One of the great things about beginning a spiritual journey is that as your mind opens, you begin to see and appreciate things in entirely new ways. The entire world can become new again and the sense of wonder you had in youth begins to return. You will not be condemned to walk the path that John Mellencamp described in his song, Jack and Diane – “Oh yeah, Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.” The veil will begin to lift as your eyes open to the spiritual gifts all around you that had previously just seemed commonplace.
A great example of this for me is my dog Maggie. My wife and I rescued her some years ago. We were at a 4th of July picnic at some friend’s place on a lake. A frail dog was timidly watching (and smelling) the festivities from a distance. She looked pitiful. Obviously starving to death, she was just skin and bones. There was an old lady next door on her porch throwing sticks at her. I immediately demanded that she stop and asked why in the world she would do such a thing. She replied, Because that dog wants to live here. She has no business being here!” I countered with, “She’s starving do death, smells food and you will not throw another thing at her.” Well, I was roundly cursed and the woman disappeared into her cabin slamming the door behind her. At the end of the day, the starving pup was still around so my wife and I looked at one another and without many words, we gathered her and put her in our vehicle for the ride to her new home – our home. That was 13 years ago and she has been our constant companion ever since. Her head is resting on my lap as I type this.
Maggie is what most would call a perfect dog. Her behavior is flawless no matter where we take her. A leash is only used around people who are nervous about dogs. I believe that she has always understood at some level what we did for her. But that’s not really the story here. The story is what SHE did for us. The lessons that she teaches daily are those that the greatest spiritual teachers have been sharing for millennia. Yes, my dog is a guru. And the lessons she teaches are many. Here are the top 10…
1. unconditional love – no matter what we may do, she loves us with all of her being
2. complete and utter forgiveness – she could be blamed and scolded for something the cat or the neighbors dog did and yet in mere moments, there is only love for us in her eyes
3. greeting people enthusiastically – she is always thrilled to see us, even if we only went to take the garbage to the curb
4. make everyone feel important – she never fails to let us know that we are the most important people in the world to her.
5. recreation – play some every day
6. find the wonder in your surroundings
7. persistence – If what you desire is buried, dig until you find it
8. total loyalty
9. support – when someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
10. live simply – delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
So as you walk your path, notice the spiritual gifts and lessons that emerge all around you. Like from the spiritual master that eats from a bowl on your floor.