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Dharma Space Series: Lama Anagarika Govinda, The Way to the White Clouds

Original Title in English
By Author Lama Anagarika Govinda

About the Book:
The Way to the White Clouds is the remarkable narrative of a pilgrimage which could not be made today. Lama Anagarika Govinda was among the last to journey through Tibet before its invasion by the Chinese. His unique account is not only a spectacular and gloriously poetic story of exploration and discovery; it is also invaluable for its sensitive and clearly presented interpretation of the Tibetan tradition.

'Why is it that the fate of Tibet has found such a deep echo in the world? There can only be one answer: Tibet has become the symbol of all that present-day humanity is longing for?' - Lama Anagarika Govinda

Book reviews on
Anagarika Govinda's book The Way of the White Clouds is among the most beautiful travel books ever written. It gives a lyrical picture of Tibet before the destruction of virtually everything by the Chinese. Somewhat melodramatic in its descriptive power, Lama Govinda (1898-1985) and his Persian wife, Li Gotami, wrote, drew, and photographed unknown (and often abandoned) temples, met amazing people, and generally coursed in a mystical reverie during their time there. The reader is magically transported with them back to a time when no one in the West knew much, if anything, about Tibet, Tibetans, or its religion. That he might have got some details wrong isn't the point. This is a seminal work in its field (together with Marco Pallis and Alexandra David-Neel). Govinda's writing, and photographs are better than theirs, however. (Chris)
Book review from Paperback
The author, Lama Anagarika Govinda, is an erudite and sophisticated buddhist who brings to life a land and a people who will hardly exist in their native Tibet much longer. For someone who wants to have a Westener explain the history, geography, art ,etc. of the "roof of the world" prior to the Chinese genocide, this is a wonderful guide. Of course there is a terrific description of buddhism in general and the specfic variety practised in Tibet. However, this may not be the best place to start. At least a basic knowledge of Tibet would be helpful, otherwise one could get mired down in so many strange names and concepts. (M. Boyd)
I have read many books on Tibet but this one provided new insights from an individual who had a unique vantage point on the country and its rich culture. I am grateful this book was written and remains in print! (Florida)
An exquisite chronicle. It is a story that combines journal, travel log, historical detail, and insights into the religious and spiritual landscape before the Chinese invasion. It is a a grand read. The clarity and integrity of the book also render it a valuable reference. (Thomas D. Joseph)

About the Author (source: wikipedia)

Lama Anagarika Govinda (May 17, 1898–January 14, 1985), born Ernst Lothar Hoffman was the founder of the order of the Arya Maitreya Mandala and an expositor ofAbhidharmaBuddhist MeditationTibetan Buddhism as well as other aspects of Buddhism. Read more
The German Hans-Ulrich Rieker, who was ordained in the Arya Maitreya Mandala Order in 1952, was ordered by Govinda to set up a Western wing of the Order. The founding took place simultaneously in Berlin by Rieker, and in Sanchi by Govinda, on 30.11.1952. In 1960 Govinda went to Europe, now as representative of Tibetan Buddhism at an international religious conference in Venice. Subsequently he went to England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands. In 1965 he went on a lecturing tour through Germany, France, and Switzerland. In 1968-69 through the USA and Japan. In 1972-73, and 1974-76 he went on world tours. In 1977 he last visited Germany.

On his journeys to the West Govinda made friends with the Swiss philosopher Jean Gebser, the Zen and Taoist teacher Alan Watts, the pioneer of transcendental psychotherapy Roberto Assagioli and the authorLuise Rinser.[11]

For health reasons he finally settled in the San Francisco Bay area, where he was hosted for a time by Alan Watts on his house boat. In San Francisco he established a branch of his order, called “Home of Dhyan”. [12] In 1980 he visited India for a last time and gave up his house in Almora. He remained mentally agile despite suffering from several strokes from 1975 onwards. During an evening discussion on 14.1.1985, he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his neck that traveled downwards. He lied down on his right side and passed away laughing.[13]

His ashes were contained in the Nirvana-Stupa, which was erected in 1997 on the premises of Samten Choeling Monastery in Darjeeling.[14]

Govinda wrote several books on a wide variety of Buddhist topics, including The Way of the White Clouds and Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism which were translated in many languages. Articles by him were published in many Buddhist journals such as theMaha Bodhi, and the German journal Der Kreis of his Buddhist Order Arya Maitreya Mandala.[15]

In his The Way of the White Clouds he wrote that he was a reincarnation of the poet Novalis.[16
Other books by same author, click here

French Translation: Le chemin des nuages blancs, ISBN 222600257X
Translators: Josette Herbert et Antoinette Perelli
Vietnamese Translation: Đường mây qua xứ tuyết

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