The Cat in the Basket by Vaisesika Dasa


A cleric was once training his students how to perform a wedding. During the cleric’s tutorial, a frisky cat who lived on the church premises repeatedly interrupted the proceedings by meowing and playing with the ceremonial items. To pacify the cat, the cleric asked one of his students to bring it a bowl of milk. After plying the rambunctious cat with milk, the cleric, a cat lover himself, stroked the cat until it became drowsy and fell asleep. Having accomplished his goal, he put the sleeping cat in a small basket in the corner of the room so that it might not disturb his teachings. Meanwhile, as the priest’s students took notes regarding the details of the ceremony, they also wrote down the process for putting a frisky cat to sleep.

A few years later, when the head priest was out of town one day, the students were working as a team to perform their first solo wedding. As they were about to commence the ceremony, however, one of the students, referring to his notes, cried out, “Wait! Stop! We cannot start the ceremony without a cat in a basket!” Some of the students fetched a cat, gave it some milk, lulled it to sleep, and gently placed it in a basket in a corner of the room. After this, the rest of the wedding proceeded, the students following the notes they had taken when learning the process from their teacher. And from that day forward and to this very day, the students in the cleric’s lineage require a cat asleep in a basket to properly execute all weddings.

The story points to people’s tendency to follow blindly, without seeking to understand why rituals exist or why theories are accepted as truth. Do you have any cat-in-the-basket aspects in your life? If so, ask, “What’s their purpose?” and “What’s my purpose?” to see if you want to keep them.


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