A few days ago my son, Stephen, 37, called from where he is now living, Aspen Colorado, to tell me of an incident that occurred regarding the three dogs he is looking after for a friend. The dogs are of a mixed breed, Australian sheep dog and border collie, black and white, weighing about 40 pounds each. Sarah, the alpha female, is the mother of Hula, a male, and sister to Haily.Suddenly, and completely out of character, Sarah attacked Haily, her jaws clamped tightly shut on her throat, drawing blood. Stephen’s adrenaline hit, picking up both dogs by their necks and separating them, throwing Sarah outside, incurring a bite on the arm, and during the melee Hula bit him on the leg.
It was over in a flash, and Stephen went and sat down, his heartbeat slowly returning to normal.The reason he called me was to talk about a question forming in his mind that, since he is the cause, what is going on in his mind that would make up a world of vicious dogs? Now, Stephen is a serious student of A Course in Miracles. He spent a period of time in residence at
Wednesday 31 January, 2007
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide
upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me
I ask for and receive as I have asked. (T-21.11.2:3-5)
What you choose to focus on in the panorama is entirely up to you. This is where mind-training comes in because to an untrained mind, there is nothing to see other than what you are looking at, and how you respond seems to be your only choice. Your ego-mind, your self-concept, is completely allied with what you see. That is, what you see, the world, appears to be the cause, and you are the effect. You seem to be a victim of the world you see.
I am seeing vicious dogs attacking each other. I am the cause. What’s going on in my mind that would present such a world to me. “It’s your mind, Dear One.” Yes, but, the real meaning of the inner causes the outer is that you can choose what you want to see. Your awareness of the inner state of mind is either the truth of what you are; or the falsity of what you are.. The choice is to see with the ego’s eyes or with Christ’s eyes. Through the eyes of Christ you always see only the reflection of your peaceful state of mind. You look through the images to peace. Now, you can’t actually see peace; it’s more of a feeling, a slipping into another frequency. Real vision is not only unlimited by space and distance, but it does not depend on the body’s eyes at all. The mind is its only source. (Lesson 30.5:1,2)
* * *
Last night, Stephen called to tell me the happy, tail-wagging end to this tale. He said that he walked around for a couple of days holding a grievance against the dogs, even though they were all-friendly to him, acting as if nothing had happened, when of course, nothing had happened for them, being blessed by not being egos, having no past to hold onto. So, he sat down with each of them and loved them up and forgave them, laughing at the foolishness of holding a grievance against dogs. They simply remained in their loving presence, reminding me of this poem by Denise Levertov (1923-1997), Come Into Animal Presence.
Come into animal presence.
No man is so guileless as
the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn't
quicken his trotting
across the track and into the palm brush.
What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm-forest.
Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence.
The rabbit and the llama and the armadillo are simply present, not having to contend with a false state of mind. They don’t have a choice. They don’t have a decision to make. They are always, already, present, now.
faltered and turned from it.
And now I know why I have always liked the name of the main character in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly.