There is a wonderful story on my bookshelves, which I picked up from the kid’s section of a local bookstore. It’s in Japanese. 百万回生きたねこ – the Cat Born 1,000,000 times.
Initially, it sounds pretty wonderful to be born a million times. So much time! Such long life. But when you get to the end of the story you realize that death is just as kind a blessing as life. Life without death is as meaningless as death without life.
You see, like us actually, this cat couldn’t die. Of course we die, and so did the cat. But we are always reborn, just like the cat. Until we pick up that puzzle piece that sets us free, we can not let go and truly die in a benefic sense of moving forward.
This cat was in so many fantastic situations. He lived with kings, pirates, sailors, artists, cute little girls, you name it. He hated them all. Each time he died the people around him would cry 1,000,000 tears, but this cat would shed not even one. Why?
Because his heart had not opened to life.
Finally, on his 1,000,000th birth the cat met a beautiful, white, girl-cat, and truly fell in love.
Lo and behold, after a while, this white cat died. And the cat of a million lives felt a pain so deep that the tears of 1,000,000 lifetimes tore out from his eyes and his heart split into 1,000,000 fragments of pain.
Thereafter the cat himself died. And returned no more.
Yes, I did say I got this from the kids section. And that is a whole other cultural story about how terribly shallow some other countries are in comparison. But that is not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about death as something positive. For this cat, the missing puzzle piece was sympathy and emotional connection to others. For you or I there may be other puzzle pieces quite different from his. In fact some of us may be missing hundreds of pieces. But yesterday a dear friend of our family died. We find ourselves crying like that cat in the picture, almost. On considering it though, there is something about it which is not a cause for tears, nor laughter either; a cause for tranquility and acceptance.
We will die. When we do so, let it be like the cat’s 1,000,000th death – one in which we fully lived our lives purpose and are ready and willing to let go.
– Vic DiCara