On July 6, 1980 Phakyab Rinpoche under went ordination as a Buddhist monk. The event, which took place in a large cave in Tibet, featured the taking of vows and was attended by Lamas from far and wide. Starting on the Full Moon the festivities and celebrations then lasted for a whole week.
On January 28, 1999, the Chinese Army who now had a stranglehold on every part of the country began a countrywide crackdown on Buddhism. They arrested and imprisoned Rinpoche during a raid on temples which had the specific intention of removing those from Tibetan communities who associated closely with, or who supported, the Dalai Lama.
In his book Meditation Saved My Life Rinpoche tells the story of the appalling treatment that he received at the hands of his interrogators for the following three months. During that time he was fed little and the endless psychological pressure he was under led to an inevitable decline in his health.
He knew that unless he escaped the clutches of he Chinese his very life would be at risk.
In July 1999 that opportunity presented itself and, whilst his guard fell asleep, Rinpoche managed to break away from his temporary accommodation in hospital, catch a bus to Lhasa. There he lived as a recluse for a year before finally managing to cross the Himalayas to Nepal and thereby to freedom.
However, his health — and in particular severe complications to a foot condition that developed whilst in custody, meant that he required specialist medical care. Under an American program to help ex-detainees of dictatorial regimes he flew to New York to receive care.
From the gangrene in his right ankle Rinpoche developed other serious medical complications which left him suffering from intense pain and extreme fatigue. His state of health was so bad that all the medical consultants in the hospital concluded that amputation was the only option.
Rinpoche' felt uneasy about this prognosis and his personal doubts regarding the proposed operation led him to write to the Dalia Lama for advice. When it came back to him it advised him simply to turn and look for the source of healing from deep within himself.
The third part of Rinpoche's book catalogs the work that the monk undertook most specifically to save his leg but also to fully recover from his other serious medical conditions.
It was, as the author points out in his book, a journey that took him to the very heart of his teachings as a Tibetan monk.
Our Review of Meditation Saved my Life by Phakyab Rinpoche
Without giving away too much information regarding the struggle that the author underwent during the years following his admission into the American hospital it is worth stating that this very moving and personalised account of one man's battle to save his own life is totally absorbing.
Weaving a twisted thread back and forth between his early years in Tibet and his time in America the authors account of the tribulations he faced is utterly inspiring and is a sheer testament to the power of both self-healing but of the Buddhist teachings which enabled him to face such tremendous challenges.
Meditation Saved My Life is a book that challenges the very basic beliefs about life from on a wide gamut of spiritual, philosophical and holistic perspectives. Its author is a living example of the fact that if you strive long enough and hard enough even the most extraordinary miracles can begin to take place.