Friday, March 8, 2013
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live with one of the world’s greatest spiritual teachers? Well, wonder no more! In The Dalai Lama’s Cat, a novel by David Michie, a sassy Himalayan gives us a cat’s eye view of life in the inner sanctum of His Holiness’s household. True to feline nature, the curious cat soaks up the teachings that take place when visitors – everyone from Hollywood celebrities and self help gurus to philanthropists and royalty – seek an audience with the Dalai Lama. To be sure, life is never dull when you’re the Dalai Lama’s cat!
The Buddhist wisdom is artfully interwoven with entertaining tales of a cat just being a cat…getting into mischief, making the most of every opportunity, and purring her way into the hearts of all who meet her. One would expect no less of any feline, let alone one who spends every morning curled up with the Dalai Lama while he meditates.
The Dalai Lama’s cat, a.k.a. Mousie-Tung, The Snow Lion of Jokhang, His Holiness’s Cat (HHC), The Bodhicatva, and “The Most Beautiful Creature That Ever Lived,” is so charming, funny, wise and witty that it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t love her. She even shares her most embarrassing moments for the sake of giving us a good laugh, which is something most dignified felines wouldn’t dream of doing! But the Dalai Lama’s cat is no ordinary feline, and she never lets us forget.
She makes no apologies for eavesdropping on the conversations between the Dalai Lama and his guests, and she puts a uniquely feline spin on the basic Buddhist principles she overhears. Through the Dalai Lama’s cat we learn about concepts such as karma, mindfulness, enlightenment, compassion, and the meaning of life.
The mark of any good novel, at least for me, is that it captures my attention on page one and compels me to keep turning pages despite other distractions and obligations. I read this book in two days because I just couldn’t put it down. And when I finished, I found myself wanting more. You really can’t ask for more from a good book, can you?
Anyone who’s interested in learning more about basic Buddhist principles in an easily accessible format can’t go wrong with The Dalai Lama’s Cat. Besides, the story itself is so enchanting that the little “pearls of wisdom” garnered along the way can be considered a bonus. The best kind of learning takes place when we don’t even realize we’re being “taught,” and that’s the experience I had with this book.
Here are a few of my favorite passages:
“It is not so much the circumstances of our lives that make us happy or unhappy, but the way we see them. Most people think that their only option is to change their circumstances. But these are not the true causes of their unhappiness.”
“Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment deliberately and non-judgmentally.”
“Karma operates not so much as some external credit-and-debit ledger but more as an energy, a charge that grows over time. This is how even small acts of generosity, especially when motivated by the best intention, can become causes for much greater wealth in the future.”
In an interview on the Cat Wisdom 101 blog, the Dalai Lama’s cat said “The meaning of life for humans and cats is the same: to be happy. And the most effective way to achieve happiness, paradoxically, is by focusing on the happiness of others. In my book I reveal a whole tool box of practices to help cultivate happiness. It’s up to each one of us to find the tools to suit us personally, where we are in our personal evolution at this particular moment.”
After writing this review, I reached out to the Dalai Lama’s cat via her Facebook page to let her know how much I loved the book. I also asked whether she might like to sponsor a giveaway so that one lucky CANIDAE RPO reader could win their own copy of this delightful book. Great news!! Ever the kind-hearted kitty, HHC offered not one but TWO copies of her book for a giveaway.
I think The Dalai Lama’s Cat is a book that everyone would enjoy. If you’d like to be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment on this post letting me know why you’d like to win and include your contact info. Winners will be selected on March 15th and notified via the email address provided. Good luck!
Read more articles by Julia Williams