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Re-Enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West

Overview

The colorful tale of the successful flowering of an obscure, ancient Eastern sect in the modern world.
In a single generation, Tibetan Buddhism developed from the faith of a remote mountain people, associated with bizarre, almost medieval, superstitions, to perhaps the most rapidly growing and celebrity-studded religion in the West. Disaffected with other religious traditions yet searching for meaning, huge numbers of Americans have found their way to the wisdom of Tibetan lamas...

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Overview

The colorful tale of the successful flowering of an obscure, ancient Eastern sect in the modern world.
In a single generation, Tibetan Buddhism developed from the faith of a remote mountain people, associated with bizarre, almost medieval, superstitions, to perhaps the most rapidly growing and celebrity-studded religion in the West. Disaffected with other religious traditions yet searching for meaning, huge numbers of Americans have found their way to the wisdom of Tibetan lamas in exile. Earthy, humorous, commonsensical, and eccentric, these flamboyant teachers—larger-than-life characters like Lama Yeshe and Chogyma Trungpa—proved to be charismatic and gifted ambassadors for their ancient religion. So did two Western women, born in Brooklyn and London's East End, whose homegrown religious intuitions turned out to be identical with the most sophisticated Tibetan teachings, revealing them to be reincarnated lamas. With great flair for both the sublime and the human, Jeffrey Paine narrates in page-turning, richly informative fashion how Tibetan Buddhism—rarefied and sensual, mystical and commonsensical—became the ideal religion for a "post-religious" age. "By far the best of the recent popular books exploring the amazing impact of Tibetan Buddhism. Paine's witty, erudite, flowing prose creates a memorable album of many characters—saints, rascals, and ordinary folks. He glosses over nothing, is ruthlessly critical where it is deserved, but is also secure enough to appreciate the beauty and the power of the 'magic and mystery': the profound practical wisdom and compassion of Tibetan civilization gone global."—Robert Thurman, Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies, Columbia University "Riveting....Recounts elegantly, yet without fuss, stories of human transformation that consistently incite our capacity for wonder."—Askold Melnyczuk, Boston Globe "Memorable anecdotes, great storytelling and keen observations mark this cogent exploration of the explosive growth of Tibetan Buddhism in the West."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393326260
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffery Paine is the author of Reenchantment and Father India and is the editor of The Poetry of Our World. He is former literary editor of The Wilson Quarterly and lives in Washington, DC.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Thousand Years in the Eye of God 3
Book I Tibet, Before
I Was 21
Book II Worlds in Collision
II Everyone Was Dear 53
III Playboy of the Gods 78
Book III Dakinis Descending a Staircase
IV A Tibetan Hermit, Made in England 115
V Interlude: An American in Tibet 140
VI The Reincarnation with the Beautiful Fingernails 144
Book IV Buddha: The Screen Test
VII Coming Attractions 165
VIII The Star 183
Book V In Search of the Ordinary: 3 Visits
Introduction 209
IX The Buddhist Gatsby and a Modest Old Friend 216
X Into the Closet 229
XI To Hell and to Jail 241
Conclusion: For a Future to Be Possible 253
Biographical Note and Acknowledgments 263
Index 267
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