Thursday, September 14, 2006
Dogs (& monkeys)
I recently came across, in succession, some posts about dogs by bloggers Flitzy, Kathy, Flitzy again, and Darvish. And a hilarious image in Planck’s Constant. There’s also of course Hayden, who regularly writes about dogs.
This brought to mind the several Sufi dog tales I have among my books. I had paid particular attention to this subject, of dog as metaphor, in terms of reflection, associations etc. I had also once shared these stories with a friend who’s particularly close to dogs.
So, as promised to Kathy, I am now transcribing and posting these.
By posting the following five dog tales, I also pay tribute to the late Idries Shah, the author of many books on Sufi philosophy and teachings. Through his books, he has been a dear and intimate friend and guide.
This is a first offering. More to follow, from the stories of Muslim saints and mystics.
In Hindu religious mythology, there is Hanuman, the monkey son of Wind. He is a principal character in the Ramayana epic, the one who helps Lord Rama defeat the evil King Ravana of Lanka, and rescue his abducted wife Sita. Hanuman is an exemplar of devotion. It is said that wherever and whenever the Ramayana is narrated, Hanuman is present in that assembly.
Like with Sufi dog tales, I have thought long and hard about this monkey business. Why a monkey? Together with Hanuman and the army of monkeys who helped Lord Rama, there were also bears, and even a squirrel! There is a tale of how the squirrel got the marking on the top of its fur, for its wish and efforts to help Lord Rama build the bridge across the sea, to Lanka.
I realised that in the racially and socially stratified Indian setting - all this has profound meanings and resonances in the consciousness of a seeker, of someone engaging compassionately with common people, and working for social justice. These meanings cannot be explained by one to another, like feeding regurgitated pre-masticated pap! It is for each seeker to encounter such tales and symbols, discern their significance, and reflect upon them in the mirror of her own life experience and work.
Cartoon: off the mark