A Simple Buddhist Monk : Knowing And Loving The Dalai Lama with Pico Iyer

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When Pico Iyer was just seventeen he met the Dalai Lama for the first time, an experience that impacted the rest of his life. Now this Oxford scholar has turned that early fascination into an in-depth study of the inner and outer life of one of the world's great spiritual leaders. In this interview he shares details of the Dalai Lama's daily routine, his humor, and the reasons why he really is "just a simple Buddhist monk." Mr. Iyer paints a picture of a man of great paradox, a meticulous scholar with deep humility as well as great political insight, with a self-proclaimed addiction to BBC World News and an all-encompassing love and respect for animals. He identifies the qualities that make the Dalai Lama one of the most beloved teachers of our time when he says, "He speaks at many different levels, according to the levels of his listeners, so a little child will hear one thing and a sophisticated philosopher will hear another. At every point he cuts to the root of things, and doesn't allow himself to really be diverted by the never ending drama of change and the roller coaster of moment by moment sensations. That's one of the great things he brings to the world." (hosted by Michael Toms)


Educated at Eton, Oxford, and Harvard, Pico Iyer taught writing and literature at Harvard before joining Time in 1982 as a writer on world affairs. He is a prolific writer who since 1980 has written up to a hundred articles a year for more than a hundred magazines and newspapers. He has written a film script for Miramax and initiated the Hart House Lecture Series at the University of Toronto. In 1995 Utne Reader named him one of one hundred visionaries worldwide who could "change your life."

He is the author of two novels and seven non-fiction books, including:

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • Why we must help China in order to help Tibet
  • What humans have in common with deer
  • Why Buddhism has more in common with science than with miracles
  • Why many people underestimate the Dalai Lama's intelligence
  • Why sleep is the most important form of meditation for humans and for animals
Host: Michael Toms      Interview Date: 4/22/2008      Program Number: 3256