Your cat is an ancient Chinese master. I'm not kidding. Look at your cat and observe that cute little face, NO, those sharp claws, that fierce roar and sharp teeth, those fast reflexes... deadly, but aw darn, so cute. Anyways, it's true what I said, and maybe it's why some cultures worshiped the cat or used it as a representative symbol. Great philosopher Plato said a dog has the soul of a philosopher, but I would ask, what about a cat? I would say, a cat has the soul of a Taoist.
The Ancient Chinese have a concept known as the Tao, it represents the way, and it particularly is associated with the yin yang symbol. Well, the dark part of this symbol, the yin, is seen as missing in today's society, or at least we are imbalanced in the white side of this symbol, in other words, we have too much yang and not enough yin. What does this have to do with a cat? Well, while the tao that can be known or described is not the eternal tao, and the tao is mostly compared to that of water, what if we wanted to observe something more commonly perceived in our life, that is an animal? A common household animal, a cuddly kitty cat.
Observe how a cat has the characteristics of yin, they in fact like darkness, remain silent, acting when necessary, being able to walk with simplistic ease, sensitive and nurturing at times, often resting most of the day, yet fierce, quick and precise when needed to act. If you think of a master of martial arts, of judo or tai-chi, they act just as swift, able to work with their circumstances, flowing like water, acting precisely and quickly only as necessary, using the right muscle at the right moment. So it is, a cat does this instinctively. Now, actually if we look at most animals in nature, they drink as much water as they need, they are so in tune with their nature, it is effortless. When we observe how a cat can jump from one thing to the next, we may say with awe, “man that looked effortless.” And perhaps that's because it really is. And the same would be said for a human who practices upon a big jump, or any other task of which creates awe in others. The effortlessness comes as a result of practice, it is mastery. So in a way, we aspire to be like cats. But maybe there's even more to learn from cats than we think! For instance, how many Americans are getting the sleep they need? How many Americans are acting more than they should, not listening to their body, overworking, trying too hard, maybe even speaking too much and getting too loud like I am here? I mean really, the list of potential issues we see about our world and ourselves can go on and on. Yet, here we are thinking we need to create more action to solve our problems, when perhaps that same action is causing more problems. We can ask the simple question, do animals in nature have to deal with these problems? Do they create complex systems of banking, politics, religions, that end up claiming hold over everything in the world, setting wars with their own species and building against the perceived imperfections of their nature? No, but quite the opposite. The cat does not worry about these things, and thus, because they have less to worry about, maybe that's just one of the reasons why they are able to sleep unlike us. Maybe it's also one of the reasons why they can enjoy the moment, and have more fun. But we humans? Boy are we complicated. Mark Twain called us the lowest animal because of it.
We made our lives complicated because of the things we made, even if it's just the abundance of thoughts and belief systems in our own head, we bombard ourselves to the point of confusion, with constant advertisement and instant gratification and stimulation with technology and drugs and all sorts of things; perhaps this is why we are so yang imbalanced. If we want to learn from the cat or from the yin, it is in learning how to let go, to nurture rather than dominate, to act only as necessary, to be more sensitive to what we are doing, to work with nature rather than against it because we recognize we are a part of it. Opening to the mystery and fun is like activating our inner child, which may be the reason why children bond well with animals. The cat doesn't escape this world, they don't need to justify their existence, to have a purpose and job, the cat simply lives it's life, and it's part of the reason why they are so curious and open to what the world has, because there is so much mystery still out there. Whereas, science and religion would have us humans thinking we already know what's out there, and all our curiosity can be fulfilled through some man-made material screen or people we don't know, and words and symbols we had to learn from other humans.
We may even wonder how the animals of the world or the natural environments of the world thrive without human interference, and it's simply because we learned to let go. It is no surprise many people around the world simply want to be left alone in living their own life, among their own species. Most people know what is good instinctively, most people think that what they are doing is good, yet for the small exception of evil, we justify a lacking trust in nature, and a need to try to create a world which a cat has no doing or desire to create. Quite literally we create system after system, none of which sustain, causing more problems, yet that we think are necessary. And this only brings trouble to the cat, or the human, who merely lives their own life. So the next time you see your cat, think about the quietness, the curiosity, the sharp senses, the natural instincts they have even as a house-pet. Yes, we may take them out of nature for companionship and care, but they have often not taken themselves out of nature for the fun and mystery that is life that they learned to embrace, right meow. We can do the same.