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BOOK: Arjia Rinpoche, Tibetan lama

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Arjia Rinpoche, Director of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana, is one of the most important religious leaders to escape Tibet since the Dalai Lama. His memoirs, "Surviving the Dragon: A Tibetan Lama's Account of 40 Years under Chinese Rule" published by Rodale Book Company, is in bookstores now - and the foreword is written by the Dalai Lama. "Surviving the Dragon" is the story of Arjia Rinpoche's growing up as the reincarnated abbot in Kumbum, one of Tibet's major monasteries. As a child, he was treated like a living Buddha; as a young man he emptied latrines, but after the death of Mao Tse Tung, he rose to prominence within the Chinese Buddhist bureaucracy. When he was slated to become the tutor of the Chinese selected Panchen Lama, he fled Tibet rather than betray his Buddhist religion and his Tibetan and Mongolian heritage. Rinpoche's unique experience provides a rare vantage on this tumultuous period of Tibetan and Chinese History as well as a glimpse of life inside a Buddhist monastery in Tibet.