February 22, 2024

The Book Report: The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Yes, there is always room to learn more. I experienced this first-hand when I read the delightful little book by David Michie, The Dalai Lama’s Cat. I’m not a Buddhist. I don’t know anything about it. This book does not preach and it is not a self-help book, or I wouldn’t have read it. It teaches and enlightens.

This book and this author came to me quite by accident. My great friend had booked to go on a retreat at La Rochelle where David Michie was leading the discussions, and it ended up that she couldn’t go. She offered it to me as a gift, and I took it, not really knowing much about what to expect. I figured I had better read his latest book to be up to speed and I was so surprised to realize that I couldn’t put it down!

The Dalai Lama’s Cat is one of the most charming books I’ve read. It’s for anyone and everyone. Written from the perspective of HHC, His Holiness’ Cat, this endearing story illustrates the power and the positive influence of mindfulness through humorous anecdotes that speak to all of us. The common human flaws of jealousy, insecurity, resentment, pride and even over-eating are all addressed through subtle yet poignant stories. HHC, a.k.a. Snow Lion, is a cat that had been fortuitously rescued by the Dalai Lama from the slums of India and her personality is loveable. And the best part is you don’t even have to be a cat-lover to enjoy this book. (I’m a dog person.)

The concept of pursuing happiness applies to everyone, doesn’t it? Exactly how to achieve that happiness is where the challenge comes in. Michie claims, “Most people think that their only option is to change their circumstances. But these are not the true causes of their unhappiness. It has more to do with the way they think about their circumstances.” Sounds simple, but it occurs to me that changing the way you see things is a lot harder than meets the eye.

HHC experiences all kinds of situations that eventually lead to valuable lessons. When she was forced to share her precious space with another animal temporarily, she was very out of sorts. Only once she heard the story of abuse that the poor dog had suffered, did her perception change. The situation resolved itself and in the end, she claims, “I also discovered that I felt a lot happier not being jealous. Envy and resentment were demanding emotions that had disturbed my own peace of mind. For my sake, too, there was little point in being consumed by unhappy and irrational feelings.”

So I went on that retreat and came back enlightened and enriched. Thank you, Gail, for a fabulous gift! It’s funny, or it’s Karma, how things happen in life.

Do yourself, and your soul, a favour and read this book!

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