Luminous Kalyanamitras – Part 2

My own tumultuous life-path led me to break free of a marriage that was choking the joy out of me. Post-divorce, I severed my fifteen-year bond with Manhattan and fled to the other side of the planet, to Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan Buddhist community in exile, nestling in the foothills of Himalayas.

Jetsunma_in_caveAfter barely surviving my first brutal Himalayan winter, I had the amazing good fortune to meet Ani Tenzin Palmo, a Buddhist nun of English extraction. Ani-la had recently returned to the area from a small cave located way over the snow line—after a thirteen-year solitary retreat!

I asked Ani-la how she’d survived there for so long, alone, and often in sub-zero weather. She had held my gaze with soul-penetrating blue eyes: those years had been the happiest of her life, she had replied in her crisp British accent. Even when the fellow who had promised to transport her rations on a six-month basis did not arrive on his hardy donkey, and she was forced to stretch her little remaining food over the next half-year, Ani-la had not balked, having prepared herself to die in retreat if need be. It was the combination of a lapsed visa and a growing compulsion to serve others that had persuaded her to leave her icy refuge. Continue reading