This is Page 2 from the book Diary of a Buddhist Cat
Well, you can probably guess the rest. John saw me at the shelter and felt a Buddhist cat would fit the bill perfectly and so took me to adorn his house. He had obtained another cat, a female cat called Gemma, a few weeks earlier from the same shelter.
I should tell you a little about Gemma, but not too much because I don’t want to stop you reading. As I have explained I am a Buddhist cat or I believe I am, so you should imagine that a cloned version of me, a cloned version who wasn’t Buddhist but who was honest in their beliefs about other cats, wrote the following description. I don’t want you to say, he’s exaggerating, cats aren’t like that, no cat could be so nasty, revolting, appalling, unfriendly, hideous, sneering, anti-social, villainous, and nasty again – all at the same time. Just a little about Gemma. She’s a tyrant, she really is. She treats me with complete and utter contempt – me, the kindest, neatest, friendliest, softest cat you could ever wish to meet. Me, whose paws are always at 10-to-2 and pressed together, touching each other, with no manspread, as my mum taught me. I miss my mum. Gemma is contemptuous of me; she says I am fraternising with the enemy when I purr if John or Mary strokes me. Or if I jump on their laps to find a nice place to sleep for 16 hours or even 16 minutes.
Gemma had some kittens when she was younger, and they took them away from her. Her previous family used to live in a house, but when they moved to an apartment block, this place didn’t allow pets, not even cats, so they got rid of Gemma. She felt rejected and has taken that hard by the looks of it, but it’s not my fault, but she treats me like it is. I was rejected too; we have that in common. We could talk about our common experiences, but we don’t.
We have both experienced suffering, which as I’m sure the reader knows is one of the four Noble Truths (satya) of Buddhism, but truth is probably not the most accurate translation of the word ‘satya’. It would be better to say reality or real thing, so we are dealing with realities here, which the Buddha finally understood on the night of his awakening. The realities relate to suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path to the cessation of suffering. When I say path, it’s not like the path from the front door to the garden gate, it’s longer than that, and the reason it’s longer is that it’s not just any old path, it’s the noble eightfold path – yes eightfold with lots of rights along the way: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Right view and right intention relate to wisdom, right speech, right action, and right livelihood relate to conduct, and the last three, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration, relate to meditation or my emotional state. Now, if I understand this correctly, these eight items are not stages, meaning I move from one to another, but they are all dependent on each other and define a complete way of living all at the same time. This is difficult for me to grasp but as long as these eight items are in keeping with things then I will get closer to the cessation of suffering. By Buddhist practice, we develop these eight items until we establish them as ‘right’. This is a gradual process, beginning with generosity, moving to good conduct, and ending in meditation. Basically, I try to treat all animate and inanimate objects with respect and kindness and then think about what I’ve done before I fall asleep, trying to pinpoint where I could have been more respectful or nicer.
I think I am a resilient cat, but I know I lack experience in life. When John brought me back from the cat shelter, I was in the human world and it was bright, noisy, and full of people saying, ‘What a lovely cat, what’s his name?’. I came back on the public transit system in a cat carrier, and I felt claustrophobic. I yowled the total time because I lacked experience about what to do. I yowl when I’m upset, and then when I am upset about my reaction, I yowl some more. I yowled a lot in those first few hours. But at least I didn’t poo myself in public. My mum would have been proud of me. I hope she still is. I wonder whether I could find her one day. I know orphan humans can look for their actual parents and I will have to investigate whether felines can too.
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