A Buddha and His Dog


ASANGA gave up. Twelve long years of meditation and spiritual practices, and still no vision of the future Buddha Maitreya.

He yearned to connect with Maitreya to receive teaching directly, which would accelerate his progress on the Bodhisattva path.

“Every new Bodhisattva or initiated great Adept is called the ‘liberator of mankind,’ Helena Blavatsky explains in The Voice of the Silence:

“Now bend thy head and listen well, O Bodhisattva,” she wrote, “Compassion speaks and saith: ‘Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?’”

Enhanced and republished at:

Mahatma of the Himavat

4 responses to “A Buddha and His Dog

  1. I agree about the quest for spiritual progress often being undertaken for selfish motives – I want my own spiritual progress, my ascension, my masterhood, etc. I’ve been around many folks who seem stuck at that level, at least for the time being, and are unaware that they’re stuck. (Hey, at least they realize that there is something higher than their human selves to aspire to!) Certainly it seems to me that service to others is a more spiritually mature motive.

    But that motive also requires our own continued spiritual growth. Without that growth, our service to life can devolve into a human ego trip. (I’m so good because I’m helping all these people, etc.) Part of the shadow side of service can be becoming dependent on it for self-validation, leading to subconsciously wanting people to suffer because helping them makes us feel good. (Yes, it’s ugly. Those in the helping professions need to keep a sharp eye on themselves to ensure not falling into this trap.)

    Even those who avoid that spiritual pitfall find that service without continued personal spiritual growth limits what we can do for others.

    Some folks seem to be able to pursue spiritual growth and service simultaneously, at a fairly steady pace for both. Mother Teresa seemed to be able to do this. But some of us grow in spurts and tend to vascillate between inward and outward focuses. Whatever works!

    I am one of the spurty learners. Every so often, during periods when I was heavily outwardly focused on service, at some point Spirit hit me over the head, so to speak, and forced me to get back to inner contemplation for awhile. More than once this has come via a health crisis forcing me to be bedbound. I finally realized that in each case, I had reached a point where I had plateaued in my own spiritual growth and that I had to withdraw and go inward for awhile, despite all the crying needs around me, because I owed it to life to reach my next level of spiritual growth so that my service would be exponentially more effective. I had to learn that going inward was not selfish in this context.

    One of astrology’s great lessons is that of balance. Virgo is the sign of practical service to life. Its partner on the other side of the zodiac is Pisces, the sign of direct spiritual experiences and spiritual awakening. It, too, is service-oriented, as through it we realize our connections with all of life. The two signs work together. Pisces needs to express its idealism not only through service to life through prayer, but also through practical Virgoan service. Mother Teresa, again, was a great example of this. Virgo without Pisces can lose its ability to intuit what help is most appropriate in situations, instead doing what it humanly thinks is best (and it may well be wrong). Virgo can also lose sight of Pisces’ vision of our oneness and devolve into human criticism of others and their perceived faults, forgetting that we’re all in embodiment to learn, not to live a humanly “perfect” life.

    • Excellent points, Kathleen! Thank you for your insights. I’m a spurty learner, too. I also feel that there are periods in one’s life where, like Damodar, we are compelled by our soul, spirit, sense of mission/Dharma to pursue the encounter, the guru, the Understanding as intensely as a drowning person strives for air. In other words, the arising of bodhicitta and the taking of the bodhisattva vow and the rembrance of that vow that’s such a compelling force.

      But you’re right about having a balance. The Middle Way, as Buddha taught. HAPPY WESAK!

  2. theosophywatch

    You make an important point, an ideal we should all make the highest priority. Universal Brotherhood is the first Object of the Theosophical Movement. We should strive to do service to all that lives, in practical ways in every moment. I think this post assumes that, and describes the final, necessary stages of discipleship on the path, when one needs direct instruction from a Guru. This points to the tradition of the “mentor” or studying directly under a master in any ordinary trade –carpenter, plumber, artist, sculptor. Just as Ph.D. candidate has a “mentor” or “guru.” We only deserve this level of tuition after many years (lifetimes?) of struggle and suffering, and service. The two stories are perhaps symbolic of the subtle mental and psychological struggles of Arjuna mentored by Krishna on the battlefield. Arjuna had preferred escape and flee back to his “cave,” instead of performing the rightful duties he faced. All great teachers, tradition says, had to go through these necessary stages of final testing and preparation before they were deemed fit, by those still higher and wiser, to be true and trusted servants of humanity. One very useful related article is “Can the Mahatmas be Selfish?” by H. P. Blavatsky.

  3. In the two stories, the people seem to be focused on themselves. Although they seem selfless, they search to experience the heighths of spirituality. The first one finally shows some compassion, to a dog and its maggots. But think of all the human beings and animals they never even noticed as they lived in a cave or travelled in search of their own enlightenment. Throughout their life stories, they seem as single-mindedly focused on achieving what they consider a spiritual summit as an investment banker or corporate fast tracker would be focused on whatever they consider fulfillment. From what I know of the real Buddha, we can live our lives not “striving” to see the embodiment of spirit in a guru, but to find it through acceptance of life as it enfolds and connection with human beings and other life forms in a compassionate way.

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