A Short Meditation on Pets and Reincarnation
|A Pug Encounter the Five Remembrances for the First Time!|
In all Buddhist traditions, we honor a teaching called the five remembrances in which we recall that we are all of the nature to grow old, to have ill health and to die. The realization that all which is dear to us is of the nature of change and therefore that there is no way to escape being separated from them is the beginning of wisdom as we see it. It is actually because of the impermanence of things like our beloved pets that they are precious, and calling this fact to mind daily helps us to not take them or ourselves for granted.
The true nature of our pets is the same as the true nature of ourselves, and the true nature of the cosmos itself. All forms are forms of this same true nature, and from the realization of that nature we can say that we are nether born nor do we ever die.
And so our beloved pets, and family, and loved ones who have passed away are at once gone and we grieve their loss, and their true nature is intimately right here, right now.
Of course the tale of my individual soul meeting my beloved pugs individual souls (I live with three) in heaven again once we are all dead is perhaps a compelling one for some. But for me it is at best a wishful tale, and at worst a way of bypassing a difficult truth which in my view we would be much better off squarely facing together.
So as my oldest pug Louie has a harder and harder time navigating the day with each passing year, I hold him close and comfort him.
And love him all the more.
And when he is gone I will grieve for him for the rest of my days. And when I see another pet owner I will hold both them and their beloved pets with a deeper compassion than I do today.
And yet, if I listen to the sound of the winter wind sweeping over the empty corn fields and subdivisions I will hear him still.
He just won't come to me when I call him.
- Rinsen Sensei, Abbot, Buddhist Temple of Toledo
PS: Does a Pug have Buddha Nature?