The Dead Cat’s Head – A Point for Pointlessness

The Altered Point

The Altered Point

From Alan Watts’ book, Nature, Man and Woman pg. 120 in the chapter titled: The World As Non-Sense

“A Zen master was once asked, ‘What is the most valuable thing in the world?’ He answered, ‘The head of a deadcat!’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because no one can put a price on it.’ The realization of the unity of the world is like this dead cat’s head. It is the most priceless, the most inconsequential thing of all. It has no results, no implications, and no logical meaning…The whole notion of gain, whether it be the gain of wealth or the gain of knowledge and virtue, is like stopping the pangs of hunger by gobbling oneself up rom the toes. Yet we do it anyhow, for it really makes no difference whether it is one’s own toes or roast duck: the satisfaction is momentary…This is why the Buddha said to his disciple Subhuti, ‘I gained absolutely nothing from unsurpassed and perfect Awakening.’ On the other hand, when there is no expectation, no looking for a result, and nothing gained by this ‘head of  dead cat,’ there is quite suddenly and gratuitously, quite miraculously and unreasonably, more than one ever had sought.

This is not a matter of renunciation and repressing desire–those traps which the clever and cunning lay for God. One cannot renounce life for the same reason that one cannot gain from it…There simply is no wrong attitude to the Tao because, again, there is no point outside it from which to take an attitude.”

So, we can take our stances or get stuck in apathy just as much as in zeal. Or. And. We can strive or surrender our way towards enlightenment, gain it and come “away” from the quest or arrival of “knowing/not-knowing”  knowing we are always left with one thing and one thing only. And it sustains without making even the slightest bit of logical sense: Presence. Being. Love-ness.

We fight only those battles that threaten our being-ness, our very well-being, our heartbeat living pulsing organism self. We stand aside and away from those battles that wage war against a peace that never dies. We retreat. We accept defeat. We await another chance to gain broader fields of play for presence, for feastings of simple beingness. We find, in all these things, that simply being is a rich resonance within and with the great all, with nature, with universe, with ancient soul and that it is and always will be the grandest, simplest wonder of sustenance. Ever.