Awakening, Karma, Virtue, Cats and the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama and his cat
The Dalai Lama and his cat

I recently listened to the Dalai Lama (through his translator) say something on a karma related subject. He said that even a simple act of virtue like feeding an animal (even ants) when it is done with an altruistic attitude (intention of helpfulness and compassion) with the idea of benefiting those sentient beings that this is what is meant by the term “bodhicitta”.  The word translates from Sanskrit this way:  bodhi means enlightened or awakened and citta means mind or consciousness.  So we could say that bodhicitta means awakened mind and it is the compassionate act of a bodhisattva practitioner.  To take it further, A person who has a spontaneous realization or motivation of bodhicitta is called a bodhisattva.

I would not go so far as to refer to myself as a bodhisattva but the Dalai Lama says even a simple act of conduct or action done in virtue with the intention of helpfulness and compassion are transformed into conditions of full enlightenment.  I think of conditions being transformed in such a way that awakening, at least in moments, is favorable.  So even simple acts of loving intention, he said, are like an elixir that transforms base metals into gold.

Only a true Buddhist would consider feeding ants.  That has never occurred to me to do, but maybe will since the great teacher Dalai Lama mentioned it.  However, I do feed stray cats.  There is one little Buddha-Cat who honestly cracks my heart open every time he comes with the others to eat.  He had a lot of fear right after he was born–really significantly frightened more than his brother or sisters.  Now, he is warming up to me and the other neighbor here who feeds him.  Here’s the thing.  The others dive into the food platter — a clear plastic party platter works well for them, each having their own compartment.  However, while he may be positioned to eat, he doesn’t start until he looks up into your eyes and reaches his head up so as to rub noses with you.

Each time I feed this cat, my heart opens more and he makes it easy for me to create the mindstate of a Bodhisattva.  I accept any conditions that would lead me to full awakening.  This sweet cat is helping me; may he remain protected and happy.

PS it is said that His Holiness rescued his cat from the slums of Dharmsala.