The Dalai Lama & Arjia Rinpoche, New York, 1999
Arjia Rinpoche was the Abbot of Kumbum Monastery, one of
the six great centers of Buddhism in Tibet. He left Tibet
in 1998 because of the repression of Tibetan culture and
religion. He now lives in the United States where he remains
devoted to his work as a scholar and teacher. In the year
2000, the Rinpoche established The Tibetan Center for Compassion
and Wisdom (TCCW) to preserve and celebrate Tibetan language,
arts, and to advance understanding of Tibetan Buddhism in
the West. He hopes that in future years he will be able
to assist in facilitating dialogue between the government
of China and the people of Tibet.
Rinpoche is the only Tibetan high lama of Mongolian descent.
He was born in Eastern Tibet where as a young boy he was
recognized as the reincarnation of Lumbum Gye, father of
Tsong Khapa, the founder of Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect of
Tibetan Buddhism. Since a very early age, he has trained
with lineage teachers, including His Holiness the Dalai
Lama and the late Panchen Lama, from whom he received many
initiations and empowerments in sutric and tantric traditions.
Rinpoche is fluent in Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian languages
and has become quite adept at English as well.
In the Tibetan tradition, Buddhist scholars also devote
themselves to an artistic discipline unique to their culture.
The Rinpoche excels in a number of art forms as well as
architectural design. Employing traditional Tibetan Buddhist
design, he oversaw the renovation of Kumbum Monastery, built
a 80x40-foot three-dimensional Kalachakra Mandala, and restored
the Stupa of Lama Tsong Khapa and the Golden Temple Monastery
in Xining, Tibet. Since arriving in the U.S., he has designed
a Buddhist Temple in Santa Cruz, and he and his assistants
built a three dimensional Kalachakra Mandala which was dedicated
to world peace and presented to His Holiness the Dalai Lama
at the 25th International Kalachakra Initiation. This mandala
has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington
D.C. and presently resides at the Tibet Center in New York.
Arjia Rinpoche's wise and generous spirit is visible to
everyone who encounters him. He has inspired interest in
Tibetan culture, Tibetan Buddhism, and the activities of
his Center among growing communities of Tibetans, Mongolians,
Chinese, and Americans throughout the country.
in Lake Tahoe, 2002
He regularly teaches and leads meditations at the Tibetan
Center for Compassion and Wisdom (TCCW) in Mill Valley and
in Oakland, and has spoken to students at all levels of
education throughout San Francisco Bay Area. He has been
invited to speak about Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism for special
engagements in New York, Washington D.C., Denver, and Los
Angeles, and in 2001, he spoke on behalf of the Tibetan
people for the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom. In
November, 2001, he was invited to serve as a member of the
Board of Directors of the International Campaign for Tibet
in Washington D. C. Following September 11, Rinpoche organized
a Marin County multi-denominational day of prayer led by
representatives of ten different religions. His other greatest
hope for his work in the United States is to cultivate awareness
of the shared beliefs of the world's great spiritual traditions.