David Michie: The Dalai Lama’s Cat

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It may be some time since I wrote here about what books I’ve been reading but I can assure you the reading has been happening. It’s just a question of some being for work, some being for my book group (that has its own blog) and some I just didn’t feel inspired enough to write about and recommend.

The Dalai Lama’s Cat was irresistible to me. I first spied it on my daughter’s book shelves but decided to buy my own copy rather than borrow hers. I’m pleased I did because it’s a book that deserves more than one reading but also I’ve always had a weakness for wanting to have my own copy of books I enjoy a lot. I remember discussing this over lunch with another book editor once. We’d both bought books we’d borrowed from others and loved, just to have our own copies!

This book was irresistible because 1, it was about cats, and I’m a devoted cat lover (as my own cat Bella would attest to if asked, I’m quite certain), and 2, I’ve had a long interest in Buddhism and have also taught mindfulness meditation (part of some alternative health work I do).  The Dalai Lama’s Cat is categorised as a ‘novel’ by its publishers, but being Hay House, which was founded by the late and wonderful Louise Hay, then it was bound to have a spiritual element to it.

It really is a delightful book. It’s deceptively light in reading but full of wisdom and humour. There are wonderful, vivid descriptions of life within the Dalai Lama’s home, the Namgyal Monastery in Mcleod Ganj, India, and a host of colourful characters who are part of his – and later the kitten’s – life.  When the Dalai Lama notices a stray and injured kitten on the streets of New Dehli, he gets his driver to stop and the little kitten is carefully taken back to the monastery. Here, in a home filled with love and the privilege of being able to sleep at the bottom of the Dalai Lama’s bed and sit during the day in his office, HHC (His Holiness’s Cat, a.k.a Snow Lion) learns many of life’s lessons according to the Buddhist way of thinking. For anyone who wants to know more about Buddhist teachings this is a wonderfully accessible way to learn more and it’s a story told with love and happiness. I enjoyed it so much I’ve ordered the next 2 books in the trilogy: The Art of Purring and The Power of Meow. How could any cat lover resist!!

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