Friday, July 21, 2006

And the Felines Shall Lead Us


In India, I was living in a little hut, about six feet by seven feet. It had a canvas flap instead of a door. I was sitting on my bed meditating, and a cat wandered in and plopped down on my lap. I took the cat and tossed it out the door. Ten seconds later it was back on my lap. We got into a sort of dance, this cat and I. I would toss it out, and it would come back. I tossed it out because I was trying to meditate, to get enlightened. But the cat kept returning. I was getting more and more irritated, more and more annoyed with the persistence of the cat. Finally, after about a half-hour of this coming in and tossing out, I had to surrender. There was nothing else to do. There was no way to block off the door. I sat there, the cat came back in, and it got on my lap. But I did not do anything. I just let go. Thirty seconds later the cat got up and walked out. So you see, our teachers come in many forms.
-- Joseph Goldstein in Transforming the Mind, Healing the World from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

Some of life's most important lessons come from some of the most unlikely places. One such lesson is what the self-described philosophical entertainer Alan Watts called the "backwards law." A famous biblical example of this is the verse, "He who would save his soul shall lose it." Being the incurable cat lover than I am, I especially like the idea that cats can teach us this lesson.

My cat has taught me many lessons. But, mostly, he just sleeps.

3 comments:

dr.alistair said...

you are truly blessed to be tolerated by a cat. what a beautiful story by the way...about a persistant feline. my three cats are such wonders of existance. i wouldn`t know what to do without them. such perfect manifestations of the spirit.

Nagarjuna said...

I grew up with dogs and thought I didn't even like cats until a homeless kitten adopted me twenty or so years ago. Now, like you, I couldn't imagine myself not having at least one cat in my life. I have become the ostensive definition of "cat person," and, you're right that my Smokey is a tremendous blessing. Cats are miraculous creatures.

dr.alistair said...

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/3614/1436/1600/blue%20picture.jpg

and his name is spirit.