Silly Willy, our silliest but beloved cat, died recently after a year-long struggle with some kind of a feline virus. The vet had tests done in late 2013 and told us it was a terminal case, but Willy didn’t give in without a fight and lived much longer than expected. He was seven or eight years old.
Willy was a favorite of ours, and he always wanted to be close to Tuk – until the last weeks of his sickness when he would snuggle next to me because I sleep more. Right from the time he was a kitten, he was always doing silly things, hence his name. He just looked silly. I would always greet him by saying, “There’s that silly little guy!” and he seemed to like that.
He liked to hear us talking to him, and during his last days and nights I would recite a short Mahayana verse to him that I got from reading Jack Kerouac. Although I don’t believe in the Mahayana ideas of rebirth, etc., I do admire their sense of compassion. I really like some of their ideas – which I look at as metaphors -- of a long series of karmic rebirths that have the potential for all sentient beings who think and act virtuously to work their way up to the state of complete Buddha-hood. The Kerouac verses, into which any name can be substituted, went like this:
-- “Willy: equally empty.” [“emptiness” meaning that our individual natures are not fixed; we can overcome ourselves, improve ourselves, and climb higher]
-- “Willy: equally to be loved.”
-- “Willy: equally a coming Buddha.” [even Willy may, in some far future eon, reach that highest of moral heights]
Willy would weakly look at me as I recited this, appreciating the attention. I couldn’t resist assuring him that after his final rebirth he would become famously known as “the Silly Buddha.” I don’t think he took my humor in the wrong way. We sure loved the little guy.