spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily
PictureFoxiebeau is intimate with his toy.
I’m curled up on the couch. We’ve been out for our morning coffee at Los Osos Starbucks and it’s still early. My one and only is sniffling. It sounds like she is crying. I don’t know if she is happy or sad or both or something entirely else. She is sorting through notes from lectures taken over long periods of time; they’re strewn across the wide counter that separates and joins the kitchen and the dining room. We don’t have a table yet, so this counter is it. I sense there is a connection between the sounds she makes and the writing on those papers.

Suddenly she proclaims, “Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.” “Dogen Zenji” she finishes, maybe so I will know she is saying someone else’s words. I don’t know Dogen Zenji. His name starts with a sound I recognize as what she calls me when she explains to strangers why I may not like them. “Foxie is a “rescue dog.” Dog. En. Zen. Ji. No disrespect intended. You could say that as a dog, I am enlightened. I practice intimacy with all things. Sniffing is intimacy, isn’t it? Liking one person and not another shows me being true to my nature. That is the nature of this dog; perhaps not all dogs. I have heard some people say about their dogs, “She likes everybody. She will jump on you. Down, Clownie; off, Thistle. A big difference between enlightened animals and unenlightened other species is how easy it is to explain our behavior. 

I digress. My one and only stumbled across these study notes from past Buddhist classes as part of her pawing through papers not yet assigned to a file folder or crumpled for recycling. To my way of thinking, this ongoing style of creating order is highly disorderly. She’ll head in one direction, double back, take time-out to play Letterpress or watch a basketball game because it’s March Madness. When once again she looks at the material, she becomes engrossed in its wisdom. It is this, I believe, that produces the sound I heard earlier. A sigh of recognition for the truth, for the remembered experience of receiving the handout or scribbling the words of wisdom during a workshop or class at the Zen Center, at Spirit Rock, or at the East Bay Meditation Center. Could be tears for not having the teachers close at hand as she recalls their energy, the tone of their voices, the way one of them peppered her dharma talks with profanity.

As for profanity, my one and only is using less recognizable profanity since our relocation to Los Osos. It’s because her granddaughter has issued a list of words for which substitutes must be employed. Fargo is at the top of our list these days when the eight-year-old is within earshot. Crab, Shiitake—these other words sub for the standards. With no minors within earshot, my one and only may revert.

As for this morning, we are following Dogen Zenji and practicing empathic attunement to our own experiencing. This means that we listen without judging, and we meditate so as to bring an open, noncritical, intimate listening, seeing, and feeling back to our life again and again. I am not really doing any of the above. I am lying in the sun part time, drinking water, playing with toys, and practicing low growling when I hear people in the neighborhood. Thus am I true to my nature.

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