Neko no Myojutsu: The Sublte Art of the Cat

A swordsman discovered a rat in his home and wanted to get rid of it. So he recruited the help of some local cats.

The cats cornered the rat. But when they began their approach the rat attacked. The cats were terrified and ran away.

The swordsman decided to take matters into his own hands. He grabbed his wooden sword and took to the rat.

But the rat was too fast. Dodging every swing like a bird flying through the trees.

As a last resort, the swordsman sent for the neighbourhood cat known for her ability as a rat-catcher.

This neighbourhood cat didn't look much different to the other cats but her presence could be felt.

She entered the room and approached the rat in an unconcerned manner.

Moments later, the neighbourhood cat emerged from the room carrying the rat by the neck.

The swordsman was in awe. He invited the neighbourhood cat and the other cats for dinner to celebrate the capture of the rat.

'How did you manage to catch the rat so simply?' the swordsman asked the neighbourhood cat.

'The rat was not my enemy,' the neighbourhood cat replied, 'I wasn't catching it, I was catching myself.'

'What do you mean?' a confused cat asked.

'Think of it like this, when even a single grain of sand gets into your eye, you cannot open it,' the neighbourhood cat said, 'the mind is like the eye.'

The swordsman and other cats were listening carefully.

'The mind is clear and free from obstacles by nature, but as soon as something enters, its virtue is lost.'

'So you're saying seeing the rat as an enemy meant we weren't able to catch it?' another cat asked.

'Yes, seeing the rat as an enemy in the mind is the same as a grain of sand in the eye.'

'I think I get it, having the thought of the rat as an enemy meant we weren't able to think clearly?'

'You're right,' the neighbourhood cat smiled, 'an unclear mind becomes its own enemy.'

'How do we keep our minds clear?'

'This I cannot help you with, it cannot be taught, it can only be heard and realised on one's own.'

The neighbourhood cat turned around and walked off.


The above is a remixed version of Neko no Myojutsu, a Japanese fable written by samurai Niwa Jurozaeman Tadaaki in 1721.

Neko no Myojutsu translates to The Subtle Art of the Cat.

The process of clearing the mind and treating the rat as oneself the neighbourhood cat was talking about can be described with the Japanese word Satori.

In Buddhism, Satori is the same as enlightenment.

There are many paths to achieving Satori. None more right than the other. But there is one common trend amongst them all.

Getting out of one's own way.

One succeeds at life by doing exactly this.

Once you move out of your own way, any path you choose becomes clear. And you'll be able to catch whatever it is you're chasing, rat or not


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