My Teacher, My Cat

lifeMary O’Malley – I share my life with a most amazing being called Bodhi. He is a cat, but he is so much more than that. He is so smart that he figured out how to unlock the cat door and the four other attempts I made to foil his ability to unlock the lock! We also have a verbal language that we both understand which I have never known with all the cats I have shared my life with.

He is one of the wisest and loving beings I have known. When I crawl into bed at night, he snuggles into my arms like a baby and we fall into bliss together. Every once in a while, he will open his eyes and reach his paw up to gently touch my cheek. Such love.

Yesterday I thought I’d lost him. We have a daily ritual where in the evening we meet at the pond, sitting quietly together, opening to life. As soon as I walk into the yard, even if he’s down the alley, he seems to know that I am at the pond and he comes running.  But last night, he didn’t come. I called, but no response. I wasn’t concerned for I figured he was off on some wonderful adventure and would soon hear me and come home.

He didn’t come. I walked up and down the alley and around the neighborhood, shaking his favorite bag of treats and he still didn’t come. My heart began to seize up and my mind began to run horrible stories as we have coyotes in our neighborhood. I came back to the pond, a usually very peaceful place, but my mind was very noisy. For most the time I was aware that my attention was being grabbed by stories in my head and I even had moments of being intimately connected with life with no stories filtering that experience.

But I had had an experience with a family member a few days before which woke up deep despair inside of me and now it came roaring back with the thoughts of what it would be like to live life without Bodhi. The longer he was gone the deeper the despair stories became, and I got caught. I remember the stories saying all the joy in my life would be gone if he is gone and it will never come back. I also remember the stories saying that this despair is going to last forever!

With that thought, I became conscious again for I know that nothing lasts forever. When all of us are deeply caught in our conditioned mind, the mind will say this is all there is, and it is going to last forever. These thoughts are not true. Yes, they are very believable in that moment and so very, very painful. But our struggling mind is just a small part of who we are, and nothing lasts forever. Your next breath will end, this day will end, this season will end and even the earth will one day cease to exist.

So, whenever you are in a dark place and the mind says this is all there is and it’s going to last forever, use those thoughts to wake up out of the dream of struggle. Remember they are not the truth and all that is happening is that the stories in your head have captured your attention.  And they shall pass.

As I was opening into the space beyond the stories by being with the stories rather than falling into them, who saunters into the yard but Bodhi! And I had to laugh. He is such a good friend that he gave me the gift of having deep despair arise inside of me and yes, getting caught in it for a few minutes, but then rediscovering the joy of being with the stories rather than being lost in them or running away. And as he crawled into my arms for our pond time there was simply presence. Thank you, Bodhi!

SF Source Mary O’Malley Jul 2019

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