How to Think Like a Cat - Stephane Garnier 2018
Your Cat Is Wise
’I have studied philosophers and cats extensively. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior’
With their attentive attitude — always listening, like some silent psychologist — a cat resembles a Buddhist teacher or an old sage. But it’s maybe more than just an impression. Perhaps we could learn from the way a cat does not exert itself unduly, but sits and contemplates the world.
As the years pass, and we get older, we all acquire a little wisdom and perspective about the world, life and the eternal verities.
How many of us have said at some point: ’I’d like to be twenty again, but knowing everything I know now’? We acquire wisdom with time, whereas cats — who have no school, no books, no great thinkers, no external frame of reference, not even a large amount of years or experiences — possess a kind of innate wisdom, a wisdom of which we glean just a few snippets, and then only with much reflection, discussion, soul-searching and introspection.
It’s a hard road — in more ways than one — to reach a point where we can calmly sit there perusing the horizon with a smile on our face, when a cat has known how to do that practically since birth.
But how can we grasp the ins and outs of this unfathomable, almost mystical, wisdom cats exude?
The truth is that they offer us this wisdom. And if you have a cat, you’ll know this. You must have already experienced that moment when, racked with doubts, the same thoughts revolving in your mind, unable to take a step back from it all, you look your cat straight in the eyes and it stares right back at you, as if reading your very soul. And you are filled with a deep conviction that, unlike you, your cat KNOWS. Or at least has KNOWN.
There is something kind in your cat’s gaze, evoking that old legend of a Persian emperor who, having gathered his greatest sages, asked them to come up with a phrase that would suit all feelings and situations, good or bad, that a person might encounter in their life. The sages came back to the emperor some time later to deliver the phrase. The message that your cat conveys through its gaze when you are lost, that phrase which has come down through the ages is:
’This too shall pass.’
Yes, for better or for worse, this too shall pass.
We can sometimes spend too much time flailing around, and fall deaf to the essentials of existence. And maybe this is what your cat is telling you with its stillness, its contemplation and benevolent attitude: ’I am here, keeping watch over you and looking out for you. This too shall pass.’
Wisdom is not a subject that can be learned or taught. It is a state, a stance that requires a step back from the agitation of life in order to comprehend it better in its universality. The wise person knows how to sit on the moon in order to gaze at the earth, just like the cat sits on the roof to observe the moon.