Current Update as of January 17, 2005
Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies
Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
(Inner Ocean Publishing)
Book Summary by Linda Brown
her life, Houston has been a dog lover, so it seems natural that she features
them in her book about following the mystic path. She reminds us that
dogs offer steady emotional support, love us unconditionally and can even
find us thousands of miles away.
Woven into the stories about her animals, there are thoughts and suggestions regarding meditative and spiritual practices.
Mysticism, as Houston defines it, is the "art of union with Reality." It is a heroic journey of the spirit and the mystic is a person who brings into their path vigor, attention, and focus. These are the same characteristics we find in many of our pets.
The mystic path contains eight stages that this book is centered around. The eight stages include the following:
1. Awakening - being filled with awareness that one is a part of the whole
2. Purification - being released from old ways of thinking and doing
3. Illumination - finding beauty and meaning in everything
4. Voices and visions - knowing with more than the five senses
5. Contemplation and introversion - turning to the inner life of prayer and contemplation
6. Ecstasy and rapture - the art of the science of happiness
7. Dark night of the soul - feeing bereft of everything. (This is easier to endure if we realize that this is a necessary stage, that what goes up must also come down.)
8. Union with the one Reality. This stage is called the "unitive life" and this phrase appears often in the book. Everything becomes possible because the person is in a state of union with the One Reality. People who exist in this stage are energy and are life centers for the spiritual vitality in other people.
Within the framework of the mystic experience Houston relates how each of her pets has taught her lessons that have helped her on her own mystic path.
first dog she owned was Chickie, who taught her to be alert to the seen
and unseen. She and Chickie wandered hour upon hour through the forest
and meadows - looking, hearing, tasting, touching.
It is within the story of Chickie that the book instructs how to do the "stop" exercise, a method of practicing mindfulness. The exercise is done as follows:
Walk around a room. Become aware of everything you are doing, seeing, etc. Do the exercise for several minutes. Pick up a glass, walk to the door, look at your shoes. Then, stop. Next, do the same thing again, but this time bring your full consciousness to the activities. Inhabit, really inhabit your reality.
author believes that if this practice is done for five minutes a day,
within a month's time a person will have expanded her senses to the point
where she is consciously orchestrating her own life.
second dog, Champ, was part of her life from ninth grade through graduate
school. He seemed to really listen when she told him her adolescent problems
first was an elderly gentleman for whom she ended up working, who taught
her to appreciate, date and repair antiques. The other was Pierre Teilhard
de Chardin, the great French scientist and mystic.
skills involved networking and creating community. With him she was released
from childhood's limited vision into larger visions, broader scope.
Houston's next dog, Titan, seemed to be on a mission of teaching her about
goodness. Although Titan was in pain most of the time due to a spinal
deformity, he loved everyone and everything.
1. Loving kindness
2. Heart compassion
3. Willingness to allow oneself to be happy because someone else is happy
4. Allowing oneself to be in a state of loving when others are not.
Titan demonstrated that the state of illumination is a natural form within oneself.
Titan came two dogs that sang with her, one that loved to be dressed in
costume and Zingua, the mastiff, who always did everything right. In addition
to being so well-behaved, Zingua also possessed serenity.
of the dogs discussed in the book was not the author's, but belonged to
a doctor whose medical practice consisted of counseling cancer patients.
The dog, Nova, is of the Xolo breed, whose bodies have unusual radiant
last of the dogs to be written about was a long-haired white German Shepard
named Luna. Many native peoples of the Americas consider a beautiful white
dog to be a messenger from God and a messenger to God.
At times dogs have been regarded as gods - by the Egyptians, the Maya, and the Celts. Even Disneyland offers us animals that lead us into wonder and enchantment. Nor are animals afraid of the darker aspects of life. They are happy with us even when we are not happy with ourselves.
the end of the book a humorous story is told about Moondog, the pet who
kept bringing home human limbs. Eventually the police were called.
Another of Moondog's activities was grooming the cats. He would lick them for hours. Both dog and cats loved it.
Houston writes that from the blissful state Moondog seemed always to be in, he taught her about rapture. She believes an ecstatic state is natural, that the soul is geared for happiness and union with the One. She says it is reached when we tune in to our Source.
the mystic, the unitive vision creates a new life and one experiences
a sense of belonging and energies far greater than one's own. There are
three marks of the state of union of which Houston writes.
Just as humans have different personalities and gifts, so do animals. Each has it's own specific set of lessons which it can teach us. The author says that one of the most important things she learned from her dogs is to pursue a dream wherever it takes her.
Not only were Houston's dogs companions in life, but they were also spiritual teachers to enlightenment.
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