Rebuilding the Cave in the Snow
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
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 retreat.
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 to enlightenment.
In October 2011, Lahouli workers supervised by Jampal Dorje, returned to the site to rebuild the cave. The Bodhi Tree was honoured to donate A$1,600 for the rebuilding project. The majority of the
funds were provided by our friend and bestselling author, David Michie, and supplemented by our tip jar savings.
|View from the cave - 13,200ft
||A special moment in the cave
Pilgrims 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 2010
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 readiness.
Our 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...
Read books on Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and her teachings:
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