I had bought my pet cat Bobo in 1990 before I started studing Buddhism. Before I bought Bobo, I didn’t like animals. But I loved Bobo so much that I looked after her like my own daughter. I took refuge with the Venerable Master Hua, a once-a-lifetime occasion, due to causes and condition in 1993. I became a Buddhist and gradually began to understand the teachings of Buddhism.
I began to understand transmigration in the Six Destines and the sufferings of the animal path. I tried my best to find a way to liberate Bobo from the animal path in the future. On the day I took refuge, a Dharma Master asked the Venerable Master one question for me: “Can a cat take refuge with the Venerable Master?” The Venerable Master answered, “Cats have deep and serious karmic obstacles. It costs millions of dollars for a cat to take refuge.” I even asked an ignorant question to another Buddhist friend, “Does the Venerable Master mean New Taiwan Dollars or U.S. Dollars?” Since I didn’t have such a huge amount of money for Bobo to take refuge with the Venerable Master, I then worked on other possible methods.
Finally, as they said, “Heaven never fails a person who undergoes hardship in order to achieve his or her goals”; my effort paid off. Bobo took refuge with the Triple Jewel on May 1, 1993 and became a Buddhist cat since then. Her Dharma name was Lin Ci Po. I had the honor of meeting the Venerable Master with two Buddhist friends at Burlingame in the spring of 1994. I told Shi Fu that I was the person who wanted to help a cat to take refuge with the Triple Jewel on the day that I took refuge with Shi Fu. The Venerable Master told me that, as long as I applied great effort to cultivate the Way, I would be able to rescue her by myself; it wasn’t necessary for her to take refuge with him.
After the Venerable Master entered Nirvana, I requested a lot of audio cassette tapes of Dharma talks and Sutra lectures by the Venerable Master. Bobo would listen to the Sutra lectures with me and I let her practice repentance before the image of the Venerable Master. I also played the electronic Buddha recitation machine in my house often, hoping that Bobo could follow the sound of that machine to recite the Buddha’s name by herself. One time a Buddhist friend came to my house and greeted Bobo by saying, “Amitabha” and Bobo greeted him back by raising her head and meowing “Amitabha”.
I brought Bobo for a physical examination every three to four months, since she was already ten years old. A ten year old cat is equivalent in age to a 56 year old human being. After the age of ten, each year in a cat’s life equals four human years. When Bobo got older, I always told her that she needed to recite the Buddha’s name well so she can be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss at the end of her life.
At the beginning of 2005, Bobo’s physical examination revealed that she had chronic renal failure. I constantly reminded Bobo that she needed to recite the Buddha’s name well. I recall now that she might have known that she’s about to die, because I always found that she gazed at me every time I woke up in the middle of the night, especially during the several months before her death.
In the morning of January 6, 2006, a veterinarian called me and said that I should let Bobo check into the veterinary hospital right away, because her kidney failure was worse than before.
On the way to the veterinary hospital, I kept telling Bobo that she can go with ease; there was no need to miss me, if she doesn’t want to stay in the Saha World, just recite the Buddha’s name well to be reborn in the Pure Land. I also asked the veterinary hospital staff to allow the Buddha’s name recitation machine to be kept at her side; therefore, Bobo could listen to the Buddha’s name all the time. Bobo stayed in the veterinary hospital for two and a half days. At noon on the eighth, a veterinarian called to inform me that Bobo’s kidney problem took a turn for the worse: she suffered Acute Kidney Failure, not Chronic Renal Failure. The veterinarian suggested that we reduce her pain by giving her euthanasia. Without the slightest hesitation, I refused, checked Bobo out of the hospital, and took her home.
Staying by Bobo’s side, I told her to let go of everything and recite the Buddha’s name to be reborn in the Western Pure Land. Bobo came back home at 6 PM on January 8, 2006, and peacefully passed away at 1:42 AM on January 9, 2006. None of the things that the veterinarian warned us about occurred. She was lucky that I stayed by her side to help her recite the Buddha’s name. It was the first time in my life that I experienced the impermanence of birth and death, from beginning to end. I had prepared my heart ahead of time for the grief, but the separation from Bobo was very difficult to bear. It was both the most painful and gratifying moment in my life; the utmost pain of separation from a loved one at death, and gratitude for the fact that I had witnessed the peaceful rebirth of Bobo. It was so surprising that Bobo left quite a few relics after the cremation on the morning of January 19, 2006. It also enabled me to experience the kindness and compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Whether one is human or animal, as long as one sincerely recites the Buddha’s name, Amitabha Buddha will certainly lead one to his land.
How lucky that the Buddhist cat, Lin Ci Po, was, in this life able to receive the teaching and instruction from a lofty high Sanghan like Shi Fu. It made her bring forth the great Bodhi resolve to recite the Buddha’s name vigorously. It taught me that I should cherish our limited lifetime to vigorously cultivate. May we all diligently advance on the Way at all times!
Editor’s Note: There is a case of a cat that who knew how to recite Buddha’s name. What proof was there that the cat knew how to recite the Buddha’s name? After it died, it was bureid in the back yard of the monastery. Even though there was no water around the area, a lotus flower sprouted from its little grave. This is proof that even animals are endowed with the Buddhanature. (VBS #159, August 1983, page 10)