to enlightenment and nirvana.  I would not have this opportunity if I were born an animal.

Previously, I wrote a Dharma Glimpse regarding the illness that nearly took my life.  It was at this point that things started to change for me in my way of thinking.  Exactly what is this life all about?  From what I have learned in one of the books that we read in this class by Kogen Mizuno who made the statement, “What is the final profound truth?  It is the finding of the infinite life of humankind within the eternal life-force of the universe.”  I found this to be a comforting statement and something to work at.  So how do I work at this?  So what am I grateful for?

First of all, I am grateful for my illness even though I am left with various physical and psychological limitations.  This encouraged my walk down the Buddhist path to find something.  Siddhartha Gautama has pointed his finger to show me what I need to do.

I have learned that life is composed of suffering.  If I do not understand this, I will not search for a way to eliminate this suffering.  

From this………I have learned the following:

I have learned that I should see things as they are.  If I am unable to do this, this will lead to nothing but misunderstanding and delusion.

I have learned that every cause has an effect.  If I do not realize this, my actions will create all effects.  I must control every thought, action and how I speak.  These three things make up my actions.

I have learned the Four Noble Truths are a way to lead me to enlightenment and nirvana.  If I do not understand this, I will be lost in this lifetime.

I have learned that the Eightfold Path is THE way to escape this misery.  If I do not understand this, I will have a miserable existence.  

First of all, I am grateful for my illness even though I am left with various physical and psychological limitations.  This encouraged my walk down the Buddhist path to find something.  Siddhartha Gautama has pointed his finger to show me what I need to do.

I have learned that life is composed of suffering.  If I do not understand this, I will not search for a way to eliminate this suffering.  

From this………I have learned the following:

I have learned that I should see things as they are.  If I am unable to do this, this will lead to nothing but misunderstanding and delusion.

I have learned that every cause has an effect.  If I do not realize this, my actions will create all effects.  I must control every thought, action and how I speak.  These three things make up my actions.

I have learned the Four Noble Truths are a way to lead me to enlightenment and nirvana.  If I do not understand this, I will be lost in this lifetime.

I have learned that the Eightfold Path is THE way to escape this misery.  If I do not understand this, I will have a miserable existence.