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tomo n duck2

Once upon a time I woke up into a space of clarity and wisdom of such wholeness and simplicity that magically I remained within this space n place of peace and ease; this place n space of softness and ease of heart; this space n place where nothing arose in my mind that could stick or attract a story for nearly a full day!

It was a day of ease in the fullest sense, it was a day of being present to what ever was and of not having any thought that what was happening in life then and there was lacking anything in any way.  I was at peace with self and with the world and there was for this day an experience of the end of suffering a cessation of monkey mind and of story telling mind  and of getting hooked on rage mind.  It was a day, I suppose of what some might call no mind or Mushin and then…BAM…impermanence happens!

A week ago and totally out of the blue Tomo, our 13 year old black lab died.  She just up and died.  We had no clue till it was too late it was all we could do to keep her comfortable, be present with her and patient and not interfere with her course of death.  We learned some time back that each death is different and this I think includes all living beings.

Tomo was a high maintenance and demanding critter and she was getting long in tooth and mangy of fur while remaining a curious and intelligent dog a beautiful and gentle friend.  A companion, and the emotional and energetic anchor of our pack.  One day she was bounding up and down the stairs and the next she was sharing her last breaths of this existence with Karen and I on the rug.  Now we are bereft.  Now we are challenged to live through our grief and all that comes bundled along with it and do this with each with open hearts  tempered  with mindfulness and held with kindness, with compassion, with patience and, with a taste of the Third Noble Truth – there is an end to suffering.  But that was then and will be again but is not now….

Now we are struck numb and dumb, senseless and lost n dazed with grief and shock, our eyes cloudy with tears and our hearts awakening again to the realization that 1) there is suffering and 2) there are universal causes of suffering that all living beings experience in various forms of sickness, old age and death – which we experience as “mine,” and which are part and parcel of every ones life experience in some form(s) or other.

Up until now, I understood the concepts of universality of emotion and feeling, and  the universality of suffering some of which I also experience, some I can not imagine, and many that I can and choose not too.  But until Tomo died it was all head knowledge it was belief and theory, it was acceptance of some teaching and it helped ground my practice but the truth of it had not touched my heart – had not touched my heart – that is by first breaking it open in quite this way ever in this life of mine.

Tomo left with little suffering and she died peacefully at home.  From being with her Dad, Karen tuned into Tomo’s dying process and we were able to cuddle her at the end and now from practicing mindfulness and dharma we are tuning into our pain and allowing the pain to turn into freedom.

But for now, and for some time we [will] walk around the house feeling the increasing void of her once so vibrant presence.  Sharing what we each notice we miss of her and applying the tools of our practice to stay present to our own experiences so we might be present to hear the experience of each other – with compassion.- with an open heart and a beginner’s mind.

Tomo Dachi is Japanese and means loyal friend.  Every dog is a loyal friend to someone if not a human than to some other living critter.  We are all inter-connected like ripples in a pond, and in our pond, Tomo always made her presence known.  There is stillness now where her rippling might once have been……and now and then we see with new eyes the truth of life’s vast webs of inter-connectivity that show up now and then in the spaces where Tomo would have been….Tomo has not stopped teaching us and this time we are ready to learn.