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By Paul G. Hackett

In 1937, Theos Casimir Bernard (1908–1947), the self-proclaimed "White Lama," grew to become the 3rd American in background to arrive Lhasa, the capital urban of Tibet. in the course of his remain, he accumulated the most important 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 via chinese language Communists.

Based on hundreds of thousands of basic 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 progress of America's spiritual counterculture. Over the process his short existence, Bernard met, linked, and corresponded with the key 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 if hailed as a super pioneer via the media, Bernard additionally had his flaws. He was once an entrepreneur propelled via grandiose schemes, a good-looking guy who shamelessly used his seems to dance from wealthy spouse to wealthy spouse in help of his actions, and a grasp manipulator who concocted his personal interpretation of japanese knowledge to fit his ends. Bernard had a vibrant destiny earlier than him, yet disappeared in India in the course of the communal violence of the 1947 Partition, by no means to be obvious again.

Through diaries, interviews, and formerly unstudied records, Paul G. Hackett stocks Bernard's compelling existence tale, with his efforts to evoke America's non secular counterculture to the unfolding occasions in India, the Himalayas, and Tibet. Hackett concludes with a close 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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Dan Hughes remembered that it was once a hot spring afternoon in Tucson whilst he and Theos have been sitting within the legislation Library, operating. Dan, short of distraction, picked up a again factor of Fortune journal, and leafing during the pages, came upon a narrative of a guy in long island together with his personal elephant. 20 He mentioned that the guy in query used to be additionally named Bernard, and Theos instantly pointed out him as his uncle, somebody his father had definitely informed him approximately. a miles cry from the click debts of his past—or the rest that Glen may have informed him approximately his uncle—the profile of Pierre Bernard Li f e i n t h e D e s e r t 10 C5744. indb 10 12/20/11 9:22 AM in Fortune depicted a winning businessman and monetary pillar of the neighborhood of Nyack, manhattan. even though there has been point out of “teaching Yoga and Sanskrit round the country,” the adventures of “the all-powerful Oom” have been little greater than an anecdotal backdrop. lengthy forgotten because the fraudulent owner of “the Temple of poser” sanitarium, Pierre was once defined as having “a flourishing perform in treating mind and worried illnesses in ny urban. ” additionally, he was once now a financial institution president; the top of development, actual property, and personal loan businesses; and the landlord of his personal good of elephants and a fleet of classic Stanley Steamers. within the depths of the good melancholy he used to be, in a word, stinking wealthy. with none hesitation, Theos took pen to paper and wrote a letter to his long-lost uncle introducing himself, talking of his love of yoga, his hopes for the long run, and his aspirations of attending university in manhattan. a number of weeks later, a small envelope seemed within the mail for Theos, postmarked Nyack, ny. It used to be his uncle’s answer, within the kind of a call for participation to wait the yearly Easter social gathering on the Clarkstown kingdom membership. Li f e i n t h e D e s e r t eleven C5744. indb eleven 12/20/11 9:22 AM TWO long island and New Mexico i've got . . . ambitions, ends, reasons for this life—it would possibly not look that I ever accomplish an excellent [deal], yet so long as I make a undeniable improvement, this span of life’s everlasting circle has been whole. i believe that i've got introduced whatever [that is] a bit extraordinary and that it should have its likelihood to precise itself and proceed on in its development. it is a feel[ing] that has been with me for a few years and anything that's way over an idea—it is a feeling—perhaps from the subconscious, however it has manifested itself repeatedly within the wakeful whilst i've been with myself in silence. —Theos Bernard 1 OVER THE process the former fifteen years, Pierre Arnold Bernard— identified easily as “P. A. ” to the individuals of his state club—had carved out a personal social and spiritual empire for himself. To the club’s buyers he supplied a mixture of de facto marriage brokering one of the likeminded offspring of recent York socialite circles and a socially liberal surroundings of schooling and leisure (mostly the latter). To the more youthful crowd, he supplied a safe enclave and confident outlet for a postVictorian iteration looking a non secular redefinition of themselves and the realm round them, in addition to a shelter—for these whose households may well find the money for it—from the tough realities that almost all humans confronted in the course of the depths of the melancholy.

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