REVIEW: The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie
“In the months that followed I watched His Holiness working on a new book . . . I began to think that perhaps the time had come for me to turn my paws to a book of my own . . . one that tells my own tale . . . How I was rescued from a fate too grisly to contemplate, to become constant companion to a man who is not only one of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, but who is also a dab hand with the can opener.”
Not so much fly-on-the-wall as cat-on-the-sill, this is the warmhearted tale of a small kitten rescued from the slums of New Delhi who finds herself in a beautiful sanctuary with sweeping views of the snow-capped Himalayas. In her exotic new home, the Dalai Lama’s cat encounters Hollywood stars, Buddhist masters, Ivy-league professors, famous philanthropists, and a host of other people who come visiting His Holiness. Each encounter offers a fresh insight into finding happiness and meaning in the midst of a life of busy-ness and challenge. Drawing us into her world with her adorable but all-too-flawed personality, the Dalai Lama’s cat discovers how instead of trying to change the world, changing the way we experience the world is the key to true contentment.
Featuring a delightful cast of characters, timeless Buddhist wisdom, and His Holiness’s compassion pervading every chapter, The Dalai Lama’s Cat is simply enchanting.
Dear Mr. Michie,
I am blessed to be partly owned by a Himalayan (she has to share me with three Persians) so yes (!) to this cover and to the “author” of the books the lovely Mousie-Tung (as the driver she doesn’t much care for calls her). When I was getting my taxes done, my CPA and I were chatting about our recent reads and she said she’d just finished this book at which point I exclaimed that I’d just started it. We then smiled at each other. I needed something soothing in this time of world upheaval, medical need, and frantic searching for a store with TP. This book had been on my ereader for far too long but need met availability and here is my review.
I blush to admit that I know only a little bit about Buddhism – probably only enough to be dangerous. But as our little Bodhicatva is taken into the household of the Dalai Lama (“she must have a very close karmic connection to him”) and starts to learn, so do I by reading. She must not only agree with the principles of her new religion but also live them – no more giving into her instincts and chasing mice. The Dalai Lama understands her moment of weakness but encourages her not to give up on herself as the buddhas haven’t given up on her.
She learns that it is not so much the circumstances of our lives as how we view them. Also that it is not the purpose of Buddhism to convert people but to give them tools so they can create greater happiness. Little Snow Lion notices that sometimes the people at a local cafe (that is honored so serve her delicious tidbits) don’t take the time to appreciate the moment and practice an important Buddhist principle – “mindfulness means paying attention to present moments deliberately and non-judgmentally.” Cats enjoying their dining have already got that covered.
The Most Beautiful Creature That Ever Lived also helps keep the Dalai Lama “in the moment” by gently biting his ankles to remind him to pay attention to her. Then she is his “Rinpoche,” too – his treasure. In listening to him speak with one of his guests, she hears about the “true cause” of happiness meaning one that can be relied on to always work. One must also put others at the center of our thoughts and not self. Problems are never asked for but the way we deal with them helps determine our future happiness or lack of same. And don’t react to a dog invasion with jealousy as it is an emotion that is demanding and takes one further from peace of mind.
I wasn’t quite as sure about the comparison to hair balls and self obsession but if it works for HHC (His Holiness’s Cat), then okay. Dolce mio learns that if she doesn’t focus on herself but gives happy meows and licks, she gets blissful grooming. Tesorino hears and learns much whether she is listening in on a conversation with a Queen or an IT repairman. and that it’s important to keep focusing on her meditation skills as Buddhists view a lack of self-confidence as laziness. She must not only be aware of what she ought to do but she must also do it with big eyes and a strong voice … er, meow? Ah, I finished reading about HHC’s efforts to become a better soul feeling refreshed and calmed, myself. B