Marya Schwabe began studying Buddhism in 1974, together with her husband Miguel, at a temple in Wood Valley on the Island of Hawai‘i. The temple was founded for Nechung Rinpoche, the reincarnate lama of Nechung Monastery, the institution that houses the Chief State Oracle of Tibet. From 1975 to 1983, Marya and Miguel lived and worked closely with Rinpoche. Under his tutelage, they immersed themselves in Buddhism and learned spoken and classical Tibetan at the remote sanctuary.

Nechung Rinpoche encouraged them to learn Tibetan so they could comprehend the profundity of the Buddhist philosophy from the source. He foresaw that they would study with many lamas who were not fluent in English. True to Rinpoche’s prescience, Marya organized visits and teaching programs for over fifty lamas, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1980 and 1994, from all the major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, to the temple and other centers. She has had the rare opportunity to study with and translate for many of these extraordinary teachers. The subjects range from foundational practices, the highest yoga tantras, and Dzogchen.

Since the 1970s, Marya has also served as the temple administrative director, managing the business, outreach, and public relations; while Miguel has utilized his skills to develop and maintain the infrastructure, buildings, and grounds. They have traveled extensively in Asia and currently reside and work at Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling in Hawai’i.

Title by Marya Waifoon Schwabe

  • Genre: Nonfiction

    “In this book Marya recounts the exciting tale of their journey, while at the same time revealing many aspects of Tibet’s religion and culture. The story is also an example of how setting a goal and taking a realistic and determined approach to fulfilling it eventually leads to success.”
    —His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

    In accordance with the Tibetan tradition of finding the reincarnations of high lamas, the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama was sought to locate the rebirth of Nechung Rinpoche, who passed away in 1983. Rinpoche is the eminent lama of Nechung, the institution that houses the Chief State Oracle. His Holiness gave several clues: the year of the boy’s birth, the names of his parents, and the locale of Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet.

    A search party of three people—a monk from Nechung Monastery in India, Marya and Miguel—made journeys to Tibet in 1987 and 1993. Their search led them to sacred visionary lakes and ancient monasteries. The expeditions were precarious and filled with challenges such as where to look, whom to trust, and how to accomplish a nearly impossible mission in a Chinese communist-occupied country where surveillance was prevalent. Ultimately, the escape with the eight-year-old lama entailed crossing multiple heavily guarded checkpoints, including two international airports.


  • Ngaire G

    Well, I have not been spellbound by the written word for a long time. My goodness, what a treasure you have woven in this recounting. I am near speechless. These are some of the words that were coming to my mind while I was reading: captivating, completely engrossing, richness, compelling, wonderful flow, amazing story, WOW, poetic imagery, this is VERY good, very suspenseful and tears at the crossing of Friendship Bridge. As a layperson I found the narrative of this odyssey spellbinding from the first paragraph to the last sentence. I can only imagine how powerfully significant it will be for those with a greater knowledge and understanding of Tibetan Buddhism and lineage

  • Frederik K

    Your book is a jewel…such a critical mission, and such a grand adventure, it is certainly a story that needed to be told, and you have told it so well, and the book, the physical presentation, is beautiful.

  • Leila J

    The book is so very wonderful.  It is BEAUTIFUL in all ways: A work of art in its quality of look and feel! The many colored photos make it extra extra special. Pictures of child-Marya were especially touching. I love holding it and inside it is a wonder. Your words are so personal, and descriptive of those early years of your life together steeped in Buddhism in America as well as Dharmasala, Kathmandu, and Tibet. Also I love the weaving of history and explanation of Tibetan Buddhism. I am gobbling and savoring each chapter and I am happy for this treasure gift for our world.      

  • Aaron K

    What a great book and such an amazing story!! There haven’t been many books where I started reading the first page and didn’t put it down until I finished the last page. This was one of them!  There were times when I got lost in reading and forgot that these were actual events and not something out of the latest fiction bestseller. I’m not sure a fiction writer could even come up with a character like Thupten.  🙂 The lessons, suspense and humor throughout the book were just great. Also learning little things like how Miguel got his nickname were fantastic. It was definitely worth the wait.  Congratulations on a wonderful work!