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Cave in the Snow: Tenzin Palmo's Quest for Enlightenment Paperback – September 18, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Paperback, September 18, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It sounds like a legend out of medieval Tibet: the ascetic who leaves home to join the Buddhist order, then spends 12 years in a cave, 15 hours a day in a meditation box. This is no legend, but you could call Tenzin Palmo legendary in her single-minded pursuit of higher realizations. From the East End of London to halfway up the Himalayas, she is now back in society, attempting to pull medieval Tibetan Buddhism into the modern era--women's rights and all. As biographer Vickie Mackenzie says by way of background, a group of elite women practitioners called "Togdemnas" still existed just decades ago. Tenzin Palmo, having studied with her male counterparts, is now canvassing the planet, welcoming women into full participation in Tibetan Buddhism and building support for an academy of Togdemnas that she plans to establish in the Himalayas. Mackenzie helps raise awareness for women's roles in Tibetan Buddhism by going into some detail about obstacles still faced by women as well as heroines who have overcome those obstacles, such as Yeshe Tsogyel (Sky Dancer) and Machig Lapdron, a mother who started her own lineage. If Mackenzie has it her way, it won't be long before Tenzin Palmo joins that list of heroines. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Very possibly, the central figures of these two books?one German, the other British?met during their Buddhist training and charitable work. They undergo similar transformations, abandoning established middle-class lives to adhere to strict Buddhist rules of self-denial, meditation, and hardship. Khema, however, escaped Nazi Germany and had a remarkably peripatetic life that entailed two marriages and much travel. Her telling of her search for Buddhism and life as a nun dwells on the facts of her travels and good works rather than inner thoughts. Despite professions of humility and selflessness, she appears arrogant and proud. But perhaps this impression comes from the process of dictation and a translation from German that is full of cliches and inappropriate expressions. On the other hand, in Cave in the Snow, Mackenzie, a journalist with a special interest in Buddhism, recounts with passion and beauty the story of Tenzin Palmo (nee Diane Perry), which involved 12 years of living in an Indian cave, snowbound for eight months of each year. She delves into Palmo's motivations, feelings, thoughts, and teachings, presenting the facts of her life while preserving the anguish, desire, conviction, and conflict that accompanied her conversion to Buddhism. The result is thoroughly engrossing.?Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Coll., Garden City, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 60603rd edition (September 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582340455
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582340456
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Tenzin Palmo, this book's subject, is a character you will never forget. Full of faith, insight and strength, her dedication to persuing the Path has determined her life and continues to do so. The writer, Vicki Mackenzie, writes a gripping narrative about Tenzin Palmo's life from her beginnings in England (where her interest in the East bloomed) to her voyage to India, to living in a monastary, finding her guru and eventually going up to her cave, where she meditated for 12 years. The book reaches a peak in the chapters about Tenzin Palmo's cave retreat. The book changes directions upon Tenzin Palmo's emergence from the cave, becoming more reportorial and less biographical. Among the topics covered are Tenzin Palmo's efforts in founding a nunnery for her lineage (Kargyu) and to perpatuate the esoteric yogic practices of the Togdenmas, female yogis in this particular Tibetan line. Also interesting chapters on Buddhism in the West (particularly the U.S.) and the role of retreat. An amazing book for anyone who is deepening their spiritual practice, curious about or considering retreat, and highly valuable to women seekers! A wonderful book! Hurrah!
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Format: Hardcover
This biography of the first western woman Tibetan Buddhist lama, child of the second half of the 20th Century & seeker of spiritual perfection is delightful, frank, detailed & absorbing. Born into war-torn London's East End this girl always felt out of place, survived some astonishingly dangerous childhood traumas & headed pell-mell into London's Swinging Sixties. All the while she's been searching, finding the rare Budhhist community, knowing yet not knowing what to do with her life. Finally she earns enough money for her passage to India & to the exiled Tibetan Buddhist communities in the fabled foothills of the Himalayas. There, when she isn't taken seriously as wanting to immerse herself in the religious life just as the monks do, her determination becomes unshakable & the ultimate feminist battle is engaged. Does the Soul have gender?
This is a stunning book! Exciting & infuriating; transformational & down-to-earth. For the first time my Western mind has been able to grasp the concept of reincarnation.
A superb gift for anyone who has ever contemplated a life of meditation & devotion; for anyone who thinks religion has no humor. This book will have your heart laughing & your spirit bursting open like a flower in sunshine. For my full review please see [my website]
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Format: Paperback
Despite Vicki Mackenzie's breathless tabloid style (which she comes by honestly, as a British tabloid journalist), this book works brilliantly ... and the reason is its subject, Tenzin Palmo, a British woman who became a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Her dry English wit and sterling character shine from every page. The first Western woman to engage in a 12-year meditation retreat in a cave in the Himalayas, Tenzin Palmo describes her spiritual life in a matter-of-fact way that is all the more inspiring for its simplicity and humour. Along the way she tackles the difficult question of women's role in Tibetan Buddhism - I was not surprised to learn that, rather than resting on her own accomplishments, Tenzin Palmo has devoted herself to helping her sister nuns in Asia. An engaging and wonderful book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It would seem difficult to commend sufficiently the merit of this book. Despite lackluster writing by journalist Vicki MacKenzie (whose fascinating book on lama Osel, the surprising tulku recently discovered in Spain, seemed affected arbitrarily by the same lack of dynamism in the writing) the story of Tenzin Palmo shines through, and witnesses to a kind of freedom that is the stuff of legend, and a harbinger of peace. Her presence is clear on every page, distinct and standing and shining on its own power, and perhaps in that way MacKenzie's notably waveless style serves the book well. The book is assembled beautifully, MacKenzie takes her time in just the right places; the final few chapters take up a kind of ecstatic explosion of joy, rumbling to a final free-flying celebration of a remarkable woman's life and freedom. I enjoyed it immensely; and what really calls, and remains a part of us is the woman, this rather great personage of achievement, the lama of freedom- Tenzin Palmo! Her teaching is without any superfluous edges, one finds on nearly every page of this book an immensely grateful and happily intelligent woman, one worth considering for the quality of her genuine spiritual impact. One of the more satisfying books I've read this year, its minimalist decor notwithstanding; not that the writing is so impoverished, but a little bloodless, as I say. But take heart, Tendzin Palmo is a bountiful journey! 4 glad stars!
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Format: Paperback
Although I am usually most interested in books relating to Taoism and the martial arts, this book caught my attention. The story of a British woman spending 12 years in a small cave at 13,000 feet in Tibet meditating was one I had to read. Although some readers have said that the author's style turned them off, I must say I had no problem with it. It took me a day to read this book, and I will probably go back and read it again. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that thinks it may be interesting- a GREAT read.
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