Chapter 9: Save the Cat
Nansen found two groups of monks squabbling over the ownership of a cat. Nansen went to the kitchen and brought back
a chopper. He picked up the cat and said to the monks, “If any of you can say a good word, you can save the cat.”
Not a word was said, so Nansen cut the cat in two and gave half to each group.
When Joshu returned that evening, Nansen told him what had happened. Joshu said nothing. He just put his sandals on his head
and walked out.
Nansen said, “If you had been there, you could have saved the cat.”
Life cannot be saved by the mind, by thinking, by logic, and if you try to save it by logic you will lose it. Life can be saved only through an irrational jump, through something that is not intellectual but total. But the whole story seems to be too cruel. Nansen’s disciples were struggling over a cat. Nansen had a big monastery and there were two wings to the monastery. This cat was moving from one wing to the other and both wings claimed that the cat belonged to them - and the cat was a beautiful one.
The first thing to be understood is: a real sannyasin cannot claim any ownership. A sannyasin means one who has left all possessions - or all possessiveness, which is more basic and deeper. You can leave possessions, that is easy; but to leave possessiveness is difficult because it goes deeper in the mind. You can leave the world, but the mind goes on clinging to it.
These monks, Nansen’s disciples, had left the world behind - their homes, their wives, their children - but now they were fighting over the ownership of a cat. This is how mind works. You leave one thing and the mind claims another, but the basic thing remains the same, and it makes no difference if the object of ownership changes - it makes no difference. The difference, the revolution, the real change, comes only when the subjectivity changes, when the owner changes. This is the first thing to be understood. Monks claiming ownership of a cat looks foolish, but this is how monks have been acting all over the world. They leave their house, then they claim ownership of the temple, of the church. They leave everything but they can’t leave their mind, and the mind creates new worlds for them continuously.
So it is not a question of possessing a kingdom; even a cat will do. And wherever possession comes in, fighting, violence and aggression are bound to be there. Whenever you possess you are fighting, because that which you possess belongs to the whole. You cannot possess anything; you can use it, that’s all. How can we possess the sky and how can we possess the earth? But we possess, and that possession creates all types of conflicts, struggle, wars, violence and everything.
Man has been fighting and fighting continuously. Historians say that within the last three thousand years there have been wars almost continuously somewhere or other on the earth. In three thousand years we have fought at least fourteen thousand wars. Why so much fighting? It is because of possession. If you possess you have started a war with the whole.