Zen and the Art of Mousing

zazen cat

Photo by Jamiecat. Licensed CC BY 2.0.

by Steven Valentine & Patrick Redding

When you are stalking a mouse, you must become one with the mouse. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by catnip or dingle-dangle toys.

A good meditative position is to sit quietly with the eyes closed and the tongue slightly hanging out. Take no notice of humans who giggle and point, thinking you have forgotten to pull in your tongue.

Do not allow others to impose their time structure on you. If you wish to sleep 17 hours straight, then go right ahead.

Pause now and then to contemplate the idea that your surroundings are an illusion and may not be as “real” as you assume. Pay no heed to the humans who dangle toys closer to you in an effort to draw you into their delusion of reality.

When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep. When cranky, yowl loudly.

Go with the flow. Those who lick their fur the wrong way only succeed in looking unkempt and foolish.

Zen masters must sometimes be harsh so that others may learn. Do not always pull in your claws when walking across your human. You are helping them become more enlightened creatures.

The bird that can be caught is not the true bird.

Zen is like the goldfish in the pond. As soon as you think you have grasped it, it has eluded you and you are left with nothing but wet paws. This is why some say that the essence of Zen is nothingness. It would be foolish to say that the essence of Zen is wet paws.

Zen allows one to transcend the ordinary state of being. The Cheshire Cat is said to have been an extraordinary master of the art of Zen.

Detach yourself from ordinary concerns. Do not run about here and there just because your humans are calling you.

Practice stilling your mind even in the midst of disturbance. A good way to do this is to drag the remains of your hunt onto the back porch and ignore the commotion that arises when your humans step on dead mice.

Purge yourself of attachments and desires, even if it means hacking up onto the new Persian rug a hairball containing the Monopoly game piece you swallowed earlier.

Remember that much of what you see is illusion or deception. Your humans may show you a nice pillow and a cat treat, but this may be only a trick to lure you into the car for a ride to the vet.

Talking about Zen all the time is like searching for mouse tracks in a goldfish bowl.

© Copyright 2001 by Steven Valentine & Patrick Redding. Republished 2013, 2015.

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