Choosing to Be: Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master by Kat Tansey

Choosing to Be: Lessons In Living from a Feline Zen Master, by Kat Tansey

“The idea that I might already be the answer I am seeking is revolutionary to me to say the least.” I put the book down and turned to face him more directly.

“This is not a revolutionary idea, Kat.” Pooh said. “It is over 2600 years old.  If this is the first you have heard of it, I am beginning to understand why you have been so depressed.  Perhaps it is time for me to teach you how to discover your Buddha nature.” [3]

I admit that I saw a gorgeous kitty cat on the cover and couldn’t think about anything else.  I also saw the words zen and feline master and got even more excited because well yes, I think my cats are zen and they definitely seem to be the masters of this house more so than I am; definitely the book for me.  I was expecting a book filled with things like, don’t care about what others think because cats don’t or something along those lines.  I got a whole lot more with this interesting book on meditation and human being’s inherent Buddha nature.

Kat Tansey has written a wonderful introduction to meditation and finding the Buddha mind.  Suffering from a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and depressed because she can no longer lead the active life that she once led, Tansey turns to meditation to alleviate her depression and lead a more centered and balanced life.  Enter Poohbear Degoonacoon, the Feline Zenmaster, and his trusty sidekick Catzenbear.  Through a series of humorous interchanges Pooh advises Kat on finding a human meditation teacher and carefully guides her through the frustrations of beginning meditation practice and the five hindrances.

I had no idea what was going on when the cat first strolled into the kitchen, jumped on the counter and started chatting up the author.  I was wondering what kind of crazy non-fiction/memoir this was.  Was she dreaming? Hallucinating? Crazy?  But I quickly came around and thoroughly enjoyed the technique as Tansey was able to break down her experience of meditation and the Buddha mind in a simple manner, and through a very amusing teacher (Pooh is a loveable combination of understanding and patient, condescending and snarky all at the same time).  She also succeeded in illustrating parts of the meditation practice-making it more accessible, through watching her cats and how they interact with the world.  The book takes place over the course of a year, and what I especially appreciated was the way she outlined her frustations- not getting it at first, and the baby steps that led her to meditating more successfully and on a regular basis.  That was very helpful for me.

I would recommend this book for a number of reasons- interested and amused by cats, curious about meditation, interested in a story of how one woman turned her life around after serious depression and how she did it?  This one will work for all of the above.

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