It was back in 1992 when I was in the group of students taken by Lama Chime Rinpoche on a pilgrimage to his home monastery in Kham, eastern Tibet. We were the first group of westerners ever to have permission to enter that region. From Beijing via Xining and on to Jyekundo (Yushu) the first leg took us through to his former monastery, Benchen.
(Benchen in the last few years – I’m sorry, I forget who gave me this)
The party then went on to Lhasa and to Tsurphu, where the young 17th Karmapa was preparing for his enthronement. On the way back, Chime Rinpoche suggested that I write a book about the trip, and so I did. It is short, and I am the first to admit that the writing style could be improved. But that’s the person I was at the time, and the book is a journal of the trip.
Lorenz Dobrot put up the money to print the book, as well as a version in German, translated by Rosi Fuchs, which is included in this edition. Although there are only a few copies left, I’m still occasionally asked what happened to it. I had even quite forgotten that the text was still in an obscure corner of my hard drive! But a few weeks ago I noticed the old WordPerfect files, and now that we are in the era of e-books it seemed to be a good idea to bring out the “20-years-on digital edition”.
You can get it from Amazon.com here. If you’re in the UK you might prefer to get it from Amazon.co.uk here. If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t forget that you can download a (free) reader from Amazon, which gives you the advantage of seeing the book’s pictures in colour.
Today is losar (Tibetan new year’s day). As a result of the severely worsening repression in Tibet, as is evinced by the self-immolations (22 in the last three years, according to the International Campaign for Tibet) it has been widely suggested that this is not the year for the traditional jollity. Nevertheless, perhaps this is an auspicious day for this edition to be released, offering, as it does, a unique insight into a remarkable time and a special place.