Zen Story: Cat & Mouse Game

There once lived a samurai who was plagued by a large and clever rat who had the run of the house. This annoyed the samurai to no end so he went to the village to buy a cat. A street vender sold him a cat that he said would catch the rat, and indeed the cat looked trim and fit. But the rat was even quicker than the cat and after a week with no success the samurai returned the cat.

This time the vender pulled out a large and grizzled cat and guaranteed that no rat could escape this master mouser. The rat knew enough to stay clear of this tough alley cat, but when the cat slept, the rat ran about. Half the day the rat would hide, but the other half he again had run of the place. The samurai brought the cat back to the vender who shook his head in despair saying he had given the samurai his best cat and there was nothing more he could do.

Returning home with his money, the samurai happened upon a monk and sought his advise. After hearing the samurai’s story the monk offered him the services of the cat that lived in the temple. The cat was old and fat and he scarcely seemed to notice when he was carried away by the doubtful samurai. For two weeks the cat did little more than sleep all day and night. The samurai wanted to give the cat back to the temple but the monk insisted he keep him a while longer assuring him the rat’s days were close to an end.

The rat became accustomed to the presence of the lazy old cat and was soon up to his old tricks even, on occasion, brazenly dancing around the old cat as he slept. Then one day, as the rat went about his business without any concern, he passed close by the cat who swiftly struck out his paw and pinned the rat to the floor. The rat died instantly.

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