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, artwork, 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 via chinese language Communists.

Based on hundreds of thousands of fundamental assets and infrequent archival fabrics, Theos Bernard, the White Lama recounts the genuine tale at the back of the purported adventures of this iconic determine and his position within the progress of America's spiritual counterculture. Over the process his short existence, Bernard met, linked, and corresponded with the main 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 though hailed as a super pioneer by way of the media, Bernard additionally had his flaws. He was once an entrepreneur propelled via grandiose schemes, a good-looking guy who shamelessly used his appears to be like to dance 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 shiny destiny ahead of him, yet disappeared in India throughout the communal violence of the 1947 Partition, by no means to be obvious again.

Through diaries, interviews, and formerly unstudied files, Paul G. Hackett stocks Bernard's compelling lifestyles tale, together with his efforts to rouse America's spiritual counterculture to the unfolding occasions in India, the Himalayas, and Tibet. Hackett concludes with an in depth 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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Thank you additionally to Bob Love, who shared early models of his study on Pierre Bernard with me, and to Cathy Albanese, whose worthwhile discussions supplied me with extra views and insights on American spiritual tradition. because of Kathleen Taylor, who supplied her copies of correspondence among Glen Bernard and Atal Behari Ghosh, and to June Calendar for sharing a few of her recollections of Viola Bernard. distinct thank you also are because of Barbara Graham of the Helen Graham Park starting place, who not just kept various basic resource fabrics from sure destruction but additionally generously made them on hand for examine and research, in addition to supplying her type corporation.

And even though he lamented that this used to be “an virtually never-ending task,” headway used to be being made via the fellow Theos felt to be the single trustworthy researcher in Buddhist tantric reviews on the time, W. Y. Evans-Wentz, who had simply released his Tibetan Yoga and mystery Doctrines. Following Woodroffe’s lead, Theos set forth the fundamental define of his examine in his master’s thesis, offering the tantric literature as notably a realistic scripture basically all in favour of motion and formality which the undiscerning might imagine has, at the least been prescribed to an over the top severe.

Indb 30 12/20/11 9:22 AM thoughts past their organization together with his occupation and his choice to decide to both philosophy or anthropology, at the least until eventually he may perhaps accomplish that in individual back: i need to determine what each one division is delivering this 12 months and what percentages i've got, simply because a last choice should be reached this fall—and i've been using towards philosophy for a superb decades now and it's going to take greatly to tug me away, from the educational point of view. so far as my lifestyles is concerned—it is most unlikely.

Nibbana is for him who doesn't search it. Having helped Evans-Wentz in his examine, Jinorasa made the same supply of tips to Glen, with one caveat: i'm blissful to profit that your son and his spouse might be coming to India in September and they may additionally stopover at the Himalayas and could spend a while the following. definite, I shall definitely assist you via introducing you to the realized lamas right here. incidentally i'm very sorry to notify you that we've got overlooked an exceptional lama who may have helped you a great deal. He died per week in the past in Sikkim.

The influence of this small gesture on those that witnessed it used to be a ways more than whatever that he can have imagined, for by no means had any resident of Gyantse witnessed a white man—certainly now not any of the British they'd met—pay any signal of admire to their faith or non secular leaders the best way Theos had simply performed. sooner than the day was once over, the complete population of Gyantse had heard of the general public career of religion and recognize and was once totally confident of his sincerity. For his personal half, Theos was once certainly clearly moved while, upon getting into the most meeting corridor, he used to be struck by way of the imaginative and prescient that awaited him: T i b e t , Tan t r i okay as , an d t h e H e ro of Chaks am Fe r r y 169 C5744.

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