Inseeing: Puppy Training a la The Monks of New Skete
Puppy Freddy is at this moment (I try to get my teachings about living in the NOW… as often as possible) benefiting from my magnificent discovery! After consulting the books on puppy training by the dedicated Monks of New Skete, (who have been breeding and training German Shepherd dogs for over thirty years) I persuaded Ms. Em to do their inseeing exercise. You can try it too. Get down of the floor and look around … then look UP!
By doing this you get into the puppy perspective. Do you see the huge, looming potted plant with those enticing, droopy leaves? Notice that electrical cable-salad… all multicolored and twisting deliciously around the desk. Ah yes! The DESK… where something omnipotent rules the huge space that is your new human’s den? Are you able to see (and curb your instinct to investigate) those yummy-smelling leather contraptions that your human wears over his two back paws? Is this impossible to imagine? Try it.
This is the visual part of the empathy exercise that the Monks of New Skete advise those with a new puppy to practice. They have labeled this process: “Inseeing.” This term implies far more than just the visual aspect of interacting with your puppy. Here is a definition I found taken from an article by Morgan Van Wyck who has raised and trained his golden retriever Deva the New Skete way. Check out his article adapted from the Shambala Sun Magazine (Please note that all bold type is my idea of what’s important here).
The monks and dogs of New Skete
by Morgan Van Wyck
“The monastic experience calls one to go beyond words and to live, as Brother Christopher puts it, “a life without division.” It is an important point, since only in this way can one appreciate the extent to which, in the process of raising and training dogs, the monks have also enriched their own spiritual practice. Frequently, for example, the monks speak about the discipline of “inseeing,” a term they borrowed from their readings of the German poet Rilke.
Father Laurence, the abbot of New Skete, regards inseeing as the true meeting place of the contemplative mind with the natural world: “Inseeing is being willing to look at another living thing in a way that allows for seeing it in and of itself. It is respecting this ‘other’ for what it is, without trying to change it or own it. In this struggle to deepen one’s understanding one is enriched, given life, no matter how limited one’s success in this endeavor.”
This sounds good doesn’t it? Oh, if E. could have done that with me. If she could have found it in her heart to respect me, to look into me or just once in a while take the time to ask herself why I was behaving badly in certain situations. Had this been the case, there would have been no reason for her to write our book: Learning to Live with Fritz. Why? Because I am sure my dizzy opera diva and I would have gotten along better. I would have felt understood. I would have appreciated the peacefulness, the moments of silent human-canine communication. I would not have felt the need to teach such dramatic lessons. This empathy between us did not exist because Ms. Em was too involved with her divorce and her move back to Europe to save her flagging career. Along with those two life-changing events… meeting and recognizing the greatest love of her life was paramount in her mind and heart. She was an emotional basket case. Need I say more? She thought of me, merely as a traveling companion and mascot. I had to get her attention, didn’t I?
I cheerfully acknowledge torturing and embarrassing her so often because this was the only way I could teach her the lessons she so desperately needed to learn. All my tutorials were intentionally crafted to teach her about Being Here Now and living in the present moment. Be honest. This moment is the only moment that you-and all humans living on Planet Earth have. Can you change anything you did or said five minutes ago? (… and don’t you wish you could?) I rest my case.
All I was saying to E. was… “Slow down. Smell the flowers. Stay present. Concentrate on what you are doing, saying, hearing and seeing … right now.” Voila! What could be easier to comprehend? However, as any Zen Master will imply (but will never outright tell you)… the simplest lessons are the hardest to ‘get.’ I wanted her to THINK about who she was toting around with her. What impact was I (the tiny, bellicose and despotic Maltese nutcase) making on her psyche? I tried to make her see that the way she was scurrying around trying to make all the pieces of her life fit together… was pure nonsense. She never thought about what I might have been trying to tell her! E. didn’t think about this until I was long gone and she felt the vacuum of my absence. Don’t let this happen to you and your dog … please.
Inseeing means to take your dog seriously. Your dog is not a plaything, although he loves to play. Your pup is not your possession, although you paid a lot of money for her, or rescued him from a shelter. An Inseeing statement of purpose might go like this:
“We are in this together. Let us join forces for friendship and companionship and live our lives from this moment on as equal partners in sharing and learning about each other.”
If E. had known about Inseeing she might have discovered something about herself and I would not have taken such drastic measures to get her attention… but then, as I said before… our book would not have been written and this blog would not exist. Now I ask you… hasn’t everything turned out perfectly? You bet. Ms. Em learned all about unconditional love and I received a much deserved bonus of ruling over this Dog Blog as Whispering Fritz! Spiritual journeys are rarely trouble-free and as straightforward as we would like them to be.
Posted on May 31, 2013, in Blog and tagged animal books, animals, dog blog, dog blogger, dog books, Emily Rawlins, Guru Dogs, Learning to Live with Fritz, Monks of New Skete, pet blog. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.