Saturday, July 30, 2011

Evolution of Belief: When Dogs Pray Part I

Be kind when you pray - to Whomever or Whatever you worship. It's not easy being G-d. I know this by personal experience.

I've lived with dogs my whole life: Siblings, Babysitters, Guardians, Confessors, Friends. And now it seems I've been given a promotion. Not to Sister or Leader, but to DEITY, FIRST CLASS. H. sapiens sapiens is apparently not the only species we should suspect of having DNA code for religious Belief .

Humanity's Belief genes themselves, if we find them, are probably quite complex and variable. Not all people Believe the same things in exactly the same ways. Some people may be incapable of Belief, despite repeated, sincere, systematic efforts of Total Believers. All genes act in concert with other genes, and are subject to environmental influences.

Complicating any one person's spiritual journey is the fact that religious ideals and practices are vigorously presented to children before the age of eight years, before critical thinking can be used to reject unlikely or inconsistent precepts. Is this manipulation of the "magical" child mind the bedrock of Fundamentalism? Adults espousing extremist ethics use over-simplified, childish language and reasoning.

Hafta think about that some more.

Fundamentalist fakery aside, I have been present during several instances of genuine religious conversion: dramatic readjustments of mind and life strategy in people from diverse cultures following their exercise of Belief. Just as though a switch was turned ON. They Believe and begin to live differently, naturally, in accord with their new perspective.

Myself, I cannot make a fairy come back to life by clapping my hands. I've never gotten the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart just by singing about it. My wide and fulfilling spiritual practice is not the product of any single, profound revelation. Rather, it is an unending series of plateaus leading to increasingly open vistas which words cannot attain. My truest spiritual moments consist of Silence and Wonder. Western Belief models do little to support this experience.

I digress. A lot. You've been warned.

Dogs don't give their young religious instruction. They teach them (by example) to be careful, respectful and sensitive members of their immediate social group. In wild conditions, they'd further teach pups to forage and fend for themselves. What meaning is (or is not) assigned to life stages and experiences is left entirely to each individual's interpretation. Dogs don't preach, proselytize, apologize or attempt exegesis.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that dogs are merely Behavioral in their function and outlook. Canids are very keen to detect intention, suffering and other Essential qualities in living beings around them.

We've selected our canine companions over tens of thousands of years to "fit in" with us more and more. We've suited a great variety of breeds to a great variety of functions. Have we also been selecting them for their potential to Worship?



  1. I'm totally offended by the fact you would not clap to bring a fairy back to life. Totally offended. And hurt. In my little fairy heart. (tee hee) You know you can bring a fairy back to life by clapping, right? You were just fakin'? Right?

  2. *reports Rob's post*

    Bettie, darling, it's not that I WOULDN'T clap you back from the void...I just CANNOT.
    Which does not take away from the fact that people who come and sit by me live for a very, very, very long time. Problem solved!

    *shoves a bunch of stuff onto the floor*