By Michael Sheehy
In the Shadow of the Buddha (Dutton 2011) is Matteo Pistono’s autobiographical account of his undercover reporting from inside Tibet. A journalist, activist, and student of Sogyal Rinpoche, the author began traveling in Tibet in 1999 with the intention of following in the footsteps of his teacher’s previous embodiment, the Tibetan mystic treasure revealer Terton Sogyal Lerab Lingpa (1856–1926). Over the next nine years, Pistono made several trips to Tibet where he met Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok (1933–2004), the other reincarnation of Terton Sogyal, during a visit to Larung Gar, the world’s largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Serta region of eastern Tibet. Combining pilgrimages with chronicling his encounters with Tibetans who entrusted him with politically sensitive documents and accounts of human rights violations, Pistono served as a covert courier, smuggling information out of Tibet to the Dalai Lama and leaders of the Tibetan liberation movement in the United States.