Harmony, Prudence, Purity, and Tranquility

Cat and Zen







“Cats are so adorable.” Watching my cat Nyaro rolling on the ground and exposing her belly, I could not help mumbling it to myself.

Doing silly things with a serious looking face, asking for food in a gentle voice, insisting to catch a flying insect but wouldn’t care less when the insect is gone, burrowing into the bed during winter time, stretching all limbs on the floor during summer… Cats simply have their own ways to please themselves.

The bohemian style of Nyaro would sometimes get on my nerves. When everyone is sound asleep in the middle of the night, the sleepy cat would suddenly get into action and quietly creep to the bed. He would move his face closer to my pillow and all of a sudden take a bite at my hair and pull vigorously… “Nyaro!” I shouted at the top of my voice, “Don’t mess around!”, regardless it was quite late at night.

The more I tried to act against his will, the more excited he got. He jumped right up once I pushed him down. I then brought out the antipruritic that he hates; he was irritated by the smell of mint and smacked the bottle with an angry face. Luckily, he was aware not to use his claws so as not to hurt me. Instead, Nyaro arched his back and jumped onto the blanket to continue staring at me. I was exhausted from fighting him. There were so many nights that I could not sleep well. One night, I have decided to make peace with him.

“Nyaro, we cannot sleep if you don’t behave. Tomorrow would be a hard day for us. Our neighbors downstairs would also be bothered if you run around at such a late hour. Why don’t you go and get a good sleep now then we will play again with you tomorrow. How about that?” I speak in a low voice and somehow he really got quiet and lay down by the door, while slowly blinking at me. I was so grateful for his understanding and finally close my eyes. Amidst the sound of bell crickets and our breath, I was defeated by my drowsiness.

I suddenly recalled the motto of tea ceremony — harmony, prudence, purity, and tranquility. In a tea ceremony, there is a mutual respect between the host and the guest when purifying the body and the soul. The ultimate state of tea ceremony is to remain calm in all circumstances. On one hand, I accepted Nyaro’s frisky nature, on the other hand, he accepted the fact that I was sleepy. The next day, I surely could not show my gratitude by offering fragrant matcha or tasty wagashi; all I could do was to offer him a small can of tuna to celebrate our harmony and prudence.