When the Iron Bird Flies: Tibetan Buddhism Arrives in the West

In 1959, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama escaped the Chinese invasion of Tibet and with his departure and the exodus of many of the major teachers, Tibetan Buddhism as it was practiced in virtual seclusion for centuries in the Land of Snow, was suddenly thrust out into the world.

In the 60s and 70s, Tibetan Buddhism met a new kind of student — spiritual seekers from the West. Although they did not know it at the time, these hippies, spiritual pilgrims and middle-class dropouts would become the ambassadors of a spiritual movement that would change the face of contemporary culture by the end of the century. At the same time this meeting would chip away at the limiting cultural trappings surrounding Tibetan Buddhism and open the door to a new 21st century spirituality that combines the best of both worlds.

Fifty years later, there are Tibetan Buddhist meditation centers in every major city in the Western world, and the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, has 17,000,000 followers on Twitter. “Everything has two sides,” Tsoknyi Rinpoche says in the film. “Unfortunate side is we lost our country. Fortunate side is dharma went all over the world.”

Featuring: Anam Thubten, B. Alan Wallace, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, HH Dalai Lama, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, E. Gene Smith, Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyl, Fleet Maul, Geshe Kelsang Wangmo, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, Matthieu Ricard, Phakchok Rinpoche, Reginald Ray, Dr. Richard Davidson, Richard Gere, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Lama Tsultrim Allione
Audio Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English