“Inner peace… inner peace…” A low, mellow, tranquil voice floated up to my ears from somewhere below to my right even as I took the first sip of hot cutting chai from the roadside kiosk standing in the warmth of the sun peeping out from behind the clouds after the fresh early morning rains. Following the direction of the constant rhythmic chant, my eyes settled upon a cat lying down with eyes closed next to the kerosene stove which was busy buzzing away excitedly on the next batch of tea.
“Master Shifu?” I inquired of the sleeping voice in a mocking tone, “No, you do not look like a red panda to me, though those pointed ears could easily throw me off track”, I continued teasing her. “Ashes, that’s the name; and you my dear, I find mildly amusing”, she laboured to reply, barely managing to open two tiny slits of eyes. “And may I add, I pity your ignorance and egocentricity too”, she continued in a gentle voice, “If you would so much as be a little observant, there’s a lot you stand to learn”. “I am all ears Miss Ashes, pray enlighten me”, my voice still bore a humorous twang. “Do you meditate?” asked Ashes. “Well, not really. I mean I sit and ponder about life once in a while but not like really meditate like a monk”, I replied in earnest.
“That my friend is where you falter. Learn from us cats. First, Sleep when tired – which is essentially deep, mental relaxation with a still mind; let go of your anxiety, enjoying the restfulness doing nothing at all with total abandon. Such unwinding, if imbibed by you, will actually help you engage consciously with the material world and accomplish your demanding tasks with the required momentum, purpose, energy and efficiency. Second, Focus – we cats can focus on an object unblinkingly without getting distracted. We observe, analyse, interpret and absorb. This is a form of meditation too – with the eyes of our mind open. Once rested, you will be better able to focus and achieve your intentions emphatically. Third, Chant – we cats purr to soothe our minds. You can chant hymns which soothe your mind leading to a state of inner peace for your soul. You will then discover yourself and attain self-realisation.”
“Look at us cats – we love ourselves, living in the moment freely, fulfilling our needs without showing any pretence of false affection for anyone. You may see it as selfishness or self-obsession, but loving and being kind to yourself will help you eliminate negatives like anger, fear, contempt and envy, which will eventually reflect onto the world around you, spreading warmth, love and kindness among your fellow beings”, Ashes continued, “Free your mind, clear the cobwebs, be at peace and the world will be a much better place. Time to go back to my empty space now. Maybe I will see you sometime soon”, she concluded. Licking her nose with a tiny pink tongue and grooming her whiskers with an extended paw, Miss Ashes turned around to face the wall to continue meditating.
– Narendra Nayak © 2017