Buddha on the Road

An excerpt from As a Sailboat Seeks the Wind

Buddha on the Road
        I have just turned off of Route 2 where it climbs into the hills of Western Massachusetts and follows the Deerfield River before meandering through the wild country that borders New York State.  Moving slowly over a dirt-packed side road, I see a little beagle, tail up, on a spring jaunt, heading straight for the highway.

I’m on my way to my meditation group where we sit in silence, walk in silence, and discuss the Buddhist teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.  Right speech.  Right livelihood.  Right action.  I have a few minutes to arrive at that peaceful little meditation room on time – a few minutes before the bell sounds and we try to follow our breath and be in the present moment.  But, in this moment, I stop the car and call to the dog and surprisingly she comes to me.  I tell her to get in and she does.  We set off to find her home.

The roads in these hills lead to different worlds.  A few middle-class families live straight ahead in attractive country homes.  I stop to ask if they recognize this dog.  No.  They haven’t seen her before.  I backtrack a couple of miles and, turning right, I enter a complex of small roads and houses that remind me of the movie Deliverance.  Cars and trucks are parked on lawns.  Run-down houses, set off the road, are slightly ominous.  I stop at a house here and there asking the same question. No, they don’t know her.  But then I hit gold.  Yes, up the road, a half a mile on the right, second driveway from the large garden up there on the hill, there’s a bunch of buildings and she lives right there.  The house farthest in.

I drive back and forth, never seeing that large garden, asking a few more people.  Finally, I ascend a steep driveway and find a man on a second story deck.  I receive my final instructions – next driveway on the left.  I ask the man what the dog’s name is.  He thinks a minute, looks down at the dog, looks down at me, and says, “Buddha.”

Missing meditation, I had found Buddha on the road.