"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
As a lover of cats and a musician, I heartily agree with Albert Schweitzer in this quote/life philosophy and even have it engraved on a plaque hanging in my study. I would add one more crucial item to Schweitzer's list of useful refuge-remedies: books! Every now and then, the perfect book shows up in your life by some mysterious serendipity, at the exact moment you need the comfort, information, inspiration, wisdom, beauty, escapism, or higher vision to heal your inner being. Just as a song can become your "mantra" in lifting you out of sadness, so can a book lift you to higher emotional ground, insight and understanding. The little gem of a book titled "The Dalai Lama's Cat: a novel" by David Michie, was just this sort of soothing-serendipitous-balm-in-a-book for me. It is part allegory, part comedy, part fantasy, part teaching tale, and entirely charming!
The story captures the reader in the opening paragraph by its unconventional viewpoint -- seen through the eyes of a kitten/cat, who is rescued from abuse and almost certain death on the streets of New Delhi by none other than the Dalai Lama to become HHC (His Holiness's Cat). It cleverly interweaves colorful characters and their all too human foibles, simple tenets of Buddhist philosophy, teachings & history, intimate moments of insight, details of daily routines of the Dalai Lama, and some pretty awesome life lessons-- all while telling the story of this privileged feline who shares the inner sanctum (and lap) of the Dalai Lama. As the cat, HHC, also known as Mousie-Tung, Snow Lion, The Most Beautiful Creature That Ever Lived, Rinpoche (Precious), explores her new environment and life (both inner and outer), struggles with lessons such as disengaging from the basic instinct to kill (hence the Mousie-Tung title), to yearning for a "relationship", to overeating, and the causes of suffering, many precepts are introduced in a skillful, entertaining way. The mind is opened through HHC's cat's eye observations of celebrities, heads of state, and important people of all walks of life, whose meetings with the Dalai Lama change them in subtle and life-altering ways. The warmth of the storytelling, and the engaging atmosphere of the setting brings wit and wisdom together with insight and truth to give this book it's appealing and yes, enlightening power. If you are looking for a good read, that is at once amusing and deeply inspiring (in a sneaky cat kind of way), this one will bring a surprising array of gifts and delights. I heartily recommend this cat tale of amazing depth and insight. Pull up a comfy chair, next to a cozy hearth, and let HHC and this sweet book purr its way into your heart!
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes.