- Jun 12, 2000TheDailyEnlightenment-Realisation: TDER#2 (contributions welcomed)
REALIZATION: Taking a Doggie for a Walk
Lynn and Zeph were sitting on a bench eating a pack of crisps late one
evening beneath a block of flats when a middle-aged man appeared in the
distance. He was walking a puppy on a leash. It was the new kind of leash-
you can press a button to let your pet go further or not so far by
lengthening or retracting it accordingly. The puppy was an eager beaver. It
was amusing seeing it scuttle around all over the place. It was a baby
dog after all. Zeph remarked to Lynn, "Look- baby animals are just like
human toddlers! They are curious little creatures, new to the world,
snooping here and there, almost always getting into some trouble!"
The puppy went around a tree, snapping away with playful bow-wows at some
small creature it discovered, entwining the leash around the tree. The man
wasn't sure whether to go round with the puppy or to stay put. It was tricky
trying to retract the leash as the little bundle of energy was going round
and round. When it untangled itself, it went bounding away to a lamp post,
lifting a hind leg.... before running off again, seemingly in a random
direction. It must be a pretty brand new exciting world to the puppy, with
new sights and sounds and smells at every nook and cranny.
"Hey!" exclaimed Zeph, "Is the man taking the puppy for a walk, or the puppy
taking the man for a walk?" They had a good laugh. It was certainly a
choiceless thing- walk the dog or be walked by it. The puppy is just like
our untamed mind. As the Buddha advised, "Be Master of Mind; Not Mastered by
Mind." Guarding our mind is likened to keeping it under the strict scrutiny
of a leash. As long as our minds are unenlightened, they should not be given
the wanton liberty to wander where "Bodhisattvas and angels would 'fear' to
The leash is discipline, the moral conduct of the Precepts as advised by the
Buddha for us to keep. And mindfulness of what every unique situation that
we face warrants whether we should lengthen the leash or retract it. By
lengthening, we are being flexible, knowing that blind abiding by the rules
of the book (or rather sutras) might spell disaster instead of saving the
day. For example, white lies (make sure they are really white) as to the
whereabouts of someone might have to be spoken in order to save him from
being killed by a gangster looking for him. While this might seem against
the basic principle of upholding the truth as in the fourth precept, it in
actuality upholds it, since the nature of the precepts serve to protect, and
not harm (both directly and indirectly) sentient beings. Thus, the precepts
are never to be seen as commandments to be blindly abided by in all
situations- they are guidelines, which can be bended, with practical wisdom,
as long as the motivation is to benefit unselfishly. Keeping to the spirit,
and not letter of the law (of Dharma) is thus the heart of the matter.
Retracting the leash, on the other hand, should be done the very moment we
realise we are losing mindfulness of the precepts. In other words, get a
hold, a firm grip of yourself before you break the precepts.
Once the puppy grows up to be a mature dog, it will naturally stop its
frenziness, bringing less or no problems to its owner. And only at this
moment is the leash rendered both unneccesary and useless, like a raft to be
discarded once we had used it to cross a river. Likewise, we should be aware
that the precepts serve to put us on the right track of becoming mature in
discipline. Rules become unnecessary only when living by them becomes our
second nature. The vice versa is true- as long as our second nature is
morally faulted, rules are a must.
The walker of the puppy of our mind is likened to us. And the puppy our
wandering mind. When we are more wakeful, our innate Buddha-nature takes
over and walks the puppy well. At other times, when we lose our wakefulness,
our "Mare-nature" (Mara is the personification of the negative qualities of
Greed, Hatred and Ignorance) takes over, letting the puppy walk us instead.
Walking the puppy is thus an analogy of the "battle" between good and evil!
The puppy's fascination by the sights and sounds that surround represents
our attachment to sensual pleasures, or even sensual curiosities. For
example, a puppy's curiosity to taste spilled alcohol might lead it to lap
it up quite happily, not knowing a hangover awaits! Curiosity killed the
cat, and puppies too if they are not careful!
A dog is a man's best friend only if it is an obedient dog. And we can be
our best friends by keeping a mind obedient to the precepts. However- that
alone is not the end of the story, the path of spiritual cultivation. Moral
perfection is only the "avoidance of ALL evil, and the doing of ALL good."
The next step is the purification of the mind where it transcends both good
and evil, realising the highest wisdom of all things, so as to be able to
help all beings, using all means. In the meantime, curb well all the the
"Bow wow! Arf arf! Woof woof! Ruff ruff!"
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