Sunday, 1 March 2009

Lobsang Rampa!

I started buying books by Tuesday Lobsang Rampa when I was still a teenager. They were fairly common in the used book stores and second-hand charity shops I frequented, and I liked both the covers and the subject matter.

I started with "The Third Eye", which, unbeknownst to me, was Rampa's first work (published in 1956) & his biggest hit; here, he tells of life studying to be a lama in a Tibetan Buddhist mountain enclave. The title refers to trepanation, a procedure in which a hole is bored into the forehead, piercing the skull and - in this case at least - granting Rampa special powers.

"The instrument penetrated the bone. A very hard, clean sliver of wood had been treated by fire and herbs and was slid down so that it just entered the hole in my head. I felt a stinging, tickling sensation apparently in the bridge of my nose. It subsided and I became aware of subtle scents which I could not identify. Suddenly there was a blinding flash. For a moment the pain was intense. It diminished, died and was replaced by spirals of colour."

I knew nothing at the time of Rampa's life beyond the books, nothing of Cyril Henry Hoskins. There was no internet at that time, remember. And frankly, it never occurred to me to question the veracity of what was being described.

I just liked the stories - exotic adventure tales that were rustic yet psychedelic, with passages full of wonder and the fantastic. Not to mention buttered tea and tsampa.

If you are interested, there are a couple of sites offering Rampa's books as free PDFs, complete with the drawings that appeared in the originals. Dude's even on Facebook.

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