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Born in Tibet [Paperback]

Trungpa Tulku Chogyam Trungpa
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

24 Nov 2000
Chögyam Trungpa—meditation master, scholar, and artist—was identified at the age of only thirteen months as a major tulku, or reincarnation of an enlightened teacher. As the eleventh in the teaching lineage known as the Trungpa tulkus, he underwent a period of intensive training in mediation, philosophy, and fine arts, receiving full ordination as a monk in 1958 at the age of eighteen. The following year, the Chinese Communists invaded Tibet, and the young Trungpa spent many harrowing months trekking over the Himalayas, narrowly escaping capture.

Trungpa's account of his experiences as a young monk, his duties as the abbot and spiritual head of a great monastery, and his moving relationships with his teachers offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the life of a Tibetan lama. The memoir concludes with his daring escape from Tibet to India. In an epilogue, he describes his emigration to the West, where he encountered many people eager to learn about the ancient wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc; New edition edition (24 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570627142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570627149
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.9 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 798,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars an incredible read! 3 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book and gives a lot of insight into plight of Tibetans and their faith. Highly recommended.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Account of Monastic Life in Old Tibet 29 July 2003
By William Courson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Born in Tibet:
A fascinating account of monastic life in old Tibet
by Bill Courson
The Eleventh Trungpa tulku, Chökyi Gyatso (1938-1987), has been described as the major Buddhist pioneer in America and the Western world. Meditation master, holder of the Kagyu and Nyingma transmission lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, Oxford scholar, artist and poet, Trungpa Rinpoche founded the first accredited Buddhist University in the Occident (Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado), and established well in excess of a hundred Vajradhatu Dharma and Shambhala Centers world-wide. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche was one of the most dynamic teachers of Buddhism in the 20th Century. He was a pioneer in bringing the Buddhist teachings of Tibet to the West and is credited for introducing many important Buddhist concepts into the English language and psyche in a fresh and unique - yet startlingly clear and understandable - way.
During his too brief life, he was also one of the most controversial figures in Tibetan Buddhism and more generally in the Tibetan exile community, largely owing to his lifestyle and life choices since leaving Tibet, which were instrumental in his death at the age of 49.
Trungpa was identified at the age of only thirteen months as a major tulku (reincarnation) of an enlightened teacher, a revered figure in Tibet's religious history. As the eleventh in his teaching lineage, he underwent a period of intensive training in mediation, philosophy, Buddhist history and scripture, and the arts, receiving full ordination as a monk in 1958 at the age of eighteen, which he captivatingly recounts in "Born in Tibet.".
The following year in 1959, armed forces of the Communist-led People's Republic of China brutally invaded Tibet, and the young Trungpa spent many harrowing months trekking over the Himalayas, narrowly escaping both the dangers of the terrain as well as capture. Trungpa's account of his experiences as a young monk, his duties as the abbot and spiritual head of a great monastery, and his tender relationships with his teachers offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the life of a Tibetan lama. The memoir concludes with his daring flight from Tibet to India. In an epilogue, he describes his emigration to the West, where he encountered many people eager to learn about the ancient wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism as well as those who made a "museum-piece"-like curiosity out of him.
This is a delightful and captivating book, one which once begun can hardly be put down. It is exceptionally well-written, and I strongly encourage any student of Tibet or Buddhism to add it to their library.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life in Tibet and escape from Communism 30 July 2006
By Claus Hetting - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This superb book tells the remarkable tale of the 11th consciously reincarnated Trungpa Tulku, a Tibetan Buddhist lama, who after living a traditional spiritual life in Eastern Tibet is forced to flee the brutal Chinese invasion of his country in the late 1950s.

The story gives a rare first-hand glimpse into the secluded monastic world of pre-communist Tibet as well as some horryfying accounts of the atrocities committed by the Chinese against this totally peaceful nation. Although largely unknown to the West until fairly recently, the Chinese destruction of Tibet and ruthless slaughter its people must surely rank among the greatest of crimes against humanity. One wonders what could possess anyone to parttake in such indiscriminate destruction.

But the story has a silver lining of sorts. If it were not for the Chinese invastion the West would never have received a flood of Tibetan refugees, amongst whom we count some of the most accomplished Buddhist teachers ever, including the venerable and late Trungkpa Tulku himself and not least H.H. the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lessons in impermanence 13 Mar 2010
By John L Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Arguably the earliest breakthrough account of his homeland before and after the Chinese invasion, when this appeared in 1968 it preceded the Rinpoche's fame and the attention his "crazy wisdom" inspired among followers and detractors. Boldly, Trungpa sought to strip the Vajrayana, the Tibetan Buddhist doctrine, of its factional distinctions and to transmit to the West, among the predicted "land of the red-skinned faces" in the age of iron, the dharma.

That episode, rapidly told, appends the revised edition of this narrative. It concentrates on a rather matter-of-fact, stolid recital of how he was chosen as a "tulku," a reincarnated lama, his entrance to the monastery, his education, countless visits to other foundations, more education, and careful wisdom. While this left me less satisfied, for its tone and style keeps you apart from the inherent interest in his spiritual formation and practical experience, it does provide a first-person report on traditional Tibetan inculcation.

Lama Pega tells him how Buddhist teaching can never be theory alone, but must be tested by practice, self-examination of precepts, and reflection over the meaning. True faith emerges only after the Middle Way of moderation. "Knowledge must be tested in the same way as gold; first refined, then beaten and made smooth till it becomes the right colour and shows it is pure gold." (98)

Sadness, but not resignation, pervades this story as it follows Trungpa's coming of age in an increasingly embattled nation. As Marco Pallis explains in his forward, Trungpa conveys the incursion obliquely. It reflects how indirectly, by hearsay, rumor, distant report the natives heard of the coming of the Chinese. While this may cast a detached, fatalistic tone over the story told, it does express the slow infiltration of the occupiers that precedes their military and political conquest.

He climbs "the holy Mt. Doti Gangkar," where the founding guru Padmasambhava used to meditate twelve centuries before. Trungpa tells of its green and black lakes, and snowy summit. "The legend goes that in the Golden Age this snow never melted and shone like a diamond. In the following age it was like an onyx in which light and darkness are mixed. In the third age, however, it was to become like iron; everything would be dark and our time in Tibet would be over. When we reached the top of the mountain we found that the snow fields were melting and that great expanses of dark rock were showing." (120) (One wonders, fifty-five years or so later, what the expanse now looks like after Chinese decimation and global warming.)

About five years after the first occupation of the Communists, teenaged Trungpa is warned by Chentze Rinpoche, an elder lama: "You must look after and guide yourself, as in the future there will be no further teachers. A new era has begun in which the pure doctrine of the Lord Buddha lies in the hands of individuals; each one is separately responsible, for I do not think that we can carry on in the way we have done up till now. We can no longer rely on groups and communities. The situation is very serious, many of us are old, and perhaps it is young people like you, the new generation, who shall bear the burden." (97)

By his twentieth year, he bears many burdens. After hiding, he must flee the Communists as they turn to all-out war against a few determined Tibetan guerrillas. This picks up the pace, and the latter half of the book tells of the escape as he leads three hundred natives from the threat of imprisonment or death-- towards exile in India. He briskly tells of this poignant departure and dangerous flight. It ends with typical understatement; after recounting the fortunes of the survivors: "Nothing has been heard of Karma-tendzin, the Queen of Nangchen and her party, nor of Lama Urgyen's group of monks who went to the pilgrimage valley." (249) The following page gives a poem that laments the nature of the Buddhist lesson of life's impermanence: "Mortal, yet once we enjoyed the masquerade;/ Now we see clearly all things perishing."
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading 8 Feb 2013
By J. E. Bonarski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Opened some new insights into world history and Tibet and especially about Chogyam Thungpa, the Buddhist teacher who adapted to America instead of expecting Americans to adapt to him.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars strong story 16 Mar 2013
By Richard Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some of the ( I believe) misleading and simply mistaken notions about Chogyam Trungpa find a sense of resolution in this excellently told autobiography of the period in Trungpa's life until the time he finally arrived in India. It was NOT an easy journey.
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