Experiences among lamas, magicians, sages, sorcerers, Bonpa wizards. A true psychic discovery. 32 illus.
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This is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. She was one of those marvelous women adventurers from the turn of the 20th century, but with a distinctive difference. She was a practicing Buddhist and a Buddhist scholar. From the mid 19-teens and through the 1920s, she travelled throughout Indian, China, Japan, Ceylon, Nepal, Tibet and other Asian countries. She met the Dali Lama of the time, who was then in exile in India. Tibet was a country closed to outsiders, yet she dared to journey there incognito and spent 14 years in search of knowledge about Tibetan lamaist and mystic practices. Her description of the people, their way of life, their beliefs, the rituals, practices and teachings is what makes the book such an amazing read. She gained access to high-ranking lamas as well as seeking out hermits and ascetics. She gives details of many of the rituals and meditation practices, in which she participated as well, even living as hermit for months herself. Though much of is about how the Tibetans practiced their form of Buddhism, there's also an underlayer of far more ancient shamanistic beliefs and practices. There were magicians and sorcerers who dealt with summoning and controlling demons. Tales of sorcerers animating dead bodies. Of mystic training that could make phantoms of the mind become so real that others could see them. I loved this book and need to seek out the one that preceded it. I ended up reading part 2 first without realizing it, not that I mind.
For those interested in the day to day practice of Tibetan buddhism and beliefs, this is a good introduction taken from the Westerner's viewpoint..