Did you ever realize that God spelled backwards is Dog? A dog, and most other pets as well, retain that godliness that many human beings are born with but often lose over time. Dogs are natural spiritual teachers. My neighbor's dog, Sammy, has been a great inspiration for me. There are many spiritual lessons to be learned from animals; here are just 5 of them:
1. Tender touch is good for your health
We can learn from caressing our pets that physical touch is natural for us. We are naturally drawn to pet our pets. Even research shows that hugging is extremely good for your health. It instantly boosts oxytocin and serotonin levels. It is effective at healing sickness, disease and stress, lowering blood pressure; it reduces stress and anxiety, and can even improve your memory. That tender touch makes you forget whatever you were thinking about and it elevates your mood and creates instant happiness. Pet your dog or cat or whatever pet you have. And if you don't have one, try hugging your friends, your children or your partner a little bit more!
2. There is only now
How does a dog approach time? Well they don't, at all. A dog is faithful, in peace, doesn't worry about the future, nor does he think about the past. A dog is permanently in the now. A dog observes what is happening, and either becomes enthusiastic or he feels that it is time to rest his head on his paws and closes his eyes. We could do the same. We don't have to have an opinion about everything that is happening in our lives. If we feel this is something for us to be enthusiastic about, fine. If not, we just relax and see what else we can observe that might inspire us.
3. There's nothing wrong with a simple life
If we can enjoy the little things in life we are truly happy. It is not about what we own and who we know. If a dog sleeps well, is getting fed and somebody walks him, he is happy, truly happy. If we have good healthy food and get to take a walk outside, with or without our dog, we are getting closer to the essence of happiness. For me the biggest joy in life is enjoying the smaller joys.
4. Nobody is perfect
All right, I probably should be more respectful to my neighbor's dog Sammy, who has been an inspiration for my book Spiritual Awakening (the easy way). But Sammy has his imperfections too. He understood intuitively that he inspires me. Now whenever he sees me he jumps up and starts licking my face. I noticed that my spiritual mentor has his imperfections just like the rest of us: he is overweight and sheds, he has poor manners, talks out of turn... and he slobbers when he likes somebody! I realized that nobody is perfect, and Sammy is no different. I am thrilled that my teacher likes me but every time I see him I have to take a shower or change clothes. Nobody is perfect, including spiritual teachers.
5. Play, play, play!
Dogs spend hours per day playing with no regard for time. The other hours they relax or wag their tails because they are happy, often for no apparent reason. I noticed that when I have a problem with something in my life, I am often taking things too seriously. If we can take things, and even our life, less seriously we would probably smile more. Maybe the greatest spiritual lesson we can learn from our dogs is to play more in life. Play play play!
Here some Zen, straight from Amsterdam!