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Cave in the Snow

Tenzin Palmo's Quest for Enlightenment
Length: 9 hrs and 29 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Includes a bonus track of Tenzin Palmo introducing a retreat.

This is the story of Tenzin Palmo, the daughter of a fishmonger from London's East End who became a Tibetan nun. After meditating for 12 years in a cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, she became a world-renowned spiritual leader and champion of the right of women to achieve spiritual enlightenment.

Diane Perry grew up in London's East End. At the age of 18, however, she read a book on Buddhism and realised that this might fill a long-sensed void in her life.

In 1963, at the age of 20, she went to India, where she eventually entered a monastery. Being the only woman amongst hundreds of monks, she began her battle against the prejudice that has excluded women from enlightenment for thousands of years.

In 1976, she secluded herself in a remote cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, where she stayed for 12 years between the ages of 33 and 45. In this mountain hideaway she faced unimaginable cold, wild animals, floods, snow and rockfalls, grew her own food and slept in a traditional wooden meditation box, three feet square - she never lay down.

In 1988, she emerged from the cave with a determination to build a convent in Northern India to revive the Togdenma lineage, a long-forgotten female spiritual elite. Despite her international teaching schedule, Tenzin Palmo maintains a deep commitment to her nunnery, Dongyu Gatsal Ling, in Himachal Pradesh.

©1999 Bloomsbury Plc (P)2015 Ukemi Productions Ltd

Critic Reviews

" Cave in the Snow is full of extraordinary insights. It is a desert island book - one we can't very well live without." ( Tricycle Magazine)
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Enl8ghtening

I loved listening to this book from beginning to end. The narrator was especially endearing and told the story of Tenzin Palmo in such a way that keeps you wanting more. I just loved learning about her life and about her experiences living in a cave high in the Himalayan mountains for around 12 years! She has become my spiritual heroine. If you are a female tibetan buddhist this audio book is a must listen. So many insights shared too.

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Excellent autobiography of a spirited woman

inspiring story of how a single woman finding its true physical and spiritual home in the other side of the world.

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  • Mark
  • 11-06-2017

Audio version is best format for this book

I’m not sure I would've read this book so fast if not for the audio version. The writing is very plain and contains lots of attributions such as “she stated” and “she commented,” like a newspaper article. Also, for those who are unable to read books that take the supernatural seriously (and I’m one such person), it can be difficult to accept all of the Tibetan Buddhism mysticism. All that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and learning about Tenzin Palmo’s journey from young woman in England to Buddhist nun. What makes the book so engaging, in addition to adventures like being buried in her cave under an avalanche, is its strong and unapologetic feminism. She vows to attain enlightenment in female form “no matter how many lifetimes it takes.” I especially liked when she made the Dalai Lama cry when she explained all of the sexism women must face when pursuing Tibetan Buddhism. Excerpt: “What she had promised was to become a female Buddha, and female Buddhas (like female Christs and female Mohammeds) were decidedly thin on the ground. Certainly there had been plenty of acclaimed women mystics and saints in all parts of the world, but the full flowering of human divinity had, for the past few thousand years at least, been deemed the exclusive domain of the male. The female body, for some reason, had been seen as an unfit or unworthy vessel to contain the most sacred. Now Tenzin Palmo was publicly announcing she was intending to overthrow all that.” The audio version includes two half-hour talks given by Tenzin Palmo in Israel. Grade: A

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  • James Allen
  • 25-06-2019

This is the book

Cave in the Snow is one of the best books I have ever encountered. I read the book two years ago and just finished listening to this audio book.

Tenzin Palmo's story is extraordinary. She is a true bodhisattva who I count as one of my teachers. Her teachings are clear and to the point.

The last three chapters of the Audible audio book are an introduction to a Tenzin Palmo retreat on the Six Perfections or Paramitas. A wonderful addition to the book.

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  • tonybazz
  • 07-09-2018

A treasure!

A work of perfection. Such a joy to listen to
Such an inspiring woman. Thanks

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  • Kirtika
  • 23-11-2017

Spiritually enlightening book, a great biography of a great woman.

She is truly inspiring and motivating, she has done something many people cannot dare to achieve.

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  • johanna Pieschacon
  • 16-02-2017

The best book in the last 10 years

So inspiring, absolute treasure. Very well written, fantastic lecture. You can listen it hundred times and will always find jewels 👏❤️👏

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  • Julianne Waggoner
  • 05-11-2015

Wonderfully inspirational!

I just could not stop listening....I feel forever changed by her life and comittment. Thank You Pioneer in our female form.

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  • Kim Farnan
  • 12-06-2020

Life Changing

This book has truly made me change the way I see and live my life. I was only somewhat familiar with Buddhism before this book, but I have learned so much and plan to continue studying.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-11-2019

Could have been great, but...

I'm in awe of Tenzin Palmo and was excited to hear about her "Quest of Enlightenment", including an incredible 12-year solitary retreat, but instead what you get is "Quest of Fighting Sexism" and "Quest of Building a Monastery". Apparently Tenzin Palmo does not wish to speak about her meditation practices or what she's experienced / learned. So, what we get is stories of her physical experiences in the cave, such as flooding, lack of food, avalanche, etc and her return to the western world to enjoy pasta and Mozart, but very little about her actual spiritual experience. This book mentions Peter Matthiessen's "Snow Leopard", which I had read and is a far superior book, one that actually lives up to the claim of "Quest of Enlightenment".

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  • Em
  • 07-08-2019

mediocre

Struggled to finish and actually didn't. Narrator was also mediocre. Story line of sexism in the Buddist religion was educational but unappealing to me.

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  • DWJersey
  • 26-11-2017

If you Love Pema Chodron

I have all the Pema Chodron books and audible books. I found this Gem from the recommendation list. I was mesmerized at this women's devotion and tenacity. Her Journey is incredible. She truly reflects one on the Buddhist path. I was saddened when the book finished.

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 21-10-2015

East End fish-shop to meditation box!

Born in 1943, Tenzin Palmo is a world-renowned spiritual leader, but she started life as Diane Perry living up above her father's fish-shop in the East End. Her mother dabbled in spiritualism - Diane was used to witnessing levitation - but otherwise there was nothing unusual about her upbringing. There certainly is about Tenzin Palmo, as Diane Perry became.

She has devoted herself with spectacular single mindedness to seeking Enlightenment and to the tenets of Buddhism. During a long spiritual career in which she has championed the right of women to achieve spiritual Enlightenment, for 12 years she lived in a cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas enduring temperatures well below zero, near suffocation during snowfalls and exercising the most stringent form of meditation. For months at a time she completed 12 hours of meditation in every 24 inside a meditation box. The experience is beyond the imagining of most people, but Tenzin Palmo who hungers for meaning and believes her way of life can help all suffering people and bring them to bliss is no ordinary person.

Whether you are Buddhist or not, whether you embrace another religion or no religion at all, you cannot fail to be deeply impressed by this astonishing testament. Do you feel sympathy with Tenzin's mother who couldn't help exclaiming the first time she saw her daughter's shaved head, 'My poor little shorn lamb!'? Do you believe in the rainbow death when a devout person shrinks so much after death that all that remains are bits of hair and nails as bursts of strange coloured lights emanate from where the body lies? It doesn't matter whether you believe or not, but your ideas will be stimulated. You will meet a woman with astounding determination who will show you the beauties of Buddhist philosophy which has no God the Father or the equivalent at its centre but what she calls 'a genderless absolute'.

Her biography is produced by the newly launched Dharma Audiobooks which specialises in Buddhist topics from all traditions.







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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-08-2019

Inspirational story of a spiritual heroine

She faces real struggles on her path to realisation. The story of the cave and a western woman in a male dominated spiritual culture is amazing. The true meaning and purpose of her quest will continue to resonate for many, many years.
Wonderful.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-06-2018

With interest...

Wow, very enlightening, pure bliss with a greater view being a woman and the strive for equal rights.

Really lovely.

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  • Miks
  • 02-04-2016

Strictly religious.

I've learnt that Buddhism is a religion as any other with the obligatory "path to perfection", evangelisation in a form of "bring enlightenment to everyone" and saints to pray to, like St. Palmo who is presented by the author in an unbearable resemblance to christian saint. Not what I was looking for after listening Alan Watts or Confessions Of A Wayward Monk. In words of the St. Palmo we are lazy and that's why we need to put effort into our spiritual development. Folks who listened or read Mr. Watts will know what it means. (Typed on a phone, apologies for the form)

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