Conversations With My Dog - Who Screwed Up?


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Zeus mysteriously materialized in my life a few years ago. He's a very complex, wise-cracking, irreverent dog with some serious attitude. However, he is arguably the most highly evolved being I have ever encountered. His great delight is in turning my world (and yours) inside out and upside down, with the soul purpose of revealing forgotten knowledge. For example:

"Ever wonder how the world got to be so messed up?" Zeus asked.

The question, like most of the curve balls Zeus delights in hurling at me, came completely out of the blue. This time I was washing up a short stack of dishes. Cooking for one and a half doesn't use up much of the dinnerware. “Of course I have. Every time I watch the news or read the papers, or when I meet people in dysfunctional relationships or note the way we pollute the planet. It's all pain and suffering in one form or another. Who doesn't wonder about that?"

"Interesting, " Zeus continued, ignoring my answer completely, “a planet of six and a quarter billion people unable to agree on almost anything. They're so attached to their beliefs that they'll fight and defend and die rather than let go of a shred. "

"What do you mean by that?"

"Just look at the Middle East. What a hodgepodge that's turning out to be! You can play the polarity game and go along with the talking heads sitting under the tree of wisdom analyzing rights and wrongs. Or, if you choose, you can join me on one of the tree's higher branches and watch the drunken chickens lurching around the barnyard. "

"But there's such a thing as right and wrong, " I protested. “Someone has to stand up for values. "

"Everyone always has, " Zeus retorted, “and that's why you guys are waist deep in kimchee. By the way, what makes one thing right and another thing wrong?"

"It's a matter of ethics and morals, " I said. “Anyone can tell right from wrong. "

"That a fact?" Zeus baited. “You mean like differentiating between black and white?"

"Yes . . . something like that. "

"You gotta be my favorite brick, " Zeus laughed. “I sometimes think I was assigned to you because if you finally get it, the rest of the world should have no problem. Just for once, how about letting go of your notions about the way things should be and focusing on the way things are? That way you won't be distracted by your misguided boy scout urge to fix what ain't broke.

"Ever notice that by your view of right and wrong the perfect world would be white on white? Sounds kinda boring to me. "

"Well, " I answered weakly, “I suppose there are shades of gray. Not everything is that clear cut. "

"Oh, I see. Sometimes right is wrong and wrong is right?"

"Stop it! You're confusing me. "

"Don't be so modest, my little human. It's you who is confusing you. If you would but look, you'd see that from this branch where we're perched, neither right nor wrong actually exists. They're simply artful fabrications that bind believers more securely to their beliefs. "

"What's so wrong with beliefs?" I asked. “Without them people have nothing to cling to—nothing to define themselves with or give their lives purpose. "

"Nothing is wrong with belief. Just as there's nothing wrong with cinnamon or paprika. Belief is just an interesting way to spice up the illusion, but you can't make a whole meal of it. In fact, belief is the least effective way that humans process information. "

"What do you mean by that?"

"Look at your scientific community, for example. Someone has an idea about the way things work, so they make it a hypothesis. If the hypothesis survives a lot of experimentation and refinement, it gets elevated to a theory. Every so often a theory proves itself so universally consistent that it gets canonized into a law. In nonscientific terms, hypothesis is akin to belief, theory equates to thinking, and law corresponds to knowing. These are your mind's only options. Whatever you have in that precious little head of yours got there through one of these three channels. And last time I looked at the collective human condition, I tallied about 92 percent belief, 7.25 percent thinking, and the entire balance knowing. "

"You mean we're almost totally driven by belief?" I asked.

"Now you've got it, " Zeus replied. “No one bothers getting worked up about what they know. They're happy to discuss what they think. But they'll defend, fight, and die for what they believe. Do you know why?"

"Not a clue, doggie-san. Enlighten me. "

"Who are you?" Zeus asked enigmatically.

"What do you mean, ‘who am I'?" I was inexplicably annoyed by Zeus's question. “You've lived with me for the past five years. Nobody knows who I am better than you. "

"Ah so, " Zeus countered, “an emotional response. How delightfully predictable. We have descended once again into the dank realm of belief. Seems you slipped off the limb while I wasn't looking. Why not climb back up the tree and tighten your seat belt this time? If a little breeze can tip you off your perch, you haven't a chance with what's coming next.

"The question ‘who are you’ is a paradox. Nothing that views itself as an object can ever know what it really is. Desperate to define themselves, people plug in a litany of irrelevance: gender, religion, country, political party, wealth, status, appearance, mental acumen, physical strength, their tastes in art, food and sex, morality, charitable works, and a host of other labels that reinforce the illusion of their existence. These are just the ID tags on their belief systems. If they didn't buy into them, they'd have to face the possibility that nothing is what it seems to be and—dare I say it—that who they think they are doesn't really exist after all. "

"Hey, if I don't exist, then who are you talking to?" I demanded.

Zeus's silence was at first maddening, then uncomfortably funny. It was only after I tittered nervously that he continued. “There's a ‘you’ quite separate from your physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual attributes. The universe, in fact, is nothing but an arena where that ‘you’ can explore the infinite richness of Creation. I won't spoil that adventure by telling you how it all turns out. I'll simply say that what you really are is a point of consciousness from which to view. Your beliefs, thoughts, and bits of knowing are merely distortive filters that warp and cloud your vision, locking you into this illusion so you can ride the emotional waves of being pretending to be a human.

"Since the illusion of identity, the apparent gift of belief, is such an precarious platform on which to base one's life, is it so surprising that people eagerly seek any safe harbor to sit out the storm? That's why you humans would rather fight and die than face the quandary of nonexistence.

"From our perspective on the higher limbs of the tree, right and wrong are laughable. Right is simply what someone sees when looking through their own lenses. Wrong is anything that doesn't conform to what they happen to see. The current condition of your planet is the inevitable result.

"Pretty predictable, if you ask me. But then, who am I?"

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© 2005 Jean-Claude Koven is a writer and speaker based in Rancho Mirage, CA. He is the author of Going Deeper: How to Make Sense of Your Life When Your Life Makes No Sense, the Allbooks Reviews editor's choice for the best metaphysical book of 2004. For more information, please visit:


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