Read About The Dalai Lama’s Cat
Hello, all — it’s your CCL (Cantankerous Cat Lady) with a new review, but this one will be a bit different. I will narrate and Lucinda the literate cat will comment from time to time. Read on, and enjoy.
I am reporting on a series of three books written by David Michie. They are called, “The Dalai Lama’s Cat,” “The Art of Purring,” and “The Power of Meow.”
The Dalai Lama ended up with a Himalayan kitten when he saw some boys selling kittens on the busy street. These kittens had been stolen from a nearby estate. As he watched, one of the last two kittens was sold to an elderly man who wanted a kitten for his granddaughter.
The last kitten had been dropped on the pavement when the boys snatched the four babies from their “nest” where their mother had left them. Because of the fall, her spine was injured, weakening her back legs, an injury that affected her for the rest of her life. Then the little cat, already covered with mud, fell into a big puddle.
The boys decided this cat was unsaleable, so they wrapped her in some old newspaper and intended to put her in the nearest rubbish heap. The kitten, very weak and hungry, began to suffocate in the rolled-up newspaper. The Dalai Lama, seeing all this, sent his attendant to get the kitten.
As they had just gotten off a plane from America, the man gave the boys two $1.00 bills and rescued the kitten. She was unwrapped, put in the Dalai Lama’s car, and milk from a street vendor dripped into her mouth, bringing her back to life. Thus, she became the Dalai Lama’s cat.
Lucinda: I can see that the Dalai Lama is a very kind and caring man. How lucky for the cat that His Holiness witnessed what was going on and saved the cat’s life. For that alone, he is to be commended, but throughout the books he shows his deep compassion for all living things. I would like to meet this man!
Throughout the three books, the little cat becomes the vehicle for the author to put in subtle lessons about Buddhism. For example, in the very beginning, the Dalai Lama is being interviewed by a visiting history professor from England.
The professor seems a bit put off that he must share his time with the Dalai Lama and a stray cat, who sits on the seat between them. The Dalai Lama says, “You know, Professor, this stray kitten and you have one very important thing in common.”
“I can’t imagine,” says the professor.
“Your life is the most important thing in the world to you,” said His Holiness. “Same for this kitten.”
The Dalai Lama goes on to say that, though humans have great potential, all beings with consciousness cling to their particular experience of life, and in this way, human and animals are equal.
The book is filled with such small lessons. The cat witnesses as the Dalai Lama speaks with many people. She reports the gist of the events to us so we, too, can learn from these interactions.
The little Himalayan kitten, with its sapphire-blue eyes and long luxurious fur, was given many names. One of the first was a play on the Sanskrit term, Bodhisattva, which means “an enlightened being.” The Dalai Lama called the cat “my little ‘Bodhicatva.'”
She gained several new names in the course of her life in the monastery. One of the early ones was HHC, which meant “His Holiness’s cat.” The Dalai Lama also referred to her as his little “snow lion.”
From her favorite cook, Mrs. Trinci, she got the name “The Most Beautiful Creature That Ever Lived. Franc, who owns the cafe that the cat visits for lunch, calls her “Rinpoche,” which means “precious.”
The little cat is fed gourmet meals. Mrs. Trinci always saves her a bit of the best dishes she serves to the Dalai Lama’s guests. Franc, owner of the cafe where the cat eats lunch, learns she is His Holiness’s cat, and gives her a choice bit of the special dish of the day.
When she visits the Great Outdoors, catches a mouse, and brings it in to the executive office, the assistants go into action. They put the mouse in a box and give it to someone to be taken out and released if it recovers. This incident caused a new name to be suggested: “Mousie-Tung.” The cat hates the name and leaves the room in anger.
Lucinda: I think it is good the cat has been given several names. It is rather nice that, though she cannot change her coat, she can go by different names. I must agree with her, though, that I do not like the name, “Mousie-Tung,” either.
The little cat thinks about her actions, and realizes that the Dalai Lama has been teaching that all lives are important. HHC had not thought about the mouse’s wish to be happy and avoid suffering. She realized that, though an idea sounds simple, it is not necessarily easy to follow. You couldn’t just purr in agreement; you had to live by these ideas.
Lucinda: It is hard for me to accept that it is not a good thing to kill any living creature. We are taught by instinct that there are prey and predators. At times, we, too, can fall in the first group.
I agree it is not fun to be hunted. However, for some animals in the wild, they would starve and die if they could not hunt. Is there no place for acceptable hunting in Buddhism?
In the second book the concept of reincarnation is introduced. HHC has a dream in which she is a dog in a former life — a Lhasa Apso who had belonged to the Dalai Lama during the time he was forced into exile. The cat struggles with this dream, and comes to believe it truth, which changes her ideas about customary enemies.
Lucinda: Well, if reincarnation is a real thing, I think this cat, HHC, must have once been a noted scholar, and perhaps some of that learning stayed with the cat. I see her as one of those intellectual cats who can follow a complicated discussion and understand it.
My vocabulary is acceptable, because I have read so much. However, this cat has a much more thorough understanding of the English language, which is very fortunate, as she can now teach us what she has learned.
On the other hand, if I ate the kind of gourmet meals that HHC ate, perhaps I, too, would be smarter. Does gourmet food make for intellectual prowess? I’d love to test this theory, but I’m afraid there’s no chance of that.
I would really like to get to know this cat.
Also in the second book, there is a great deal of talk and many visits to the nearby yoga school. HHC is fascinated by the whole thing, especially the yoga poses. In one passage, she gets on a chair to nap, and in her words, “assumes the croissant pose” and goes to sleep.
Lucinda: Though I do not know much about yoga, I do know that the name, “croissant pose,” is most fitting, and is a pose that every cat learns and uses. I did not realize, however, that it could be considered a yoga pose.
When I read this part, I immediately had a vision of my cat curled in the same position, a favorite sleep posture. This author knows cats!
The cat tries and tries to learn to meditate, but has a lot of trouble mastering the process. It is interesting that she includes the meditation instructions at the end of the third book. She must have figured it out.
The books tell stories of transformation and success for the people who are the main characters. At one spot in the book, when two of the prime characters get in a quandary, the teacher-monk, Geshe Wangpo, talks to them. He gives them advice on how to get through the dilemma they are facing.
He says, “When the mind goes too much up and down there can be no happiness, no peace.”
He gives them four tools to use: “First, impermanence. This, too, shall pass. You know things will change; nothing is permanent.”
“Second, what is the point of worrying? If you can do something about it, fix it. If not, what is the point of worrying about it? Let it go!”
He makes the suggestion that, for every minute you spend worrying, you lose 60 seconds of happiness. He says that you must not allow your thoughts to be like thieves, stealing your contentment.
“Third, don’t judge.” When you say something is a bad thing, often you will later find you were wrong. Something that ends badly could end up opening new doors of opportunity.
“Fourth, no swamp, no lotus. The most transcendent of flowers grows out of the filth of the swamp. Suffering is like the swamp. It makes you more humble, more able to sympathize with others…”
The lessons presented through these stories are simple, easy to understand, and
contain wisdom for all of us. In the third book, we meet the clairvoyant monk, Geshe-la, who teaches in the temple at Dharamsala.
He says, “Love and compassion are the two core values of our tradition.” He makes the point that it is easy to offer love and compassion for friends and family and other loving beings.
But then he asks, “How much of our love is conditional? We want others to be happy only if they behave in a certain way. We are willing to help these beings because we feel they can return the favor later. Therefore, our love is conditional.
He jokes that you can say, “May all beings be free of suffering except for my ex-husband and all conservative voters.” Buddhism should be practiced without partiality. We mustn’t restrict ourselves only to those people we like. Even the ones we find difficult only want to be happy and free of pain.
Lucinda: One good thing I see about cats is that we seem to practice some form of mindfulness in our daily lives. We tend to live in the moment. When things upset us, we don’t dwell on them. We also do not make judgments about whether someone is deserving of our love. We love unconditionally. Perhaps we are all Buddhists at heart.
At the end of the book, when the Dalai Lama is talking to his cat, he says, “Sometimes we need to be reminded of what we are capable of… How we all have abilities beyond anything we may believe. Mind training can be difficult but
sometimes we catch a glimpse of a purpose much greater than ourselves. Then it all becomes worthwhile.”
Lucinda: I can really agree with this point. My mind training has opened up a whole new way of living for me. I don’t see it as something that all cats should embrace. For the most part, I feel it is important for us to be as we were created.
However, the mind is a wondrous thing. The mind of a cat contains many unexplored possibilities. Who knows what we are really capable of? Fortunately for you, we are for the most part content to be just simple cats; we hide our capabilities.
I do wonder if I could learn to meditate. Perhaps I’ll try.
It interests me that I started researching “mindfulness” before I read these books. Mindfulness means to be present in the moment and to observe your life, as from a distance, without getting emotionally involved in it.
Being mindful is a key part of the Buddhist belief system. Therefore, here is a link to my other website and the post about mindfulness. If you are interested in these books and in Buddhism, you might find the mindfulness post of interest as well. Go to https://build2winaffiliates.com/how-is-mindfulness-helpful to read this article.
These three books have given me a better understanding of Buddhism and all the good philosophy it encompasses. At the end of the third book, there is even a set of simple meditation instructions. I believe these books are well-worth reading, so am offering you the chance to purchase them right here. You can buy a single book or a set of three. Click on the book image or the blue link and you will be taken to Amazon where you can order.
Please note that as an Amazon associate, I may receive a small commission for your purchase.
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