The Middle Way

Zen Spot #209— Mindfulness, meditation and the simple pleasure of walking the dog August 1, 2018 00:00

Whistlehissing and bouncing

My wife rescued a seven year-old Boston Terrier. Now eleven, Mayze has nuzzled into our lives nicely or, perhaps, we’ve nuzzled into hers. I know little about the breed, but Mayze doesn’t really bark unless she’s frustrated that we’re not sufficiently focused on playing. The bark, itself, is more of a round loud clown-purr than a traditional bark. Most of the time, when she wants attention, especially when she wants to go for a walk, she whistlehisses through her nose or bounces like the puppy she no longer is — despite being walked an hour before and not having to answer nature’s call.

It’s as if she is calling me to a session of walking meditation.

Ten minutes, three times a day

Most dog owners know the wonderful respite offered by slowly strolling with one’s companion. One’s gait is adjusted. Smaller steps are taken. More weight spends more time on one’s heels. In the moment, very little exists but the animal and you.

Rain or shine

At times, the opportunity to walk in the rain with one’s dog should be embraced. To be sure, Mayze loathes walking in the rain and will stop instantaneously just outside our back door to relieve herself so as not to get more wet than necessary, but sometimes she can be coaxed further. The difference between a walking meditation in sunshine and a light rain must be experienced.

A different route

Most practitioners have a single, sensible, quiet, safe place in which to sit in the moment. Walking meditation requires adaptation and delivers a different experience. To be sure, clearing one’s mind completely is hard, but the opportunity to take a different route at different times acts as a splendid departure point.

In the moment

One must choose to be in the moment with the intent of connecting with one’s companion’s spirit. When connection is achieved, the experience is sublime and wonderful. Take the time to disconnect from the world and connect with another sentient being.

You’ll be glad you did.

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About DharmaMechanic 

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 


Zen Spot #190 — Mindfulness, meditation and drawing farting dogs April 3, 2018 00:00

Like a punch in the nose

I came home to find the drawing above laying on the dining room table. My wife left it as a warning that Mayze, our Boston Terrier, was experiencing a particularly aromatic afternoon. Having come home from running errands, I wasn’t prepared for the coming assault but was thankful for the warning.

I am among the millions of people who think farting is hilarious — both the sound and the smell. The more noxious, the better. The ten year-old boy within me is alive and well. 

As much a warning about the odor, the drawing was designed to cultivate a bit of compassion. Gastrointestinal distress can, at times, be quite uncomfortable. And, while I’m not sure how more love can be showered on Mayze, the drawing was a reminder to acknowledge her experience with words. 

Compasionate words.

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Download and print the drawing

Right-click on the picture if you'd like to print a copy in order to warn a friend or family member about your dog's current status.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #125 — Mindfulness, meditation and the face of a rescued animal February 17, 2018 00:05

Mayze in complete black

We were told that she spent much of her first seven years in the dark, waiting to give birth, over and over again. Today, she thrives in sunlight. 

In the morning, the sun blasts through the window in my studio. Now part slug, she plops on the rug--somehow following the trail of the sun as it moves across the room, remaining directly in its blast radius for about three hours, without moving a muscle. An eleven pound glacier.

Seven years in the dark. Now loved.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #155 — Mindfulness, meditation and letting sleeping dogs lie February 7, 2018 00:05

Hammurabi

Apologies can have an almost otherworldly power. To reach out, after having committed an error, recognizing that your behavior caused pain, can bring about a rare intimacy. Too, reaching out can result in Hammurabi chewing off an equal portion of whatever. The unpredictability is excruciating. Walk into an apology with your face or loins covered and your sincerity can be questioned. Arrive defenseless and the bleeding could be profuse and extended.

Nine

Among the rationale for making amends during AA’s ninth step, as far as I am concerned, is the humbling pain one must endure as forgiveness is requested. If done correctly and thoughtfully, with the desire to do whatever is necessary to make amends at the forefront, the executor’s desire to never repeat the process can be a resource from which to pull the strength not to indulge when the opportunity presents itself.

That said, every person whose forgiveness I requested acted with an astonishing grace. My loins were sincerely exposed. None punted. 

Abscesses and my memory

I’ve written of blackouts. Weeks of blackouts. Time given away, and taken back spontaneously, years after, when a memory flashes back, bringing with it remorse that I thought was gone. 

Flashbacks bring reflexive facial contortions. The taste of an abscess bubble bursting on my gums is less bitter. Sometimes my head shakes back and forth spontaneously and automatically even before the memory arrives.

Abscesses and other people’s memories

The problem with a fearless and thorough accounting of one’s behavior is that many of the aggrieved don’t remember the grievance and, when approached, offer only a quizzical look. That said, in my case, almost everybody possessed a memory deserving of an apology for which I had no corresponding flashback. No matter.

The dogs

The latest boomerang to fly out of the dark and land at my feet concerned a client from twenty years ago. The indiscretion will go unnamed, but the compulsion to appropriately debit and credit the metaphysical balance sheet became overwhelming. An email was drafted. A phone call was pondered. Neither was executed.

I knew he wouldn’t remember and I knew he would forgive me. Of these two facts, I am absolutely sure. 

Forgiveness for the things I can’t remember found at the heart of the things I can remember. As the boomerangs continue to land at my feet, with this man in particular, my certainty in his grace allows me to forgive myself.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 


Zen Spot #68 — Mindfulness, meditation and feeling a loved one’s heartbeat stop February 5, 2018 00:05

Froo froo

Lily was a Standard Poodle. Apricot colored. I didn’t want her. 

My wife chose to bring her into our home for many reasons, few of which had to do with me. I had already had a dog. Her name was Scarlet Shoes. A black Lab.

Not that one dog is enough for one lifetime because, well, clearly it’s not. But, at that time in my life, I didn’t need more responsibility. Three kids. A house. A business. A substance abuse problem. It adds up.

Like most people whose partner commits to a dog, I offered the cliche response — "I’m not walking it, feeding or cleaning it. You want it, it’s your responsibility.”

Cliche.

Trash

Lily had a kind soul. Still, a queen’s soul. Still, a soul that loved our children, especially our youngest, William, in a way that a grandparent loves a grandchild. William would snuggle like most kids snuggle with a beloved pet but, despite Lily’s love, she wasn’t a snuggler. She was a queen. Somehow knowing that William needed to be close, she was a loving grandparent.

Lily would allow William to dress her up in children’s clothes, much to her chagrin. Choosing the role of grandparent over queen required much patience. The image above perfectly represents her resignation to love. Wearing a hoodie, looking down and waiting until the beloved humiliation faded into playing video games or bike riding, Lily gave of herself endlessly to William.

She was a cool dog.

Innate

Lily had an uncanny ability to get into the trash while we were out of the house. Bears in Yellowstone would love her secret. If we forgot to take the trash out before leaving the house, we'd return to a crime scene of aluminum foil, plastic bags, cake frosting and vegetable garbage. What looked like tornado residue was, instead, a slow motion, methodical and discerning gourmet tasting.

The last year

My wife and I had divorced and Lily lived with her for about four years. At one point, my wife moved to a home where dogs were not allowed and she asked if I could care for Lily.

Of course.

Lily's last year was filled with health problems. Sores developed. She began wasting. Her eyes began to fail. She would nip, even when being given medical attention because, I guess, everything hurt. I should have put her down six months before, demonstrating compassion for her pain, instead of mine.

Time

I told William that he needed to prepare. His mother and I chose a date, in February. William’s anguish would be profound. I needed to be strong.

We met at the veterinarian’s office. I hadn’t been around when Scarlet was put down for reasons I won’t explain here. Walking in, knowing I was going to walk out with a crying child and an empty leash was heart wrenching. 

The doctor explained what would happen. I lifted her onto the table. She received the drug to relax her and then, within thirty seconds of the next drug being administered, with my hand lying flat on her chest, her heart slowly stopped beating.

I felt her soul leave. 

Despite being the father, I dropped to the floor and started wailing. Inconsolably wailing. In front of my child. A crumpled pile. So much, that William put his hand on my shoulder to comfort me.

I didn’t cry that much when my father died. Theories abound. My father. My marriage. My dog. Who knows.

Yes, my dog. The dog I didn’t want. 

My dog.

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About DharmaMechanic  

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 Michael has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

 What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?

 

 

 

 

All veterinary offices are Zen spots. Souls depart regularly from these train stations, moving toward the next place — with karma on their side.


Zen Spot #47 — Mindfulness, meditation and hundreds of dog bowls wanting to sing December 17, 2017 02:06

A bell never quite stops ringing

As my dog’s nails were being trimmed, I sat outside the windowed grooming room — waiting. Across the aisle was a wall of dog bowls. 

My blood was simmering like a bell still ringing twenty-four hours after being struck by one of the few human beings I can actually embrace. Their inability to acknowledge my feelings, the day before, was the flame over which the red of my blood had been cooked. I was that toddler’s reasonable tantrum, driven by frustration at not being able to ride the pony that was plainly three feet away.

A bowl is never just a bowl

The Buddhist concept of interdependence has always fascinated me. That the air within the bowl defines the bowl as much its material, color and shape, is as full circle an idea as I’ve ever heard — the Shakespeare of oneness perhaps.

One can’t experience a Buddhist singing bowl without knowing that something almost unknowable is being experienced. Proof of anotherness appears and disappears, almost, but never nonetheless. Touch a bowl while it sings and one’s body absorbs the sound permanently and interdependently. There is a morphine that demands the sound of the bowl transport one to wherever and never, again and again. Sublime, holy, transcendental, more sterile than dirty. 

I am more dirty than clean but I cannot know cleanliness without dirt. 

The sound of a dog eating from a bowl

Our dog has a mirrored metal bowl that sometimes sits on a slick formica floor. Unless the bowl sits in the corner of the kitchen, it slides around as Mayze eats and, between her slurps, her chewing and the tinny bong of the bowl smacking into a wall or door, the sounds resonate like any singing bowl.

The possibility of hundreds of bowls singing

It occurred to me that, in hindsight, if all the bowls across the aisle were set on the floor, for hundreds of dogs to eat together, the orchestra of slurping and chewing and tinny bongs would coalesce into a sustained note, loudest when the animals were originally fed, then fading as their tummies were filled. And, while I never heard the sound, because it never existed, it was just perceptible enough to hear when I next sat down to breathe.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?