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.


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...

and his name is spirit.