Dog healed by Meditation

Our New Dog (#3)

Three days ago we adopted a dog which had unfortunately been kept in a cage for the first year of her life.  She thus comes with many problems: shyness, fear, skittishness, hesitancy and more.  We have two other dogs that were likewise both pound dogs who also came with issues.  One of our dogs took 6 months before any meaningful eye contact or trust developed.  This new dog seemed destined for the same long-term hesitancy.

This morning, our new dog woke early so I took her to the basement with me when I went down for my morning meditation.  I had to carry her down the basement steps because she is afraid to any new territory.  At the bottom of the steps, I let her loose and she slowly began to sniff her way around.  I let her slowly investigate the scary basement while I sat down to start meditating on my elevated meditation platform — a stack of old cardboard covered with my Tibetan rug.  Within 5 minutes our new shy, skittish dog put one paw on my platform and slowly (over 3 minutes) decided to join me.  She came up on my little platform (brave for her) and curled up right in front of me.  She sat quietly with me for 20 minutes until she heard the floor boards above us creak as my daughter woke and walked into the living room to sit in front of our warm heater — her morning ritual.  Our sitting ended, and I carried our meek dog upstairs, ate breakfast, kissed everyone goodbye and drove to work.

Later in the day I was rounding on my patients in the hospital when my wife called me saying, “What did you do with our little dog?  Your meditation cured her.  She is running all around the house and is happy and playful.  She is a completely new dog — over night !”

Wow, is that a miracle story or what?

Miracle stories are made up of exactly this sort of thing.  I remember helping to create tons of this type of story in my Christian days.  Some religiously liberal folks may chastise my skepticism by saying, “Sure, it may not be a miracle, but why not just let it be a mystery and inspiration in your life?”

I would reply that there are lots of ways to explain our dog’s improvement without thinking that the deep vibes of my peaceful meditation magically healed her poor shattered psyche.  For instance, it could simply be timing–the dog finally fit in and was not as scared as we imagined.  And I am sure there are other possible theories outside of psychic magic.  Besides, my meditative skills suck.

There are lots of reasons I feel that allowing the mind to find hope in such magic only leads to eventual disappointment.  Instead, disciplining the mind to understand the true nature of reality while finding joy in that rawness is more valuable, in the long run, than the false hopes of an imaginary theology or philosophy.

Sure, it takes magic out of the day, but the day is full of all sorts of other real magic without the lies.

By the way, our new dog is named “Dharma”.  Seriously.

Question for readers:  Have you been tempted to create a miracle story recently?

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18 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

18 responses to “Dog healed by Meditation

  1. geoih

    My miracle stories are purely for humor.

    Its a Festivus miracle!

  2. Stories tend to diminish mysteries by nailing them down too much. What happened happened, and it was pretty wonderful.

    If you think your meditative skills suck, then you’re light years ahead of those who haven’t figured out how sucky their meditative skills actually are. After three decades, I’m often astonished by meditation, but also I feel like I’m just a rank beginner.

    My son in Africa named his dog Metta.

    Dharma, Metta, Karuna, Mudita, Dukkha, and other Sanskrit or Pali words all make fitting multisyllabic names for dogs.

  3. No, I haven’t tried to create magic, thank goodness. I don’t know when during my ex-Christian journey I came to understand that believing in cause-and-effect is better than hoping for miracles. We do and we receive. That’s all.

    So, I’m 100% with you on this one. My theory about your dog is that your meditation made you look extremely harmless. Maybe his previous owners never were around it without abusing it. Those must have been the first 20 minutes of its life without a human doing something to it.

  4. I heard on the internets that pets will respond to meditation. Just put your hand on the animal while you meditate. After a while, the pet will show up for meditation the same way they show up for meal time!

  5. Temaskian

    I think I tried to create quite a few miracle stories when I was a Christian, thinking it would lend me more credence as a ‘legit’ Christian, that God was REALLY with me. As an atheist now, it’s hard to have any motivation for that.

    My theory for the puppy is similar to Lorena’s. He liked being around a human for a long time, without the human trying to say anything to him, just male bonding, lol. Plus, your eyes were probably closed, so it was less threatening for him than usual. Silence is probably as therapeutic for hurt dogs as it is for humans.

    Happy for Dharma. :-)

  6. My wife believes that dogs are natural-born-buddhists and we joke sometimes about how being reincarnated as a dog would be a step up.

    I think it’s fine to call it a miracle, but I admit that I don’t use abstract words for their normal definitions. A miracle can certainly be “presently unexplained by anything natural” without any appeal to magic or supernatural explanations. Maybe a small ‘m’ miracle?

  7. geoih:
    Life’s festivity is a joy to nurture. On a serious note, you know, I think some people weave together connections faster or more loosely than others — perhaps a genetic trait.

    Dan Gurney:
    Yes, stories are funny. We are story making, meaning hungry animals. This serves us well so that we find causes and solutions. But we overshoot too often and we become a slave to story making.

    Lorena:
    Actually, I just thought that it was simple timing. The dog only needed 3 days to settle in at our house — the meditation was coincidentally right before that.

    johnl:
    Yeah, I doubt it is meditation (what is going on in their mind) but maybe the silence and lack of threat is comfortable to the animal.

    Temaskian:
    I am actually practicing a style now with eyes open.

    Andrew G [better]:
    I too hope that in the next life I am a dog — well, a dog in a good home. :-)

  8. “But we overshoot too often and we become a slave to story making.” True. With regard to modern media and its hold over people, it’s perhaps true that an even MORE common affliction is enslavement to story consumption.

  9. Very nice post! Sweet story. I think the sweet dog reacted to being held in a space of non-judgment, where she didn’t feel expectation or any requirements or concerns were being expressed about the state she was in. I don’t know if experiencing or giving non-judgment is magic, sometimes it feels as strange and rare as magic…

    I really like this phrase: ‘the day is full of all sorts of other real magic without the lies.’

  10. soe

    Thank you for this post.)

  11. @ Alywaibel: Thanx. But I must say, that the point of the post is that I don’t think the time with meditation had anything to do with it. I think the temptation to think so is overwhelming.

  12. Jotai

    You don’t know how the dog would have behaved later in the day had you not meditated.

  13. @ Jotai :
    Thank you for dropping in. Indeed, what you wrote goes unspoken. I don’t know how ANYTHING would go in the future had earlier conditions been different. Thus, such a truism does not help me decide or lean either way on deciding if my action [in this case, my meditation] was a significant causal element on an examined event [in this case, our more relaxed dog]. :-)

    Ironically, your name, in Japanese, means “conditions”.

  14. just my humble opinion, no way to know for sure :)

  15. I agree with what Dan said: “Stories tend to diminish mysteries by nailing them down too much. What happened happened, and it was pretty wonderful.”

    In one way, that’s not too much different from a Christian saying, “why not let it be a mystery and inspiration in your life?”, but I think the difference is between trying to explain it (whether by saying that God dun it or that it was the calmness, or 3 days to settle in, or whatever) and not worrying about explaining it.

  16. Hey Will:
    But if “what happened happened”, all that happened is our dog got less shy all of a sudden. The mediation story is a story too. It is a proximal cause story — a classic example of the brain looking for what happened.
    So if I took your and Dan’s advice, there would be no story, just a report of fact. The linking is a story.

  17. Hmm. Maybe what’s more important is not clinging to any particular explanation? Something unusual happened: the dog got less shy. Immediately before this happened, you meditated with the dog. This is a story, in the sense that it’s two facts which seem to be a cause and effect.

    But what I’m saying is, you don’t have to take it any further than that – or if you do, just don’t cling to any one particular “ending” to the story. Maybe it was entirely coincidental. Maybe it was your mojo that calmed the dog. Maybe it was the Buddha’s golden touch that descended on a cloud while you were meditating. Maybe it was the calmness. Maybe it was none of those things.

    It just happened.

    At least, this is how I prefer to think about these sorts of things. Yes, it’s natural to seek patterns, and it’s important, if we want to understand our world. But when we cling to any particular explanation we put up barriers to really understanding what happened.

  18. @ Will
    I guess sometimes it is important to find connections, sometimes it isn’t. But what I want to avoid is to pretend to turn off the brain while really weighting on conclusion. For that would be both a self-lie and a bad cognitive habit.

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