I took Cowboy, our Fox Terrier, to the dog park last week. He outraced all other dogs to the thrown tennis ball time after time. Then Cowboy started to mount other dogs, each of which was two to three times his size...and none of whom welcomed Cowboy's dominant display. As I was apologizing to the other people in the park, an old man looked at me and said, "Don't worry about it. I had a Fox Terrier once...meanest dog I ever had!"
I don't think Cowboy is actually a mean dog. He simply doesn't comprehend why the universe does not organize itself around him. Why would any human give attention to another dog or cat when Cowboy is available? It simply doesn't make sense to him.
Of course, humans and their animal companions often share traits. This morning I picked up an orchid, which was tangled with another orchid. Both dropped to the floor, splattering debris.
After yelling a few choice words, I realized my deeper anger: The universe was not organizing itself around me. Why were these plants, whose lives I'm sustaining, making my life harder when my intention is to care for them? Why had The Universe/God not cooperating? Why am I not getting what I want? I was howling like a Fox Terrier.
Once I realized these self-absorbed expectations, I pondered what to do:
- Embrace these patterns with compassion, knowing that we all have selfish tendencies that need loving attention.
- Put the lie to these false expectations. I could say, "Get thee behind me Satan!", or in other words, "You are present within me but not helpful. I choose to move forward and leave you be. Get behind me."
What do you do when self-centered craziness takes hold of you? Which method liberates you?
After a few minutes, I couldn't help but smile at myself. The simple awareness on this self-centered illusion called its bluff, and it seemed to dissipate as quickly as it arose.
Perhaps the spiritual path looks much the same as becoming a skilled human companion for a Fox Terrier. The wise human learns when to say "no", when to embrace, and when to laugh and simply let things be.