Lecture and Book Signing by Arjia Rinpoche – Surviving the Dragon

News item posted on: February 25th, 2010
Surviving the Dragon

Surviving the Dragon by Arjia Rinpoche

Surviving the Dragon is the story of Arjia Rinpoche’s growing up as the reincarnated abbot in Kumbum, one of Tibet’s major monasteries. His life in Tibet was one of great oscillations between fame and suffering. As a child, he was treated like a living Buddha; as a young man he emptied latrines during the Cultural Revolution. Then after the death of Mao Tse Tung, he rose to prominence within the Chinese Buddhist bureaucracy. He became Vice-chairman of the Buddhist Association of China and was slated to become its Chairman. At the height of his rise, he decided to flee China to the US, after being pressured to become tutor to the boy whom the Chinese government had controversially named the 11th Panchen Lama instead of the candidate selected by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The conflict was especially difficult for Arjia Rinpoche, since the 10th Panchen Lama had been his own teacher. As a result of his feeling that this would compromise his integrity as a Buddhist teacher in Tibet, he fled into exile rather than yield to the pressure.

Surviving the Dragon opens a window to events from inside Tibetan-Chinese history during the final half of the twentieth century, a conflict that continues today between China and its ethnic minorities.

Arjia Rinpoche will present the book to the public by giving a talk about his life and events in Tibet that took place during the time period of the book. In addition, he will sign copies of his book after the talk.

About the Author

Arjia Rinpoche is one of the most prominent Buddhist teachers and lamas to have left Tibet. At age two, he was recognized by the Panchen Lama as the 20th Arjia Danpei Gyaltsen, the reincarnation of Lama Tsong Khapa’s father, Lumbum Ghe, and the throne holder and abbot of Kumbum Monastery. He has trained with lineage teachers, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Panchen Lama, and Gyayak Rinpoche–from whom he received many sacred teachings and ritual instructions.

During the Cultural Revolution, Arjia Rinpoche was forced to attend Chinese schools and work in a forced labor camp for sixteen years, yet secretly continued to practice and study with his tutors. Following the Cultural Revolution, Rinpoche served as Abbot of Kumbum, one of the greatest of monasteries in Tibet. He oversaw renovations in the monastery and the reestablishment of monastic studies, and also launched a variety of other projects, including:

    Red Cross Organization in Kumbum
    Disaster Relief Project for local villages
    Clinic for villagers run by monks of the Tibetan Medical Institute and
    School for local village children

In 1998, due to the strained political climate in Tibet, Arjia Rinpoche went into exile, stating that he would not compromise his spiritual beliefs and practices. He escaped to the United States and started the Tibetan Center for Compassion and Wisdom (TCCW) in Mill Valley, California. In 2005, he was appointed Director of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center (TMBCC) in Bloomington, Indiana by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. Presently, he directs both TCCW and TMBCC. Both centers are dedicated to the preservation of Buddhist teachings, art and culture within and outside of Tibet and Mongolia.

Arjia Rinpoche is the only Tibetan high lama of Mongolian descent. Throughout his life, Arjia Rinpoche was tutored by specialized teachers in the area of Buddhist philosophy, sutra and tantra teachings, as well as in Buddhist art and architectural design.