This week I was sitting in a park in the town center of Puerto Varas, Chile on a beautiful Fall day. The southern hemisphere sees the fall season when we in the northern hemisphere enter the spring. Puerto Varas is a small town on the shores of lake El llanquihue (pronounced Jong-Ki-Way) with the majestic Osorno volcano on the other side of the lake. I have learned that there are 95 active volcanoes in the world of which six are located in this region!
I was nearing the end of our two week trip to Chile. I would recommend visiting the many regions of Chile for anyone who can make it. The Atacama Desert in the north is truly spectacular. After many days of travels it was time to sit quietly and take in all the experiences and reflect on them – an effort to live in the moment, you might say.
I picked up a cup of coffee and an empanada and brought them to the park. Empanada is a typical dish from Chile, much like a turn over filled with cheese or vegetables or meat. It can be fried or baked. Due to my poor knowledge in Spanish, after much effort I had learned to ask for and get a vegetable empanada (empanada verdure; sin carne). The success was now in my hands in the form of a baked vegetable empanada along with a cup of coffee. It was time to sit down and enjoy.
I have by now learned that empanada can be small or reasonably big. The one I had in my hand was of the larger variety. So I decided to split it in half and save one half to eat later. Just as I settled down to enjoy the snack, a small dog showed up looking straight at my face or more accurately staring at the food on my hand. Clearly the little dog was eyeing for some food. There are lots of stray dogs in Chile and no one seems to mind them. Our tour guide had mentioned something about these dogs earlier in the morning. She is a young lady in her late twenties. She said she had three dogs as pets. She had adopted all of them from the street. Only one of them has collar since that dog tends to get lost. The other two stray wherever they wish but promptly return home for food and shelter!
I offered my second half of the empanada to the little dog by carefully placing it on the ground.
Now I proceeded to eat my half thinking the little dog would proceed to eat its share. Instead the little dog continued to stare at me. Even my modest coaxing the dog didn’t seem to move it eat the food in front of it.
All of a sudden a rather large dog showed up and in one quick swoop picked up all of the food on the ground. The little dog now having realized its lost chance tried to scrap up the paper with hardly any food left on it. It was really a strange feeling to see this. By now I had eaten some of my piece and so threw the quarter or so left in my hand towards the smaller dog and it promptly jumped forward and picked it up before the big dog could even get a chance to get near it. In a short while both the dogs ran away, probably looking for their next opportunity.
This episode set me thinking. The big dog and the little one are no different from two people. We all vie for material objects and anything else we like. Opportunities come and go like the morsels of empanadas. Some opportunities work out and others don’t. It is but part of nature to seek out for the opportunities. It is also part of nature to compete for the opportunities. One may even compete totally unaware of others waiting for the same (like the big dog). One may not take advantage of the opportunities in front of us (like the hesitant little dog).
With all these thoughts sweeping through my mind, I finished my coffee and went to my hotel room. A little later as I strolled out of the hotel for another walk across the park, I saw these two dogs again, this time in a playful act jumping over each other! There was no animosity or visible signs of dislike among the two! My thoughts earlier of competition among the two dogs seemed like something imaginary only in my mind!
May be competition and collaboration are also parts of nature? While all of these exist – little dog, big dog, seeking for opportunities, getting some, loosing some, … — it is our mind and how it perceives one vs. another – satisfaction, disappointment, competition,….. – that creates all the perturbations in our mind?
An enlightened person lives “Without the sense of self as the only one responsible or source of the event – ego”; “Even minded with respect to happiness and sorrow” B.G. 12.13