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," turned the 3rd American in historical past to arrive Lhasa, the capital urban of Tibet. in the course of his remain, he collected the most important selection 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 basic assets and infrequent archival fabrics, Theos Bernard, the White Lama recounts the true tale in 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 lifestyles, Bernard met, linked, and corresponded with the foremost 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 an excellent pioneer through the media, Bernard additionally had his flaws. He was once an entrepreneur propelled via grandiose schemes, a good-looking guy who shamelessly used his seems to be to bop from wealthy spouse to wealthy spouse in help of his actions, and a grasp manipulator who concocted his personal interpretation of japanese knowledge to fit his ends. Bernard had a brilliant destiny sooner than him, yet disappeared in India throughout the communal violence of the 1947 Partition, by no means to be visible again.

Through diaries, interviews, and formerly unstudied records, Paul G. Hackett stocks Bernard's compelling lifestyles tale, together 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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Armed with this data, Theos left Gangtok and again to Darjeeling in brief prior to occurring to Kalimpong, the commercial gateway to Tibet and residential to a neighborhood of expatriate Tibetans and peddlers of British impression. as soon as there, he and Glen settled into the Himalayan inn, the previous place of dwelling of David Macdonald and his kin, a stately hill A We ll- T ro d d e n P at h : S t ud i e s in D ar j e e ling and Sikkim one hundred ten C5744. indb one hundred ten 12/20/11 9:22 AM station institution overlooking the guts of city. The translator for Younghusband on his 1904 excursion to Tibet and consequently the British exchange Agent in Gyantse for 20 years, David Macdonald used to be recognized within the region, really for having grew to become down a knighthood for saving the lifetime of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1910, asking in alternate just a small parcel of land within the middle of Kalimpong for himself and his kin. His young children grown, the outdated kinfolk domestic have been become a luxurious lodge, then being run by way of his son-in-law, Frank Perry. Theos and Frank instantly turned associates, and Frank started speaking with Theos at size in regards to the mishaps and misadventures of all those that had long past ahead of him—including Edwin Schary, whose unpublished booklet manuscript he gave Theos to read9—speaking fairly hugely, particularly, of Alexandra David-Neel. inside days of checking in, Theos met one other visitor, Gordon T. Bowles, a Harvard-Yenching Fellow engaging in an anthropological survey of the Tibetan borderlands. 10 Quizzing Bowles on his reviews in and round Tibet, Theos stumbled on that he had traveled at one element with Harrison Forman, of whom Theos’s erstwhile pilot in Shanghai, cold Vaughn, had spoke relatively hugely. Bowles was once of a decidedly varied opinion. Theos famous Bowles’s perspectives with no revealing whatever, leaving the secret of differing evaluations for Viola to puzzle over in his letters to her. No had Theos and Glen settled into their resort room, notwithstanding, than Theos obtained be aware from Jinorasa: Lama Yongden was once coming from his retreat collapse the mountains all the way down to Lachen and will be to be had for an interview there if Theos may well come speedy. Already envisioning the wider context of his actions, Theos discovered that the best period of time will be spent “in bringing the issues all the way down to whatever concrete,” and but, “from the appearance of items to date, the specifics were discovered or fairly determined upon and in the event that they ever come to cross, i'll consider that i've got left a true addition to the tradition of this outdated global for somebody to dig it up within the subsequent millennium. ” As continually, even though, for Theos “the activity that provides itself in the interim is having the ability to get ahold of the mss. ” Pinning their hopes for achievement on a gathering with Lama Yongden, Theos and Glen made the journey to Lachen, confident it used to be the one approach “to get a line up at the literature and safe the best manuscripts. ” If the former weeks had confirmed uninteresting, on a cinematic point at the least, the journey to Lachen A We ll- T ro d d e n P at h : S t u d i e s in D ar j e e ling and Sikkim 111 C5744.

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