Buddhist Legend of Cats

In Buddhism, cats represent spirituality

They are enlightened beings who transmit calmness and harmony, and it is often said that those who do not have a good relationship with their unconscious will never be able to fully connect with a cat or understand its mysteries.

Cat on Buddha\

No one is surprised to learn that the figure of these animals is associated with Buddhism.

As far as in Thailand, there is a precious legend that has spread over time and transformed cats into beings of peace and intimacy in the temples of Asian countries.

This is why cats dozing off and snuggling in the lap of multiple Buddha figures adorning gardens and shrines are very common.

Cats see far beyond our senses, between their naps and their moments of play and exploration, they dig into our souls with their refined flair.

They alleviate sadness and protect us with their noble and shining looks.

It is often said that to have a dog is to enjoy the most loyal companion there is.

This is absolutely true, but those who know the character of a cat know that the connection is more intimate and deeper, which is why several Buddhist monks, such as Master Hsing Yun, speak of the healing power of this animal.

We invite you to find out more about it...

Buddhist legend on cats from Thailand

First we need to know something important. Buddhism is not organized with a vertical hierarchy.

Religious authority rests on sacred texts but there is great flexibility in its approaches.

Cat Buddha

The legend we're going to talk about takes root in one school in particular: in Theravāda Buddhism, or Buddhism of the ancestral lineage.

It was in Thailand and in this context that The Book of Cat Poems or Tamra Maew was written, which is now in Bangkok's National Library and is a genuine treasure to be preserved.

On ancient papyrus, one can read an enchanting story that when a person had reached the highest levels of spirituality and died, his soul would join steadily with the body of a cat.

Life could therefore be very short, which the feline longevity allowed, but when we reached the end, the soul knew it would reach enlightenment.

The Thai people of this time, knowing this belief, had another very curious practice...

When a loved one dies, they are buried in a crypt with a live cat.

The crypt always had a hole through which the animal could get out, and when it did, people knew that the soul of their loved one was inside the animal...

Thus they attained freedom and this path of calm and spirituality capable of preparing the soul for the next path to the ascension.

Cats and Spirituality

Cats are said to be like little monks who meditate and are able to bring harmony into a home.

For the Buddhist order of Fo Guang Shan, for example, they are like people who have attained enlightenment.

  • Cats are free beings who drink when they are thirsty, eat when they are hungry, sleep when they are sleepy and do what they have to do without needing to please anyone.

  • They do not allow themselves to be dominated by their ego, and according to this branch of Buddhism, they have learned to feel humans since ancient times, while humans have learned to feel cats in the present.

  • They are loyal, faithful and affectionate, but their displays of tenderness are intimate and subtle, and therefore extremely deep. Only those who know how to dig inside themselves, with respect and devotion, will enjoy their steadfast love, but those who are unbalanced or often raise their voice will never be to their taste.

In conclusion, we know that we have to turn to Buddhist texts to understand that cats are special, that their glances transport us to introspective universes, that their strange postures invite us to practice yoga, that they are examples of elegance and balance...

We love and worship them, and even if they claim themselves to be authentic gods in tribute to the times of Ancient Egypt, that is something we bestow upon them with pride.

We all have our own stories with these animals, unforgettable moments that allow us to enjoy small moments full of magic and authenticity.

These moments that surely inspired to weave this magnificent Buddhist legend that was imprinted on paper full of mysticism.

“Time spent with cats is never wasted time.”

– Sigmund Freud


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