I acquired a cat some time ago. She’s a sweetie, and apparently a devout Buddhist.
I have four reasons for thinking Pearl has chosen Buddhism as her way of life.
My cat practices meditation.
Pearly spends much of every day sitting on the windowsill, gazing serenely upon worldly things as earth and sky, lost in contemplation of the cosmic infinite. Meditation is an essential doctrine of Buddhism, and one the Pearl-cat practices faithfully.
At any rate, I’m pretty sure that’s what she’s doing. Why else would she spend so much time staring blankly out the window?
My cat practices yoga.
Yoga is another important expression of Buddhist belief. Given her mastery of the physical aspects of yoga—stretching, contortion, forms, and postures—I can only assume that Pearly has also mastered the discipline’s mental and spiritual aspects.
The Pearl-cat frequently stretches, strikes graceful poses, or contorts her body with astonishing flexibility. I assume it’s all part of some esoteric yoga routine, albeit one that involves licking oneself.
My cat practices feng shui.
The ancient Chinese art of feng shui arranges a household to achieve an optimal flow of chi (spiritual energy) and harmonize with the surrounding environment.
This channeling of spiritual energy is a concept similar to bending in Avatar: The Last Airbender, the classic animated series… but much less likely to flood my home, tear it down, or set it on fire. (For that, I have my typewriter monkeys.)
Feng shui owes more to Taoism than to Buddhism, yet related concepts appear in certain schools of Buddhist belief, so it’s not much of a stretch to suppose my cat dabbles in it.
Pearly frequently rearranges my apartment in mysterious ways: knocking over seashells on display, batting magnets off the refrigerator door, and trying to eat the Legend of Zelda poster over my bookcase, among other things. She also carries her toys (stuffed mice which my younger brother and I have named “the Plague Rats”) around the apartment, depositing them in unexpected places.
These baffling rearrangements of my living space have no better explanation. The Pearl-cat is apparently practicing feng shui to redirect my apartment’s spiritual energy. I suppose I should be grateful. After all, some people pay for this sort of thing.
My cat practices zen gardening.
Zen gardens are a form of artistic and spiritual expression at temples of Zen Buddhism. These pebbly works of art, crafted from scattered rocks and rippling gravel, are meant to suggest nature and help meditation.
Pearly’s zen garden is an ever-changing tapestry of sand, into which she etches designs whose meanings I can’t even begin to guess.
The Pearl-cat’s zen garden doubles as her litter box. Despite her lofty contemplations of spiritual things, she’s really quite pragmatic.
I’m not sure how to respond to my Buddhist cat. As a Christian, I feel I really ought to do something. Should I take her to church on Sunday? (My church might not appreciate that.) Should I give her a Bible? (I don’t think she can read.) I don’t know, guys.
If anyone is curious about the religious views of my typewriter monkeys, they’re a mixed bag. A few of my monkeys are Darwinists, appropriately enough. Another says he’s a Roman Catholic “like Daredevil and the Judge from The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which are not encouraging comparisons. At least one of my monkeys worships the Helix Fossil from Twitch Plays Pokémon. Now that my cat has embraced Buddhism, my blogging team has become even more diverse.
I may not agree with my cat’s religious beliefs, but at least she doesn’t worship the sun.
All things considered, it could be worse.
I’m pretty sure my old cat was a Christian as he used to literally stand on the promises of God (And anything made out of paper, really, but that’s beside the point).
Not sure about my new cats; I think they’re agnostic.
Since you write of your old cat in the past tense, I can only assume he has passed on to that great scratching post in the sky. God rest his soul.
Since there’s no real issue with being both Christian and Buddhist, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Buddhism is a philosophy/lifestyle more than a religion, except where folks have turned it into a religion. It’s quite fascinating, and I can get behind a great number of the principles and practices in spite of my Christian faith. Lots of overlap, actually. Now if the cat starts worshiping Buddha outright (which Buddha was specifically against) then you may need to sit down and have a talk.
I’m no expert on Buddhism, but my impression is that while its doctrines are vaguer than those of most other religions, it falls closer to religion than to philosophy on the worldview spectrum.
Some people practice it as merely a philosophy, but even when it doesn’t involve formal rites of religious worship, Buddhism seems to make enough far-reaching assertions about the workings of the universe to qualify as a religion.
Pearl doesn’t worship any statues or idols of the Buddha, but she is occasionally entranced by my maneki-neko (beckoning cat figurine). 😉