From a chiId I’ve always craved the company of animals, sometimes preferring them over humans. It was Darwin who in his massive studies of the animal kingdom posited that reason, emotion, and even morality, weren’t solely relegated to humans through evolution. My long acquaintance with animals tells me Darwin was on cue. Oh, the many stories I could tell.

Relatedly, there’s a delightful new little book just out by John Gray, titled Feline Philosophy, obviously about cats. And I can tell you a lot about them as well, though my wife, Karen, exceeds me greatly.

I like Gray’s cogent observation about animals when he says, “Lacking self-consciousness, non-human animals are present in the world more completely than we are. They inhabit nature fully whereas we are always dislocated, at a right angle, from it. Indeed, we are destroying it.”

So you see, you don’t have to consult a Buddhist monk to find serenity. It was the Buddha who taught us that suffering lay in desire and refusal to accept impermanence. On the other hand, our animal friends are simply their authentic selves, with each day a sojourn in life’s palate. Scarce wonder I pursue their company.

—r