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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Buddha Kitty.

Countless cultures throughout the dusty pages of history have depicted cats as very mystical, spiritual beings. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I find cats to be good examples of Buddhist concepts. Cats do everything with complete concentration and deliberation. They are totally absorbed with living in the now--living in the present moment. I find this most evident when they stare out the window for long periods of time; just watching the world go about its business. Observing all the movement outside with calm awareness. When the cat observes the birds flitting about in the trees it does so with complete concentration. It focuses purely on that moment; such is mindfulness. In doing so the cat maintains that cool demeanor it is known for and I think we can learn a lot from their relaxed state of being.

Perhaps we should all take some time to just sit and stare out the window at the birds. Doing so helps reduce our suffering because we cultivate a practice of staying centered in the present moment instead of trying to be in three moments at once -- the past, present and future. The more we are simply aware of what's going on presently, rather than trying to be all things, to all people, at all times, the less we will find ourselves mentally and physically exhausted to where we suffer.

Cats also sit calmly when not staring at much of anything; with little fidgeting. Notice, I said little fidgeting because I don't believe in sitting in meditation with too much discomfort. I say that because, while there is something to be learned in observing our mind's reaction to discomfort, it can also cause one to not meditate at all. So, stretching a leg out now and then isn't necessarily "bad."

But back to the cat sitting for the sake of sitting. It is totally absorbed with just being, which is a common piece of advice from teachers when meditating; to just let the present moment we are meditating with to happen, however, that might unfold. Maybe we'll think about something for a minute, and then it passes and we breath in and out. Then we could find ourselves simply listening to the sounds around us and simply enjoying being able to hear. Again, we breath in and out; and the moment passes. Always coming back to the breath to ground us with the present moment.

Then finally, the cat stands up, stretches and returns to other activities. That's another good reminder; to stretch after meditating so we don't fall down when we stand back up from lack of blood circulation in the legs!! Another nice observation I learned from cats is to do your meditation in a warm spot where the sun shines forth from the window!! Ah, but be mindful to not fall asleep in that position!!

Bowing.

PHOTO: Photographer unknown.

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10 comments:

BD said...

So the cat does have Buddha nature after all-( I can imagine Joshu and Nansen chuckling...;-) )

They call him James Ure said...

@BD...Meow (giggle).

David "Shinzen" Nelson said...

I had one cat who practiced Soto Zen...she would face the wall when 'sitting'. Great post. Enjoyed it.

kittykatoure said...

I love this picture and the idea of just staring out the window and watching...

MossAss said...

Fantastic post. There are many cats held in cages "waiting" for their "humane" lethal injection. I'd like to give life to one or two but I live in a "too unnatural" small highrise department. :(

Sudhir Mehta said...

Beautiful post. Thank you.

Tullik said...

Thanks for this James, presently my joy "Molly" a 12 year old Manx is going through a rough patch. I rescued her about 5 years ago at this time of the year when she had been run over not once but twice lost the sight in one eye and suffered numerous multiple injuries and left to die. She is a wonderful companion, is always thankful for every day. Like every cat I have known she has that mystical quality that is impossible to ignore. She has now developed kidney disease and is needing more attention than usual. She doesn't complain and but I wish she would so I could judge just how much discomfort she may be in. Wisdom in knowing with the vets assistance what is best for her. I guess I still have a lot to learn in my spiritual journey about clinging, especially to cats!!

PeterAtLarge said...

Nice, James! Love that picture! I've just received a book in the mail called "Choosing to Be: Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master," by Kat Tansey. Stay tuned for my review on The Buddha Diaries!

Robin said...

Lovely post - thank you! I've learned a lot of from my little kitty. I admire her poise and demeanor very much. I will refrain from licking people though, which she has a tendency to do with enthusiasm! ;)

Zen Cat said...

Maybe all living creatures have Cat nature (XD).

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