Rebuilding the Cave in the
At the age of 20, Diane Perry left her home in London for
India to pursue her spiritual path. There she met her guru, His
Eminence the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche and renamed Tenzin Palmo, became
one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist
In 1976, seeking more seclusion and better conditions for
practice Tenzin Palmo found a cave in the Himalayan district of
Lahaul, where she lived for 12 years, the last three in
The cave was actually fashioned from a rocky overhang, and
Lahouli friends built thick walls with a door and window. Of
course, after leaving the cave in 1988, it gradually weathered away
until there was nothing left but the rocky overhang.
Tenzin Palmo went on to found the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in
the Kangra District of India. The nunnery is nearing completion,
and currently houses 70 nuns. In 2008 she was given the rare title
of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the 12th
Gualwang Drukpa, Head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in recognition of
her spiritual achievements as a nun and her efforts in promoting
the status of female practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism.
In 2010 a unique pilgrimage took place to retrace Tenzin Palmo's
steps on arriving in India, and return to the site of her cave.
While the pilgrims sat under the overhang, listening intently to
recollections of life in the cave, which she describes as the
happiest time in her life, a Lahouli elder said "Jetsunma, this
is your cave. Please tell us what you would like us to do with it -
if you want us to rebuild it just the way it was, then that's what
we would like to do". Jetsunma was overwhelmed at the
generosity of this unexpected offer, and said yes, she would love
that, because then others would be able to use it on their journey
In October 2011, Lahouli workers will return to the site, and
spend an estimated three days rebuilding the cave. The Bodhi Tree
has been afforded the privilege of donating funds for the
rebuilding project. The amount required is A$1,600.
If you wish to donate to this heartwarming project, please email
from the cave - 13,200ft
special moment in the cave
listening to recollections and looking at Jetsunma's photographs of
her time in the cave.
|Jetsunma feeling "at home" in the remains
of her cave.
Photographs by Karen Kotze, Sept
An excerpt from a letter from Jetsunma
Tenzin Palmo, September 2011:
"My sincerest thanks to you
and the Bodhi Tree customers for your help in promoting the book
and for raising the money needed to rebuild the
Kalden Wangmo, the American
nun living at Tayul is so happy. In the meantime she has been
helping the old nuns there with home improvements such as in
Trinley Angmo's old house where she put plywood and cloth up on the
ceiling, plus building a second window and weatherproofing her
outer door. Kalden is tough and devoted and she has already cleared
the cave area of the high weeds and miscellaneous stones as well as
carrying winter supplies up the mountain in
friend Jampal Dorje and Lama Nawang of Tayul will supervise the
building and they want to do a good job so that the structure will
last. They will start later this month and of course it will only
take a few days to complete - basically an outer wall - since the
stones are already there."
Read more about
Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery...
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