Book Review: ‘Surviving the Dragon’ by Arjia Rinpoche

Surviving the Dragon: A Tibetan Lama's Account of 40 Years under Chinese Rule Arjia Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1950. He was recognized 2 years later as the 8th Arjia Rinpoche, the reincarnation of the father of Lama Tsong Khapa, founder of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism.
As the Arjia Rinpoche, he is the Abbott of one of the largest and most influential Monasteries in Tibet, The Kumbum Monastery. In his book, Surviving the Dragon, he tells the story of his life as first, a monk; second, a Tibetan under the occupation of the Chinese Communist Party; and third, a refugee without a home to return to.
I met Arjia Rinpoche when he came to Atlanta to visit Emory and Drepung Loseling Monastery. I was enthralled with his retelling of the travesties done to the 10th Panchen Lama at his death and the subsequent choreographed Golden Urn Ceremony to choose his successor.
As I read the book, I developed a great respect for Rinpoche as he illuminated the problems he faced growing up under the Chinese abuse. He tells of the times he lost himself in the secular world forced upon him by Communism and the great teachers that gave him inspiration to carry on and return to his roots. His struggles to cooperate and work within the Communist bureaucracy are illustrative of the intentions of the Tibetans and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way solution to the Tibetan problem. It also illustrates the intentions of the Chinese to never truly allow a compromised solution.
“The current regime in China is uneasy with political and social changes of any sort.  But if a federation of autonomous regions were ever to be established, if a democratic way of life were ever to prevail, then His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s dream of the Middle Way, his hope for a genuine autonomy for Tibetans and other minorities, could be fulfilled, At last minorities could be free to follow their particular religious beliefs and celebrate their unique customs.  The five stars on the Chinese flag could truly stand for the equality of China’s ethnic groups – the Han majority and the Tibetan, Manchurian, Mongolian, and Muslim minorities – just as the 50 stars on the US flag stand for 50 separate but united states.  Like those white stars in a field of blue, China’s golden stars would shine for free people’s who share the daunting but glorious duty of governing a free country.  Then the dreams of His Holiness the Dalai Lama will come true for Tibet — and for the world. This too is my dream;  this is my hope;  this is my prayer. “

His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked Arjia Rinpoche to write this memoir. He also asked him not to make any angry public statements against the Chinese despite his mistreatment by them. Rinpoche follows this request perfectly: he describes the abuses and mistreatment without any hatred or disgust, just as you would expect a Buddhist monk to.
Surviving the Dragon is an excellent book: a must-read for students of Tibetan/Buddhist history as well as an inspiration to the practitioners of the Buddha’s teachings. ~ Digging_the_Dharma

Much of the heaviness…

“The fourth reminder is to awaken lovingkindness. This is the ability to bring nonjudgmental awareness from the heart to the unwanted aspects of “me.”

This reminder can’t be overemphasized. It’s so natural to want to confirm what is most negative about ourselves that we don’t even think about activating compassion or kindness.

In fact, much of the heaviness of our distress comes from the belief that we should be different.

Especially after practicing for a few years, we think we shouldn’t still be so reactive. We think we should be beyond our conditioning. But practice doesn’t work that way.

Yet when we soften our self-judgment with lovingkindness, the sense of drama and heaviness lightens considerably. ” ~ Bursting the Bubble of Fear by Ezra Bayda (Tricycle article) Please read the entire article here . It is well worth your time, at least in my opinion.

I chose this quote because it brought to mind recent conversations. Some of the conversations were with friends and family and some were within myself.

Being gentle & loving with ourselves …we can be gentle & loving with others.

Namaste and Enjoy your moments!

Our words hurt or heal….& a link to a great blog post

Precious Metal Blog – I wasn’t going to weigh in on the shooting in Tucson, AZ because… Use your voice like a BIG BOY!!!

My comment:

“Thank you for the great post.

Yes, for a long time now, we just say whatever…and do not think that our words take root in someone’s mind…well, folks words hurt or heal.
Somewhere along the path of this very perturbed individual, someone’s words hit a mark in him…gave him a reason to focus his violent thoughts into a target.
And now…we have a sad and horrible situation. Of which no one wants to take responsibility of creating because …’they are only words, no one would possibly think to do anything violent’….as PM says….use your words ‘like a big boy/girl’ …all of our words matter….if they did not matter why would we use them?

May all sentient beings be happy and have the causes of happiness.

May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes if suffering.

May all sentient beings never be separated from the happiness that is free from suffering.

May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free attachment and detachment.”

Love and Compassion

Even our physical structure seems more suited to feelings of love and compassion. We can see how a calm, affectionate, wholesome state of mind benefits our health and physical well-being. Conversely, feelings of frustration, fear, agitation, and anger can be destructive to our health. This is why we are impelled to seek happiness. ~ His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

Forgiving and Forgetting

Sometimes we have been holding onto anger or bitterness related to a particular person or event.

Something to think about is: What would I have to give up in order to free myself from this bitterness? We might think, “Well, yes, but what he or she did was absolutely unforgivable.”

Consider the possibility, and I am only saying consider the possibility, that maybe nothing is unforgivable. Maybe there is a way to find forgiveness even for what we have believed for so long to be unforgivable. Explore this mindfully.

To forgive does not necessarily mean to forget. Sometimes to forget is not wise, but to forgive is wise. And it is at times not easy. It can, in fact, be quite challenging.

It will come as no surprise that one of the most difficult people to forgive can be yourself. Yet with patience and gentle determination, it can be done. ~ Allan Lokos

 

Just like me.

Hatred, jealousy and excessive attachment cause suffering and agitation. I feel compassion can help us overcome these disturbances and let us return to a calm state of mind. Compassion is not just being kind to your friend. That involves attachment because it is based on expectation. Compassion is when you do something good without any expectations – based on realizing that “the other person is also just like me.” ~ His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama