This month’s journal prompt on patience, has gotten me to not only think about or review the things that help me to practice patience, but it has also reminded me of someone who was a teacher of patience for me. My teacher’s name was Simba, and he was a very courageous and admirable lion king. I’d like to share his story, which I wrote in 2011 after his passing. Though his physical form is gone, his spirit watches over me from the Rainbow Bridge. This story was published in Buddhadharma magazine in 2012.
No Ordinary Teacher
Sometimes a teacher will come into our lives at just the right time, regardless of whether we’re looking for one or even know we need one. A few years ago this happened to me, quite unexpectedly, when I met Simba. My teacher wasn’t a Zen master, or a lama at the local Buddhist center. He was no ordinary teacher; he was a dog.
When I adopted Simba through a rescue group, I learned much of his history from his foster mom, who had taken care of him for the previous three months, and from the woman who had freed him from the chain he had been hooked to for nearly four years. He had been neglected, barely fed or given water, and was so lacking in exercise that he was hardly able to use his hind legs. After being rescued he had to be shaved to remove the parasites in his fur, and he had other skin and health issues. Worst of all, he had chewed on his infected paws so severely that the vets had at first thought he had chewed his toes off. He was still in bad shape when I brought him home, but I was confident we could get him back to health.
Physical health, that is, but how was this sentient being going to heal emotionally, mentally, and maybe even spiritually? I was a bit scared. He weighed nearly a hundred and fifty pounds! Would he be angry as a result of his experience and act disobediently and aggressively? How would he behave with other animals, children, women, and men? To my amazement, he turned out to be a gentle giant. He respected the smaller animals in our home, adored meeting babies and toddlers on our walks, never showed any aggressive behavior to anyone, and brought smiles to the faces of everyone he met.
As he got healthier, our walks got longer and we could go faster, especially when the weather cooled off. With more to explore, he’d want to stop and sniff the plants and flowers to see whether any of his dog friends had been by. On those cold morning walks, especially if it was raining, I’d tug him along and grumpily tell him we had to keep moving. He did like to lollygag, to take in life and enjoy it. He seemed at peace with the world and didn’t see why I needed to rush. It was true. I didn’t. I was just being impatient, wanting to hurry to get on to the next thing. And what did I have to be angry about? A little rain, a little chill was nothing terrible to endure. It’s just nature doing its thing. I realized that every day in so many ways he showed me how to experience the moment and practice patience.
Even when he was dying he brought happiness to all around him, despite the pain the tumors throughout his body must have been causing. Right up to the end, his soft eyes would remind me to be patient and appreciate the moment.
What an amazing journey his life had been. After enduring years of neglect, abuse, illness, and disease, this dog exhibited nothing but kindness and respect for others. It must have taken great inner strength to have not only persevered, but to have come through the fear and suffering with only love in his heart.
I am grateful to have had a teacher who taught me not through words, but through his personal story, experience, and actions. No matter what life threw at him, he practiced patience, taught love, and spread only joy.
No evil is there similar to anger / No austerity to be compared with patience…There’s nothing that does not grow light / Through habit and familiarity. / Putting up with little cares / I’ll train myself to bear with great adversity! / Don’t I see that this is so with common irritations: / Bites and stings of snakes and flies, / Experiences of hunger and of thirst, / And painful rashes on my skin? / Heat and cold, the wind and rain, / Sickness, prison, beatings – / I’ll not fret about such things…For is not patience the supreme austerity?
– Shantideva, Bodhicharyavatara (The Way of The Bodhisattva)
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Growing up on a farm in Derbyshire, England, playing outside with all the animals I so appreciate how important it is for all animals to be free, wild and passionate…Simba, the wolf like dog would be my choice of companionship in a dog too… taking him out to run free and feel the love that all dogs initially want to provide ‘us humans’ with and be our teachers… What a lovely story of patience julianne… thank you for sharing… You know I bought your journal, but shipped it to Holland at the time and have still not been able to get my hands on it… which brings up the question if the journal is available in an E-Book? Take care, Barbara
Thank you Barbara! And thanks for purchasing Butterfly Journal. It is not available as an e-book. Since it’s a journal, I didn’t think an e-book would work or sell, but you can get the prompts from the journal posts here (basically a way to get an e-version for free). They are in blue in the first post for each month. (click on the Butterfly Journal category on the right side of the blog). Just print or copy into your own journal, one with butterflies on the pages if possible. 🙂
A beautiful story…thanks for sharing. Dogs teach us the ultimate lesson of unconditional love which your Simba certainly displayed despite his background. How fortunate for both of you to have shared his final years with you.
Thank you Bev! Simba’s spirit still walks by my side. 🙂
Lovely story. We all have teachers of patience but we don’t always know who they are. Mine are my horses,
Reblogged this on Reiki & Other Things.
Thank you! Namaste _/l\_
Beautiful as always! as they say the teacher comes when the student is ready 😉 I guess you were ready for your lesson then 🙂 A teacher doesn’t have to take a human form…
What a beautiful spirit your teacher was and most likely still is…
my Sadie was my teacher …she taught me more than any other energy..
when she was passing ( she was 19 1/2 years, she was wolf someone through away when she was about 2-3days young) she taught me the patience in letting go…for I did not want her to go…
Her partner Maverick left 3 weeks earlier…she was 13…Before she passed she told me I had to let Sadie go ..or she would stay….
the lessons in life will always stay with me..as Maya came into my life I draw on their patience more than ever…
Your story is a wonderful note today for me to slow down again…
Thank you for sharing…
Thank you for sharing Sadie! Simba is truly a soulmate. Namaste _/l\_
What a lovely tribute to your great teacher! Many blessings, Cherokee Billie
What a wonderful spirit and gift, your Simba. Reminds me of my Daisy, who is still teaching me everyday the gifts of patience, love and listening to Spirit. xo
Lovely story about simba.
I am getting tired of patience lessons. I must be a very slow learner. 😉
What a beautiful & inspiring story. It makes me think of many start & stop walks with my young girls and how they have so much more to teach me than the other way around. Blessings to you earth angel.
Reblogged this on Modern day hippie girl's blog.
Thank you! Namaste _/l\_