Flight of the Bön Monks: War, Persecution, and the Salvation of Tibet's Oldest Religion

Flight of the Bön Monks: War, Persecution, and the Salvation of Tibet's Oldest Religion

Flight of the Bön Monks: War, Persecution, and the Salvation of Tibet's Oldest Religion

Flight of the Bön Monks: War, Persecution, and the Salvation of Tibet's Oldest Religion


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An inside account of the Chinese invasion of Tibet told through the voices of three persecuted monks

• Shares the true story of three monks’ heroic escape from occupied Tibet and the subsequent rebirth of the Bön religion in exile

• Introduces Bön, Tibet’s oldest religion, and a traditional way of life extinguished by foreign occupation

• Reveals details of the 1950 Chinese invasion of Tibet and the exodus of thousands of Tibetans to neighboring countries

Providing an inside view into the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the tenets of Bön, one of the world’s oldest but least known religions, this book chronicles the true story of three Bön monks who heroically escaped occupied Tibet and went on to rebuild their culture through incredible resilience, determination, and passion. After taking his vows to become a Bön monk and completing a pilgrimage around 22,000-foot Mount Kailash, the holiest mountain in Tibet, Tenzin Namdak envisions a life of quiet contemplation at Menri, Bön’s mother monastery. Instead, he finds himself fleeing for his life across the highest and most difficult terrain on the planet.

After Tenzin’s escape party is ambushed and he is severely wounded, Tenzin is taken to a concentration camp, where he overcomes his nearly fatal wound before making an arduous escape from Tibet over the daunting Himalayas.

The other two monks, lifelong friends Samten Karmay and Sangye Tenzin, witness Tibet’s capital explode in a violent insurrection against Chinese rule. Escaping to Nepal, they worry about the survival of the Bön religion and begin collecting scattered works of Bön scripture. A chance meeting with British scholar David Snellgrove brings the three monks together and dramatically changes their lives. Tenzin founds a Bön settlement in exile in India, Sangye is chosen as the thirty-third Menri Trizen, Bön’s highest office, and together the three monks help rebuild the nearly extinct Bön religion. Aside from the escape of the Dalai Lama, no other escape from Tibet has been so consequential for so many.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781644118580
Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date: 02/27/2024
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 294,988
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Harvey Rice is a journalist with more than 40 years of experience, working at both U.S. newspapers and international news agencies. He lives in Galveston, Texas

Jackie Cole has studied Bön for more than two decades and has taken many retreats with the main characters of the book, who have given their blessings and permission to share their story. She lives in Galveston, Texas.

Table of Contents

Foreword by the Dalai Lama

A Deadly Encounter at 15,000 Feet

1 Beginnings

2 An Artist Becomes a Monk

3 Four Years in a Cave

4 Invasion

5 Recluse Nation

6 Best Friends

7 Tibet’s Harvard

8 Broken Promises

9 Iron Hell

10 Flight

11 Forsaken Vows

12 Enter the CIA

13 Ambush

14 Prisoners

15 Tenzin’s Escape

16 Refugees in a Foreign Land

17 Snellgrove

18 London

19 Return

20 Promised Land

Where They Are Now

Main Characters and Glossary




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