Video & Photos Fearless in Tibet and In the Shadow of the Buddha

In the Shadow of the Buddha: book trailer

Wyoming PBS Chronicle: Buddha Quest

"Screeching brakes brought the rusty Dong Feng cargo truck to a halt. A rolling cloud of dust followed, adding yet another layer atop my driver’s cargo. I heard Dawa speaking to the Chinese police officer about the contents in the back. The pulse in my neck pounded as I attempted to lie motionless while hidden in the bed of the truck. I did not want to meet the security officer again. Four body-size bolts of maroon felt, twenty wicker baskets filled with cabbage and bruised apples, and two wind-burnt nuns were between that officer and me."

"The road map for my pilgrimage was Tertön Sogyal’s own far-ranging travels across the plateau; his life was not bound to isolated mountain retreats. Soon I was meditating among hermits in remote sanctuaries and cliffside grottoes. I slept in the caves where Tertön Sogyal had experienced spiritual visions and revelations. On foot, horseback, and dilapidated buses, I crossed the same glacier-covered passes that he used to travel from eastern Tibet to Lhasa. And I sought out the masters and yogis still alive who uphold Tertön Sogyal’s spiritual lineage and could tell me the oral history of his life and teachings."

"Sitting in a Sichuanese spicy noodle café, Wangchen explained that the Tibetan term for pilgrimage is nekor ; ne meaning “abode” or “sacred place” and kor meaning “to encircle” or “circumambulate.” Outwardly, nekor may be a journey to a frozen crag, across windswept plains to solitary hermitages, or around mountain peaks, the home of enlightened deities and past saints. It pushes the limits of one’s endurance, strains the physical senses, and tests one’s resolve to walk on sacred ground. But that is only the outer journey."

"After a half-hour trek, we entered the valley and with each step the massive encampment began to unfold to my view. Thousands of mud-walled huts were set upon the valley’s parched hillsides, built by the monks and nuns who studied at Larung. As we walked higher toward the ridgeline, with each breath in the thin air, my lungs squeezed. We moved off the trail to rest as a group of nomads with long, raven-black braids, looking like Sioux warriors, rode past us on horseback returning to their yak herds. The sky above was as wide as it was high. In this frigid, remote corner of the Tibetan Plateau, I felt I was coming home."

"The more time I spent with elderly monks, local shamans, and old-timers who shared with me the oral history of eastern Tibet and Tertön Sogyal’s life, the more trust I seemed to garner. It did not take long before their stories changed from Tertön Sogyal’s spiritual life to current-day political injustices and suppression of religion. In a country where China suppresses Tibetan Buddhism, talk of the spiritual path evokes strong feelings of political injustice and Tibetan nationhood."