Surviving the Dragon: A Tibetan Lama's Life Under Chinese Rule
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Surviving the Dragon: A Tibetan Lama's Life Under Chinese Rule

by Arjia Rinpoche, Dalai Lama
     
 

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On a peaceful summer day in 1952, ten monks on horseback arrived at a traditional nomad tent in northeastern Tibet where they offered the parents of a precocious toddler their white handloomed scarves and congratulations for having given birth to a holy child—and future spiritual leader.

Surviving the Dragon is the remarkable life story of

Overview

On a peaceful summer day in 1952, ten monks on horseback arrived at a traditional nomad tent in northeastern Tibet where they offered the parents of a precocious toddler their white handloomed scarves and congratulations for having given birth to a holy child—and future spiritual leader.

Surviving the Dragon is the remarkable life story of Arjia Rinpoche, who was ordained as a reincarnate lama at the age of two and fled Tibet 46 years later. In his gripping memoir, Rinpoche relates the story of having been abandoned in his monastery as a young boy after witnessing the torture and arrest of his monastery family. In the years to come, Rinpoche survived under harsh Chinese rule, as he was forced into hard labor and endured continual public humiliation as part of Mao's Communist "reeducation."

By turns moving, suspenseful, historical, and spiritual, Rinpoche's unique experiences provide a rare window into a tumultuous period of Chinese history and offer readers an uncommon glimpse inside a Buddhist monastery in Tibet.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Born in 1950 in a Tibet already under Chinese rule, Rinpoche was accepted as a holy child when he was just two years old. Later, he was recognized by the tenth Panchen Lama as the 20th Arjia Danpei Gyaltsen, i.e., traditional abbot of Kumbum Monastery. Rinpoche describes the horrific effects of China's Great Leap Forward of the late 1950s on Tibetan lives, culture, and religion. In spite of his position as a leading reincarnation, Rinpoche was educated primarily in secular schools and worked for much of his life in the Chinese government as a liaison to Buddhist organizations and Tibet. Following the 1989 death of the tenth Panchen Lama, Rinpoche grew increasingly disillusioned with his compromising role. In 1998, he escaped to the West, becoming the most senior Buddhist official to leave Tibet since the Dalai Lama, who has named him director of the Tibetan Cultural Center in Bloomington, IN. VERDICT This readable memoir is highly recommended for students of contemporary Tibet, who will also be interested in Ani Pachen's Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun, the Dalai Lama's Freedom in Exile, and Tsering Shakya's more scholarly The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947.—James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
In a polished, occasionally stuffy autobiography, the revered abbot of the Kumbum monastery in Tibet recounts his trials under the Chinese Cultural Revolution and recent exile to America. In 1998, the author, who has been recognized since age two as the eighth reincarnation of Arjia Rinpoche ("precious father"), secretly flew to the West because he had grown tired of "constantly navigating the treacherous shoals of Communist policy as it affected so many Tibetans." A new round of Chinese repression, including being forced to denounce the Dalai Lama, reminded him bitterly of what he and his fellow Buddhists had endured during the Cultural Revolution. Rinpoche chronicles his life story in beautifully fluid English that belies his recent learning of the language (no co-author is credited). Born in 1950, Rinpoche was chosen as the reincarnation of the last hereditary abbot after a series of fortuitous signs and prophecies, including his birth on the Dolon Nor Steppe to a family of nomads. It helped that his uncle Gyayak Rinpoche was the powerful teacher of the Panchen Lama, the spiritual leader of their Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism and the religious equal of the Dalai Lama. Immersed in practicing dharma and reciting sutras, the boy nonetheless had plenty of time to play and be mischievous. With the advent of the Great Leap Forward, however, cadres of Chinese Communists invaded the monasteries and organized struggles and public denunciations "to stamp out religion in the name of reform." Famine, forced labor and imprisonment followed, and under the "dragon's claw" the boy grew up secularly and without proper instruction. Rinpoche's account offers valuable details of this absurd era, and hewrites poignantly that he could no longer tolerate collaboration with the criminal regime once he had assumed his birthright at Kumbum. A bold work that underscores Rinpoche's cultural and political-rather than spiritual-journey.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781605297545
Publisher:
Rodale Press, Inc.
Publication date:
03/02/2010
Pages:
262
Sales rank:
1,195,050
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.24(h) x 0.98(d)
Lexile:
1110L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

ARJIA RINPOCHE, one of the most important religious leaders to escape Tibet since the Dalai Lama fled into exile, started the Buddhist Center for Compassion and Wisdom in Mill Valley, CA, and is the director of the Tibetan Cultural Center.

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