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Step away from paradise

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Brittany Searle reviews Thomas Shor’s new book

“What would have happened is Lewis Carol proclaimed the reality of wonderland? What if he had gathered a following and launched an expedition?”- Thomas K. Shor.

Written by Thomas K. Shor, A Step Away From Paradise tells the story of ‘crazy’ Lama Tulshuk Lingpa who led 300 people into the Himalayas with the promise of opening a gateway to another world.

By tracking down Tulshuk Lingpa’s family, disciples and followers Shor gives audiences a rare look into the life of a man whose brilliance bordered on madness and the people who loved him.

Currently a resident of Darjeeling, Shor believes the story fell into his lap in a moment of what he describes in interviews as, ‘writer’s grace’. Told to him by a friend’s mother-in-law, the story of Tulshuk Lingpa not only made him question reality but set him on a path of discovering the life of a little known Lama who inspired complete faith.

However, A Step away from Paradise doesn’t just follow the life Tulshuk Lingpa but explores the little known cultural traditions of Nyingma Buddhists and the effects of the Chinese invasion of Tibet.

For Tulshunk Lingpa’s followers setting out to find the Beyul (the gateway to a hidden land) was an act of faith beyond any we observe in society today. “ All tickets to the Beyul are one way”was the common belief, as many gave up their homes to follow Tulshunk Linga and his dream of refuge from the war of the outside world.

Appearing at Café Chino last Sunday, Shor took part in a discussion led by Nepali Times editor, Kunda Dixit, and shared the amazement he encountered as he followed the life of a ‘crazy lama’.

A self-professed ‘open-minded cynic’ he was struck by the way their stories captured his heart and mind.

When asked if he believed a Beyul or hidden land could be real, he replied, “If you believe without a shadow of a doubt inside you, I personally believe that that hidden land might just exist.”

Yet, the most striking aspect of the book is the affection that Shor shows for the people who share their stories with him. “I felt really honored to meet all the people,” he said, “with them I began to believe in the possibility of it all. “

According to the book it is believed that a Beyul will open for people in times of great need, offering them a place of refuge and peace. At its core A Step Away from Paradise is a story of human nature and people who yearned for a better place during times of violence and fear.

By following Tukshulk Lingpa’s story right into the rabbit hole, Shor has given readers a rare chance to believe in miracles again, if only for a second.

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