Sunday, July 18, 2010
The Pious Cat in South Korea
Yesterday there was a story in the papers about a special temple cat in South Korea, which spend hours everyday gazing and praying to the Buddha. This cat was found as a kitten 4 yrs ago by the abbot with burn injuries. The abbot saved it and gave it the Dharma name of "Liberation". She also gave the kitten 3 precepts for staying in the monastery, which was to 1) refrain from making noise in the Vihara, 2) refrain from eating meat and 3) refrain from killing. Amazingly the kitten could understand her instructions and have never broken them for the past 4 years.
In addition to that, the cat spends hours everyday in the Vihara "venerating" the Buddha images, reluctantly leaving only for its meals. This display of devotion by the little animal puts even the humans to shame. Clearly, this cat was a Dharma practitioner in its past life, but due to thoughts of delusion in its final moments, its consciousness descended into an animal womb during the process of rebirth. It has a good store of worldly merit, but has not developed any insight leading to the end of suffering. This is how the cat managed to find its way back to a sanctuary of Buddhism and gets well taken care of by the nuns in the monastery. I believe it prays everyday in repentance for its past delusion, hoping to leave this animal form soon and achieve a higher realm of existence. This is a warning for us all, not to care only about making merit and neglect cultivating the mind to develop insight. Without true wisdom penetrating into the nature of sankharas (mental formations), all the merit in the universe cannot save us from suffering in the endless rounds of rebirth. May this cat live up to the name given to it and may its wish be fulfilled, sadhu.