The Black Dog

“If you have to pick one person that has been your greatest teacher on your path, who would it be?” he asked me. I liked his question. But who to name? To pick only one? Impossible. Everyone and everything is my greatest teacher. But today while I bid the regular good-bye to my dear four-legged friends, I feel to answer, out of love:

The black dog! He doesn’t have a name. He is a street dog. I consciously did not give him a name. We humans have a funny trait to place on everything and everyone a name and then call it our own. No, the black dog does not belong to anyone. But for the past many years I call him my friend. I know he does not call me anything. Because he is a street dog. He is free. He has no attachments. He has no expectations. To him I am simply a familiar face, which in phases feeds him daily and then disappears equally long.

But he does love me, at least so I like to tell myself, when he follows me along on the banks of Ganga Ji; when sometimes he gives whimpers to express his joy of seeing me; when he occasionally loudly barks at men that attempt to walk towards me while I meditate. He senses their intention and only barks at those who have inappropriate motives to approach. I love it when he does this and try hard not to smile then. I feel happy when he is around. With him I have shared the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen in the Himalayas and with him I tugged the body together during the heaviest storm I have ever seen rushing over Ganga Maa.

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He cares and yet he does not care at all! That is what is so extra-ordinary about him. While other street dogs sometimes attempt to follow me back home for a very long time, I know he would never do such things. He is the King of the banks of Ganga Maa! I feel privileged when in rare occasions he tugs his head into me to ask for affection. Normally he does not ask for affection. He does not seem to need affection. I have not seen a single being that is as fearless as him. Fearlessness is what he teaches me when he calmly and confidently walks through the territory of other dogs, when he does not speed up nor slow down while passing them. His face is not moving an inch while the other dogs furiously bark at him and even when they come just centimeters close to his body, he will not divert his path. But dare to actually touch him, dare to actually try to bite him, and he will move to them in the speed of lightening.

His instinct, that of all beings, is survival. He cares to live. He cares to protect his territories. He cares to growl at any other dog that tries to take his place of being the pack leader. Sometimes he eats shit, actual shit, to survive. Regularly I see him with injuries, a half torn tooth hanging out his mouth, a twisted leg, a swollen paw and once even a quarter open skull where I could see his actual brain cells. It must have been a cheetah attack. And yet each time he miraculously heals and survives. Sometimes I wonder what blessings he must have received in his previous life to be born at the banks of Ganga Maa. Sometimes I envy him for that. His blessings to be close to Her every single day. Closer than any fancy hotel. Closer even than any Baba hut. No, this is no ordinary dog. My first and biggest joy is seeing Ganga Maa. My second biggest joy is seeing my familiar four-legged friends. And somehow I cannot separate one from the other. They belong to Ganga Maa and Ganga Maa belongs to them.

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