Spacious Passion

Chapter 5 – Infinite Impermanence


This sense of wonder reminds me of a poem by Ngak’chang Rinpoche called ‘Dharma Dogs in the Dregs of Time’ which deals with appreciation and non-appreciation.

I include a couple of stanzas:

Chögyam sighs: “It really is rather sad.” Chögyam wishes that dogs could become wolves.
Dog would really like to be wolf. Wolf is: free – has: dignity. Has: fierce gaze. Has unblinking eyes.
Wolf has: perfect sharp white teeth. Has: luxurious bristling fur. Wolf sings to the moon!
Wolf is: magnificent! But, – somehow – dogs never make the grade; never get to devour a sheep;
Never nibble on an elk or taste the porky savour of precious human rebirth.

Chögyam Sits and watches the sad sight of sheep dog trials like a horn-rimmed owl – Chögyam says:
“This Mont Briac is wonderful! The oaky tannins of this Ravenswood Zinfandel are magnificent!”
Chögyam says: “How splendid to taste flavours! How delightful to quaff the electricity of existence!
But, how very sad, that all beings cannot share it – now! How sad to have some sort of integrity
But squander it on second-class postage stamps, and run after sticks as if they had some sort of meaning.”

Indeed ‘How delightful to quaff the electricity of existence!’ With appreciation I cannot become so accustomed to this sparkling moment that I fail to see it. Habitually we allow the people and objects in our lives to merge into the background sludge of indifference – once they are familiar and we feel we can depend upon them being there.

The pleasure and excitement I felt climbing into the driving seat of the new car diminishes over time. I lose appreciation and find myself wishing I had bought a different model, or occupy myself deciding on the next vehicle.

The wonder I experienced as a child at the beauty of a spectacular sky, or the sensation of rain on my skin, or the sting of hail, may be lost as I plod, head down on my way to wherever. A cynic once described life as ‘one damn thing after another’ – and so it is when there is no appreciation. The warmth of melting into delightful appreciation of my loved one may fade if I take their love for granted and forget to fall in love with them every day. Love is a dance of communication and shared experience – its existence depends on each arising moment of appreciation.

If we woke up one morning and discovered that the grass had changed colour and was now blue, we would all race outside and cry, Wow! Look at that! The grass is blue! Whereas in fact we could all gaze outside in wonder every morning and say, Wow! Look at that! The grass is green!