This is a story about awakening, by Ben Pritchard. It is an awesome description of what happens during an authentic awakening process. As I say in Rocket Scientists’ Guide to Spiritual Awakening, it is not all warm fuzzies and crystal vibrations. When we “wake up,” we have to confront all the ugliness, violence, trauma, and disease in the world. If we don’t, we’re not really waking up. This awesome spiritual truth is beautifully captured in this story.
Like everybody else, the boy was struck by the beauty of the woman. His secret pleasure was to hang back and look on as the woman collected the money from the passers by. She was attractive, beautiful almost, but it was the dog that drew them in. After all, how often do you see a 3 legged dog? Especially one so well taken care of by a beautiful woman.
How and where the woman and the dog lived, no one knew. But day in and day out, sitting on the curb, they sat together. The woman would pet the dog or scratch his neck, and occasionally she gave him a morsel of food.
“Look how good she is to that pathetic dog!” the passers-by would say.
“Why, a beautiful woman like that, she could have any dog she wanted! But just look how she loves that thing, even though he is crippled and very old.”
With these sentiments in their mind, most people wouldn’t think twice about dropping a few dollars in the woman’s jar, especially because the woman was beautiful after all. And what is a few dollars to help a one so beautiful who takes such good care of a crippled dog?
Now the boy didn’t much care for the dog; his gaze was all for the woman. How beautiful she was! Though he didn’t dare to speak to her, and he had no money to give, still the boy hung around the woman towards the back of the crowd. Day in and day out he did this, and over time — even though his focus was mostly on the woman — he came to notice that her dog was not doing very well.
The boy watched, and each day, the dog seemed to be growing older, and he was no longer taking pleasure in the morsels that the woman gave him. But something else bothered the boy. To the boy, something didn’t seem right.
As he continued to observe the beautiful woman and her three-legged dog, the boy started to notice that the woman’s behaviour toward the dog was rather peculiar, and more-and-more something about this continued to bother the boy.
He noticed for example that the dog wasn’t feeling well, and was obviously in pain. But the woman didn’t seem to notice this, which was strange. He also noticed that yes, the woman would pet the dog, and even give him a morsel of food, but only at opportune times — like when the passer-bys drew near.
The boy then grew suspicious of the woman, and eventually, he started to hold in contempt those passers-by who were so enchanted by the woman and her dog.
“What is wrong with these people?” thought the boy. “Surely they can see that the woman doesn’t love that dog at all! Why, she is just using it!”
But even as the boy’s perception regarding the woman and her dog changed, the perceptions of the passers-by stayed the same. Over and over men would walk by, be struck by the woman’s beauty and obvious good nature because she took care of the dog, and drop money in her jar. The woman would smile at the men who did this, and lightly touch their hand, and the boy started to see that the men didn’t care about the dog either: as it lay there so pathetically, obviously dying, the men’s attention was only on the woman.
Again and again the boy returned, and each day, the dynamic between the beautiful woman, her crippled dog, and the passer-by continued to play out as it always had… until one day, the woman was alone, and the boy quickly ascertained from the conversation of the men that her dog had died.
The boy was suspicious of the woman by this point, and noticed right away that the woman continued to touch the hands of the men who put the money in her jar, and though she was talking about her dog dying, it seemed to the boy that her story was belying the fact that she didn’t care about the dog at all: it was her own misery at being forced to watch her dog die that she lamented to the men.
But the woman was crying, and the boy started to forget about the irregularities he noticed in the woman’s behaviour toward her dog. After all, the woman looked so beautiful sitting there, and she was crying after all.
But something happened next that the boy will never forget. As he stood there watching the woman, one of the men who had been by earlier came back carrying a small puppy in a blanket.
“Here,” the man said, “take this puppy; his youth and vigour will make you feel better, and no longer will you have to be burdened by an old crippled dog.”
As the woman took the dog and hugged it to her breast, a deep-rooted revulsion came over the boy, and at that moment, the boy vomited. He knew full well the reality that the men could not see.
And he was right. The next day when the boy returned to observe the lady, she had the puppy with her, who was now crippled with a crushed paw.
And the reactions of the passers-by in no way surprised the boy, as they expressed their admiration for such a beautiful woman who would care for a pathetic crippled dog.