Published: 17/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5943 Page 35

Martha is assistant director of modernisation at a primary care trust. At the end of a busy week, she collapses in front of her PC to e-mail Mary, a former colleague, who has escaped Down Under.

Dear Mary

I've decided to take a strategic approach to my job - There is so much angst and frustration in the air that someone needs to look at the bigger picture.

Roger, the head of modernisation, is in a flap because no one will sit on the floor cushions in his meeting room.

PCT chair Dr Armani is on a diet after seeing his last TV show on tape, and Roger's deputy, Jenny, is on the war path because he took all the credit for her last paper And head of communications Droopy Trudy is depressed because of the money she spent on Hillary Clinton-style outfits during her quest for a new job. She is trying to wear some of them to salve her conscience, but teaming an Inca cardi with salmon pink separates is quite a challenge. I suggested she should try embroidering llamas on everything, but this did not go down well.

But the llama theme got me thinking.

How would the Dalai Lama cope with the everyday doings of ordinary folk in a slightly frenzied PCT? He'd be Zen about it, obviously. Presumably, the old Dalai is pretty Zen about everything, or else he'd fail his annual appraisal.

Of course, in Hollywood you're no one unless you're a Buddhist or a Scientologist - or possibly both. People probably have different world religions delivered in little boxes every morning.

An interest in all things Zen can only impress the mighty Rog. So I decided to take a closer look.

But imagine my surprise when I found it wasn't about sitting there with a lot of candles on your desk saying 'OM' and telling all your colleagues to get with the natural cycle of life and death. It is about 'self-definition', 'selfhonouring' and - you guessed it - 'vision'. I decided the only way I was going to get to the bottom of this was to do a paper on it, and give Roger the chance to pretend he'd written it if I came up with anything interesting.

Whoops - I can hear the twins trying to throttle each other. Watch this space!

Love, Martha

Next week: beliefs - who needs them?