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 historical past to arrive Lhasa, the capital urban of Tibet. in the course of his remain, he gathered the biggest choice 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 by means of chinese language Communists.

Based on hundreds of thousands of fundamental resources 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 function within the development of America's spiritual counterculture. Over the process his short existence, 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 by way of 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 dance from wealthy spouse to wealthy spouse in help of his actions, and a grasp manipulator who concocted his personal interpretation of jap knowledge to fit his ends. Bernard had a vibrant destiny prior to him, yet disappeared in India through the communal violence of the 1947 Partition, by no means to be noticeable again.

Through diaries, interviews, and formerly unstudied files, Paul G. Hackett stocks Bernard's compelling existence tale, with his efforts to evoke 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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Indb 142 12/20/11 9:22 AM concerns extra particular, Theos brushed off them, reassuring her that “what will be taking place to my attention in the course of my remain in those elements” was once merely generating “a richer feeling for residing” that might make him love her a growing number of. while she pressed him for “details,” although, Theos ultimately spoke back, it truly is very unlikely for me to enter the main points of those “unconscious adventures” which i've been concerning, for it takes a undeniable time and mode; so that you should wait till i've got again from Tibet while i'll be settled back and on the task of attempting to climb onto one of many dips that are roughly analogous to a rubber ball notable the ground no ahead of it hits, it's up back, and your activity is to benefit to hit and never go back; so the massive activity first is that of adjusting the ordinary functionality of the system—and it's in the direction of this finish that a number of the Yogic routines come into play as soon as the physique has been completely cleansed. i have to say that it truly is one among life’s richer studies to hit backside as soon as although it is very unlikely so that you can remain—you at the very least go back understanding that there's anything wealthy deep inside you which ones you have got by no means tasted prior to and to which there appears no exterior replacement. . . . After the 1st degree of improvement has been reached within the sizzling condo of exterior job, and little extra inner cultivating might be conducted and then one other leisure interval needs to stick with for these seeds to increase and so forth is the method. . . . this is the place the subsequent lifestyles comes into play—the person will not be capable of keep on his paintings of this existence, however the Chit will proceed in its direction of improvement. even though we don't have to discuss any metaphysical hypothesis, for there's good enough here within the fabric to carry the mind's eye of a person and end up to them that there's a option to achieve keep watch over of those finer forces. i'm so fearful for the day to return after we could be consistently jointly, and feature never-ending hours on our palms in which we will reside to a set self-discipline of exertions and thereby either have those reports jointly, for by no means until eventually you've got tasted of such will you ever have any religion in my doings. even though Viola promised that she might try out “one of those days to get lower than a bush and allow the tides of cognizance upward thrust and fall,” nonetheless Theos’s try and reach an enduring alteration in his cognizance gave her 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 143 C5744. indb 143 12/20/11 9:22 AM much to imagine and fear approximately. Having promised to not disturb him together with her issues, she wrote at size approximately them to their mutual pal, Ashbel Welch, as a substitute. regardless of what Viola could have proposal, to Theos, his rules appeared completely sane and rational. He might see what actual insanity was—the materialism of the world—and it used to be so much frustrating to him. “There is not anything that turns into extra maddening to me,” he informed Viola, “than those those that reside wholely [sic] in this fabric aircraft, and from any such staff i've got simply again.

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