Precious Jewels of Tibet

Jane Bay’s first book about her pilgrimage to explore Buddhism in India, Nepal and Tibet with a Tibetan monk from the Dalai Lama’s monastery


"Bay is the Buddhist pilgrim as Every tourist, with videocam and portable compact disk player, meeting the ancient verities of the East in the search for enlightenment. 'Easier said than done,' she observes…a touching account of the inner journey and transformation of an 'overweight, middle-aged tourist.'"

Mary Grace Butler
New York Times Book Review

"A story of personal redemption. Bay shares intimate details of her fears, sicknesses, and even her Western weakness for extravagant shopping and it's this frankness that lends authenticity and adds emphasis to her anguish over what the Tibetan people have endured."

Beth Ashley
Marin Independent Journal

PRECIOUS JEWELS OF TIBET, Jane Bay's memoir of transformation, is inextricably linked with the heroic struggle of the Tibetan people, and the Buddhist faith that is the source of their strength—and her own. She takes us on a pilgrimage to India where we meet Tibetans, both exiles and those now suffering under Chinese oppression, and experience with her the liberating lessons of impermanence, compassion, commitment, and love.

While in Dharamsala, the present home of the Dalai Lama, she becomes the foster mother of a teenage girl at the Tibetan Children's Village. Unable to have children of her own, Jane becomes deeply involved in the life of her foster daughter, Namgyal, whose own mother had died in Tibet. A strong bond is forged between mother and daughter through many months of correspondence, and Jane is devastated when she learns the Chinese government has forced Namgyal and other children studying in India to return to the "motherland." To refuse would endanger Namgyal's remaining family in Lhasa. Ironically, going back to her homeland would endanger her own identity—the Chinese regime ruthlessly suppress the study of Tibetan language, culture, and religion.

In the hope of finding her foster daughter, Jane embarks on a journey to Tibet, again traveling with her spiritual friend, Losang Samten, who returns at great personal risk after thirty-eight years in exile. He hopes to find his older brothers who were unable to escape when the Chinese army swept across the high Tibetan plateau in 1959. Their search takes them from the temples of Lhasa to towns brutalized by Chinese occupation, to destroyed monasteries, and remote nomadic outposts.

In PRECIOUS JEWELS OF TIBET, the author interweaves her own story with the experiences of the Tibetans she come to know and with Buddhist teachings that have helped to illuminate her contemporary personal odyssey. Her candid observations as well as her informative descriptions of current conditions in Tibet make this book a poignant and emotionally gripping story.


I had mentally prepared myself for several possible scenarios to the conclusion of this story. Her father might not know about my relationship with Namgyal. Even if he did, he might not want me to see her again, especially in Lhasa, out of concern for her safety and the protection of his family. And, the most painful conclusion to contemplate, Namgyal might not want to see me. The reasons wouldn’t matter. I would respect whatever eventuality occurred.

©2006 Jane Bay - All Rights Reserved