on 18 March 2001
In 1976 Diane Perry, by then known by her Tibetan name Tenzin Palmo, secluded herself in a remote cave, over 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, cut off from the world by mountains & snow. There she engaged in years of intense Buddhist meditation. Her goal was to gain Enlightenment as a woman.
Tenzin Palmo's path inspired, uplifted & gave me the giggles too! From Diane's war-worn childhood to her wild teen years in Swinging London during the 1960s to her determination to follow her calling to the exiled Tibetan communities in Northern India. From Diane's survival of strange childhood ailments to her connection with the rare Buddhist societies in England to her glimpses of the Path to Perfection, Vicki Mackenzie tells this modest pioneering woman's adventures on her way to the roof of the world among a people with a long lineage of spiritual attainment with a lively, insightful fluency enhanced by snippets of conversations & seemingly simple philosophies.
Vicki Mackenzie has written an articulate modern adventure story complete with everyday bean counters & spiritual soul counters.
There is an amusing & entertaining history lesson to be had from Cave In The Snow. Being of the same age as Tenzin Palmo, I was also exploring Buddhism, except I emigrated to America. Even so I came across the same shin-whacking taboo - women cannot become gurus, lamas, priests, imams or rabbis because...& the silly litany tumbles out of men's mouths the way excuses do when they're caught with their fingers in the cookie jars.
As any woman who has ever stumbled into male-run religions knows, it always knocks the breath out of us when, with that simple, lineal logic, we are cast into spiritual exile because those in the know consider the attainment of Enlightenment a man thang & the body female prohibits both the study & the fulfillment of spiritual perfection. As if Spirit has a gender!
Irony is one aspect of becoming spiritual that brought about the giggles. Among all that seriousness there are gentle glimpses of glee such as when a monk bids Tenzin Palmo to raise the volume on her boom box so he could hear the Spanish monks singing their prayers.
High amid the Himalayas, this odd English woman brings to those sonorous sounding monks the rarified harmonies of Gregorian chants. Any Buddhist monk I've ever seen has had a ready smile & a mischievous laugh. That is attractive to me - a religious people who enjoy laughing.
For anyone who wants their heart to soar, their spirit to burst open like a flower, their mind to enfold peace ... Very well done!
on 11 April 2006
This book is one of the most amazing books tha I have ever read. I closed the back cover and open the front to read it again.This book is an experience rather then just something that you will read and forget about.
The strength and conviction of Tenzin Palmo should be an inspiration to all. Very few people ever put their money where their mouth is like her.
She has found what very few ever find, real contentment and a real purpose in life, proving that the things that we surround ourselves with are not this things that make us happy in the end.
I just can't recommend this book enough.
on 21 May 2000
Vicki MacKenzie really takes the reader inside the life of Tenzin Palmo and shows her determination to get to enlightenment. What is the most striking is how the daily hardships seem to be barely mentioned by Tenzin Palmo even though, as pointed out by the writer, they seem immense to a Western reader. Reading this book made me realise just what true religious dedication is and makes my own worries seem so minor. Overall, an uplifting read which although outlining much of the core of Buddhism is more memorable as a story of a truly amazing woman.
on 4 March 2001
This is an interesting view of what one woman undertook to journey toward enlightenment.The tale is one of great courage and is very inspiring. The attitude of traditional Tibetan Buddhism toward women was a shock to a Westerner. The chapter on the "flaws" of some of the Tibetan spiritual leaders reminded me that we all have a process in seeking enlightenment and that each person must witness him/herself throughout the journey. Even those who have reached a high level are still human beings. This was encouraging. However, I frequently found myself wishing the book were written better. The sometimes plodding style was occasionally distracting.
on 17 November 2008
This is an inspiring and fascinating insight into the world of an extraordinary woman (Tenzin Palmo, previously Diane Perry), who endured all kinds of privations and gender discrimination in order to follow her arduous path to enlightenment. She belonged to a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, but her story reminded me of that of another British woman (Jiyu Kennett Roshi) of the same era, who became a Soto Zen Buddhist priest in Japan. Her book ("The Wild White Goose") is also well worth reading. In fact, although there is no mention of it, it would be surprising if the two women were not aware of each other as their paths must have crossed at some point.
Despite all the positive things I have said about the book though, I think the message that came over to me most strongly is that even if you copy Tenzin Palmo's example completely you will still only catch glimpses of enlightenment before you die! There's no short cuts.
on 2 August 2000
Tenzin Palmo's life is a story of determination, courage and humility. In a time when few in the West had heard of Tibetan Buddhism, Tenzin Palmo travelled to India to embark on a spiritual journey by entering the often chauvinistic, monastic life of Tibetan Buddhism. With grace and fortitude she showed through her actions that women had equal right and ability to walk the path of enlightenment.
This book is an extremely digestible read and it is easy to be caught up in Tenzin Palmos's life from the outset.
I would go as far as to say this book has the potential to become a turning point in peoples lives.
on 7 February 2011
Although as a biography (rather than an autobiography) it lacks some of the insight and understanding that it might have had if written by the subject herself, i nevertheless found it a very interesting and entertaining read, if not as profound as some other books i have read in the genre.
on 10 June 2012
Vicki Mackenzie has written the fascinating story of Tenzin Palmo and managed, in just over 200 pages, to give us a clear picture of this incredible woman's view that there is enormous potential for Buddhism, and perhaps other religions, to offer women the same spiritual opportunities as men. This book is an intimate account of the practicality, determination and fearless intelligence of Tenzin Palmo as she follows her path and leaves you with undoubting admiration for this exceptional woman and her spiritual purpose in life.
The book is woven throughout with the history, beliefs and practices of Buddhism, which gives you a good amount of insight into this sometimes complex and profound religion and certainly makes you stop reading to think. This is not writing from shallow or hasty research, but the work of someone who has the experience to explain the background clearly. While there are few quotes from Tenzin Palmo, you feel that you are reading her words and experiencing her journey. Not least of all, you get delightful glimpses into her sense of humour, which is how she keeps it all very real.