That photo’s of my friend Gizmo. I’m the lucky guy who gets to babysit him when his dad’s away. He seemed like a good background for the Zen joke about the husband and wife. Let’s look at that for what it can teach us.
The dog gets locked in the trunk for an hour and and he’s happy to get out. The wife gets locked in the trunk for an hour and she’s angry she was ever locked in. The reason the dog can achieve the clarity of unconditional love is because he lives in the Moment. And in the moment in question he’s thrilled and grateful to be out of the trunk! But the wife will do the same thing the husband would—she’ll time travel with her consciousness back to when he locked her in there, and she’ll say, “What the hell did you put me in there for stupid!?” Meanwhile the dog will be licking his face. And that is how the world actually works., We can say “but,” but that won’t change whose relationship was strengthened and whose was weakened.
The reason the wife is suffering is because the wife believes in what the Buddhists call The Illusion. She thinks that she deserves things because she’s a good person, even though she’ll know there are children’s hospitals filled with the innocent. She believes she has certain rights, even though she sees and reads about people’s rights being violated in horrible ways every day. And she’ll believe other people will treat her the way she would treat them even though her own life will have lots of examples where that wasn’t true.
Those promises are all just words. Either her husband loves her and generally treats her well or he doesn’t. The fact is, the dog accepts. The dog accepts that crappy things happen, and sometimes they are caused by people we love. But as long as no one’s being physically or psychologically hurt, there’s no problem. That’s what forgiveness is—it’s not thinking about mistakes others have made.
So the dog looks back into the husband’s eyes with open anticipation, ready for something good to happen. Meanwhile the wife will be ruining her own evening by reliving something she could easily put behind her. Obviously this is exaggerated for the sake of the joke and we don’t want spouses locking each other in trunks, but the point is the lesson. You have to leave the past behind so that you can live your future, because the present moment is the only place where you have the chance to engage with and enjoy what’s happening around you. Even if that is just gratitude for being let out of a trunk.
Enjoy your day. You just have to do it Moment by Moment.
Following a childhood accident should have left him dead, Scott McPherson spent his life meditating on thought, consciousness, reality and the self. Seeing the emotional damage done by ego-based overthinking he began dedicating a part of his life to guiding students toward more peaceful and rewarding lives. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, Canada.