How Thubten Jigme Norbu’s Tibetan Cultural Center came to be located in Bloomington, Indiana, is an incredible saga of changing identities, forced exile, international intrigue, and one family’s rags-to-riches rise to prominence. The players include the Dalai Lama, the CIA, an Eli Lilly heiress, celebrities, scholars, Buddhist monks, and reincarnated spirits. It’s the story of how one Tibetan immigrant became a Hoosier.
Countrified, commonsensical, pragmatic, average, “basketball-crazed”—Indiana is one of only a handful of states with its own distinct brand, one that may not be sexy, but has proven powerful and dynamic enough to endure for two centuries. Too bad it barely captures the state’s true complexity.
In the following columns, reprinted in a new book from IU Press, the legendary Hoosier journalist reveals, with touching candor and haunting prose, a deep spiritual connection to his state of birth—and the people who raised him there.