For those of us “dog” people, walking our dogs is just something we have to do on a daily basis. Although it can sometimes be difficult to find the motivation to get outdoors to walk “the pooch”, once outside in nature and hopefully sunshine, you wonder why you ever hesitated. You can call it a chore but the truth is, getting outdoors is a treat and important for our bodies and psyches. It’s actually nice to have an excuse to go.
Dog walking can actually be quite social. Friendly dogs like to meet and smell each other and it’s then you get to meet the dog walkers. As the dogs do their thing, the people have a chance to chat or not. Most people strike up a conversation otherwise the situation can get uncomfortaåble just standing there. The interesting thing about meeting other dog walkers is that you don’t really know them. Just like talking to someone in line at say the bank, you often don’t have any past experience with them. You don’t know their name, where they live, what job they have, married or not, the religion or politics they hold or other background information that can infringe on a relationship. Knowledge about the ego personality of a person, their values, dislikes and likes, lifestyle and past can cause us to conjure up ideas and opinions which often subtly influence how we think of them and in turn, how we treat them. Without all of that, all you know is they are walking a dog. Not having a formed opinion about a person is actually quite freeing. They could be the president of a major corporation, a Trump or Obama supporter, an enlightened being and/or a housewife and you wouldn’t know. You just see them for who they are right then and there. No past. No future. No preconceived notions. Just a pure moment of connecting with another human being.
In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha advised his disciples to see everyone as the Buddha. Perhaps he was suggesting that we are all equal, all special and to honor everyone. It’s much easier to do without a bunch of opinions and feelings about someone getting in the way.
Next time you are walking your dog or even in line at the grocery store and you strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know, notice how open you are to positive feelings about them. And when you are connecting with someone whom you already know and perhaps have formed opinions of, notice it and then see if you can honor them as a Buddha too. You might find yourself thinking back to the dog walker that you connected with and find that place in your heart for everyone.
The Buddha went on to say that when you can you see others as a Buddha, you are a Buddha.
What would it be like to greet everyone with this “not-knowing”, open hearted mind? What do you think the Buddha meant by seeing everyone as the Buddha? I’d love to know your thoughts.