Learning Zen from a Dog
Sadhguru explains the hidden meaning behind a strange teaching given by a Zen Master.
Story: A Zen master and his disciples went to bathe in a river. After bathing, the master came out and all his disciples gathered around him as he walked.
A disciple asked him, "Dear Master, what should I do to realize?"
The master said, "Learn from that dog," referring to a dog that was nearby and kept walking.
The disciple was greatly disappointed and angry within himself that the master had ignored his question. Then he asked, "Oh, Master, what can I learn from a dog?"
The master walked on for some time without saying anything.
The disciple persisted, "I don't want to learn from that dog, please tell me, Master."
The master then pointed to another dog that was playing in the next street and said, "Then learn from this dog."
"You are making fun of me, Master. What can I learn from a dog? All it does is eat, sleep and reproduce. I have come in search of you only to become free from that."
"You also eat and sleep," said the master and walked into his hut.
The disciple stood frozen in shock.Sadhguru: What does an average man do today? He eats, but it cannot be considered as eating. He sleeps, but that cannot be considered as sleeping. Why? When he eats, he is not fully involved in it. Even if he is eating something delicious, he notices the taste only for the first mouthful. Then his mind keeps wandering elsewhere even as the food passes from his mouth down his throat and reaches the stomach. I would like to share an incident in my life. I was about 20 years old, and I sat down to eat. I put a morsel of food into my mouth and suddenly I felt as if my whole system was bursting within me. This is not something I noticed logically but experientially. It was the profound experience of witnessing a miracle: something that was on a plate had become me.
This is not a simple thing. For every life, this is actively happening every moment without a break. What was not you earlier is becoming you. Yoga is just this - you becoming one with something that is not you. Yoga means union or becoming one with this existence. People are longing just to taste this experience of oneness. But if you cannot become one with even a morsel of food, how can you become one with the entire universe? A small part of this planet is entering you and becoming you, what can be more miraculous?
Another miracle is sleep. When you are in deep asleep, who you are is absent and you become one with this existence. What is actually happening when you sleep? Most people do not experience deep sleep. A million things are happening in your head which manifest as dreams or murmuring during sleep.
When you eat, you are thinking about home, when you are at home you are thinking about work, when you are at work you are thinking about travel, when you are travelling you are thinking about when you can sleep, when you go to sleep you are thinking about something else. Your whole life rolls on like this.
If you have to realize your life to the fullest, you need to do whatever you are doing with hundred percent involvement and offer yourself totally to it. Because you are always caught up with your thought process, only your thoughts and emotions have become life for you. Emotions like anger, joy and fulfillment are created by your mind. You have become insensitive to the true sensations of your being.
Only when you are totally involved with what you are doing, you are in touch with life. When you eat, the universe is becoming a part of you. When you sleep, you are becoming a part of this universe. If you do this with one hundred percent involvement, the doors that lead into higher states of experience will open up for you.
Only this moment is real in this life. The previous moment and next moment are not there in our experience – they are imaginary. See how to do everything you are doing in life with complete and 100% involvement. If you want to fully experience the creation or the Creator, that is possible only in this moment. But you are mostly caught up in some other hallucinations.
When they say that the entire universe is "maya" or "illusion," it just describes the way you are seeing it. Your mind is not seeing the existence the way it is; it is distorting it one way or the other to create an illusion. Your experience of seeing everything at that moment is just imaginary or illusory.
So to learn from a dog means that when you eat something, be fully involved with every morsel that goes into your mouth, enjoy it totally, and notice what happens as this morsel becomes a part of you. Eat totally! When you sleep, leave behind the idea that you are carrying the entire world on your shoulders, keep everything aside and sleep totally!
Editor’s Note: Read this article, where Sadhguru explains what Zen is and how it came to be such an effective means towards the Ultimate.