away the complexity and reveal the heart of the matter. I think that by focusing on your viewpoint of Tibetan history, this could be achieved. Most people will not read an academic history about Tibet, and they don’t care what I think about Tibetan history, but they do want to know what you think about this history."
He continued to look at me, waiting.
"Would you work with me so I can write a popular history of Tibet?" I asked. "You know than no Dalai Lama has written a history of Tibet since the 1600s."
I had interviewed him four times previously over several years, so he knew that I was passionate and often frank enough to be rude. He seemed to find my impertinence refreshing or amusing, if only because so many others are formal and reverential with him. He also knew that I was an American writer and photographer who had lived in Nepal for the past twenty-seven years. What else did he see as he looked at me in silence for the next ten seconds? Whatever summation he made, it was made quickly.
"Yes, that would be a very important work. I will do that with you. Though I do not have the time to write such a history myself."
"I could interview you, as you have time," I replied eagerly, "and then write a book that presented your viewpoint. I would also present summaries from the historic consensus and the viewpoint of others who may agree with you or contradict what you say. It would require many hours of interviews."
A secretary was sitting in on the interview. He made a sudden disapproving noise—sucking his breath in through his nearly closed lips—and interjected, "Your Holiness, your schedule is so full I do not see how we could fine the time for…"
Still looking directly at me, the Dalai Lama said, "It is important work. We will find the time. He is living in Nepal. It is close. He can come here as we have time. Yes?"
"Yes sir. I am happy to come here as you have time," I said.
"It should be easy to read, but it must also be true," he replied.
"Yes, that is my goal," I said.
"It is easy to talk about, but it will be hard work for you," the Dalai Lama said.