About Us

Our Spirit

Our History


Take time for ...
      ... prayer
      ... an inspirational read
      ... spirituality
      ... seasonal meditation

Join Us

Contact Us



... an inspirational read

Cave in the Snow:
A Western Woman’s Quest for Enlightenment

By Vicki Mackenzie

An Inspiring Read!    

Tenzin Palmo is a woman now in her late sixties, who from an early age in her home in East London decided she wanted to be a nun when she grew up.

As soon as she was a young adult she had saved enough money for the fare to India, where she started the adventure of becoming a Buddhist nun.

Vicki Mackenzie is the author who was fascinated by the story of Diane Perry, who was given the name of Tenzin Palmo , by her teacher: Khamtrul Rinpoche, when she became only the second Western woman to become a Buddhist nun.

Her goal in this adventure? To seek enlightenment as a woman!

When I was first given this book to read I cannot say that I was immediately attracted. In many ways I almost felt threatened by the challenge, especially as I read on the back cover that part of Tamzin’s life adventure and pursuit of this enlightenment, was to spend 12 years in retreat in a cave in the Himalayas, on her own through severe winters with only wild animals for company .And yet as I began to read, I became enthralled. The various stages of this extraordinary woman’s life were strangely compelling and even a little familiar. Not of course in what she actually did or achieved, but in some small way a resonance with her quest as a woman to find the true meaning of her existence. While I found it a challenging read, Tamzin’s finding of inner peace and her clarity of purpose is truly inspiring, and at the same time almost consoling, and so encouraging.

I copied out Tamzin’s definition of what she experienced as a retreat.

Whether as a Buddhist nun spending 12 years in retreat or as anyone of us taking time out in a comfortable retreat house, or simply spending time on our own to seek “enlightenment”, she had captured the true meaning of “the retreat”.

Why Does One Go Into Retreat?


Tenzin Palmo

Why does one go into retreat? One goes into retreat to understand who one really is and what the situation truly is. When one begins to understand oneself then one can begin to understand others because we are all interrelated. It is very difficult to understand others while one is still caught up in the turmoil of one’s emotional involvement, because we are always interpreting others from the standpoint of our own needs. That’s why when you meet hermits who have really done a lot of retreat, say twenty five years, they are not cold and distant—on the contrary—they are absolutely lovely people. You know that their love for you is totally without judgement because it does not rely on who you are or what you are doing, or how you treat them.

It’s totally impartial. It’s just love. It’s like the sun—it shines on everyone. Whatever you did they’d still love you because they understand your predicament and in that understanding naturally arises love and compassion. It’s not based on sentiment. It’s not based on emotion. Sentimental love is very unstable, because it’s based on feedback and how good it makes you feel—that is not real love at all.

Tenzin Palmo

Vicki MacKenzie’sCave in the Snow: A Western Woman’s Quest for Enlightenment
was published in 1999 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.

  More Book Reviews