An old Jewish joke, which I’m allowed to relate because I’m a Jew, is this: “What’s a Jewish dilemma? Free ham.” But here’s another dilemma for many of us: praying cats.
Yes, in case you didn’t know it, when your cat is off staring into space, she’s not just chilling, or contemplating an impending nap or meal: she’s praying! Or so says Dr. Pamela Gerloff, Ed.D, woomeister, and columnist at Psychology Today. I haven’t read that magazine for years, but it seems to be going the Deepakian route, with Gerloff’s columns (she’s nicknamed “Possibility Pamela” in her profile) doing everything they can to justify a supernatural world beyond our own. I deal with that on a daily basis, but the idea of praying cats, which Gerloff floats in a piece called “When cats pray: how our feline friends uplift the world,” is simply too much (my emphasis):
The other day, as I was dusting off a little glass shelf that had been my mother’s, I inadvertently bumped one of the tiny figurines on it–one of a set of blue and white china elephants she had once given me. The disturbance sent all the beloved creatures toppling. As I juggled to keep the whole shelf from falling, I felt a flash of frustration move through me; I might have been tempted to utter a censorable word, except that just at that instant my eyes caught Miss Kitty’s. Sitting motionless on the footstool next to me, her inward gaze shifted outward ever so slightly, just enough to neutrally observe my agitated state.
Instantly, the contrast in our inner experiences became palpable to me and I had a sudden insight. “Why, she’s praying,” I thought, as my mind fell into the calm oasis of her silent meditation. In that moment I recalled something my mother had once said many years ago. It was a musing-aloud about how maybe the world seemed to be in increasingly bad shape because there were fewer and fewer monks and nuns spending time in seclusion praying.
. . . Prayer, contemplation, and meditation done for extended periods of time naturally result in increased inner peace, which then radiates outward, positively affecting the entire environment. This is what I felt in Miss Kitty. As I paused to experience the stillness in which she was immersed, an image entered my mind–an image of a global feline force that daily nourishes and sustains us all. Millions of cats throughout the world quietly doing their spiritual duty, emanating peace and contentment.
. . . Humans of the 21st century have lost much of what comes more naturally in indigenous societies that live closer to nature. As a species, we seem to have forgotten the essential spiritual practice of being, which is perhaps the highest form of prayer. Fortunately, cats haven’t forgotten, even after thousands of years of domestication. If we want to know how a “culture of being” vs. a “culture of doing” might change us, we have only to hang out with our feline friends. What happens to us when we absorb their state?
What happens when we absorb their state? We start napping 18 hours a day and demanding that others serve our needs—bringing us food and cleaning our toilets.
I look forward to Gerloff’s next piece on Feline Woo: “When cats spray: how our feline friends teach us to leave our mark on the world.”
If you want other specimens of Possibility Pamela’s ridiculous arguments at Psychology Today, try her argument against atheism in another piece:
When you have the direct experience of Oneness with all beings and all so-called “external reality”–as I and many others have had–you cannot, strictly speaking, be atheist. You know from a different way of knowing that there is something more than what can be perceived with the limited sense organs of the body and left-brain mind.
I love the “so-called ‘external reality'” bit.