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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Rinpoche, Dalai Lama met in Tibet, reunited in U.S.

October 22, 2007

October 21, 2007
The Indianapolis Star

Arjia Rinpoche, who will host his friend the Dalai Lama this week in
Bloomington, first met the worldwide leader of Tibetan Buddhists in
1954 when Rinpoche was about 5 years old.
Rinpoche (pronounced RIN-po-shay), the son of Mongolian nomads,
already had been identified by Buddhist monks at Kumbum Monastery in
Tibet as the reincarnation of the father of their order's founder, a
14th-century Buddhist master.

The Dalai Lama, by then 20 and already deemed the reincarnation of the
14th Dalai Lama, gave the young Rinpoche some candy. In his
excitement, Rinpoche recalls, he dropped the candy, prompting a roar
of laughter from the Dalai Lama and the other monks gathered around.

It was a laugh that stuck in the memory of Arjia Rinpoche until their
next meeting, nearly 45 years later.

China had invaded Tibet in 1950. When the Tibetan resistance collapsed
in 1959, the Dalai Lama sought exile in India.

A year earlier, Rinpoche had seen his monastery closed by the Chinese
and his relatives imprisoned. Rinpoche was sent to a communist school.
As a teenager, he would be forced to work in a people's commune -- a
16-year period of forced servitude. In 1998, Rinpoche fled to the

Upon his arrival in America, Rinpoche went to see the Dalai Lama in
New York. Walking down a corridor in the building where they were to
meet, Rinpoche heard someone laughing. The sound rang familiar. It was
the same laugh he remembered as a young boy, when he had dropped the
candy. He knew, before seeing the source, that it was the Dalai Lama.

The encounter brought a flood of memories, Rinpoche said. Memories of
Tibet before the worst hardships. Memories of a man who had offered
him a gift long ago.

"He said a prayer of welcome," Rinpoche said of their reunion. "I
almost cried. I bowed down (to him). But he said no, don't do that."

In the years since, the two men have shared long conversations about
the way their paths diverged from the candy encounter at the Kumbum
Monastery. Two years ago, the Dalai Lama tapped Rinpoche to take over
the leadership of the financially troubled Tibetan Cultural Center in
Bloomington. With the generosity of the Dalai Lama's friends, the
center is financially stable again. And there is talk of making it
into a monastic college -- a new Kumbum of the West.

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