In my garden, there lived a cat. Seeing it one morning, elegantly tipping the milk bottle so as not to spill the contents, one of my flatmates christened it Einstein. Einstein it remained. A most intelligent cat, which on one occasion stole a large pork chop, and on another a pound of sausages, from right under our noses.
And yet Einstein was able to put all this intelligence aside and be simply — Cat.
There was a small, busy rat, which lived under the garden shed, together with a number of other assorted rodents.
Einstein divined this and chose a suitable spot from which to observe this most interesting part of the universe, and its comings and goings, if any.
When I looked up from my desk one morning, there he was just outside the French window near the front entrance of the rat’s residence.
A quarter of an hour later, I looked up again, and Einstein was still there. But something about him commanded my attention.
He sat, utterly relaxed and poised, calm and ready for anything to occur.
And the essence of Cat is this — not to assume, not to predict that there will be a rat and that it will run this way or that, and you must jump on it. These are thoughts, and a good cat doesn’t catch a rat with thoughts. A cat merely observes, and there is no choice in this observation. It is merely the fulfilment of being a cat.
Einstein’s eyes were luminous and serene, like the eyes of a jade bodhisattva, lost in an absoluteness of being, where there is neither cat nor mouse, but only grace.
My concern for the rat, whose antics had often amused me, was lost in my admiration for the single-minded cat. This was no longer Einstein up to his tricks — it was Cat. There was none of the hesitation of Arjuna before the battle with his brothers. Krishna would probably have approved, so what right did I have to object.
I sat at my desk contemplating this, wishing that the quality of my contemplation might some day approach that of a small, ginger cat.
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From the October 1990 Buddhism Now.