Goodbye Garcia and The Meaning of Love

Our beloved Garcia.

Garcia was our cat. He was put to sleep in our home at 11:00am on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. He was born on March 3, 2004. 

Our hearts felt like they were ripped out of our chest -- but we bore the pain gladly knowing that it was taking our beloved Garcia out of his pain. He had liver cancer and other complications.

I brought him home for the first time at the end of April 2004. I had grown up around dogs and had never owned a cat.

My only idea of a cat was the indoor/outdoor type who owners love at times but don’t really get  attached to.

I thought that’s what I was going to do. Get an indoor/outdoor cat. I was living on my own, single, in a basement apartment. The place had some mice and although small, it was otherwise clean and ok.

I thought “I’ll get a cat and it will take care of the mice. Plus, it’ll be some companionship with my single life.”

When I asked the landlord for permission and they said ok.

Garcia was a both hunter and lap cat.

My Life With Garcia Begins...

I went to the local petshop where it just so happened that someone had just donated a litter of kittens. 

There was one kitten in particular who seemed more adventurous and playful. He was beautiful warm smoky grey with a white face and belly plus a really cool and distinct marking on his back.

The pet shop owner told me that a few people were already interested in that particular kitten so if I wanted him, I’d better decide fast.

I knew the owner of the shop because it was next door to a music store where I happened to be the guitar teacher.

So he said he’d give me some time and hold off on selling the kitten to anyone else until I decided.

That night, I thought about it. During the night I had an extremely vivid dream that I’ve never forgotten.

This same cat was in my dream and we were walking together up one of the steep hills that populate my neighborhood.

In the morning I knew I had my answer. 

I went and paid for him. He was so young that he still needed a few more shots and I had to wait a few days before I could take him home with me.

Teaching Tricks to Garcia and Training Him

I brought him home and my life with Garcia started.

I got a few books on cats from the library and talked to the vet. I discovered that making him an indoor cat was in fact much more humane and would ultimately give him a higher quality of life.

I also found out how to care for him including teaching him a few simple tricks. Garcia’s favourite was “sit” and “paw” for a treat as well as fetching rolled up paper balls that I’d throw down the hallway.

I fell deeply in love with this cat!! I never saw that coming…

He healed me from a lot of stuff that had been heartbreaking and spirit crushing in my past.

And then the next thing I knew Mary exploded into my life just over a year later. I truly believe it’s in part due to Garcia healing my heart.

Mary also fell deeply in love with Garcia.

Oddly enough, Mary used to frequent the same neighborhood pet shop and was considering getting Garcia! And one of my students from the neighborhood remembered Garcia from the pet store as well. 

Garcia loved licking avocado!

The Meaning Of Love

Loving Garcia was and is a blessing. But that sounds like a meme that people “snack” on when they go to Facebook, doesn’t it? 

What’s the meaning of love? Materialistic reductionism (the prevailing mainstream worldview) would have us believe that it’s a trick of nature. An illusion created only in order to propogate the species. Love is not real according to this view.

I totally respect, appreciate and benefit from science. It has an important and major role in creating our society and civilization. Many people these days worship religiously at it’s altar. But it really does miss the totality of things in such an absurd way at times.

Love Is Not Necessary To Propogate The Species

As a matter of fact, there are many species in nature who propogate without love. And many that propogate without even requiring a partner!

It seems that the more complex an organism becomes, an interpenetration of the sexes is something that needs to occur.

And in humans this can manifest as love. Sexual love is the primordial prototype for all forms of love.

Great thinkers such as Plato, Pythagoras, Vladimir Solovyov (from the amazing Russian school of philosophy from late 19th/early 20th century) and others have elaborated on this idea much more — and I intend to write about it more here at another time.

The Point of Love and Jewish Mysticism

In Jewish mysticism there’s a teaching called the Kaballah. In Christian Hermeticism they’ve adopted some of these ideas and called it the Qabalah with a Q. That’s how I’ll spell it here.

That which has no beginning or end and just simply IS, is called “Ain Soph.” Which loosely means No-Thing.

But it IS. So it’s not the same as nothing in a nihilistic sense. It’s an empty fullness of all potentialities and even beyond that.

The human mind can NEVER wrap itself around such an abstract concept because it’s BEYOND the human mind.

It is That by which the human mind even exists at all.

Although this parallels many of the eastern religious philosophies that have become so popular here in the west over the last century, I’ve been moving “my ultimate faith” away from eastern thought  — although maintaining some of the techniques which I find useful for psycho-spiritual health.

I myself — because I couldn’t fully connect with the dualism of the traditional Christian church — went to eastern thought for over 2 decades. I studied it, lived it and breathed it. 

However, I realized that despite finding a certain freedom and inner peace beyond limitation, there was something missing with eastern approaches. At least for me. That something was and is my ultimate reality as an individual expression of the Divine. 

At least in my own experience, God is a living and Personal Being. Many mystics and saints over the centuries have also attempted to articulate this understanding.

To me, the perspectives from the east ultimately have a sense of nihilism about them. The individual is an illusion and simply dissolves in the Ocean of Oneness once their “karma” is fulfilled.

I say this with all respect if you happen to be reading this and you find peace and understanding in yoga or Buddhism, etc. Please accept my apologies. This is only what works for my personal understanding and realizations.

So here it is. My point…

As Above, So Below

Yes, Life is impersonal. BUT it’s also Personal. I’ve discovered this for myself in my own spiritual practice. 

Please don’t believe me. This is something that went beyond the basic experience of “no-self.” It’s more like an experience of REAL. Nothing is separate including my individual consciousness. I’m individual Now and Forever yet also connected to The All.

It’s like the Unity in the multitude. It’s a paradox. But I discovered my own reality beyond “no-self.”

By loving a particular being, we make ourselves real. Not simply transitory. We connect to the Totality in a more complete way. The particular is also the Whole.

But few of us really love, do we? It fades after time. We don’t realize how sacred or powerful it can be.

My love for Garcia never faded. He taught me how God and the Angelic Hierarchies — actual Beings (as above, so below remember?) would love. Now I’m better at applying and sustaining it with people. 

Mary's sketch of Garcia healing me when I had a flu.

Pets and the Afterlife

On Thursday, the day after Garcia died, I was working on a new song. Being creative is one of the best ways I have to process grief. I had to move one of my keyboards from my studio to our bedroom to make some room.

I put it on the bed. 

Out of the left corner of my eye for about a second, I saw Garcia!

This probably sounds crazy to those of you who are completely steeped in the material viewpoint.

The thing is, it was a different experience. I was already feeling Garcia and replaying memories in my mind.

I had already been wondering “is this what people mean with being visited by loved ones? Because it seems like it's just very strong and emotional memories.” These memories certainly were vivid, but didn’t seem like a real spiritual experience. 

And I’d already seen him out of the corner of my eye several times. This was more interesting...

But this one time was different. Garcia was sitting on the floor at one of his usual spots — but he had a slightly different light or aura around him as well as a darker tone to his colour. Opaque yet translucent and more vivid in colour.

And he was an object that appeared in my awareness EXTERNAL to the limits of my body. Like anything else we observe.

In other words, the vision of Garcia definitely wasn’t inside my head.

Now, I realize there are those who will say “the mind has enough power to project a mirage like that.”

But keeping things brief here, I’ll simply say “isn’t that exactly what materialistic reductionism is?” 

Reducing everything to a cold and heartless explanation of quarks and digits? Life is simply an abstraction and therefore not ultimately real? (I realize many spiritual people also love to say that life is an illusion. I’ll tackle that subtle error in another post. But for now, let me ask you: “Do you exist?” Right.)

Just because our minds “create a mirage” — does that mean there’s not an inner Reality that is communicating to us in our sensory world via symbols?

To me, I knew. It was an inner knowing. You can’t explain that to anyone else. They have to have the experience for themselves.

You have to be able to have a “trans-cerebral” experience in order to do this. Most of us are still stuck in intellectual concepts that yes, are very convenient for our survival (technology, etc.) but are missing at least half the circle when it comes to explaining the totality of life.

I saw Garcia again in a similar fashion later that evening while sitting on our couch. This time to the right of my vision field and external to the limits of my body. He was walking toward me.

I wrote both of these experiences down in my journal because otherwise self doubt (the mind) would have more of a foothold.

I mean, if you cannot believe in yourself — and I don’t mean in a “rah rah” personal development coach kind of way —  I mean, actually know your reality, how can you truly live a good life? No matter how you even try to be good, you’ll never be satisfied. You have no roots.

The mind polarizes and the heart synthesizes. So again, fall in love. Love those around you. Love someone!

And finally, if you’re single, I highly recommend getting a cat or dog if you haven’t already done so. Or other exotic animal if that’s your thing. And really love them. Really attach to them. Give them your whole heart. It’s so worth it!

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