This did, indeed, make me smile. And then got me thinking.
A lot of people in our secular and scientific society don’t really believe that cats have thoughts, or any animal for that matter, other than those required to satisfy their basic need. Because their brains, and all other animal’s brains don’t have the same strata that ours have (base, limbic, neocortical, I think are the three that we have divided ours into) we think that they don’t think. But how can we possibly know?
At any rate, that isn’t what I wanted to talk about today. What I wanted to put forward was the idea of no thought. In Zen, this is a great and achieved state to be in – the complete stage where you are at one with the universe. The ego has dissolved, and there is only pure connection. Once a thought comes into the equation, it’s as if someone has commented on it – an opinion, a judgement, a thought has occurred on the matter, instantly disconnecting us from the actual moment. For to make or form an opinion on something, we must detach ourselves – we have to step back from the situation and make a judgement call – this is good, this is bad, this is beautiful, etc. We bring up our past experiences to relate to in order to say whether something is good, bad or indifferent. The threads of that moment have been cut.
The state of no thought is not terribly hard to grasp in meditation. It is also easy to find when completely submerged in a moment – a sunset, rock-climbing, watching your sleeping child. Yet these moments are few and far between – we need to release that part of our brains that is always commenting, in order to experience.
It’s why my deepest Druid rituals are often held in complete silence. In order to form the words, even spontaneously, as most of my rituals are, I need to think. That thought requires calling up past memories, thinking about the future, a myriad of things that distract me from the actual moment of being. It’s why sitting with someone and watching a sunset in silence is pure bliss – this is a shared moment of no thought.
We think, think, think – how often do we wish we could just be the cat?