Saturday, October 15, 2016

What we want and need is ours already

My  wife took these photos during our recent visit to Crete. Like many countries Greece has a large feral cat population. In the grounds of our rented apartment in Sitia a feral cat had given birth to a litter of six beautiful kittens. The mother had found a safe cavity in a rocky bank for her litter, and she fed and cared for them with total dedication. I confess to being a cat person, but I am also aware that photos of kittens have become a benign form of click bait. These two photos are undoubtedly visually arresting, but there is another reason for posting them. My visit to Crete was a rich experience. I hiked in remote eastern Crete, had the inspiring company of Kelly Thoma and Ross Daly, swam in the warm and crystal clear Libyan sea, and heard uplifting music. All of those memories will stay with me, but so will the memory of that mother cat and her offspring. It is not just classical music that is obsessed with the next big thing, the whole of society has the same obsession. But as the Zen Buddhist teacher Steve Hagen tells us*:
If we could put aside our petty wants and examine our actual needs, we might discover what we truly need and want. We might also see that these real needs are easy to satisfy. We'd see that we, too, like animals, are self-contained, There's nothing "out there" we need to acquire. The world is always here. Reality is forever at hand. What we want and need is ours already.
Life for feral cats in Crete and elsewhere is brutal. We provided the mother and her kittens with food and water - there had been no significant rainfall in eastern Crete for seven months - but the chances of many of them surviving are slim. As we departed from our apartment we said to our very hospitable landlady that we hoped someone else would help them after we had gone. She shrugged her shoulders and said "God will provide".

* Quote is from Buddhism is not what you think by Steve Hagen. No review sample used in this post. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.

1 comment:

Philip Amos said...

This reminds me that God did not need to provide for the many feral cats around Gina Bachauer's house in Athens, for she did. Bachauer is now yet another of the great musicians too much and sadly forgotten, but it seems that the cats are not, for, though her house is in a state of decay, local people continue her care of the cats. Perhaps a not too bad memorial for a great pianist and lovely lady, and a better one than the competition named for her, given the plethora of such and controversy issuing from them today.