Last year I wrote about Ani Pachen, an incredible shero who was, as the title of this book indicates, a Tibetan warrior nun. Her life intrigued and inspired me, and I wanted to know more, so I ordered her biography Sorrow Mountain, which I’ve just finished reading.
First to say is that this book is beautifully written; Adelaide Donnelley spent months with Ani Pachen in Dharamsala, listening to the stories which made up her incredible, and incredibly sad, life. I found that Adelaide’s writing painted a beautiful picture of life in Tibet, both before and after the Chinese occupation, as well as giving a real insight into the tremendous injustices suffered by the Tibetan people.
Although Ani’s story is in many ways full of sorrow, I left this book with a picture of the extraordinary beauty of this woman who was able to turn that sorrow into an abiding peace through her devoted practice of Tibetan Buddhism. It was her faith that supported her through the devastating twenty-one years in which she was imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese. Throughout the book I felt a real sense of the profound effect her practice had on every moment in her life, and truly how it carried her. Yet at the same time, I loved how real Pachen seems. She continually returns to her sacred texts and teachings, but the gaps inbetween are littered with moments of such humanity: the stroppiness she shows to her mother as a teenager, the raw sorrow she feels at her father’s death and the consuming anger she harbours towards the Chinese as they dessimate her country, her family and her life. It’s these contrasts between the holy and the human that make her such a lovable and inspiring character.
I really enjoyed reading this book and feel more convinced than ever that Ani Pachen is very deserving of the Shero title. I’d definitely recommend it. As Ani said:
“As for me, the story will go like this: She led her people to fight against the Chinese. She was present at the protests in Lhasa. She worked to save the ancient spiritual teachings. When I die, just my story will be left.” – It’s a story well worth discovering.
If you want to find out more about Ani Pachen’s incredible life you can read our Sheroes post about her here.
Book available here.