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Saturday, May 1, 2010

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Cat's guide to attaining enlightenment


After so many years in Japan, I have come to realize that it is not so hard to achieve enlightenment. As long as you're a cat.

Among the enlightenment-seeking general populace, cats seem to achieve their goal faster than any other animal or human. Even kittens seem to bound out of the womb happy to learn that they came into this world as kittens and not, say, mice. So they have a good platform to start their road to enlightenment.

Just food, water, sleep and meditation can bring one to a state of enlightenment, according to my cat, who achieves enlightenment every day, at least once. To think it takes some people 20 years! They ought to be taking lessons from my cat who, I do admit, is very wise.

So here is the Cat's Guide to Attaining Daily Enlightenment, a method she herself has developed to perfection over many years of constant practice (well, at least eight years, anyway).

Start off every morning screaming and yowling at around 5 a.m. Don't worry about waking others up. This is a ritual that is obviously very important to get your meditation off to a good start. Once everyone in the house is awake and moving around, take your place on your meditation cushion.

Find a good place for your cushion, preferably under a Bodhi tree. My cat prefers a position directly under a wall-mounted Bodhi heater.

First, get focused. Sit upright, back straight, paws placed in front of body turned slightly to the outside. If you find it hard to concentrate, try facing the wall.

Now, lightly close your eyes. Smile.

As you slip into deep meditation, you will find your body being pulled downward toward the cushion. Don't resist. Let your body be drawn, in its entirety, into the meditation cushion. From here, you can take on various meditation positions. Breathing is very important. Breathe deeply, letting out cute little mewing sounds with every exhale. Enjoy the moment! Enjoy the power of the Bodhi heater.

After about an hour, (but certainly don't rush yourself if you need more time), extend your right leg out in front of you and streeeetch that leg. Open the claw slightly and leave it there. Take in a deep breath and let out a big, long sigh. Put your head back down on the cushion and do a little more mewing.

If you can, envision yourself devoid of life. Drape your body over the cushion with your limbs completely limp. If you hear someone in the room say, "Is that thing alive?" you'll know you've succeeded.

So now let's, very slowly, turn over and lay on the other side for a while! Relaaaaax . . .

Now, when you're ready, (no hurry, you've got all day), let's curl up for a bit. Ready? Cuuuuuuurl. Cuuuuurl. Bring your tail around and nestle your nose into it. Contemplate this position for a good long while. Don't stop smiling. Take your paws and cover your face.

While you relax, absolve yourself from fear and self consciousness. After all, you are in the safety and comfort of your own heated mansion. Gooooood. Release any previous feelings of kitty greed, superiority, aloofness, conceitedness, or any of the appalling 52 kitty mental states. Gooooood kitty.

Enjoy being a cat. A good cat doesn't ask for much, and appreciates what he doesn't have. Appeal to these cat sensibilities. Now, when you're ready, (take an extra half hour if you need it) let's turn over on our backs. Let your paws dangle above your body in the air, relaxed. Stretch out and turn your body into a half-circle, put your head to the side. Smile. Goooood. Take deep breaths.

By now, 5 p.m., you should have released your attachment to desire and self. You want for nothing. You want no money; You could give birth in a cardboard box. You'd even give away your kittens for free.

You have truly achieved mindfulness, exude contentment and feel a oneness with the Buddha. When you come out of your Awakened state, move slowly, take your time to come out of it completely and only after some thought, take leave of your meditation cushion.

Now would be a good time to get something to eat or drink, take a walk and have a pee. After you've finished that, take a sniff around the house to make sure nothing is awry. With the confirmation that nothing has changed since your last inspection, head back to your meditation cushion under the Bodhi heater. It's time for another session!



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