For the last few months our cat Barney sits by me as I sit meditating. I always find it a comfort as he sits there, looking on. He brings to meditation, as he has brought to our lives since he arrived at our doorstep some thirteen years ago, a gentleness and strong support. He also could rest in himself and sleep, with one eye on me, without any concern or worry, without needing to wonder where his life was going.

Even as I was sitting beside him I could not match his contentment. I found it hard to leave my self-centred thoughts, those opinions and judgments about events and people which really have no solid reality one day after they appear. He rested, content, simple, of one piece; I spun around my petty concerns, my stories which I exaggerate, my scattered mind racing and worrying. He was a living lesson in meditation, in being content to rest in the warmth of the sun.

It reminded me of this early Irish Poem, written by a monk in the 8th Century about a cat called Pangur Ban, or White Pangur.

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

When a mouse darts from its den
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

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