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Musings for the Modern Mystic

A light-hearted traditional tale depicting how centuries of dogma can be born from the simplest of things. And there's a cat in it.

Dogma Cat: The Story of How One Cat Can Create Centuries of Dogma

There is an old story about a wise man and his disciples who were getting ready for their evening meditation. Just as they were about to start, a cat who lived in the monastery began mewling, circling the group and rubbing up against each student as they attempted to sit in stillness.

“This cat!” complained one of them, “it always starts up like this whenever we are entering meditation. It’s so distracting I can barely concentrate.”

The others all agreed. Finally it was decided that the cat would be taken from the sitting area to a spot far down the hall and tied up, where it could no longer be heard and couldn’t come around to bother anyone during meditation.

Years later, when the wise man died, the cat continued being tied up during meditation sessions. Eventually the cat died and was replaced by another, who was also tied up during meditation, simply out of habit.

Centuries later, learned descendants of the original wise man wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.

“The Master made it his task to destroy systematically every doctrine, every belief, every concept of the divine, for these things, which were originally intended as pointers, were now being taken as descriptions.   He loved to quote the Eastern saying “When the sage points to the moon, all that the idiot sees is the finger.”

~ Anthony de Mello 



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