REVIEW: The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Four Paws of Spiritual Success by David Michie
The Dalai Lama’s Cat is back: irreverent, vain—and as delightfully insightful as ever!
“If you’re wondering how being in the presence of an enlightened person may be communicated on the pages of book written by a flawed and complex—if extremely beautiful—cat, let me confess that my only job here is to offer you a mirror. A looking glass of a particular kind. One that reflects back not the contours of your nose or the arch of your brow, but which provides a much deeper reflection of who and what you are.
Look closely, dear reader, there’s no need to be afraid. For what you will discover, if you ever doubted it, is that your own true nature is quite different from whatever flecks and imperfections may temporarily obscure it. At heart you are a being whose pristine nature is nothing other than pure, great love and pure, great compassion.
When the Dalai Lama’s inner circle is set the task of providing His Holiness with a book he can give his visitors, an unexpected volunteer stretches out her paws. The book is to summarize the four key elements of Tibetan Buddhism—and, importantly, to communicate how it feels to be in the profoundly reassuring presence of His Holiness. Who better to do this than his much-loved feline?
Through encounters with celebrity visitors and her own intriguing adventures, the Dalai Lama’s Cat explains all four key themes, not so much as ideas but as practices to be embodied. Along the way she even gets a new title: “Therapy Cat.”
Dear Mr. Michie,
And so our beloved Snow Lion, The Most Beautiful Creature Who Ever Lived, “writes” her fourth book. HHDL often confers with his staff as to which book about Tibetan Buddhism to recommend to each of his visitors to read. Popular books about Buddhism have catchy titles such as “The Six Laws of This” or “The Seven Tenets of That” or “The Eight Pathways of Whatever.” In that light, the Dalai Lama challenges his beloved cat to discover the four main elements of Tibetan Buddhism. Thus “The Four Paws of Spiritual Success” is born.
For who better to try to convey the “energetic presence” [and] “the profound wisdom of the Dalai Lama” than she who has listened to him for thousands of hours and can “communicate loving kindness.” She also has adorable sapphire eyes, a beautiful creamy coat, and a lush tail. Just saying.
As Rinpoche (aka Swami at the Downward Dog Yoga Studio) begins to learn, so do I. If we wish to be happy, we must let go of our delusions – renunciation. Bodhicitta is letting go of our preoccupation with ourselves and lets us work toward ultimate wellbeing in helping others. In order to act in accordance with reality, we release “our illusions about the way that things exist” – sunyata. The fourth paw of spiritual success lies in the Buddha. When bowing to the Buddha or guru, we not only show reverence to him or her but also “to our own Buddha nature and capacity for enlightenment.” Snow Lion and her friends are also taught the way to let go of negative thoughts which require our attention in order to continue. Deny them your attention and eventually they stop coming back altogether.
Lovely Tesorina’s curiosity almost got her into terrible trouble thus causing her people to remember the original proverb Care (anxiety or worry) killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. and how much like Buddhism this is. But her desire to go where she’d never gone before and now had a chance to also allows her to earn a new title, all on her own and for what she does rather than because of her association with HHDL. With one of my cats sitting on my lap, I started to cry as Therapy Cat brings comfort to those in need, especially one who is about to leave this life for what awaits her beyond.
Along the way, we catch up with many of Snow Lion’s friends and discover along with her who one of her past lives was. One thing I would have enjoyed seeing was Snow Lion discovering what past associations and lives she shared with her kittens or extending a paw of friendship to one who was also looking for love, acceptance and a place of his own but alas, ’twas not to be. But the Tabby did find a home so … okay. Namaste, Snow Lion. B