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Aug 11
Wednesday
book reviews
From a Mountain in Tibet

From a Mountain in Tibet: A Monk’s Journey
Written by Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
Reviewed by Kristine McCutcheon

On a dateless day in the time of COVID, a dear monastic friend dropped this book off at my door. “You will like it!” she smiled. As a student of the Karmapa, she personally knows Lama Yeshe through his activities at KTD in New York. 

And yes, I loved this book. It had all the elements that inspire: a snapshot of what it was like to grow up in Tibet, a harrowing adventure crossing the Himalayas, personal connections with Chogyam Trungpa and best of all, a story of transformation via the dharma. The perfect book to read when one is looking for inspiration to go deeper with meditation and bring it out in one’s life.   

When I first did a solitary retreat, I asked everyone who had ever done a retreat for guidelines to help me as I was nervous that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. My brilliant MI at the time supported me by handing me two books and saying simply, “This is all you can take with you.” I had no idea how powerful every word of the dharma would become when one has limited the input coming in. How hearing dharma instructions by reading, re-reading and even memorizing can seep into one’s very being. How it is that the dharma can shape you, support you and inspire you. That helpful MI also said that Chogyam Trungpa suggested to only have two books for a retreat of 10 days. One that is educational and shows you the path, another that inspires and is a life story and/or poetry. So that in retreat one could have something that grounds one in the teachings and something that opens one up, beyond concept, enabling a sacred outlook. Something about the realness of poetry and one’s life story showed me that the lotus does come from the mud, that we all have mud and that mud is a good thing!

I first heard of Lama Yeshe as a translator for Khenpo Khartar at KTD. I was stunned at the clarity of his translations in print. It was much later that I found out that he was actually a Tibetan speaker. I had assumed he must be a native English speaker, as he had idiom and subtlety in his explanations and he (I also didn’t know that he was male!) took the time to explain the subtleties of Tibetan meaning and grammar. This clarity also comes through in his telling of his own life story.  

From a Mountain in Tibet is a true life story. Yeshe Losal speaks from his heart and over and over again as he shows his gratitude to the teachers who supported his path. He presents his obstacles as well as how he overcame them. Everyone can identify with his understanding of Samsara. One can read this book and get an overview of the path of awakening. A story that anyone can make the choice to become realized. That no matter how much the mud of laziness, if one keeps watering it with the dharma, seeds will awaken. This is also a story about the importance of having others around you that have certainty in that, that hold the culture of that.  

It re-inspired me in the vision of Shambhala. What did those relatives and teachers have that they could see the seed of awakening in Lama Yeshe when he was wasting all those years?  

Can Canadians (and others) have the same view?  

May I see the basic goodness in all those around me?  

May Basic Goodness Dawn. 


Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche is the Abbot of Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre, which he founded in 1967 with his brother Samye Ling. Lama Yeshe is also the director of the internationally acclaimed Holy Island Project, and the much loved and respected Retreat and Meditation Master for a host of students from around the world.

 

 


Kristine McCutcheon lives in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia between the sea and the highlands with her partner. They are almost retired and are live and practice as householders in the Shambhala tradition.  

 

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3 responses to “ From a Mountain in Tibet ”
  1. Michael Smith
    Aug 17, 2021
    Reply

    Thank you for this book review.

    There is a nice interview on the Chronicle Project website which was conducted by Grant MacLean.

    https://www.chronicleproject.com/taming-a-wild-horse-lama-yeshe-rinpoche-recalls-trungpa-rinpoche/

  2. Michael Smith
    Aug 15, 2021
    Reply

    Thank you for this book review.

    There is a nice interview with Lama Yeshe on the Chronicle Project website conducted by Grant MacLean in 2013.

    https://www.chronicleproject.com/taming-a-wild-horse-lama-yeshe-rinpoche-recalls-trungpa-rinpoche/

    Though the book is available on some of the usual places, it does seem to be published in Great Britain which might affect how easy it is to obtain.

  3. Vicki Giella
    Aug 13, 2021
    Reply

    Hello Kristine and Readers –

    I’ve been studying more about Gesar with the Karme Choling program, etc. and I recently came upon, in my bookshelf, looking like I had read it before, but with no memory of that, the wonderful, amazing story about Tibet and the west, “Portrait of An Adventurer,” a biography of Alexandra David-Neel by Ruth Middleton. Your review inspired me to share my inspiration.

    She is one of the most courageous, fearless, brilliant, hardy, I’m sure crazy, women about whom I’ve ever known or read. Clearly, she was a reincarnation of someone! It’s a great story and a great read. It certainly encourages me to face life and dharma challenges with renewed energy.


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