ya and middle grade book reviews

The Dalai Lama's Cat Trilogy by David Michie


If your doctor recommends that you learn to meditate or practice mindfulness and you can’t seem to wrap your mind around it, the Dali Lama’s Cat books by David Michie are for you. They are a trilogy written from the perspective of the Dali Lama’s cat, His Holiness’ Cat (HHC). This cat addresses the reader (“Dear Reader”) often drawing you into her experiences. HHC, demonstrates for you instead of just telling, you about Buddhism, mindfulness, meditation, gratitude, and compassion. Each story has infinite detail about the Dali Lama, the monks, the people who work for the Dali Lama, and HHC all of whom are featured throughout and support the point of the books. There is also the colorful café owner down the hill who starts a Buddhist bookstore and you travel through his journey from superficial follower of the Buddha to genuine Buddhist.
HHC explains eating meditation which is often not well understood. And, usually when it is written about or spoken about it is told not shown. In the The Dali Lama’s Cat, HHC, observed the monks eating their food mindfully, in silence, seemingly appreciating and enjoying it. She then went down the hill to the best café in all of India and watched the patrons eating their food while working on laptops, paying attention to their phones or talking to each other, NOT being mindful of their eating at all.
In another part of the story, HHC went on a prolonged life-threatening chase by “the most ferocious animals.” They turned out to be Golden Retrievers, showing it is important to acknowledge perspective, as the reader that was completely convinced HHC was a goner.
HHC listens in, as the Dali Lama meets with each person, giving only enough information for you to be able to guess who they are, such as the the blonde American TV host who likes to get up and dance with her interviewees. HHC uses this trick to let you know who the guests are without giving away the names. The Dali Lama’s guests range from TV and movie celebrities, to royalty and leaders from all over the world to common people living in India and abroad.
In another storyline, the Dali Lama is visited by one of the most successful and rich celebrities in the world. However, he is extremely unhappy. The Dali Lama teaches him that he needs to have purpose in his life. He starts a very successful and fulfilling nonprofit. HHC takes this to heart trying to find purpose in her own life and refocuses on learning to meditate. During each story, the Dali Lama not only teaches his guests, but HHC and the reader as well.
During another storyline, HHC catches a mouse, proudly following her instincts and brings her prey back to the Dali Lama and the monks. However, what she met was the horror of monks. She is dealt with by the Dali Lama with compassion. HHC learned that sometimes you have to fight your instincts and do no harm to others.
During a particularly humorous storyline, HHC is taken home by one of the monks for a few days as the Dali Lama’s office is renovated. She spends the first three days sulking under the blankets. When she finally comes out to explore, she encounters the most gorgeous male cat she has ever met. She is extremely upset that she wasted so much of the time she could have spent with him. Fortunately, they meet again later and she has kittens with him.
I love the way HHC is able to capture the Dali Lama’s insight, wisdom, compassion and sense of humor in a fun to read, delightful way.
The three books in the trilogy build on each other so I recommend reading them in the order in which they are written. The audiobook recorded by the author, David Michie, in his soothing, comforting voice is another enjoyable option.
Photo from David Michie’s Facebook page

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