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Theos Bernard, the White Lama: Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life

By Paul G. Hackett

In 1937, Theos Casimir Bernard (1908–1947), the self-proclaimed "White Lama," grew to become the 3rd American in background to arrive Lhasa, the capital urban of Tibet. in the course of his remain, he accrued the most important number of Tibetan texts, paintings, and artifacts within the Western hemisphere at the moment. He additionally documented, in either nonetheless images and 16mm movie, the age-old civilization of Tibet at the eve of its destruction through chinese language Communists.

Based on hundreds of thousands of fundamental assets and infrequent archival fabrics, Theos Bernard, the White Lama recounts the true tale at the back of the purported adventures of this iconic determine and his position within the development of America's spiritual counterculture. Over the process his short existence, Bernard met, linked, and corresponded with the most important social, political, and cultural leaders of his day, from the Regent and excessive politicians of Tibet to saints, students, and diplomats of British India, from Charles Lindbergh and Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Gandhi and Nehru. even if hailed as an excellent pioneer through the media, Bernard additionally had his flaws. He used to be an entrepreneur propelled by way of grandiose schemes, a good-looking guy who shamelessly used his seems to be to bop from wealthy spouse to wealthy spouse in aid of his actions, and a grasp manipulator who concocted his personal interpretation of japanese knowledge to fit his ends. Bernard had a brilliant destiny ahead of him, yet disappeared in India in the course of the communal violence of the 1947 Partition, by no means to be visible again.

Through diaries, interviews, and formerly unstudied files, Paul G. Hackett stocks Bernard's compelling existence tale, with his efforts to evoke America's non secular counterculture to the unfolding occasions in India, the Himalayas, and Tibet. Hackett concludes with a close geographical and cultural hint of Bernard's Indian and Tibetan trips, which shed infrequent mild at the explorer's mysterious disappearance.

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In 1931, the French Tibetologist Jacques Bacot arrived in Kalimpong, and making inquiries at David Macdonald’s Himalayan lodge, was once directed to Tharchin as a possible assistant in his study. Bacot’s pursuits, even if, have been very really expert: the lately recovered cache of 8th- to tenthcentury manuscripts from the Silk street city of Tun-huang. Having only recently edited and released Tse-ring-wang-gyel’s Tibetan–Sanskrit Dictionary35 as a follow-up to his translation and research of a Tibetan grammar treatise,36 Bacot was once desirous to observe what he had discovered to translating the early Tibetan files now in his ownership.

Her funds helps—but her personality potential extra. the one closing trouble for Theos, his father mentioned, used to be breaking the inside track of his engagement to his mom again in Arizona. The Ariz. lady is a question—knowing her temperament—I am going to offer her the tale all at once—then attempt to delicate it down. i'd quite inform her than have one other inform her—and all my associates will quickly comprehend. If she's going to be midway decent—I will pass ninety five% of the way—but she's going to need to obey. i do know her will and what she will and may do—however—I will do my top with solid intentions.

Right here now, besides the fact that, have been Tibetans with out such pretenses. From the optimistic influence he made at the assembled notables, a number of days later Theos bought a call for participation to dinner from one of many aristocratic households that maintained a home in Kalimpong. Tsarong Lhacham— woman Tsarong—the spouse of the recognized Tibetan basic and previous cupboard minister Tsarong Shapé, was once in Kalimpong, and listening to approximately Theos, she invited him over for a meal. even if Theos idea little of it on the time—beyond the main points of the nutrition itself and the way it “played havoc” together with his nutrition regimen—this assembly could turn out his most vital connection inside of Tibet.

A sufferer of clinical incompetence at the a part of the school’s resident health care provider, Theos most likely may have died had his mom now not intervened, insisting on taking him domestic to Tombstone and the healthcare professional of her selection. Theos used to be now below the care of a relations good friend and osteopathic surgeon who believed within the mind’s skill to steer and heal the physique, yet air of secrecy nonetheless had purposes for obstacle. by the point Dr. Agnew observed him, Theos used to be so stiff and susceptible from his disease that he used to be thoroughly not able to maneuver and needed to drink fluids via a tube.

Dam them—I will see to it that this event proves beneficial to me. ” certainly, his stories with contributors of the Pueblo have been proving to be of remarkable worth to Theos, supplying perception into yet one more tradition, for his or her lifestyle, upon mirrored image, did look more suitable to the stricken and complicated process of the common American, no matter if it didn’t fairly reside as much as the extent of esteem he accorded to Indian philosophy. N e w Yo r ok an d N e w Mex ico 26 C5744. indb 26 12/20/11 9:22 AM We had an extended discuss the area, its starting and the way existence keeps on it—etc.

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