Feline nirvana

We return to the adventures of the Dalai Lama’s Cat or HHC, eager to learn more about her tryst with a handsome tomcat and the birth of her kittens.

We discover that on account of them HHC has matured a great deal, and become wiser perhaps. 

She informs us that it is our good karma that has given us the good fortune of reading what she has to say, for it comes from direct association with the Dalai Lama.

HHC, of course, has the ultimate luck of sharing the Dalai Lama’s living quarters, his bed, and of exclusively owning his lap.

While others melt in his presence, sensing “his energy of heartfelt happiness” and that “deep down all is well” HHC, or Snow Lion as he affectionately calls her, gets to head-butt the Dalai Lama himself. 

Before leaving HHC for seven weeks while he is touring the world, the Dalai Lama sets her a little task of introspection.

What is the true cause of happiness? He asks her to investigate that and the art of purring. HHC is not capable of mulling things over in solitude. If she is to discover the answer, it must be through adventure.

We are reacquainted with characters from the first book. Chogyal, Tenzin, Franc, Serena, Sam, Mrs Trinci and newcomers to Dharamshala as well.

Through events in their lives, HHC learns some lessons so that she can impart them to us. 

For example, closely linked to happiness is the understanding of what suffering is.

To live intentionally in the past, with pain, can bring on suffering.

HHC realises that “happiness was not to be found in the past. Not in trying to relive memories, however beguiling. It could only be experienced in this moment, here and now”.

From successful entrepreneur George Finlay’s story, HHC learns that success alone is no guarantee of happiness.

“If any object, achievement, or relationship was a true cause of happiness, then whoever had such a thing should be happy. But no such thing has ever been found.” 

Boredom afflicts HHC briefly.  But two deaths in succession, and Lama Geshe’s meditation on death teach her that “it is only when we have faced the reality of our own death that we really know how to live.”  

She now realises that “life is finite; every day is precious,” for one can create happiness on that given day.

Banishing boredom, HHC delights in the discovery that “the smoked salmon morsels garnished with Dijonnaise sauce in the café” were “never so lip-smackingly, whisker-tinglingly, tail-swishingly delicious.”

Of course, it helps her understand just how important food is to the perception of happiness. 

At the end of his austerities under the Bodhi tree, the Buddha broke his fast with sweetened rice-and-milk offered by Sujata.

The body stores the treasure of the mind, so it is not to be ignored nor deprived of food.
Health and well-being are important in the great adventure of expanding one’s consciousness.

Mind, consciousness, thoughts…one’s happiness is as much a matter of awareness, as of understanding how limitless our true nature really is.

Time, then, has a different quality to it, as HHC learns from Yogi Tarchen, who has a tremendous impact on her.

After meeting him, HHC discovers the overwhelming secret of her past life. 

And then, long days later, it is time for the Dalai Lama to come back.

And he wastes no time in revealing to HHC the Holy Secret of happiness that requires one to be “wisely selfish”.

It leaves HHC purring contentedly, thereby creating happiness in the Dalai Lama. 

What then is that secret of happiness, the art of purring? What good karma did HHC do in her past life that she got to be so close to the Dalai Lama, what was she exactly in her past life, you’ll have to read the book to find the answers. 

The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the art of Purring
David MichieHay House
2013, 
pp 256
Rs 399 

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