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Lost Cats and Buddhist Love

As I write this one of our cats, Finn, is sprawled across my lap.  

He is an all-white, American short hair with blue eyes and below average intelligence. 

I've watched him carefully plan his leap onto the bookshelf only to jump headfirst into the wall. 

And he regularly gets lost wandering through our house; meowing sadly until I or my partner go to find him.

What Finn lacks in intelligence, however, he makes up for with love. He is one of the most affectionate cats I have ever known.

He rubs his head against my legs when I walk through the house, he watches from the window when I work in the garden. And if I sit on the couch to write, read, or watch a movie, he magically appears in my lap.

I like to think that I'm the strong, independent type. But the truth is that I'm not so different from Finn.

When I kneel in front of my altar, I justify my actions with philosophical jargon. I can talk for hours about sacral realism and how my Butsudan is a physical representation of Buddhist virtues.

But the truth is that I practice Buddhism for the same reason that Finn is resting on my lap. I crave affection. I need love. I'm searching for solid ground beneath my feet; a support against the intrusions of our modern world.

And in his compassion, Buddha built the teachings to provide for my needs.

When I study the sutras, I gain wisdom from the men and women who wrote them. When I recite the prayers, I'm united with Buddhists all over the world who say the same words and express the same needs.

Buddhist practice reminds me that there are times that I feel lonely, but I am never truly alone.

And that feels like love to me.

Namu Amida Butsu

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