Learning to Surrender from a Stray Cat
People talk much about surrender to God. Lectures and books are there in plenty on this theme, but I was fortunate to learn about 100 per cent surrender to the Divine Will from a stray cat this Ramadan.
A few days ago, while conversing with a friend about spirituality and God-consciousness we talked of surrender—100 per cent surrender—to God as the only way to be a God-conscious person and to be perfectly at peace. But how to surrender completely is something I am sure not many of us really can comprehend. Scholars and saints talk about surrender to God, and new-age gurus have written scores of books on it. But just reading about surrender or hearing others talk about it definitely won’t be as enlightening as witnessing 100 per cent surrender to God with your own eyes.
As I was pondering on these thoughts a few minutes close to Iftar time, I heard a meow in the backyard of my house. Now, I’m extremely fond of cats, and so I rushed out to find, to my delight, a beautiful orange–coloured cat with brownish-yellow eyes sitting amidst the green bushes outside my window. He looked like an under-nourished tiger cub! It seemed as if he had travelled a long way and had landed in my backyard in search of food and rest.
I took a saucer of warm milk and some bread and kept it out for him.
Cats are wary of strangers till they know them really well and get friendly only then. Ginger, which is what I named the cat, crept up slowly up to the saucer and happily lapped up the milk quickly. I watched him through the window. After this, he sat and groomed himself, washing his face with his furry paws.
Looking at Ginger, I wondered how we humans consider animals to be lesser, not just in intelligence, but in everything else, too. We have a false pride about ourselves as superior beings. Certainly we humans are not greater in anyway than these innocent sweet animals and birds. Ginger showed me the way that day!
From that day onwards, Ginger came every morning to my house, waiting patiently for his milk as he curled his cute tail neatly around him. He kept his paws neatly joined and sat upright. A meditative pose, you could say! Then, he would drink the milk and set about for his day’s activity of gazing at squirrels up in the trees. Then, he would curl up for his nap in the afternoon on the shed roof.
At evening, he would jump down and meow and I would leave him a saucer of milk in the garden. In a short while, Ginger allowed me to pat him on his head and we became reasonably good friends.
Meeting Ginger everyday taught me something which I never learnt from people or through lectures or books… Ginger showed me what 100 per cent surrender to God was! We humans struggle to surrender to God’s will. We doubt everyday if we will get our daily food, our provision, or a roof over our heads. We spend a lifetime worrying about our old age. We depend on friends and fancy things for our happiness. We crave for emotional security. Our egos get ruffled at the slightest criticism. We fight for our identities, and we fight for money, too. We hang on to false securities of our position, fame, popularity and we clutter up our minds with things to do which we think will make us happy and not what makes God happy. Now, with all this muddle around us and within us, how can we ever surrender to God and His will?
I believe it requires the innocence, patience and modesty of someone like Ginger to surrender 100 per cent. Ginger does not doubt God’s will. He does not wake up every day and worry about his food. He quietly comes and sits in a meditative pose and his saucer of milk is there. No complaints, no finding fault, no frowning at his life, no grumbling about the rain or sun, like we do always. If some days I am not around, he may go hunting for a mouse for his evening meal. He does not complain about it the next day.
Ginger has no foam bed to sleep on. He makes himself comfortable on the roof or amidst a heap of junk in my neighbour’s house. He is happy with what God is giving him now and in the present. He does not go into the past or imagine his future. That is 100 per cent surrender.When I sit and watch Ginger every day, I am learning many lessons of surrender to God—un-conditional surrender! No doubts,’ ifs’ and ‘buts’.
Ginger is wild. Today he has come to my backyard. Tomorrow he may scamper elsewhere—it’s his nature. He lives by the force of the divine, not by planning and deciding, like we do. That’s why I think, we humans really struggle to try to surrender to God. We have to force ourselves, rather than cheerfully, unquestioningly accepting the divine will of what our true nature is.
The next time a cat strays into your garden, do not shoo it away. Take a little time to offer it a saucer of warm milk. Quietly watch it and reflect on how it has surrendered 100 per cent to God!