Tibetan Monk Palden Gyatso’s Summer Speaking Tour

Palden Gyatso is a Tibetan monk who suffered 33 years in prison in Tibet.  He attributes the work of human rights organizations for his release — everyday people using their voices to support him.  Today, there are still hundreds of political prisoners in prisons in Tibet.

At 80, Palden is full of life, wit and wisdom. He campaigns tirelessly for political prisoners, human rights and awareness for Tibet.  A life-long Buddhist, Palden is a gifted speaker on meditation. He says that only through meditation was he able to survive his sentences, and have compassion for his oppressors.

He has presented before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and the Human Rights Forum in Oslo.  He is also the author of ‘Fire Under the Snow.’

Palden had a profound effect on my life — in fact, profound is an understatement: he has literally changed it.  Three years ago, on my first trip to India, I read a copy of Palden’s book.  I cried page by page, appalled that one person should suffer so much for their dedication to their country, teachers and religion — and nakedly aware of the atrocities one human can inflict on another.

I would frequently see Palden on the streets, and I would look at him silently in awe, cursing myself for not being able to speak with him in Tibetan. His book recounted hellacious experiences: starvation, numerous means of torture, witnessing executions and forced labor. I struggled to initiate a conversation.

Over the next three years, I was fortunate enough to be in his exiled hometown of Dharamsala, and soon, we became friends.  I’ve interviewed him on numerous occasions, but my fondest thoughts are of the afternoons we would spend having small tea parties in his house — talking through my friends who translated, and me speaking in broken beginner Tibetan.

It was Palden, his endurance of imprisonment, his brave escape to exile and his relentless testimony for human rights that led me to start my own NGO, Built on Respect.  He was the spark that fueled my relentless work to speak for the voiceless, the constant reminder that no matter what me or my friends and family experienced, it paled in comparison to his suffering.  He changed my life, and taught me compassion, skillful action and happiness.

Earlier this year, Palden asked me to coordinate a speaking tour for him in the US, and I’m humbled to say that today, he has arrived in the US for a four month visit.  Built on Respect has coordinated a series of speaking engagements for Palden, kindly assisted by Care2 and the Robin Reed Trust.  The tour is a combination of private and public events, including top socially conscious technology companies, cultural institutions and two unique teachings at San Quentin Prison hosted by the Insight Prison Project.

I highly encourage you to attend one of these amazing events, and to continue to check back for updated dates:

Monday, June 13th  7:15-9:15pm – Spirit Rock Meditation Center

5000 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
Woodacre, CA 94973
(415) 488-0164

Sunday, June 19th 5-7pm – Tibet House US

22 West 15th Street, New York, NY 10011

(212) 807-0563

Thursday, June 23rd 8-9:30pm – Jivamukti Yoga

841 Broadway # 2
New York, NY 10003-4704
(212) 353-0214

Saturday, June 25th 1:30-3:00pm – Jacques Marchais Museum 

338 Lighthouse Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10306-1217
(718) 987-3500

Photo credit: Built On Respect


Roberto M
Roberto MARINIabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

W. C
W. Cabout a year ago


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago


William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you for caring.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Roney W.
Past Member 4 years ago

Hi buddies, it is great written piece entirely defined, continue the good work constantly. this

pam wilkerson
pam wilkerson7 years ago

Yeah, I hate to see people harming other people. People harming animals. I just wished there will be peace not hate but love one other and care for every children and animals in this world.

Harry Zeit
Harry Z7 years ago

I read Sorrow Mountain by Ani Pachen some years ago, and was moved (& very disturbed) by her incredible years of suffering and torture at the hands of the Chinese. Now, to think that Palden Gyatso and her could walk past one another, in peace and freedom, on the streets of Dharamsala, gives pause for hope.
And it does sound, Heidi, as if you have crossed paths with Gyatso in a very beautiful way. Thanks for the article, good luck with your Tibetan studies.

Rodney P.
Rodney P7 years ago

Such an amazing person, as are so any Tibetans. So disillusioning that because Tibet has nothing commercial to offer, the big governments will do nothing against China to risk their economic cooperation. So self-serving.

Parvez Z.
Parvez Zuberi7 years ago

Thanks for sharing