Dying & Living in the Arms of Love: One Woman’s Journey around Mount Kailash
by Tracey Alysson, Ph.D.
Lettra Press LLC

"[My teacher] didn’t tell me I had to go there to find something, but that I would go there to find what I already had."

Sometimes we must make an arduous journey abroad to discover what we already hold in our hearts. In the radiant language of Tibetan Buddhist doctrine, a reluctant American dakini describes her Khora—a thirty-four-mile pilgrimage around the base of Mount Kailash in Western Tibet. Four living rivers emanate from this perpetually snow-clad mountain, sacred to Bön, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Alysson’s teachers told her that this mountainous heart of the Buddhist spiritual universe mirrors the human heart.

Alysson soon discovers that a Westerner had never completed Khora with the traditional prostrations before, though she describes encountering eight to ten men and women of various nationalities prostrating (and many more walking) around Kailash during her twenty-eight-day excursion in 2006. Word quickly circulated through the network of residents and seekers along the trail that Alysson was an incarnation of Tara, a female Buddha widely revered among Tibetan Buddhists. To her dismay, many honored her with gifts and praise. Alysson felt certain she was just an ordinary woman with the tenacity to “close the circle” as she was advised by her spiritual teachers.

The fresh, heartfelt prose of the author’s travel journal serves as the compelling narrative of this visionary memoir. The epilogue contains her emails to friends and supporters as she leaves Kailash to briefly visit other sacred sites in this wild region where Guru Rinpoche brought the Dharma from India to Tibet in the eighth century. She reflects upon the deeper meaning of her journey and the blossoming of bodhicitta—wisdom and compassion—during her Khora and after she reluctantly returns home. Alysson’s surrender into the sublime act of opening her heart to the present moment and to her own divine nature may transport readers into the mysterious depths of unconditional love in their own hearts.

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