Heal Thyself


Book by Phakyab Rinpoche and Sofia Stril-Rever

Cherche-Midi publisher, Paris, France, October 30 2014


Phakyab Rinpoche’s journey is singular. After being tortured and imprisoned by the People’s Armed Police in his occupied country, this Tibetan lama managed to escape from Chinese prisons to take refuge in the United States in April 2003. In New York, the gangrene he was suffering from on his right angle was getting worse. The consequences of torture happened to be much more serious and the diagnosis was irrevocable. The destructive septic arthritis and decay of the bone, cartilage and tissues of his right foot were described as “irreversible”. Rinpoche was also suffering from pleurisy and spinal tuberculosis (Pott’s disease), which attacked his lower back. He had to wear a surgical corset in order to stand up.

In view of his condition, the American doctors recommended that his right leg should be amputated under the knee. The infection, which rebelled against an antibiotic shock treatment, was threatening to generalize very rapidly indeed and cause his death by blood poisoning. However, in the Clinic for survivors of torture of the New York Bellevue Hospital, Phakyab Rinpoche heard an inner voice say, “Cutting is not curing”. He thus refused the surgeons’ solution and sought advice from the Dalai Lama who answered with a question: “Why do you seek healing outside of yourself?”

With this viaticum, he left the New York hospital, followed by the dumbstruck look of the personnel. No one gave much for his chances to live. Still, despite unbearable pain, only through meditation on unconditional compassion and internal energy yogas, the tsa‑lung he had been introduced to when he was 16 in the monastery of Golok, Eastern Tibet, Phakyab Rinpoche found the power he needed within himself. After a three-year retreat in a small studio apartment in Queens, not only did he manage to repel the infection but also to rebuild the anklebone and tibial plafond of his right ankle, all crumbling because of gangrene ­­– though, in normal conditions, only a bone graft could lead to such a result.

Dr. Lionel Coudron, a trauma surgeon in Paris, examined the medical record of Phakyab Rinpoche filed in the general medicine, radiology, orthopedic and pulmonology reports of the Bellevue Hospital. He described this double healing as an “exceptionally powerful phenomenon”. As stated by Dr. Coudron, Phakyab Rinpoche managed to heal from a disease, which according to current medical knowledge, was supposed to defeat him.

But his healing is not inexplicable. Rinpoche gathered the resources of meditation inner science, which use the power of the trained mind. He had indeed accumulated almost 80,000 hours of deep yoga practice, which enlightens consciousness on its loving and bright nature.

Phakyab Rinpoche told this unusual experience with modesty and simplicity to Sofia Stril‑Rever, the French biographer of the Dalai Lama, a meditation and Mantra Yoga teacher. In an intimate confession, he also describes his childhood in the high Tibetan plateaus, his close‑knit family, this particular culture threatened with extinction and reliving in exile thanks to the international standing given through the renown of the Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, spokesman of secular ethics dedicated to the promotion of fundamental human values.

Phakyab Rinpoche tells about the celebration of life and happiness in his country. He mentions his ordination, when he was 14 in 1980, when the soul of Tibet rose from the ashes after Mao died; then at 28 years old, when the Dalai Lama recognized him as the holder of a great lineage of spiritual masters who, from Kamalashila to Padampa Sangyé and Darma Dodde, taught the phowa or transference of consciousness at the time of death. As he studied Buddhist Texts in depth for about 20 years, and went on long retreats, he passed the strict examinations of Gheshé Lharampa or “Doctor of Divinity” successfully. His book is an immersion in Tibetan traditions up until his survival in New York, far from his native Land of Snows, in a world so remote from his own. Yet, it was there that he regained control over his body and disease.

His healing is a magnificent message of hope. It shows that medicine and meditation, science of the matter and contemplative science, can complement each other. It is also a remarkable contribution to the contemporary debate about the healing power of the mind and its ability to act on the body. Phakyab Rinpoche actually took part in research protocols about the therapeutic benefits of meditation, conducted in the New York University, NYU, by Dr. Zoran Josipovic. He was also invited several times to give lectures in the framework of the Avatar 2045 research program on consciousness.

In his account, Phakyab Rinpoche shows extreme compassion towards his Chinese torturers as well, which was difficult to understand for the psychologists of the American hospital. Whatever the wrongs inflicted or the pain endured, the monk wants to preserve his vision of the human beings’ fundamental beauty. In his language, Rinpoche means “precious”, like the meaning of life and its multiple rebirths, according to the principle of reincarnation, and of this current life that he gave when he was 13 and decided to become a monk for the good of all lives.

At almost 50, Phakyab Rinpoche teaches a lesson of courage and hope to those who suffer. In “The Garden of the Medicine Buddha”, in the Eure valley near Paris, he designed a three-year program called Peace and Inner Healing, in order to prepare his students to receive the transmissions of the energy yogas that enabled him to heal. In Paris, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Kansas City, Lima, Bogota, Hong Kong or Singapore, as well as in Tibet, where he returned in 2013 to support his monastery and launch a humanitarian operation for underprivileged mothers and children in the framework of his Tibet Mother & Child International (TMCI) association, he teaches according to the message inspired by the words of the Dalai Lama, who, in November 2013, told him: “Do not seek healing outside of yourself. The wisdom that gives the power to heal is within you. Once you are healed, you will teach the world how to heal.”

Phakyab Rinpoche’s story is narrated by Sofia Stril-Rever, a renowned French writer and meditation teacher, who authored the spiritual biography of the Dalai Lama translated in 21 languages and his political struggle for peace (My spiritual Journey, Harper One 2009, and My Appeal to the World, Hay House International 2015).


For more information, please visit the website www.phakyabrinpoche.org


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