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.