Read Magic & Mystery in Tibet by Alexandra David-Néel Free Online
Book Title: Magic & Mystery in Tibet|
The author of the book: Alexandra David-Néel
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 594 KB
ISBN 13: 9780042910192
Edition: Harper Collins
Date of issue: 1997
Read full description of the books:Absorbing view of Tibetan Buddhism as it was practiced in the very early 20th century. Although David-Neel is a product of her time, and this book is definitely not objective, what she was writing about is almost opposite to the cerebral image that Buddhism projects now.
This particular translation from the French is rather old-fashioned and sometimes difficult to read, which is complicated by David-Neel's bad case of cultural superiority. It is quite evident that she perceives the Tibetans as less advanced and more superstitious than herself. She also seems to regard Tibetan Buddhism as inferior to the Mahayana-styled Buddhism she apparently practiced. However, if you read between the lines, there is a sense that she encountered something there that she has no explanation for. Several times she states diffidently that she had some experiences there that definitely do not fit her worldview, although she does not state what they were. This is tantalizing but frustrating.
Overall the book is worth reading if you have an interest in shamanism, magic, or Tibetan Buddhism as it was practiced at the beginning of the 20th century. Our view of Tibetan Buddhism is very much influenced by the current Dalai Lama, a genuinely spiritual man. The Dalai Lama of David-Neel's day was a political figure presiding over a very troubled land where sometimes corrupt lamas held political, social, and economic power that was often misused. As a result, Tibetan Buddhism was neither unified nor standardized, and the essentially shamanic, magical nature of the Tibetan Buddhism of that day is a fascinating contrast to modern-day Tibetan Buddhism. The Buddhism of this book contrasts even more sharply with the versions of Mahayanist Buddhism often taught in the West.
Tibetan Buddhism in the early part of the 20th century, at least according to David-Neel, was harsh, unsympathetic, sometimes quite corrupt, often quite bizarre, but darkly magical and fiercely alive - something that cannot always be said for the current version of Buddhism practiced in the West. This view of Buddhism makes the book worth reading in spite of the imperialist tone and the antiquated phraseology.
Read information about the authorAlexandra David-Néel (October 24, 1868 - September 8, 1969) was a French explorer, anarchist, spiritualist, Buddhist and writer. She is most known for her visit to the forbidden (to foreigners) city of Lhasa, capital of Tibet (1924). She was born in Paris, France and died in Digne, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. She wrote more than 30 books, about Eastern religion, philosophy, and her travels. Her well-documented teachings influenced the beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and philosopher Alan Watts.
Her real name was Louise Eugenie Alexandrine Marie David. During her childhood she had a strong desire for freedom and spirituality. At the age of 18, she had already visited England, Switzerland and Spain on her own, and she was studying in Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society.
In 1890 and 1891, she traveled through India, returning only when running out of money. In Tunis she met the railroad engineer Philippe Néel, whom she married in 1904.
In 1911 Alexandra traveled for the second time to India, to further her study of Buddhism. She was invited to the royal monastery of Sikkim, where she met Maharaj Kumar (crown prince) Sidkeon Tulku. She became Sidkeong's "confidante and spiritual sister" (according to Ruth Middleton), perhaps his lover (Foster & Foster). She also met the thirteenth Dalai Lama twice in 1912, and had the opportunity to ask him many questions about Buddhism—a feat unprecedented for a European woman at that time.
In the period 1914-1916 she lived in a cave in Sikkim, near the Tibetan border, learning spirituality, together with the Tibetan monk Aphur Yongden, who became her lifelong traveling companion, and whom she would adopt later. From there they trespassed into Tibetan territory, meeting the Panchen Lama in Shigatse (August 1916). When the British authorities learned about this—Sikkim was then a British protectorate—Alexandra and Yongden had to leave the country, and, unable to return to Europe in the middle of World War I, they traveled to Japan.
There Alexandra met Ekai Kawaguchi, who had visited Lhasa in 1901 disguised as a Chinese doctor, and this inspired her to visit Lhasa disguised as pilgrims. After traversing China from east to west, they reached Lhasa in 1924, and spent 2 months there.
In 1928 Alexandra separated from Philippe. Later they would reconcile, and Philippe kept supporting her till his death in 1941. Alexandra settled in Digne, and during the next 10 years she wrote books.
In 1937, Yongden and Alexandra went to China, traveling there during the second World War, returning to France only in 1946. She was then 78 years old.
In 1955 Yongden died. Alexandra continued to study and write till her death at age 100.
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