Arjia Thubten Lobsang Rinpoche
In the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism, "Rinpoche" is a title given to a tulku - a reincarnated being of a previous holy person.
When he was two years old, Arjia Rinpoche was recognized as the incarnation of the father of Lama Tsong Khapa, the great thirteenth-century Buddhist reformer, and, as such, became the Abbot of Kumbum Monastery located in eastern Tibet.
Among Tibetans and Mongolians, it is a very high honor to have your child become a monk and receive a Buddhist education.
In 1958 when he was eight years old, Rinpoche was subjected, as a member of the "exploiting class," to humiliations by the Chinese Communist Party. When the "Chinese Great Leap Forward" occurred, Rinpoche had to disrobe and attend a Chinese school. As a result, he was indoctrinated in the Chinese Communist ways, but due to his teacher's influences, he secretly maintained his Buddhist identity.
From age twelve to fourteen when the Chinese policies slightly eased, Rinpoche studied at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, the monastery of the Panchen Lama. From age fourteen to twenty-seven during the Cultural Revolution, the political situation got much worse again, and he had to work in the fields at hard labor with other lamas and monks.
In 1979 he was reinstated as Abbot of Kumbum Monastery and advanced in the governmental hierarchy. In 1998, he was about to become leader of the Chinese National Buddhist Association. In a crisis of conscience, he escaped from Beijing to Guatemala and, with the help of the Dalai Lama sought asylum in the United States.
Rinpoche settled in Mill Valley, California where he established the Tibetan Center for Compassion and Wisdom. In 2005, His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked him to become the director of the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana. He moved to Bloomington in February 2006 where he has renovated the center and continues to promote Buddhist teachings and Tibetan/Mongolian cultural events. He hosted His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit to Bloomington in October 2007.
SURVIVING THE DRAGON
A Tibetan Lama's Account of 40 Years of Chinese Rule
by Arjia Rinpoche (Rodale - 272 pages with original photographs) - Introduction 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.
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. Rinpoche published his memoirs in the Mongolian language in 2009. Work is underway to translate Surviving the Dragon into Tibetan and Chinese.
Cancer Care Treatment Center
The Charitable Projects of Arjia Rinpoche
A Public Letter from Arjia Rinpoche
You will discover by reading my memoirs, Surviving the Dragon, that although I am Tibetan by nationality, my parents were of Mongolian descent. Because of this connection, I am deeply committed to helping Mongolians who are dying unnecessarily of cancer because they do not have access to cancer screening or treatment.
In response to the needs of our Mongolian brothers and sisters, the Tibetan Center for Wisdom & Compassion in Mill Valley, California and the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana are constructing a Children's Cancer Care Treatment Center at the Maternity Hospital in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
As Abbot of both the TCCW and the TMBCC, I urge you to get involved.
In the 13th century, Tibetan Buddhism spread to Mongolia and became the main religion of the Mongolian people. Before the 1920s, Tibetan Buddhism was the national religion of Mongolia. The monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism were not only a spiritual home for believers, but also served as a place for them to solve the problems of daily life and treat their illnesses. The monasteries gave support to the spirits of believers and took care of their bodies. During the 1930s to the 1980s, Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia was forbidden and the monasteries were devastated. They have been undergoing restoration since the 1990s. During the past ten to fifteen years, there has been a surge in the incidence of cancer in Mongolia. Eighty six percent of the patients who have been diagnosed for cancer have been terminal cases. Most of these patients survived for less than a year. Death from cancer is the second highest cause of death in Mongolia. One out of every five deaths is from cancer. Among this large number of patients, many are children. The incidence of leukemia, brain tumor, and osteocarcinoma in children is higher than in other locales. Because Mongolia's economy is gradually changing into a market-oriented economy, medical costs are rising. Vulnerable groups, such as the disabled, the elderly, and children, have been plunged into a plight in which they have no money to provide for treatment and a possible cure for their illnesses. The cost of cancer treatment is particularly high and patients from poor families cannot afford to receive it or experience even the most basic of treatment procedures.
The Aim of the Cancer Care Treatment Center
Inspired by the teaching of the Buddha of Compassion, The Cancer Care Treatment Center for Mongolian Children aims to help children who are ravaged by cancer. All patients—no matter what their belief--will receive identical care and love.
Building the Cancer Care Treatment Center
From 2009 to the present day, Arjia Rinpoche and his colleagues have explored the best ways to assist Mongolian families whose children suffer from cancer. Determined to build a treatment facility, Rinpoche visited a number of well-known children's hospitals in the USA to experience first-hand the most modern techniques of cancer treatment.
Conferences with medical and government officials in Mongolia eventually determined that the best plan would be to erect a 6-story structure (plus basement) adjacent to and connected with the Maternity Hospital in Ulaanbaatar. This building, the Cancer Care Treatment Center, would provide units where children and their parents could stay while the children were undergoing cancer treatment.
The treatment center will consist of 20 single-bed units (each unit with an extra bed for a parent) and 10 double-bed units (each with 2 extra beds for parents). We request individuals and/or organizations to sponsor one of the units. A plaque recognizing the generosity of the donor will be prominently displayed on the door of the unit that is sponsored.Eventually, the treatment center will provide medical services to nomads living in the country areas. This service will require the purchase of mobile medical units.
Benevolence Gathers Strength
Any aid from government agencies, non-governmental organizations, charities and individuals to the Cancer Care Treatment Center will bring hope to children in Mongolia who have cancer. Please considering sponsoring a unit in the Cancer Care Treatment Center.Benevolence makes the lives of people more meaningful. It also creates a positive energy in the world, bringing benefit to immeasurable sentient beings. Your benevolence is the best medicine for persons in this troubled world who are less fortunate than you. Your compassion will also heal your own sufferings. Please read my memoirs, Surviving the Dragon, and become involved in my charitable projects. All proceeds from book sales will support these programs. All proceeds from book sales will support these programs.
"As a Tibetan, I am committed to helping victims of the recent earthquakes in Jiegu, Tibet (Qinghai Province). If you read my book, Surviving the Dragon, you will learn how I established a Red Cross rescue mission to aid victims of the great snowstorm in this same Jiegu area during the 1990s. Presently, students at my centers (TCCW and TMBCC) routinely collect donations and send them to the American Red Cross so that our brothers and sisters in Tibet can receive the help they need to rebuild their lives."
The Multi Education Editing Center (MEEC)
Because I believe that the publication and distribution of Tibetan literary works are essential to preserving the Tibetan culture threatened by extinction, I founded the MEEC in India. Our completed projects include a Tibetan Dictionary and a Computer Manual written in Tibetan and English. My Tibetan Assistance Program distributes sutras without charge and continues to help many Tibetan monks, nuns, and scholars living in India and Nepal. Upcoming MEEC Projects consist of publishing the Golden Rays Sutra, written in Tibetan and Mongolian to be distributed free to families in Mongolia; a Medical Reference Book in Mongolian and Tibetan, and a Tibetan Encyclopedia which will include English and Chinese subject matter. Future plans include creating a Library of Tibetan Works for the Tibetan exile community in south India. This library will serve Tibetans refugees, especially their children, who wish to further their education and preserve their culture.
Libraries for Children of Tibetan Refugees in Dharamsala
In order for the Tibetan Community-in-Exile to survive in non-Tibetan cultures, it is essential that the children of Tibetan refugees be educated so they can successfully face the complexities of life in the twenty-first century. To meet this need, Arjia Rinpoche and his spiritual students are donating books to two schools for the children of Tibetan refugees located in Dharmasala, India. They have purchased 300 books in the Tibetan language for each school and are presently investigating educational organizations in the USA that will provide English language books. In addition, they will provide the necessary shelving to house these books in the libraries where they will be located. The Multi Education Editing Center, already established by Rinpoche in Dharmasala will monitor this project to ensure that the donation, distribution and shelving of the books will be achieved in an efficient and timely manner.
The Tofu Project
Traditionally, Buddhist monastics eat whatever food that is offered to them. Recently His Holiness has promoted a meatless diet. More and more monks are heeding His Holiness' advice and are becoming vegearians. Because of this, Arjia Rinpoche, with the Tibetan Center for Compassion and Wisdom (TCCW) and a group of Dharma friends in the San Francisco Bay Area started the "Tofu Project" to provide for large scale tofu production at Tibetan monasteries in exile. Several monasteries in south India have been given tofu makers so they can more easily facilitate a vegetarian diet for those monks who wish to follow His Holiness' wishes.
Monastery Medical Project
Many Tibetan monks living at Tashi Lhumpo Monastery in South India suffer from stomach problems. To provide relief from their suffering, I am starting a program to conduct research on this debilitating condition. We hope to provide a solution in the near future.