Keeping the Dalai Lama Waiting & Other Stories: An English Woman's Journey to Becoming a Buddhist Lama (Paperback)
How does an English, Christian girl grow up to be an acclaimed Tibetan Buddhist Lama? It was a search for Truth and a deep wish to understand the mind that led a young, determined Susan Rowan (b.1946) from suburban Essex, England, to the foothills of the Himalayas in the early 1970s. On the instruction of famed Tibetan Buddhist master Ch gyam Trungpa Rinpoche, she headed East to 'absorb the vibes' as he put it. There she met and was taught by some of the most eminent Tibetan Lamas and yogins of our time, including Kalu Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche and The 16th Karmapa, who ordained her as a nun and subsequently sent her back to the West to teach.
At the request of her students, Lama Shenpen Hookham tells her fascinating and unconventional life story in the 'Keeping the Dalai Lama Waiting & Other Stories'. The lively, anecdotal autobiography documents her extraordinary spiritual journey and her encounters with her teachers that are deeply profound, moving and often humorous. Lama Shenpen shares first-hand experience of how differing cultures and ways of thinking overlap and collide with unexpected consequences. At the heart of this book is a quest for truth - an ongoing discovery of the true nature of mind, yet as we discover, this is more about the heart in its deepest sense.
After living and practising as a nun in India for several years she was asked to return to the West. Working as a translator to the first wave of Tibetan Buddhist masters to Europe, gave Lama Shenpen a unique insight into how to adapt the most profound teachings of the Buddha for a western audience. Since gaining a PHD at Oxford in Buddhist doctrine in the 1980s (doing so on the advice of her main teacher Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, ) she has worked tirelessly to make the profound Truth at the heart of Buddhist teachings on meditation, reflection and insight (Dzgochen and Mahamudra) accessible to others, through a unique training called Living the Awakened Heart.
On the advice of H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, (a fascinating story in in itself included in the book - how a Tibetan master picked up on the specialness of the Welsh landscape by studying and divining a map, ) Lama Shenpen made her base in north-west Wales over twenty years ago, where she lives today in semi-retreat, working on her writing and teaching her students, members of the Awakened Heart Sangha - www.ahs.org.uk
Recommendations for Keeping the Dalai Lama Waiting & Other Stories
"Lama Shenpen Hookham is not only a acclaimed scholar but also a well known and highly respected teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. She tells here the entertaining and inspiring stories of her extraordinary journey where she encounters some of the greatest Tibetan Masters of the 20th century." - Ringu Tulku Rinpoche
"This is a fascinating personal account of a young English woman finding a connection with Tibetan lamas and nuns during and after the 1970s in India and Nepal. Her story highlights her close relationship with several eminent Karma Kagyu lamas in Europe where she served as a translator. This includes her own inner struggle between life as a nun and as a householder. In time Lama Shenpen has set up her own community in Wales which presents the Dharma for Westerners in a way that is both authentic and yet relevant to the students' own needs and cultural background." - Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
"Lama Shenpen Hookham is an inspiring figure in the world of Tibetan Buddhism. The book chronicles some of the most exhilarating and compelling stories of Lama Shenpen's extraordinary life as a Buddhist nun and translator for great Tibetan masters and her own rich spiritual journey." - Her Eminence Khandro Rinpoche