rituals and a cat
(this zen story teaches us about rituals)
Years ago, at a distant monastary, when a spiritual teacher and his disciples began their evening meditation, a cat who lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. The monks would leave the doors open to allow for a breeze to flow through. The cat would come in and beg for attention while the monks sat on the floor and meditated. Of course this tested their abilities to block out the distraction and at first it was even a way for the monks to try and focus, but eventually, the teacher ordered that the cat be taken outside and tied up during the evening prayer and meditation.
Years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up to a tree outside, during the meditation session. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up. Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.
(moral: rituals generally start out one way and over the years they tend to forget what the true meaning or purpose of that ritual was)