When Life Gives You Dead Dogs, Look at the Teeth

Alex Stein
2 min readJun 25, 2023

There is always more to the picture. All failure is nothing but a failure of perspective. You can always learn something if you are willing to see everyone and everything as your teacher. Your growth will be exponential if you constantly work to see things in new ways. At a certain point, your inner strength will develop so far that you can consciously choose which perspectives to engage at any given moment. This is how you go from playing “Chopsticks” to playing Chopin on the piano of life.

Two stories about a dead dog’s teeth will illustrate the point. In one, Christ is walking with his disciples when they find a dead, rotting dog in the street. The disciples turn their faces in disgust, but Christ goes right up to the dog and points, saying, “Look at those beautiful teeth.” Rudolf Steiner used this Persian tale to illustrate how we can cultivate a positive attitude in any circumstance. It’s not about rose-colored glasses: it’s about genuinely seeing the beauty that is already there.

The other tale tells of a Tibetan merchant whose mother asks him to fetch her one of Buddha’s teeth, having heard that he will visit the town where these relics reside. She wants to attain enlightenment before she dies, and legend tells that a person can quickly awaken by worshipping Buddha’s teeth. The merchant promises to bring the tooth. However, his business distracts him, and he remembers his promise too late. Finding a dead dog in the street, he pries out one of its teeth, wraps it in silk, and presents it to his mother as Buddha’s tooth. She worships the tooth and quickly becomes enlightened.

Not only does this tale point to the creative power of the mind, but it also demonstrates that the real power lies not in the object itself but in the deeper reality it points to. The awakened master knows that a tooth is just a tooth, whether it belongs to the Buddha or a rotting dog. It is how we play the instrument of our consciousness that matters. It’s all about perspective.

Life is a street full of dead dogs. Look at the teeth.

As an astrologer, writer, teacher, and coach Alex helps people to discover just what their consciousness is capable of. Weaving together practices from ancient and modern traditions, both Eastern and Western, Alex helps people let go of their limitations, discover powers they did not know they had, and open up to whole new dimensions of experience and manifestation. Alex lives in Benicia, CA, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Visit him at https://www.twentyfirstcenturyalchemy.com/