After the guards finished beating me, they brought out an iron clamp for my feet and threw it in front of me. I thought they were going to chain me again, but they didn’t. “Your prison term has been increased by three years,” the short, fat officer told me, “and you will spend the next nine months in isolation.”

They opened a small wooden door and threw me into the room. I fell onto my hands in the darkness and felt the dirt of an earthen floor. Behind me I heard the door close. There was a dull scraping as the key turned in the lock. I lifted myself onto my knees trying to see where I was, but I could see nothing but blackness all around me.

My knees were damp. As the moisture seeped through my chupa [traditional Tibetan dress], I took off my shirt and put it under me. I felt with my hands for the wall. It was close around me on all sides, only a bit larger than the size of my body. Several times I felt the wall with my hand, like a blind man trying to locate himself in a new surrounding. Down one side, across, up the other. I stood up slowly so as not to hit my head and found that the room was just high enough to stand.

When I turned to look around, the walls seemed to move closer. The ceiling seemed to have dropped. In a panic I brought my hands to my mouth. “Guru Rinpoche, help me!” I called out. I fell to my knees and began to sob. I cried for my family, I cried for my home, I cried for my teacher, Gyalsay Rinpoche. After I could cry no longer, I prayed:

Beloved teacher, like a great ship crossing the perilous ocean to the dry land of liberation, dispel the darkness of ignorance. . . . Like a father and mother, give your love to all sentient beings. . . . Like a river of compassion, soothe the torments of those caught in the cycle of worldly existence. . . . Release the beings in all realms. May they attain freedom.

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