I have often lamented on the lack good Buddhist fiction, and I am delighted to find one in The Dalai Lama’s Cat. This is a wonderful, wonderful story; and I enjoyed every word as I wandered with His Holiness Cat (HCC) through the halls of the great Ladrang (residence) Of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The story opens when a kitten that was carelessly abandoned in the slums of New Delhi, was rescued by none other than His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The kitten was very small and had defective back legs, and it was doubtful she would live, but through the loving care of the resident monks of Dharamsala, and His Holiness himself, she grew into a magnificent white Himalayan and queen of her realm. Told in an autobiographical style, HHC (His Holiness Cat, but is also known by a number of other names as well) she takes us on a journey into the daily life of the great Tibetan Buddhist master. We learn about her habitual walks to the local café where she is treated like royalty, we see through her eyes the number of people—many very important people monks, nuns, celebrities, authors and more—who receive and audience with His Holiness, learn from him and are often transformed by his compassion and wisdom. We learn about her adventures in the kitchen with the Italian chef Mrs. Trinci, and HHC’s romance with the local rogue tabby.
But this book is more than a fanciful flight of fantasy about a cat who gets the best food and the best tummy rubs from the Dalai Lama. HHC also gets to learn a lot about Dharma, whether it be in lessons she witnesses from her perch on the office filing cabinet, or lessons she experiences herself. Like the time she became so fat she couldn’t follow the monks up the temple stairs for evening prayer! But my favorite story involved the time when HHC was a kitten and she caught a mouse. The monks were distraught over her catching it, but she hadn’t killed it and let it go. HHC was very upset over what she did but couldn’t relate her fears to His Holiness. He, however, wisely told her that it was a mistake, and tomorrow she could try again to do better.
This is a delightful book, gently and lovingly written, interspersed with Dharma teachings that are fully integrated into the story without becoming preachy or self righteous. There is something everyone can learn from this book.
I absolutely loved His Holiness’ Cat. It is by far my favorite, and worth visiting again and again.
~review by Patricia Snodgrass
Author: David Michie
Hay House, Inc., 2012
pp. 216, $15.95