I rescued a husky, malamute question mark pup just under four months ago from a wonderful Husky rescue in Buckeye, Arizona. When I showed the photo on Facebook to my sweetie, he said “well, this one is the closest yet.” In my heart, which was beating intensely for a canine companion, this translated as “we can adopt this one.”
In comparison to my slowly moving and reflective partner, I am a capricious, squirrel-type character. I make decisions quickly, with my heart. I often ignore my mind and any rational thought. I am all heart and all body. My sweetie likes to wallow and ponder a decision. Once made, he is firm in his choice. I often question whether I made the right choice, even if deep down I knew I did all along. Permission to accept the choice once it has been made can take some time for me.
After asking all day about going down to the rescue, he finally conceded at the last possible moment we could get in the car and arrive at the rescue before closing time on a Saturday. On our way down, he told me we are just going to look at him, not necessarily bring him home. When I thanked him, he responded in a semi-sarcastic tone, thank you for giving me so many opportunities to grow. I rolled my eyes at him, but my heart was full of gratitude and hope.
I didn’t tell him at the time, but I was not at all sure about Okami when I first met him. He was so aloof and just wandered around. There was one short moment where I thought perhaps we could be connected. I was standing on the back patio with my feet about hip with apart. He came over and stuck his head between my legs and stayed there while I caressed the fur on his head and gently ran my fingers through the wisps of crimped fur that stuck out in all directions behind his ears.
What do you think? we asked each other. I don’t know, I said. I am willing to give it a try.
We decided to bring him home. The entire ride home Okami sat on my sweetie’s daughter’s lap in the back seat, his head out the window as much as possible when we opened it while driving at lower speeds.
Before we went to bed, we put him outside on the run where our Husky Blue had preferred to spend most of his time. By midnight, he was howling so intensely that we brought him in. In the morning, we found him curled up on the couch.
Within 36 hours, he was permanently bound to my side. My shadow. Everywhere I went—in the house, at the bookstore where I was working at the time—he walked right behind me.
And it has been that way ever since, which is why now I feel that it is my turn to be his shadow. To watch over him while he is unwell, and to help nurse him back to health.
But it is not an easy task and one where I am thankful for any and all of the assistance and guidance I can get. I have received messages of love and hope and healing from myriad friends and family from around the world. My partner, to whom Okami is powerfully bound, and his daughter both have spent hours loving on him, caressing him, giving him medication and attention.
When I walked into a store in downtown Prescott, Arizona, which is owned by a woman from Tibet, I saw a small, stone statue on the counter.
Who is this? I asked the woman at the counter.
She looked it up and discovered it was Jizo, the Japanese deity for protection of travelers, women and children, and the weak.
I brought him home and place him beside Okami, wherever inside the house he chooses to lie down and outside when we are on the porch.
Here is what I have since learned about Jizo:
Jizo does not get angry, nor does he ever give up, even when trampled and stepped upon like the earth. He guides us on our travels, gives power to those who are weak (such as children) and to those in dangerous places. His mantra is Om ka ka kabi sanmaei sowaka.
The fact that Jizo is usually carved out of rock is significant. While Jizo statues can be made from a variety of materials (clay, bronze, etc.), he is most popularly carved out of stone. In his book, Glassman describes “the power of stones to engage the human heart.” Stone is a material that has been worshipped and used for protection since ancient times. Stones having spiritual value predates Buddhism.
He is found at boundaries between places both physical and spiritual, between here and there, life and death.
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (Japanese Jizo Bosatsu): Bodhisattva of the Storehouse of the Earth
Ksitigarbha is shown with the shaven head of a monk. In his right hand he holds a priest’s staff with six metal rings to awaken us from our deluded dreams. In his left hands he holds a mani jewel, representing the treasures that he bestows on all beings.
Ksitigarbha has six forms, each of which is devoted to helping beings in a different realm: hells, hungry ghosts, beasts, deamons, humans, and heavenly beings. Ksitigarbha never gives up, determined to save every single being in each of these realms.
Jizo, as Ksitigarbha is known in Japanese, is the most popular diety in Japan. Small statues of Jizo are placed at roadsides throughout the land, and these are the objects of daily devotion and offerings of food and drink. Jizo is now especially associated with saving the souls of children. Statues of this form of Jizo are often placed at temples, with statues representing children and unborn fetuses kneeling at his feet.
Mantra of Ksitigharba
Om Oh wondrous one svaha.
Om ha-ha-ha vismaye svaha.
On kakaka bisanmaei sowaka.
When petitions are requested before Jizō, the petitioner ties a rope about the statue. When the wish is granted, the petitioner unties the rope. At the new year, the ropes of the ungranted wishes are cut by the temple priest.
Other resources about Jizo:
In the end, all I want is for my wolf pup soulmate to be at peace. My intention and hope is for peace to come while he is still in his body, but my sweetie has told me that he is on his own path. So, I am simply here as a guide and support for whatever his mind, body, and spirit require in this life. And I know that somehow, we will find each other in the next life, whenever, wherever, and however that may be.
On kakaka bisanmaei sowaka.