Wednesday, April 29, 2020

"Meditation Saved My Life" - Phakyab Rinpoche (Sofia Stril-Rever)

Meditation Saved My Life - Phakyab Rinpoche (Sofia Stril-Rever)

I borrowed this book long time ago from the library, weeks before my dear friend Tashi Chenzom left the world. She suffered from cancer. That time the doctor already told us that nothing could be done to save her. Then while visiting library, I saw this book on the Religion shelf, and the title made me picking this book up and I thought I should read this. Who knows it could bring any help for her. I often heard from people that disease could be cured by doing meditation, although never really met such person before or whether I could see it on my own eyes that it was a true case.

However with her condition became worsening, I could not help but losing my hope that this book would give any assistance for her recovery. She felt pain every day and injection only made her feeling sleepy and lethargic. She could not focus doing anything as the pain was the only thing that occupied her mind.  And only weeks after she left, I finally had time to open up and read this book.

Cover and back page of Meditation Saved My Life

"In 2003, Tibetan Lama Phakyab Rinpoche was admitted to the emergency clinic of the Program for Survivors of Torture at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital.

After a dramatic escape from imprisonment in China, at the hands of authorities bent on uprooting Tibet's traditional religion and culture, his ordeal had left him with life-threatening injuries, including gangrene of the right ankle. 

American doctors gave Rinpoche a shocking choice: accept leg amputation or risk a slow, painful death. An inner voice, however, prompted him to try an unconventional cure: meditation.

He began an intensive spiritual routine that included thousands of hours of meditation over three years in a small Brooklyn studio. Against all scientific logic, his injuries gradually healed.

In this vivid, passionate account, Sofia Stril-Rever relates the extraordinary experience of Phakyab Rinpoche, who reveals the secret of the great healing powers that lie dormant within each of us."
(Source: Meditation Saved My Life)

One of the Thirty-Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva

The first half of the book gave us an overview about the Phakyab Rinpoche, his story of who he was since childhood time, his dream meeting Maitreya and Je Tsongkhapa that he had when he was 13 years old, how he was found out to be the incarnation of the seventh Phakyab Rinpoche - as confirmed by Dalai Lama, how he landed himself to America, how he got gangrene on his ankle, and so on. With it, I could find out a clearer view on who he is.

Dalai Lama replied to Phakyab Rinpoche's letter (From: Meditation Saved My Life)

When doctors and professors were all giving him more or less the same advice, which was to amputate his leg, he had the same inner voice in his head telling him not to amputate.

He went through a difficult period with such dilemma and it led him with asking advice from Kundun or Dalai Lama by writing letter - written together with Pema Dorje, the first and only monk he met in New York city at that point of time.

And soon after, he received the reply - twenty-five words long (in Tibetan) - that sealed his fate, "Why do you seek healing outside of yourself? You have within you the wisdom that heals, and once healed, you will teach the world how to heal."

"The mind is the best doctor; the best remedy." (, From: Meditation Saved My Life)

With it, he left the hospital and started doing meditation on his own with the help of the pecha given by his teacher, Geshe Ake Gyupa, at Golok Monastery. He was given the transmission of tsa lung inner science, since his teacher felt that he was mature enough to receive it, as if his teacher knew really well that one day, it would be very useful for him.

The pecha and the transmission were given only to him and as he started practising, his teacher's words kept playing into his mind to remind himself, "The mind is the best doctor. The mind is the best remedy."

Love and compassion (From: Meditation Saved My Life)

In the book there is more descriptions on what kind of meditation, yoga practices, mantra chanting, and other activities he did every day. Combination of Tsa Lung, tong-len, plus his enormous amount of love and compassion had helped a lot in his process of recovering.

It took him three years of the healing retreat until he was able to walk back normally and recovered from his gangrene, bone tuberculosis, and pleurisy. And with suffering, he had learnt so many things as to achieve liberation from it.

"Everything happens for a good reason." I always remember this quote. Be it good or bad thing happens to us, there is always good reason behind it.

"Accepting suffering is no longer painful. It becomes strength, a power that transforms." - Phakyab Rinpoche 

Final healing (From: Meditation Saved My Life)

This book and his story is so inspiring. I get to know about him better as a person. Although it seems that not just anyone could heal from sickness by doing meditation, but he simply made it not only from his 20 years of meditation practice that he did earlier on (plus the transmission and teaching from his teacher), but also the amount of love and compassion that he had towards all sentient beings.

Overall I really love this book and hope one day you - the reader - may be able to read this too :)

Fyi, Phakyab  Rinpoche currently resides in Jackson Heights, New York, where he has established a Buddhist Educational and Healing Center. He has also established Menla Jambtse Choeling Center outside Paris, France and his Meditation Center in Sera Mey, Bylakuppe, India.


kestrel said...

Interesting post on meditation and learnt quite a bit for reading. The piano piece that accompanies your blog is one of my daughter's favourites. I noticed she she usually plays it when she's stressed or troubled. Any reason why? have been reading about the Covid-19 situation in Spore, and how the circuit breaker had to be enforced. We have been on lock down for 47 days now. Stay safe, kestrel from jom colour me

Overcome Life said...

Thank you Kestrel for your comments. The piano sound helps soothing our mind. Maybe that was why your daughter usually played it. We are on Circuit Breaker day 27 in Singapore and so far so good. Hope it will end soon to everyone. Stay safe to you and your families too. Take care :)

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