Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:14 am

Moving Against the Stream: The Birth of a new Buddhist Movement
by Sangharakshita [Dennis Lingwood]
© Sangharakshita 2003
Cover photograph of Old Hall, Biddulph, © Clear Vision Trust Picture Archive
Printed by Interprint, Marsa, Malta



Table of Contents:

• About the Author
• Chapter One A Cool Reception
• Chapter Two The Story So Far
• Chapter Three The Embroidered Cushion
• Chapter Four Family Reunions and a Big Disappointment
• Chapter Five At the Summer School
• Chapter Six Rustle of Autumn
• Chapter Seven Healing the Breach
• Chapter Eight ‘The World of Publishing’
• Chapter Nine London Twenty Years After
• Chapter Ten A Portrait in Oil —and a Few Sketches
• Chapter Eleven Monks and Laymen
• Chapter Twelve The Penalties of Success
• Chapter Thirteen Enter the Special Branch
• Chapter Fourteen A Startling Claim
• Chapter Fifteen The History of a Depressive
• Chapter Sixteen Strangers Here
• Chapter Seventeen Visitors from East and West
• Chapter Eighteen Shadowy Figures and a Strange Experience
• Chapter Nineteen Meditating Among the Ruins
• Chapter Twenty An Important Milestone
• Chapter Twenty-One The Divine Eye and Dialectic
• Chapter Twenty-Two An Inquisitive Princess
• Chapter Twenty-Three Changes at the Vihara
• Chapter Twenty-Four North of the Border
• Chapter Twenty-Five A Secret Life
• Chapter Twenty-Six Restoring the Balance
• Chapter Twenty-Seven Circles Within Circles
• Chapter Twenty-Eight News from Sikkim
• Chapter Twenty-Nine Buddhism and the Bishop of Woolwich
• Chapter Thirty A Important Anniversary and a Typist’s Nightmare
• Chapter Thirty-One Giving The Three Jewels a Final Polish
• Chapter Thirty-Two Ordinations on the Easter Retreat —and a Birthday
• Chapter Thirty-Three Preparing for Greece
• Chapter Thirty-Four Boyhood Haunts
• Chapter Thirty-Five Over the Alps
• Chapter Thirty-Six Reclaiming a Heritage
• Chapter Thirty-Seven The Road to Delphi
• Chapter Thirty-Eight Athens and the Peloponnese
• Chapter Thirty-Nine Naples, Rome, and Florence
• Chapter Forty Picking up the Threads
• Chapter Forty-One Back to the Vihara
• Chapter Forty-Two Journey to India
• Chapter Forty-Three A Letter from India
• Chapter Forty-Four Among the New Buddhists
• Chapter Forty-Five On Pilgrimage
• Chapter Forty-Six Editorial Interlude
• Chapter Forty-Seven Friends, Teachers, and a Letter from London
• Chapter Forty-Eight The Man in the Pit
• Chapter Forty-Nine Packing and Printing
• Chapter Fifty The Valediction that Failed
• Chapter Fifty-One Agra —Almora —Cairo
• Chapter Fifty-Two What the Dispute Was About
• Chapter Fifty-Three A Basement in Monmouth Street
• Chapter Fifty-Four Cui Bono?
• Epilogue
• Index
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:16 am

About the Author

Sangharakshita was born Dennis Lingwood in South London, in 1925. Largely self-educated, he developed an interest in the cultures and philosophies of the East early on, and realized that he was a Buddhist at the age of sixteen.

The Second World War took him, as a conscript, to India, where he stayed on to become the Buddhist monk Sangharakshita. After studying for some years under leading teachers from the major Buddhist traditions, he went on to teach and write extensively. He also played a key part in the revival of Buddhism in India, particularly through his work among followers of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

We must now turn to the evaluation of means. We must ask whose means are superior and lasting in the long run. There are, however some misunderstandings on both sides. It is necessary to clear them up. Take violence. As to violence, there are many people who seem to shiver at the very thought of it. But this is only a sentiment. Violence cannot be altogether dispensed with. Even in non-communist countries a murderer is hanged. Does not hanging amount to violence? Non-communist countries go to war with non-communist countries. Millions of people are killed. Is this no violence? If a murderer can be killed, because he has killed a citizen, if a soldier can be killed in war because he belongs to a hostile nation, why cannot a property owner be killed if his ownership leads to misery for the rest of humanity? There is no reason to make an exception in favour of the property owner, why one should regard private property as sacrosanct.

The Buddha was against violence. But he was also in favour of justice, and where justice required, he permitted the use of force...

"Does the Tathagata prohibit all war, even when it is in the interest of Truth and Justice?"

Buddha replied. You have wrongly understood what I have been preaching. An offender must be punished, and an innocent man must be freed. It is not a fault of the Magistrate if he punishes an offender. The cause of punishment is the fault of the offender. The Magistrate who inflicts the punishment is only carrying out the law. He does not become stained with Ahimsa. A man who fights for justice and safety cannot be accused of Ahimsa. If all the means of maintaining peace have failed, then the responsibility for Himsa falls on him who starts war. One must never surrender to evil powers. War there may be. But it must not be for selfish ends...."

There are of course other grounds against violence such as those urged by Prof. John Dewey. In dealing with those who contend that the end justifies the means is [a] morally perverted doctrine, Dewey has rightly asked what can justify the means if not the end? It is only the end that can justify the means.

Buddha would have probably admitted that it is only the end which would justify the means. What else could? And he would have said that if the end justified violence, violence was a legitimate means for the end in view. He certainly would not have exempted property owners from force if force were the only means for that end. As we shall see, his means for the end were different. As Prof. Dewey has pointed out that violence is only another name for the use of force and although force must be used for creative purposes a distinction between use of force as energy and use of force as violence needs to be made. The achievement of an end involves the destruction of many other ends, which are integral with the one that is sought to be destroyed. Use of force must be so regulated that it should save as many ends as possible in destroying the evil one. Buddha's Ahimsa was not as absolute as the Ahimsa preached by Mahavira the founder of Jainism. He would have allowed force only as energy. The communists preach Ahimsa as an absolute principle. To this the Buddha was deadly opposed...

As to Dictatorship, the Buddha would have none of it. He was born a democrat, and he died a democrat...

The Bhikshu Sangh had the most democratic constitution. He was only one of the Bhikkus. At the most he was like a Prime Minister among members of the Cabinet. He was never a dictator...

The Communists themselves admit that their theory of the State as a permanent dictatorship is a weakness in their political philosophy. They take shelter under the plea that the State will ultimately wither away. There are two questions, which they have to answer. When will it wither away? What will take the place of the State when it withers away? To the first question they can give no definite time. Dictatorship for a short period may be good, and a welcome thing even for making Democracy safe. Why should not Dictatorship liquidate itself after it has done its work, after it has removed all the obstacles and boulders in the way of democracy and has made the path of Democracy safe. Did not Asoka set an example? He practised violence against the Kalingas. But thereafter he renounced violence completely. If our victor’s to-day not only disarm their victims, but also disarm themselves, there would be peace all over the world...

The Communists have given no answer. At any rate no satisfactory answer to the question what would take the place of the State when it withers away, though this question is more important than the question when the State will wither away. Will it be succeeded by Anarchy? If so, the building up of the Communist State is an useless effort. If it cannot be sustained except by force, and if it results in anarchy when the force holding it together is withdrawn, what good is the Communist State? The only thing which could sustain it after force is withdrawn is Religion. But to the Communists Religion is anathema. Their hatred to Religion is so deep seated that they will not even discriminate between religions which are helpful to Communism and religions which are not. The Communists have carried their hatred of Christianity to Buddhism without waiting to examine the difference between the two. The charge against Christianity levelled by the Communists was two fold. Their first charge against Christianity was that they made people other worldliness and made them suffer poverty in this world. As can be seen from quotations from Buddhism in the earlier part of this tract, such a charge cannot be levelled against Buddhism.

The second charge levelled by the Communists against Christianity cannot be levelled against Buddhism. This charge is summed up in the statement that Religion is the opium of the people. This charge is based upon the Sermon on the Mount which is to be found in the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount sublimates poverty and weakness. It promises heaven to the poor and the weak. There is no Sermon on the Mount to be found in the Buddha's teachings. His teaching is to acquire wealth. I give below his Sermon on the subject to Anathapindika one of his disciples.

Once Anathapindika came to where the Exalted One was staying. Having come, he made obeisance to the Exalted One, and took a seat at one side, and asked, "Will the Enlightened One tell what things are welcome, pleasant, agreeable, to the householder but which are hard to gain."

The Enlightened One having heard the question put to him said "Of such things the first is to acquire wealth lawfully."

"The second is to see that your relations also get their wealth lawfully."

"The third is to live long and reach great age."...

"Thus to acquire wealth legitimately and justly, earn by great industry, amassed by strength of the arm and gained by sweat of the brow is a great blessing. The householder makes himself happy and cheerful and preserves himself full of happiness; also makes his parents, wife, and children, servants, and labourers, friends and companions happy and cheerful, and preserves them full of happiness."...

The Russians are proud of their Communism. But they forget that the wonder of all wonders is that the Buddha established Communism so far as the Sangh was concerned without dictatorship. It may be that it was a communism on a very small scale, but it was communism without dictatorship, a miracle which Lenin failed to do...

It has been claimed that the Communist Dictatorship in Russia has wonderful achievements to its credit. There can be no denial of it. That is why I say that a Russian Dictatorship would be good for all backward countries. But this is no argument for permanent Dictatorship. Humanity does not only want economic values, it also wants spiritual values to be retained. Permanent Dictatorship has paid no attention to spiritual values, and does not seem to intend to. Carlyle called Political Economy a Pig Philosophy. Carlyle was of course wrong. For man needs material comforts. But the Communist Philosophy seems to be equally wrong, for the aim of their philosophy seems to be fatten pigs as though men are no better than pigs. Man must grow materially as well as spiritually. Society has been aiming to lay a new foundation was summarised by the French Revolution in three words: Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. The French Revolution was welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality. We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasised that in producing equality, society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha. Communism can give one but not all.

-- B. R. Ambedkar, Excerpt from "A Modern Buddhist Bible: Essential Readings from East and West", by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

After twenty years in India, he returned to England to establish the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO) in 1967, and the Western Buddhist Order (called Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha in India) in 1968. A translator between East and West, between the traditional world and the modern, between principles and practices, Sangharakshita brings to the task a depth of experience and clarity of thought that have been appreciated throughout the world. He has always particularly emphasized the decisive significance of commitment in the spiritual life, the paramount value of spiritual friendship and community, the link between religion and art, and the need for a ‘new society’ supportive of spiritual aspirations and ideals.

The FWBO is now an international Buddhist movement with over sixty centres on five continents. In recent years Sangharakshita has been handing on most of his responsibilities to his senior disciples in the Order. From his base in Birmingham, he is now focusing on personal contact with people.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:17 am

Chapter One: A Cool Reception

Had I been keeping a diary at the time, my entry for the day would probably have read something like this: ‘Wednesday 12 August 1964. Arrived Heathrow 2.00 p.m. local time. Raining. Met by Ananda Bodhi and Mrs Rauf and driven to the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara. On the way passed through St John’s Wood. Sun came out. Little front gardens full of flowers.’ Indeed I do not remember much more than that, even though I was returning to England after an absence of twenty years. I have no recollection of the flight from India, nor am I sure whether I boarded the plane at Bombay or Calcutta, though I think it was at Calcutta and I think I was seen off by a small group of friends and well-wishers.

I do, however, remember that there was a stopover in Paris and that while stretching my legs in the brilliantly lit concourse I saw standing not many yards away two tall, elegant young women in identical sky blue uniforms and identical little sky blue hats. They were air hostesses, and they were engaged in conversation. As I watched, I saw first one man, then another, approach them with what was evidently a polite request for information or direction. To my astonishment, on each occasion the two haughty beauties not only failed to respond to him but carried on with their conversation as if totally unaware of his presence, so that after vainly repeating his question he was obliged to retreat nonplussed by their behaviour. Indian women in similar circumstances would never have behaved like that. What had happened while I was away? Had European women become dehumanized? Certainly the two air hostesses, with their angular forms and studied gestures, were more like dummies worked by wires than creatures of flesh and blood.

The incident must have made an impression on me, for even now, thirty-three years later, in my mind’s eye I can see the elegant, blue-clad figures standing there talking and see the way in which they treated the travellers who approached them. Perhaps it made such a strong impression on me because it gave me my first experience of Europe for twenty years and was a concrete reminder of the fact that Europe was not Asia and that the England of 1964, besides being very different from India, would be socially and culturally a different place from the England of 1944.

At Heathrow the sky was overcast and it was raining slightly. It was also strangely quiet, and there seemed to be hardly anyone about. Having been out of the country for twenty years, I was half expecting that the immigration officer would want to know where I had been all that time, and what I had been doing, but he returned my passport without a word and I was through. I was now officially back in the United Kingdom and I could see, waiting behind the glass doors, the figures of the tall, yellow-robed Western monk and the much shorter, white-haired Western laywoman who had come to meet me.

In the car there was no conversation that I can remember, though Ananda Bodhi must have asked me what the flight had been like. In fact I was aware of a feeling of constraint between us. I therefore spent much of the journey looking out of the window. We were now making our way through a part of London that was terra incognita to me (I had never been further north than Regent’s Park), and as at Heathrow a strange quiet prevailed. Very few people were on the streets, and there was little traffic. By the time we reached St John’s Wood (a name that was familiar to me from correspondence with Christmas Humphreys, who lived there) the sun had come out from behind the clouds and was shining on the slate roofs and neat little front gardens with their roses, delphiniums, and antirrhinums. The sight of those colourful little front gardens remains my most vivid memory of the whole journey. I have no recollection of arriving at the Vihara, or of the people who must have come to see me on that and the following day.

Once part of the Great Middlesex Forest, from 1238 it was, as St. Johns Wood Farm, a property of St John's Priory, Clerkenwell (the Knights of St John of Jerusalem [Knights Hospitaller]). This area was equivalent to what was then the north part of Marylebone.

-- St John's Wood, by Wikipedia

I do, however, remember having breakfast in the basement next morning with Ananda Bodhi and the three novices. There was a choice of four or five different hot drinks, and at the centre of the table, besides jam, marmalade, and honey, there were various spreads quite new to me. In my own monastery in Kalimpong we drank only tea, and jam had been seen there on only one occasion when, plums being unusually cheap that year, we had made a couple of dozen jars of it. As I was going upstairs to my room after the meal I heard the oldest of the novices ordering supplies on the phone. ‘You’ve only two kinds of salmon?’ he was saying. ‘Then send the more expensive kind.’

Three days later I received an unexpected message from Ananda Bodhi, who was away visiting one of the provincial Buddhist groups. Would I give the Sunday lecture that afternoon, as he would not be back at the Vihara in time to give it himself? It was then nearly four-thirty, and the lecture was due to start at five. Though rather taken aback by the shortness of the notice, I had no objection to giving the lecture. Indeed I was glad to do so, though on second thoughts I decided not to give a lecture but to hold a question-and-answer meeting instead, as this would give me an opportunity of getting to know a cross-section of the Vihara’s supporters and finding out how much –- or how little -– they knew about Buddhism. There were twelve or fourteen people in the meeting room, of various ages, and since nobody was there to introduce me I had to introduce myself. At first the questions were fairly routine, but then a young man suddenly demanded, ‘Why have you come to England?’ His tone was belligerent, even challenging, as if my presence was unexpected, even unwelcome, and standing in need of explanation. This gave me the opening I needed, and I therefore replied at some length, giving an account of my life and work in India, emphasizing that I appreciated all schools of Buddhism, and making it clear that I had come principally in order to bring British Buddhists together. My frankness seemed to give general satisfaction, and when the meeting ended there was a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the room than there had been at the beginning.

My work in the West had begun.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:21 am

Part 1 of 3

Chapter Two: The Story So Far

Though north-west London was terra incognita to me I nonetheless was a Londoner, having been born in Stockwell and brought up in Tooting, not far from the famous Broadway. When I was eight I was diagnosed as suffering from heart disease and for the next two years was confined to bed, not being allowed even to sit up by my own efforts. I saw no one except my parents and the doctor and had nothing to do all day except read. Fortunately I was already something of a reader, having worked my way through Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, and therefore devoured, during those two years in bed, whatever reading matter my hard-pressed parents were able to provide me with, from boys’ papers like the Wizard and the Hotspur to classic English novels such as Pickwick Papers, Jane Eyre, Hypatia, and The Last Days of Pompeii. My biggest single resource was a complete set of Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopaedia, the gift of a kindly neighbour, every one of whose sixty parts became as familiar tome as the owl clock on the wall, whose eyes clicked from side to side with the swing of the pendulum, or the nasturtium-and-trellis pattern of the wallpaper.

I have more than once reflected that the two years I spent confined to bed, alone with a few books and the Children’s Encyclopaedia, must have had a decisive influence on my character and thus on the course of my whole life thereafter. Until then, so far as I know, I had been just an ordinary boy, indistinguishable from other working-class Tooting boys. Like them I loved playing in the street, was not particularly fond of school, got into scrapes (and fights), and was overjoyed when I could go fishing with my father on a Saturday afternoon. The discovery that I had heart disease put a stop to all that. From a lively, occasionally naughty eight-year-old I was transformed, overnight, into a bedridden invalid who was scarcely permitted to move his arms freely. Abruptly and drastically, the current of my youthful energies was dammed and redirected. Strange to say, I cannot recall ever resenting this, or even feeling frustrated or restless: perhaps I was sedated. I may even have been quite happy, in away. Yet such a lengthy period of enforced immobility could not but have affected me radically.

From a distance of more than sixty years I can see it as having affected me in at least three ways. It forced my energies inwards, towards the world of thought and imagination, making me more introspective than was normal for one of my years or than I probably was by nature. Then the fact that I was scarcely permitted to move my arms freely meant that I was obliged to be conscious of what I was doing. This was even more the case when I came to graduate, at the end of the two years, from bed to wheelchair and when, later still, I started using my legs again. There was always a voice in my ear -– my mother’s or father’s -– warning me to be careful, or not to move so quickly, and I may have ended up internalizing that admonitory voice. This constant need to be aware of what I was doing had both a positive and a negative effect: while it made it easier for me, years later, to cultivate the Buddhist virtue of mindfulness, whether of bodily movements or mental states, it also tended to check any spontaneous physical expression of my feelings. Finally, my confinement to bed not only cut me off from contact with boys of my own age but made me feel separate and different. This feeling of separateness and difference persisted after my eventual return to school, for I was not allowed to take part in games or to play with my schoolfellows.

The habit of reading that I had acquired during my period of enforced immobility remained with me even after my return to school. No sooner was I able to get out and about on my own than I started spending my pocket money in the woefully inadequate bookshops of Tooting, as well as carrying away from the Tooting Public Library every week the armful of books I had borrowed using my father’s ticket. My principal interests were Ancient Egypt, the Italian Renaissance, and what Dr [Samuel] Johnson called ‘the biographical part of literature’, and in all these fields I read as widely as I could. Later I added to the list philosophy, poetry, and painting, and the Greek drama. Fiction I hardly ever read and anything of a scientific nature I instinctively avoided.

On 1 September 1939 the air raid sirens sounded for the first time: World War II had begun, and eight or nine months later I was evacuated to North Devon. In the course of the next three years I left school, worked in a coal merchant’s office in Torquay, returned to London in time to experience the last of the Blitz, and joined the staff of the London County Council as a clerical assistant. During this period I continued to read avidly, and after my return to London developed a passionate love for classical music and, though to a lesser degree, for the theatre. I also had a series of realizations that exercised a decisive effect on the whole subsequent course of my life. I realized there was no reason why I should confine myself to the literature of Europe; I realized that I was not a Christian; and I realized that I was a Buddhist and had, in fact, always been one. The first of these realizations came when I read Mme Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled, especially volume two, Theology; the second, when I read the Diamond Sûtra, of the ineffable truth of whose teaching I at once had an immediate apprehension. The way for this last realization may have been prepared by certain experiences of a ‘mystical’ nature that had befallen me several years earlier.

Three months after my eighteenth birthday I was called up, having been found fit enough for the army despite my history of heart disease. ‘You can make yourself comfortable even in hell if you go about it in the right way,’ says a Tibetan proverb. The Signals Unit in Surrey to which I was posted was certainly not hell, yet army life was so different from anything I had hitherto experienced that for the first two weeks I was in a state of shock. But youth is resilient, and eventually my numbed faculties revived. I made friends, went home on weekend leave, joined the London-based Buddhist Society, borrowed rare books on Buddhism from the Society’s library, continued my practice of writing poetry, and in short led my own life to the extent that the army permitted me to do so. One weekend I arrived home to find my father contemplating what remained of our house, which half an hour earlier had suffered a direct hit by a flying bomb. Luckily no one was inside at the time. A few weeks later the Unit was ordered to India, and I celebrated my nineteenth birthday on a troopship bound for Bombay. After three months spent at the Unit’s headquarters in Delhi I was posted first to Colombo, then (at my request) to Calcutta, and finally to Singapore. While I was in Ceylon, Germany was defeated, Japan surrendered after the dropping of the first atom bomb, and World War II came to an end.

Wherever I happened to be, whether in Delhi or Colombo, Calcutta or Singapore, I spent much of my free time visiting mosques, temples, and viharas and making the acquaintance of Hindu swamis and Buddhist bhikshus. I also bought books on Buddhism and Hinduism that were not available in England and experimented, at times with results I had not foreseen, with different methods of meditation. During my stay in Ceylon I saw less of Buddhism and Buddhists than I had hoped, though I was able to visit the Tooth Relic Temple in Kandy and pay my respects to the historic Tooth. But if I saw less of Buddhism and Buddhists than I had hoped, of Hindus and Hinduism I saw more than I had expected. In particular I got to know two Indian swamis belonging to the Ramakrishna Mission, and soon was spending several evenings a week at their ashram. My friendship with them led to introductions to their brethren in Calcutta, where I met my mother’s youngest brother and his family, and these in turn led to my being introduced to the rich cultural and religious life of the city. In Singapore I met Sinhalese and Chinese Buddhist monks, and was a regular visitor to the newly revived lodge of the Theosophical Society,...

The Singapore Lodge of The Theosophical Society was formed by none other than the President-Founder, Col. H. S. Olcott, on January 24th, 1889, with 19 members.

-- The Singapore Lodge, by the Singapore Lodge Theosophical Society

as well as to the local branch of the Ramakrishna Mission, which had somehow managed to function throughout the Japanese occupation. I also became a vegetarian, much to the amusement of the Unit’s Indian cooks, wrote a good deal of poetry, and started giving public lectures.

All this was good in its way, and my year in Singapore passed quickly enough. But the war was over. My twenty-first birthday had come and gone, and I wanted to get on with my own life. I wanted to be a monk and devote all my energies to the study and practice of Buddhism, and while still in Ceylon I had written to my parents informing them of my intentions. Initially I had assumed that after being demobilized in England, and spending some time with my family, I would be able to return to India and there don the saffron robe. I now discovered that this would not be possible, as the new Labour government was discouraging any drainage of manpower out of the country. The discovery gave rise to a feeling of desperation -– a feeling that recent developments within the Unit did nothing to assuage. Discipline had been tightened up, and such things as parades and fatigues increased, as if to remind us that although the war might have ended we were still in the army and were not going to escape from it so easily. Not wanting anymore of my life to be wasted painting rings on fire buckets or preparing for yet another inspection, I decided to take drastic action. I would apply for six weeks’ leave in India, on the grounds that I had an uncle in Calcutta with whom I could stay, and that at the end of that period I would not return to Singapore. Instead, I would melt into the Indian background –- and disappear. Technically I would be deserting, and could be court-martialled if ever I was caught. Convinced that what I was doing was morally justified, I was prepared to take the risk.

In Calcutta I lost no time contacting Robin Banerjee, the idealistic young Bengali whom I had met in Singapore. He was there as part of the Congress Medical Mission to Malaya, we had become good friends, and on the Mission’s return to India we had agreed that as soon as I was free we would meet in Calcutta and somehow work together. When my leave ended I therefore said goodbye to my uncle and his family, and Robin and I moved first to the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture and then, a month or so later, to the Maha Bodhi Society. We were not very happy in either place. In neither of them did we find the sort of conditions that were, we believed, essential to our ethical and spiritual development. Moreover, towards the end of March, when we were staying at the Maha Bodhi Orphanage and looking after the boys, there occurred a renewal of the communal rioting of the previous year. Throughout the city Muslims attacked Hindus and Sikhs, and Hindus and Sikhs retaliated by attacking Muslims. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed, and I witnessed more bloodshed and violence than I had ever seen while in the army. Calcutta was not a particularly healthy place to be just then. But the Maha Bodhi Society’s headquarters, to which the orphans had been removed for their safety, was not a particularly healthy place either, morally and spiritually speaking, and the longer my friend and I stayed the more we became aware of this unpleasant fact. When I left Calcutta the following month to attend an inter-religious gathering in Ahmedabad, on the other side of the country, as a representative of Buddhism, it was therefore with the hope that I would be able to contact other Buddhists and make arrangements for us to join a more genuinely Buddhist organization.

At the week-long Dharma Parishad, which was dominated by Hindu holy men of various colourful persuasions, I met Pandit-ji, an aged Bengali scholar of venerable appearance who had plans for the revival of Buddhism in India. He invited me to accompany him to Kishengunj in the UP, I accepted, and not long after our arrival there we were joined by Robin. Pandit-ji had assured me that his plans had the approval and support of Anandamayi, the famous Bengali mystic, who was then staying at her ashram in Kishengunj with a band of devotees; but as the weeks passed it became obvious that Anandamayi, many of whose followers believed her to be a divine incarnation, had not the slightest interest either in Buddhism or in Pandit-ji’s schemes. She was an orthodox Hindu who insisted on the strict observance of the caste system. But Pandit-ji refused to give up hope. When Anandamayi left for her ashram in Raipur we left for Raipur too, and when she left Raipur for Delhi he and Robin followed her there. I remained in Raipur, studying and meditating, and after a week or so Robin rejoined me. Eventually the three of us were reunited in Kasauli, a hill station in East Punjab where Anandamayi had stayed the previous year. Here Robin and I discovered that none of Pandit-ji’s schemes (he now talked of starting a girls’ boarding school in Anandamayi’s name) had ever progressed beyond the fund-raising stage and that the old man was well known for his chicanery. Shocked and horrified, we decided we would have nothing more to do with religious organizations of any kind. We would give up the household life and go forth as homeless wanderers in search of Truth. Having shaved our heads and dyed our clothes saffron (I had already adopted Indian dress), on the morning of 18 August, three days after Independence Day, we accordingly left Kasauli on foot for the plains.
The path of our descent was spanned by a series of double and even triple rainbows, through which we passed as though through a triumphal arch. It was an auspicious beginning.

But the auspiciousness did not last. Our intention had been to study Buddhism in Ceylon and perhaps become monks there, but as we had no means of identification and refused to disclose our nationality (we had decided that as sadhus we had none) on our arrival at Colombo we were not allowed to land and had to return to India by the same boat. Disappointed but not downhearted, we therefore travelled to Cape Comorin, the southernmost point of India, and having paid a visit to the famous Kenya Kumari temple started walking up through what then was the princely state of Travancore, eventually settling at Muvattupuzha, a subdivisional town in the interior, where we took up our abode in a deserted ashram situated on a low ridge amid rice-fields.

We stayed in Muvattupuzha for about eighteen months. During that time we learned something of the history and culture of the state (now part of Kerala), and came to appreciate its distinctive character; we also picked up a little Malayãlam. The reason for our settling in Muvattupuzha was that we wanted to deepen our experience of meditation, which we had not been able to do while on the move, and our day was organized accordingly. We meditated in the morning, rising before dawn, and again in the evening, sometimes sitting on until quite late. During the day we studied (Buddhism in my case, English in Robin’s), paced up and down the veranda, or sat contemplating the view. We also experimented with periods of fasting and silence, and once or twice a month we went calling on the ashram’s supporters, some of whom we got to know quite well. This arrangement suited me perfectly, but it soon proved too restrictive for Robin, who for a while therefore put his abundant energies into plans for starting an industrial school at the ashram, leaving me to my studies and literary work.

I was thus enabled to reflect on the Dharma uninterruptedly for long periods. Six years ago I had read the Diamond Sûtra and realized that I was a Buddhist. Since then I had delved not only into Buddhist but also into many Hindu scriptures, as well as into Western philosophy and Christian mysticism, and though my commitment to the Buddha and his teaching was basically unimpaired I needed to get the various spiritual and intellectual influences that had been impinging upon me into some kind of perspective, especially as I was now living in a predominantly Hindu environment. I needed to clarify my doctrinal position as a Buddhist. This I did with the help of the first fifty discourses of the Majjhima-Nikãya or Collection of Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Šãntarakëita’s encyclopedic Tattvasaægraha or Compendium of Principles, and Mrs Rhys Davids’ meaty little book on Buddhism in the Home University Library series. I concentrated on three basic formulations of the Buddha’s teaching: the doctrine of dependent origination (or conditioned co-production), the Four Noble Truths, and the Three Characteristics of Conditioned Existence. Though all three formulations were well known to me, I had not previously given them much systematic attention; but at that juncture, as I have written elsewhere, ‘they occupied my mind virtually to the exclusion of everything else. Besides reflecting on them during the day I meditated on them at night. Or rather, as I meditated, flashes of insight into the transcendental truths of which they were the expression in conceptual terms would sometimes spontaneously arise.’ By the time these ‘sessions of sweet silent thought’ had come to an end, and Robin had switched his energies from plans for an industrial school to the intensive practice of hatha yoga, including prãäãyãma or breath control, I had succeeded in clarifying my ideas on a number of important doctrinal issues. As a result, my approach to the Dharma changed, becoming as much a rational understanding of principles as an emotional response to an ideal.

Our eighteen months in Muvattupuzha were followed by six weeks in Kanhangad, in North Malabar, with the famous Swami Ramdas, and six weeks in Tiruvannamalai, in the Tamil country, with the still more famous Ramana Maharshi. In Tiruvannamalaiwe stayed in a cave on the slopes of Arunachala, the Hill of Light, from which we had a panoramic view of the courtyards, shrines, and gopurams of the great Shiva temple below. Once a day we descended to the town for alms, and every few days we walked round the hill to the ashram, in the hall of which the Maharshi sat giving darshan to sixty or seventy inmates and visitors. [One night I had a vision. I saw Amitãbha, the Infinite Light, the Buddha of the West. Ruby-red in colour, he sat cross-legged on an enormous red lotus and held up by the stalk a single red lotus in full bloom. The lotus on which he was seated floated on the sea, across which the light from the red hemisphere of the setting sun made a glittering golden pathway. Visions had come to me before, but this one was unique, and it stirred me deeply. I took it to mean that our apprenticeship to the homeless life had come to an end, and that it was time for us to return to North India and seek ordination in one of the Buddhist centres there.

But we did not leave the South immediately. Friends we had met at Tiruvannamalai invited us to Bangalore, and from there another friend took us on a ten-day excursion into the heart of what then was the princely state of Mysore. We drove through vast sandalwood forests, visited marvellously beautiful Hindu temples, and spent a night at an important centre of Jain pilgrimage, where a 60-foot nude statue of Gomateshwara towered against the sky.

Shravanabelagola (Kannada: ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ) is a city located in the Hassan district in the Indian state of Karnataka and is 158 km from Bangalore. The statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali, at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. It reached a peak in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of Gangas of Talakad.

In Kannada language, "Bel" means white while "kola", the pond, is an allusion to the beautiful pond in the middle of the town.

The 57 feet monolithic statue of the Bhagavan Gomateshwara Bahubali is located on the Vindyagiri. It is considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue and was erected by Chamundaraya, a general of King Gangaraya. The base of the statue has an inscriptions in Kannada and Tamil, as well as the oldest evidence of written Marathi, dating from 981 AD. The inscription praises the Ganga king who funded the effort, and his general Chamundaraya, who erected the statue for his mother. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018.

Gomateshwara Bahubali, by Purushottam Samarai

We even penetrated into the Shringeri Math, the Vatican of Hinduism, and met the Shankaracharya. In Bangalore itself we made the acquaintance of Yalahankar Swami, a one-eyed guru with highly unconventional methods of dealing with his disciples’ egos, who was reputed to be 600 years old. At his suggestion we spent some time in the nearby mountains, where we found shelter in a ruined temple that at night was surrounded by leopards. We then left for Bombay.

In Bombay we stayed with a devotee of Swami Ramdas, who besides taking us to see the Kanheri Caves, an ancient Buddhist monastic complex, also bought us tickets for our journey to Benares. From Benares, after spending a few days sightseeing, we walked out to Sarnath, where the Buddha had first taught the Dharma and where we hoped to be ordained. We were disappointed. The Sinhalese monks of the Maha Bodhi Society wanted nothing to do with the two barefoot, penniless strangers (since leaving Kanhangad we had not been handling money), and we therefore decided to walk up to Kushinagar, where the Buddha had died, and seek ordination there. It was the worst time of year to be doing so. The hot wind was blowing, the temperature was 120°F or more, and people were dropping dead from the heat. But there was no alternative. Doing as much of our walking as we could in the early morning, and at night staying at temples and ashrams, we covered the distance in ten days.

The Burmese senior monk in Kushinagar received us kindly, ordained us as šrãmaneras or novice monks on Vaishakha Purnima Day, the anniversary of the Buddha’s Enlightenment, named Robin Buddharakshita and me Sangharakshita (previously we were Anagarikas Satyapriya and Dharmapriya), and told us to go and preach the Dharma to his disciples in Nepal. Up through the jungles of the Terai we therefore went, still on foot, but now carrying bowls with which to go for alms in the traditional Buddhist manner. We spent two months in Nepal, in the course of which we visited Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, and ministered as best we could to the spiritual needs of the tiny Buddhist communities in Butaol and Tansen. Longer we could not stay, as the autocratic Rana regime was still in power and our unauthorized presence aroused the suspicions of the local police.

Buddharakshita and I therefore returned to Benares. Here we parted company. Buddharakshita left for Ceylon, while I went to live with Bhikkhu Jagdish Kashyap at Buddha Kuti, his cottage on the campus of the Benares Hindu University, where he was professor of Pali and Buddhist philosophy.

Sangharakshita's version of the Benares university job, as he understood from Kashyap: As he had already confided to me, he was there very much on sufferance. Dominated as it was by orthodox brahmins, the University had not wanted to have a Professor of Pali and Buddhist Philosophy at all, and Kashyap-ji’s appointment had been due to the insistence of the multimillionaire philanthropist Jugal Kishore Birla, a benefactor whose wishes the University could not afford to ignore. But though the University had been forced to appoint a Professor of Pali and Buddhist Philosophy it was not obliged to supply him with pupils. In fact it made it as difficult as possible for him to get any. Under University regulations, no one could take Pali without also taking Sanskrit. In other words Pali and Buddhist Philosophy were not allowed to become alternatives to Sanskrit and Hindu Philosophy. One could take Sanskrit and Pali, or only Sanskrit, but under no circumstances could one take only Pali. So effectively did these tactics limit the number of Kashyap-ji’s students that he never had more than three or four, sometimes none at all. For someone as devoted to his subject as he was this was a bitter disappointment. He had accepted the professorship only because he hoped it would enable him to make some contribution to the advancement of Buddhist studies and thus, indirectly, to the cause of Buddhism; but as it became more obvious every year that Pali and Buddhist Philosophy were unwelcome guests at the Benares Hindu University, he had come to the conclusion that he was wasting his time there and he was now thinking of resigning.[1]

-- The Rainbow Road: From Tooting Broadway to Kalimpong. Memoirs of an English Buddhist, by Sangharakshita

I was sorry to lose my friend, but also relieved. The practice of prãnãyãma, which on Ramdas’s advice he had given up, had inflamed his naturally hot temper, and relations between us were at times strained. I stayed at Buddha Kuti for nine months, studying Pali, Abhidhamma, and logic, and making extensive use of the University library. With a monk from Sarnath, I went on pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, the scene of the Buddha’s Enlightenment.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:27 am

Part 2 of 3

When spring came, Kashyap-ji showed me the Buddhist holy places of his native Bihar, after which we travelled up to Kalimpong, a cosmopolitan little hill station in the eastern Himalayas, not far from Darjeeling and within sight of Tibet.

In Kalimpong my teacher left me, with the parting injunction that I was to stay there and work for the good of Buddhism.

[F]earful of capture if he remained in Lhasa, the Dalai Lama responded in the tradition of his immediate predecessor: he fled the capital. Disguised as a layman and escorted by an entourage of 200, he stole out of Lhasa on the night of 20 December (1950) and worked his way south toward the border town of Yatung, just twenty-four kilometers from the princely protectorate of Sikkim.

As this was taking place, American diplomats in neighboring India did what they could to monitor the Dalai Lama's movements. Perhaps none took a greater interest than the U.S. ambassador to India, Loy Henderson. Dubbed a "quintessential Cold Warrior" by one Foreign Service officer under his watch, Henderson had long harbored deep concern for Tibet, especially the threat of PRC control extending across the Himalayas. As far back as the summer of 1949 he had lobbied for a more proactive U.S. policy toward Lhasa to offset this feared Chinese advance, including sending a U.S. envoy from India to the Tibetan capital and leaving behind a small diplomatic mission.

Despite the ambassador's expressed urgency, Washington dragged its feet on approving any bold moves. Frustrated, Ambassador Henderson felt that the stakes were growing too high to afford continued neglect, especially after the Dalai Lama reached Yatung in early 1951. Unless there was some immediate future indication of moral and military support from abroad, he cabled Washington on 12 January, the youthful monarch might leave his kingdom and render ineffective any future resistance to Chinese rule.

But if the exile of the Dalai Lama posed problems, Henderson saw it as preferable to having him return to Lhasa. To prevent the latter, the ambassador took the initiative in March to pen a letter to the monarch. Written on Indian-made stationery and lacking a signature -- thereby affording the United States plausible deniability if it was intercepted -- the note implored the Tibetan leader not to move back to the capital for fear that he would be manipulated by Beijing. The letter further urged the Dalai Lama to seek refuge overseas, preferably in the predominantly Buddhist nation of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Informing Washington of the note after it had been written, Henderson was in for a surprise. Finally coming around to his way of thinking, the State Department lent its approval to the scheme, with only minor editorial changes. Two copies of the anonymous appeal were eventually printed: one carried to Yatung by [url=-]Heinrich Harrer[/url], the Dalai Lama's Austrian tutor who had fled Lhasa shortly before the monarch's departure, and the second turned over to a Tibetan dignitary in Kalimpong during Mid-May. Those forwarding the letter were told to discreetly convey that it came from the U.S. ambassador.

The Dalai Lama did not take long to respond. On 24 May, his personal representative sought out U.S. diplomats in Calcutta to clarify several points regarding potential exile. Among other things, the monarch wanted to know if Washington would grant him asylum in America and if the United States would extend military aid to a theoretical anti-Chinese resistance movement after his departure from Tibetan soil. He also wanted permission for his oldest brother, Thubten Norbu, to visit the United States.

Before the United States could respond, a shock came over the airwaves on 26 May. Three months earlier, the Dalai Lama had dispatched two groups of officials to China in a desperate bid to appease Beijing and keep the Kham invasion force at bay. Arriving in the Chinese capital by mid-April, neither group had been authorized by the Dalai Lama to make binding decisions on the kingdom's behalf. Despite this, several weeks of stressful talks took their toll: on 23 May, all the Tibetan emissaries lent their names to a seventeen-point agreement with China that virtually wiped out any prospect of an autonomous Tibetan identity.

When news of the pact was broadcast three days later over Chinese state radio, it was a devastating blow to the Dalai lama. Knowing that the monarch would be under mounting pressure to formulate a response to Beijing, Henderson received approval on 2 June to grant U.S. asylum to the Dalai Lama and a 100-man entourage -- provided both India and Ceylon proved unreceptive. Washington was also prepared to provide military aid if India was amenable to transshipment. Finally, Henderson was authorized to extend U.S. visas to Thubten Norbu and a single servant, though both had to pay their own expenses while in America.

Given the fast pace of events, the embassy decided to send a U.S. diplomat to Kalimpong to deal directly with Tibetan officials at their resident trade mission. These officials were shuttling to and from the Dalai Lama's redoubt at Yatung, and this offered the fastest means of negotiating with the isolated monarch. Because Kalimpong fell within the purview of the American consulate general in Calcutta, Vice Consul Nicholas Thacher was chosen for the job.

There was a major stumbling block with such indirect diplomacy, however. The United States was looking to advance its Tibet policy in a third country, and that country -- India -- had its own national interests at heart. Despite being condemned by Beijing in 1949 as the "dregs of humanity," New Delhi was doing its best to remain on good terms with China. This precluded Indian officials from being taken into Washington's confidence. Thacher, therefore, needed to negotiate in the shadows.

With little time to concoct an elaborate charade, the American vice consul prepared for the long drive from Calcutta. Taking along his wife, young child, and nanny as cover, Thacher was to explain his Kalimpong trip as a holiday respite if questioned by Indian authorities. Before leaving, he was coached in the use of a primitive code based on the local scenery. Because his only means of communicating from Kalimpong was via telegraph -- no doubt monitored by Indian intelligence -- he would rely on this code to send updates to the Calcutta consulate…

Thacher pulled into Kalimpong on 15 June... the town factored prominently in the trans-Himalayan economy because for generations it had served as the final destination for mule caravans hauling products -- primarily wool -- from Tibet. At any given time, there was a significant community of Tibetan merchants in town, making it a logical site for that country's only overseas trade office…

Thacher had little trouble locating the Tibetan mission. Entering, he introduced himself in English to the ensemble of officials…

Thacher set about explaining the U.S. offer to grant asylum and material assistance. Very quickly, the vice consul was struck by the lack of realism displayed by Lhasa's envoys. "There was a sense of the absurd," he later commented. "They were talking wistfully in terms of America providing them with tanks and aircraft." Thacher did his best to downplay expectations before taking his leave and making his way to the telegraph office to send a coded report to Calcutta…

Hearing of the latest U.S. promises, the Tibetans found little reason for cheer. The offer of U.S. asylum, for example, was to be granted only if Asian options were exhausted, even though the Dalai Lama was adamant that he wanted exile only in America. Military aid, too, was moot, because it was contingent on Indian approval -- a near impossibility, given New Delhi's desire to maintain cordial ties with China.

Twenty-nine years old, Thubten Norbu was an important Tibetan religious figure in his own right. As a child, he had been named the incarnation of a famed fifteenth-century monk. Studying at the expansive Kumbum monastery not far from his home village in Amdo, Norbu had risen to chief abbot by 1949. When Amdo was occupied by the PLA that fall, he came under intense Chinese pressure to lobby his brother on Beijing's behalf. Feigning compliance, he ventured to Lhasa in November 1950. But rather than sell the PRC, he presented a graphic report of Chinese excesses in Amdo. [In recognition of his status as an incarnation, Norbu was also known as the twenty fourth Taktser Rinpoche ("incarnation from Taktser"). Taktser is the town in Amdo where Norbu spent his youth… U.S. diplomatic cables over the ensuing years variously (and incorrectly) referred to Norbu as "Takster" and "Tak Tser."]

Because Beijing no doubt viewed Norbu's act as treachery, the Dalai Lama was anxious to see his brother leave Tibet. He succeeded up to a point, spiriting Norbu to Kalimpong by the first week of June 1951…

Just when Norbu's departure seemed secure, however, complications arose. Neither he nor his accompanying servant had passports, and they had fled Tibet with insufficient funds to pay for extended overseas travel. Thus, both of them needed to quickly secure some form of sponsorship.

At that point, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) stepped forward with a ready solution. By coincidence only weeks earlier the agency had inaugurated the perfect vehicle for discreetly channeling financial support to persons like the Dalai Lama's brother. On 18 May, the San Francisco-based Committee for a Free Asia (CFA) had been formally unveiled to the public as a means to "render effective assistance to Asians in advancing personal and national liberty throughout their homelands." The committee's charter further declared its intention to assist noncommunist travelers, refugees, and exiles in order to "strengthen Asian resistance to communism." Left unsaid was the fact that the committee was made possible by financial assistance from the CIA. [Although the CIA connection was repeatedly denied over the years, there were public suspicions from the start. On 27 June 1951, Alfred Kohlberg, a prominent U.S. importer of Chinese textiles, sent a letter to CFA president George Greene accusing the organization of being a government front. In his letter, Kohlberg astutely noted that the Committee for a Free Europe, a sister entity created the previous year, was correctly suspected of having CIA links.]…

[During the same month, the Committee for a Free Asia factored in another aspect of America's Tibet policy. On 22 June, Secretary of State Acheson handed the Thai ambassador to the United States a copy of a letter written on CFA stationery. The note, which was addressed to the secretary, claimed that the committee would underwrite the expenses of the Dalai Lama if he were granted asylum in Thailand. The idea of Thai asylum -- and related CFA sponsorship -- was apparently not pursued.]…

Norbu arrived in Calcutta on 24 June with plans to catch a flight to the United States within two weeks. Before leaving, he met with members of the U.S. consulate and was informed that Washington would support a third Tibetan appeal to the United Nations, provided the Dalai Lama publicly disavowed the 23 May agreement with China. Norbu assured the diplomats that his brother, despite his curious silence to date, did not approve of the May pact and was still intent on seeking overseas asylum. ..

T]he Tibetans were whisked the following day to Washington for meetings with State Department and CIA officials.

Norbu had arrived at a critical juncture. By the close of June, Thacher and his family had concluded their faux vacation and returned to Calcutta. In order to maintain coverage in Kalimpong, Thacher was to be replaced by another consulate official. Given that assignment was Robert Linn, head of the small CIA base in Calcutta…

[Linn] found the Kalimpong crowd of little help in swaying the teenage monarch and his conservative courtesans across the border at Yatung. On 11 July, Linn passed word to the Calcutta consulate that the Dalai Lama intended to return to Lhasa in ten days.

With time running short, officials in Washington imposed on Norbu to translate a message for the Dalai Lama into Tibetan. This, along with two more unsigned letters prepared by the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, was quickly forwarded to Yatung. Embassy officials even flirted with fanciful plans for Heinrich Harrer, the monarch's former tutor, and George Patterson, an affable Scottish missionary who had once preached in Kham, to effectively kidnap the Dalai Lama and bundle him off to India.

All these efforts were to no avail. On 21 July, the monarch heeded advice channeled under trance by the state oracle and departed Yatung on a slow caravan back to the Tibetan capital. Still unwilling to concede defeat, American diplomats continued to smuggle unsigned messages to the Dalai Lama while he was en route. Trying a slightly more bold tack, Ambassador Henderson received approval on 10 September to write a signed note on official government letterhead. Tibetan representatives in India were allowed to briefly view the document the following week and verbally convey its contents to their leader. The United States, read this last message, was now prepared to publicly support Tibetan autonomy. In addition, Washington vowed to assist an anti-Chinese resistance movement with such material as may be "feasible under existing political and physical conditions."

Even if the Dalai Lama's interest was piqued by the latest round of promises, it was probably too late for him to act. He arrived in Lhasa during mid-August, and PLA troops were sighted in the capital by early the following month. On 28 September, the Tibetan national assembly convened to debate the controversial seventeen-point agreement signed the previous May. Less than one month later, confirmation was sent to Mao Tse-tung that the kingdom accepted the accord. Tibet was now officially part of the People's Republic of China.

In the summer of 1952... Tibet was more inaccessible than ever...One notable exception was the unique window provided by the princely state of Sikkim...

Beginning in 1947 and continuing for the next three years, its royals scrambled to salvage some form of autonomy that would safeguard their exalted status...

The job of negotiating with the Indians went to the prince's son and heir apparent, Palden Thondup...

The result was a December treaty whereby the protectorate of Sikkim was free to manage domestic matters but allowed India to regulate its foreign affairs, defense, and trade...

Though prohibited from making independent foreign policy, they believed that it was still within their right to retain a degree of international personality. This held obvious appeal for the United States, which appreciated Sikkim's unique perspective on Himalayan events, on account of its royals being related by blood and marriage to the elite in neighboring Bhutan and Tibet...In the spring of 1951, the U.S. consulate in Calcutta gingerly tested the waters. The Chinese had already invaded Kham, and Larry Dalley, a young CIA officer who had arrived in the city the previous fall under cover of vice consul, was eager to collect good intelligence on events across the border. He knew that two members of Sikkim's royal family frequented Calcutta and would be good sources of information.

The first, Pema Tseudeun, was the older sister of the crown prince. Popularly known by the name Kukula, she was the stunning, urbane archetype of a Himalayan princess. Her contact with American officials actually dated back to 1942, when she had been in Lhasa as the teenage wife of a Tibetan nobleman. OSS officers Tolstoy and Dolan had just arrived in the Tibetan capital that December and were preparing to present a gift from President Franklin Roosevelt to the young Dalai Lama. The gift was in a plain box, and the two Americans were scrambling to find suitable wrapping. "I came forward," she recalls, "and donated the bright red ribbon in my hair." [During his stay in Lhasa, OSS officer Dolan befriended Kukula's sister-in-law and fathered her child.]

For the next eight years, Kukula had it good. Married into the powerful Phunkang family (her father-in-law was a cabinet official), she now had considerable holdings in Lhasa. After the Chinese invasion of Kham, however, all was in jeopardy. Leaving many of her possessions back in Tibet, she fled to the safety of Sikkim. There she became a close adviser to the crown prince, accompanying her brother to New Delhi that December to finalize their state's treaty with India.

The second royal in Calcutta, Pema Choki, was Kukula's younger sister. Better known as Princess Kula, she was every bit as beautiful and sophisticated as her sibling. Kula was also married to a Tibetan of high status; her father-in-Iaw, Yutok Dzaza, had been a ranking official at the trade mission in Kalimpong. Both Kukula and Kula were regulars on the Indian diplomatic circuit. "They came to many of the consulate's social functions," remembers Nicholas Thacher, "and were known for their ability to perform all of the latest dance numbers."

Not all of that contact, CIA officer Dalley determined, was social. After arranging for a meeting with Princess Kukula at his apartment, he asked her if she thought the Tibetans might need anything during their current crisis. Kukula suggested that they could use ammunition and said that she would bring a sample of what they needed to their next meeting. True to her word, the princess appeared at Dalley's apartment bearing a round for a British Lee-Enfield rifle. She also mentioned that waves of Tibetan traders came to India almost quarterly to get treatment for venereal disease (a scourge in Tibet) and to pick up food shipments for import. Particularly popular at the time were tins of New Zealand fruits packed in heavy syrup.

Based on this information, Dalley devised a plan to substitute bullets for the fruit. He went as far as pouching Kukula's bullet and a sample tin label to CIA headquarters -- all to no avail. "They laughed at the scheme," he recalls.

Later that spring, the U.S. consulate in Calcutta again turned to the Sikkimese royals for help. At the time, the Dalai Lama was holed up in the border town of Yatung, and CIA officer Robert Linn was brainstorming ways of facilitating indirect contact with the monarch. Two of those he asked to assist in passing notes were Kukula and Kula. Although the Tibetan leader ultimately elected not to go into exile, it was not for want of trying on the part of the princesses.

One year later, Sikkim's royals once more proved their willingness to help. In June 1952, Kukula approached the consulate with an oral message from the Dalai Lama. She had just returned from a visit to her in-laws in Lhasa, and although she had not personally seen the Dalai Lama, she had been given information from Kula's father-in-Iaw, Yutok Dzaza, who had been in Lhasa at the same time, circulating among senior government circles. [Back in September 1951, Yutok Dzaza, a former official at the Tibetan trade office in Kalimpong, had been brought down to the consulate in Calcutta and shown Ambassador Henderson's last-ditch appeal to the Dalai Lama written on U.S. embassy letterhead. Yutok took notes from the letter and then went to Lhasa, where he met several senior government officials. He also met with one of the Dalai Lama's older brothers, Lobsang Samten. It was the information gathered from these sources that he passed to Princess Kukula.] Kukula quoted the Dalai Lama as saying that when the time was propitious for liberation, he hoped the United States would give material aid and moral support. Kukula also passed observations about food shortages in Lhasa and about the desperate conditions of the vast majority of Chinese troops in that city.

To maintain the flow of such useful information, the consulate continued its discreet courtship of the Sikkimese sisters. Part of the task fell to Gary Soulen, the ranking Foreign Service officer in Calcutta. In September 1952, Soulen obtained Indian approval to visit Sikkim for a nature trek. Venturing as far as the Natu pass on the Tibetan frontier, Princess Kukula accompanied him on the trip and imparted more anecdotes about the situation in Lhasa.

CIA officials, too, were looking to make inroads. Kenneth Millian, who replaced Larry Dalley in October 1952 under cover as vice consul, counted the Sikkimese as one of his primary targets. By that time, however, the Indians were doing everything in their power to obstruct contact. On one of the rare occasions when he got permission to visit the Sikkimese capital of Gangtok, for example, New Delhi leaked a false report to the press that the American vice president -- not vice consul -- was scheduled to make an appearance. As a result, entire villages turned out expecting to see Richard Nixon. "Discreet contact," lamented Millian, "became all but impossible."

Occasional trysts with the Sikkimese were conducted by another CIA officer in Calcutta, John Turner. Born of American parents in India, Turner spent his formative years attending school in Darjeeling. He then went to college in the United States, followed by a stint in the army and induction into the agency in 1948. For his first overseas CIA assignment, he was chosen in May 1952 to succeed Robert Linn as the senior CIA officer in Calcutta. Given his cultural background and fluency in Hindi, Turner was well suited for the job...

The Sikkimese, Turner found, needed no prompting to maintain contact "They offered us tidbits of intelligence to try and influence U.S. policy," he concluded....

[T]he prince would pass Turner relevant information about Tibet. One such meeting took place in the spring of 1954 immediately after the crown prince's return from a trip to Lhasa. While in the Tibetan capital, the prince had spoken with the Dalai lama, whom he found unhappy but resigned to his fate. Even more revealing, the Chinese had feted their Sikkimese guest by showing off their new Damshung airfield north of Lhasa and had motored him along a fresh stretch of road leading into Kham. Turner found the debriefing so informative that he recorded the entire session and sent a voluminous report back to Washington...

Ever since it had first invaded western Kham in late 1950, the PLA knew that it could not sustain its presence without a modern logistical network. As the Chinese worked feverishly to complete this, they retained the existing monastic structure -- including the Dalai lama -- and attempted to woo Tibet's lay aristocracy. They were fairly successful in winning support from the latter, especially since many aristocrats profited from the sudden influx of needy Chinese troops and administrators. [China's strategy also involved the cultivation of the pliable Panchen Lama, the second most influential incarnation in Tibet, as a counterweight to the Dalai Lama. Beginning in 1954, Beijing insisted on treating the two as virtual equals.]...

In 1952, the Dalai lama was pressured into firing his dual prime ministers over alleged anti-Chinese sentiment. There were also food shortages due to the presence of the occupying troops, as well as the affront they represented to Tibetan prestige. Various forms of nonviolent resistance -- anonymous posters and sarcastic street rhymes were the preferred outlets -- were already becoming commonplace in Lhasa.

Still, both the Tibetans and the Chinese had seen fit to abide by an unofficial truce. This lasted up until Beijing's transportation network was nearing completion. With the new option of rushing reinforcements to the Tibetan plateau, the PLA had the flexibility of eclipsing carrot with stick.

Beijing wasted no time driving the point home. Just weeks after the crown prince's 1954 visit, the Dalai Lama was invited to the Chinese capital, ostensibly to lead the Tibetan delegation to the inauguration ceremonies for the PRC's new constitution. Though many members of his inner circle were suspicious of Chinese intentions, the young monarch -- still determined to work within the system -- had little choice but to heed the call. He even made it a family affair, bringing along his mother, three siblings, and a brother-in-law.

On 11 July, the Dalai Lama and his 500-person entourage departed Lhasa. Where possible, they took stretches of the partially finished road that wove east through Kham. Once in Beijing, the visit started out well.Partial to socialist precepts, the Dalai Lama had few qualms with China's economic direction; he had already voiced support for radical land reforms at home, although the landed aristocracy and religious elite had successfully thwarted implementation. The Dalai Lama was also treated with respect by the upper echelons of China's communist hierarchy; Mao Tse-tung, in particular, doted on the teenage monarch...

By the time the Dalai Lama headed home in the spring of 1955, the road leading from Kham to Lhasa was fully finished. A second route from Amdo to the capital was also complete. No longer feeling the need to be tolerant, the Chinese introduced atheist doctrine in Tibetan schools. The PLA also started disarming villagers in eastern Tibet prior to the implementation of harsh agrarian collectivization; as firearms were a cultural fixture in Kham and Amdo, their removal struck at a tenet of Tibetan tradition. As the Dalai Lama wove his way west, several Khampa leaders presented his entourage with petitions complaining of Beijing's heavy-handed ways.

During that same time frame, a hint of the dissatisfaction brewing in Kham reached the U.S. consulate in Calcutta via a different channel. John Turner, the CIA base chief, had been approached by George Patterson for an urgent meeting in the town of Kalimpong. Patterson, the Scottish missionary who had volunteered his services to the consulate in the past, was making the pitch on behalf of Ragpa Pandatsang, the same activist from the wealthy Kham trading family who had been alternately flirting with Lhasa and Beijing since 1950. Ragpa had done reasonably well for himself under the Chinese -- he was a senior official in the town of Markham -- but in a characteristic twist, he was now venturing to India to quietly sound out noncommunist options.

Based on middleman Patterson's request, Turner made his way to Kalimpong. By that time, the hill town had drawn a sizable roster of eclectic expatriates. One permanent fixture, Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark, was a physical anthropologist who spent his time measuring skulls. There was also Dennis Conan Doyle, who made a brief appearance in an unsuccessful bid to contact the spirit of his late father, Arthur. Joining them were die-hard followers of the late Madame Helena Blavatsky, the debunked Ukrainian psychic whose nonsensical Theosophist religion had the unenviable distinction of being one of the tenets of the Nazi's Aryan master race thesis.

Arriving at a house owned by the Pandatsang family, Turner waited outside. Perfectly timed, Ragpa materialized from out of the dawn mist on the back of a Tibetan pony. "He was apparently on his morning gallop," recalls Turner, "and he cut quite a figure." Dismounting, the Khampa greeted the CIA case officer. Patterson, who had befriended the Pandatsang family during his missionary days in Kham, was on hand to act as translator. After brief pleasantries, Ragpa touched lightly on the fact that the Khampas were looking for assistance in resisting the Chinese, including armaments. Without exchanging anything further of substance, he remounted the horse and melted back into the hills. Said Turner, "It was a surreal moment."...

By the close of 1955, the combination of factors simmering over the previous year -- atheist indoctrination, forceful disarming of the population, rapid collectivization -- sparked a wave of violence in eastern Tibet. True to their brigand reputation, nomads from the Golok region of Amdo were the first to unleash their fury on PLA garrisons across that province.

Eastern Kham followed suit in early 1956…

The PLA responded in force…

Particularly hard hit was Lithang; its grand monastery, home to 5,000 monks, was razed…

As this was taking place, the Dalai Lama faced mounting challenges on the political front. While in Beijing during 1955, he had been informed by Mao that a Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet (PCART) would be formed to codify Tibet's status under the seventeen-point agreement. The committee was inaugurated in Lhasa during April 1956, with the Dalai Lama as chairman; the majority of PCART members, however, were either directly or indirectly named by the PRC. In this way, Beijing effectively bypassed both Tibet's cabinet and the National Assembly.

Between Beijing's PCART ploy and news filtering into the capital of Chinese brutality in the east, the Dalai Lama was fast reaching his breaking point by mid-1956. Just shy of his twenty-first birthday, he had already entertained thoughts of withdrawing from all secular life. It was at this critical juncture that his earlier foreign guest, the crown prince of Sikkim, made a return visit to Lhasa.

The crown prince was on more than a courtesy call…

Disturbed by Beijing's lack of restraint, Nehru suddenly developed some backbone. By coincidence, the 2,500-year anniversary of the birth of Buddha was to be celebrated during the fourth lunar month of 1957. Special events to mark that date, known as the Buddha Jayanti, were scheduled across India beginning in late 1956. If the Dalai Lama could be enticed to travel to India for the occasion, New Delhi felt that this would symbolically underscore its interest in the well-being of Tibet and its leader. Because he already had good rapport with the Dalai Lama, and because he was president of the Indian Maha Bodhi Society (an organization that represented Buddhists across the Indian subcontinent), the crown prince was tasked by Nehru to deliver the invitation.

Upon receiving his Sikkimese guest and hearing the news, the Dalai Lama was ecstatic. For a Tibetan, a pilgrimage to India -- especially one that coincided with the Buddha Jayanti -- had all the connotations of a visit to the holy sites of Rome or Mecca. But more important, it would allow him to air his concerns directly to Nehru and perhaps offset Chinese influence. Perhaps, too, he could finally make good on his earlier contemplation of exile. Some of his minders, in fact, were convinced that the latter could be arranged, despite the fact that no nation, India included, had given any solid guarantee of asylum. [In his memoirs, the Dalai Lama does not mention his desire to seek exile during the crown prince's 1956 visit to Lhasa.]

Having delivered the invitation, the crown prince returned to India and on 28 June made his way to the U.S. consulate in Calcutta. Speaking directly with the senior diplomat, Consul General Robert Reams, he noted the apparent desire of the Dalai lama to leave his country. The crown prince also relayed stories reaching Lhasa about horrific fighting taking place in eastern Tibet, offering Washington hearsay evidence that anti-Chinese resistance had escalated into armed rebellion. Noting the apparent lack of weapons among the insurgents, the prince astutely suggested channeling arms from East Pakistan (presumably via Sikkim) to Tibet. And in a more fanciful departure, he wondered aloud if the United States could "exfiltrate" Tibetans from Burma and Thailand -- ostensibly while on religious pilgrimages -- and give them artillery and antiaircraft training…

For nearly four weeks, Foggy Bottom contemplated a response. When it finally came on 24 July, it was remarkable for its lack of originality. Falling back on the waffle perfected in 1951, Washington was prepared to extend a shifty promise of asylum, provided the Dalai Lama first asked India for help. No response was made to the crown prince's musings about arms and training…

On 1 October, Nehru telegraphed an official invitation to the Dalai Lama to supplement the one forwarded earlier by the crown prince… Beijing considered the new appeal from its treaty partner, and exactly one month later, the Chinese conceded. Tibet's young leader would be leaving his country…

When the United States learned that the Dalai Lama had gotten permission in early November to attend the Buddha Jayanti celebrations, the CIA scrambled to bypass Sikkim and establish direct links with Tibetan sources close to the monarch.

None were closer than the Dalai Lama's two brothers in exile. The eldest, Thubten Norbu, already had a history of indirect contact with the agency via the Committee for a Free Asia… Settling in New Jersey, Norbu began to earn a modest income teaching Tibetan to a handful of students as part of a noncredited course at Columbia University.

The other brother, Gyalo Thondup, was residing in Darjeeling. Six years Norbu's junior, Gyalo was the proverbial prodigal son… As a teen, he had befriended members of the Chinese mission in Lhasa and yearned to study in China… Gyalo got his wish in 1947 when he and a brother-in-law arrived at the Kuomintang capital of Nanking and enrolled in college.

Two years later, Gyalo, then twenty-one, veered further toward China when he married fellow student Zhu Dan. Not only was his wife ethnic Chinese, but her father, retired General Chu Shi- kuei, had been a key Kuomintang officer during the early days of the republic. Because of both his relationship to General Chu and the fact that he was the Dalai Lama's brother, Gyalo was feted in Nanking by no less than Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek…

With the communists closing in on Nanking during the final months of China's civil war, Gyalo and his wife fled in mid-1949 to the safer climes of India. Once again because of his relationship to the Dalai Lama, he was added to the invitation list for various diplomatic events and even got an audience with Prime Minister Nehru.

That October, Gyalo briefly ventured to the Tibetan enclave at Kalimpong before settling for seven months in Calcutta. While there, his father-in-law, General Chu, attempted to make contact with the Tibetan government. With the retreat of the Kuomintang to Taiwan, Chu had astutely shifted loyalty to the People's Republic and was now tasked by Beijing to arrange a meeting between Tibetan and PRC officials at a neutral site, possibly Hong Kong.

Conversant in Chinese and linked to both the Dalai Lama and General Chu, Gyalo was a logical intermediary for the Hong Kong talks… Unable to gain quick entry to the crown colony, Gyalo made what he intended to be a brief diversion to the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan. But Chiang Kai- shek, no doubt anxious to keep Gyalo away from General Chu and the PRC, had other plans. Smothering the royal sibling with largesse, Chiang kept Gyalo in Taipei for the next sixteen months. Only after a desperate letter to U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson requesting American diplomatic intervention did the ROC relent and give Gyalo an exit permit.

After arriving in Washington in September 1951, Gyalo continued to dabble in diplomacy. Within a month of his arrival, he was called to a meeting at the State Department. Significantly, Gyalo's Chinese wife was at his side during the encounter. Because of the couple's close ties to Chiang, department representatives assumed that details of their talk would quickly be passed to the Kuomintang Nationalists…

Despite State Department efforts to secure him a scholarship at Stanford University, he hurriedly departed the United States in February 1952 for the Indian subcontinent. Leaving his wife behind, he then trekked back to Lhasa after a six-year absence.

By that time, Beijing had a secure foothold in the Tibetan capital. Upon meeting this wayward member of the royal family, the local PRC representatives were pleased. As a Chinese speaker married to one of their own, Gyalo was perceived as a natural ally. Yet again, however, he would prove a disappointment. After showing some interest in promoting a bold land reform program championed by the Dalai Lama, Gyalo once more grew restive. In late spring, he secretly met with the Indian consul in Lhasa, and after promising to refrain from politicking, he was given permission to resettle in India…

Noting his recent return to Darjeeling, the U.S. embassy in early August 1952 cautiously considered establishing contact. Calcutta's Consul General Gary Soulen saw an opportunity in early September while returning from his Sikkim trek with Princess Kukula. Pausing in Darjeeling, Soulen stayed long enough for Gyalo to pass on the latest information from his contacts within the Tibetan merchant community.

Although he had promised to refrain from exile politics, Gyalo saw no conflict in courting senior Indian officials. In particular, he sought a meeting with India's spymaster Bhola Nath Mullik. As head of Indian intelligence, Mullik presided over an organization with deep colonial roots. Established in 1887 as the central Special Branch, it had been organized by the British to keep tabs on the rising tide of Indian nationalism. Despite several redesignations before arriving at the title Intelligence Bureau, anticolonialists remained its primary target for the next sixty years.

Upon independence in 1947, Prime Minister Nehru appointed the bureau's first Indian director…

Three years later, Mullik became the bureau's second director. A police officer since the age of twenty-two, the taciturn Mullik was known for his boundless energy (he often worked sixteen-hour days), close ties to Nehru, healthy suspicion of China, and (rare for a senior Indian official) predisposition against communism. Almost immediately, the Tibetan frontier became his top concern. This followed Beijing's invasion of Kham that October, which meant that India's military planners now had to contend with a hypothetical front besides Pakistan. Moreover, the tribal regions of northeastern India were far from integrated, and revolutionaries in those areas could now easily receive Chinese support. The previous year, in fact, the bureau had held a conference on risks associated with Chinese infiltration.

Despite Mullik's concerns, Nehru was prone to downplay the potential Chinese threat. Not only did he think it ludicrous to prepare for a full-scale Chinese attack, but he saw real benefits in cultivating Beijing to offset Pakistan's emerging strategy of anticommunist cooperation with the West. "It was Nehru's idealism against hard-headed Chinese realism," said one Intelligence Bureau official. "Mullik injected healthy suspicions."

Astute enough to hedge his bets, Nehru allowed Mullik some leeway in improving security along the border and collecting intelligence on Chinese forces in Tibet. To accomplish this, Mullik expanded the number of Indian frontier posts strung across the Himalayas. In addition, he sought contact with Tibetans living in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong enclaves. Not only could these Tibetans be tapped for information, but a symbolic visit by a senior official like Mullik would lift morale at a time when their homeland was being subjugated. Such contact, moreover, could give New Delhi advance warning of any subversive activity in Tibet being staged from Indian soil.

Of all the Tibetan expatriates, Mullik had his eye on Gyalo Thondup. Besides having an insider's perspective of the high offices in Lhasa, Gyalo had already passed word of his desire for a meeting. Prior to his departure for his first visit to Darjeeling in the spring of 1953, Mullik asked for -- and quickly received -- permission from the prime minister to include the Dalai Lama's brother on his itinerary. Their subsequent exchange of views went well, as did their tete-a-tete during Mullik's second visit to Darjeeling in 1954…

To earn a living, [Gyalo] ironically began exporting Indian tea and whiskey to Chinese troops and administrators in Tibet. For leisure, he and his family were frequent guests at the Gymkhana Club. Part of an exclusive resort chain that was once a playpen for the subcontinent's colonial elite, the Gymkhana's Darjeeling branch was situated amid terraced gardens against the picturesque backdrop of Kanchenjunga. A regular on the tennis courts, the Dalai Lama 's brother was the local champion.

In the summer of 1956, Gyalo's respite came to an abrupt end. The senior abbot and governor from the Tibetan town of Gyantse had recently made his escape to India and in July wrote a short report about China's excesses. Gyalo repackaged the letter in English and mailed copies to the Indian media, several diplomatic missions, and selected world leaders. One of these arrived in early September at the U.S. embassy in the Pakistani capital of Karachi, and from there was disseminated to the American mission in New Delhi and consulate in Calcutta…

Once word reached India in early November that the Dalai Lama would be attending the Buddha Jayanti, John Hoskins got an urgent cable from headquarters. Put aside your efforts against the Chinese community, he was told, and make immediate contact with Gyalo. A quick check indicated Gyalo's predilection for tennis, so Hoskins got a racket and headed north to Darjeeling. After arranging to get paired with Gyalo for a doubles match, the CIA officer wasted no time in quietly introducing himself…

Hoskins was not exactly wowed by Gyalo's persona. "There was a lot of submissiveness rather than dynamism," he noted. At their first meeting, little was discussed apart from reaching an understanding that, to avoid Indian intelligence coverage in Darjeeling, future contact would be made in Calcutta using proper countersurveillance measures.

Later that same month, the Dalai Lama and a fifty-strong delegation departed Lhasa by car. Switching to horses at the Sikkimese border, the royal entourage was met on the other side by both Gyalo and Norbu, who had rushed to India from his teaching assignment in New York. The party was whisked through Gangtok and down to the closest Indian airfield near the town of Siliguri, and by 25 November the monarch was being met by Nehru on the tarmac of New Delhi's Palam Airport.

By coincidence, three days after the Dalai Lama's arrival in New Delhi, Chinese premier Zhou En-Lai began a twelve-day stop in India as part of a five-country South Asian tour. Keeping with diplomatic protocol, the young Tibetan leader was on hand to greet Zhou at the airport. The two then held a private meeting, at which time the elderly Chinese statesman lectured the Dalai Lama on the necessity of returning to his homeland.

Zhou was not alone in his appeal. As eager as Nehru was to offset Chinese influence in Tibet, he, too, was against the Dalai Lama's seeking asylum -- especially on Indian soil. This was partly because India wanted to maintain good relations with China. This was also because New Delhi did not want to go it alone, and not a single country to date had recognized Tibetan independence. Fearing that the monarch's brothers would have an unhealthy effect on any decision, Indian officials in the capital did all in their power to keep Gyalo and Norbu segregated from their royal sibling.

The Dalai Lama hardly needed convincing from his brothers, however. During his first private session with Nehru, he openly hinted about not going back to Lhasa. He also requested that the issue of Tibetan independence be taken up by Nehru and President Dwight Eisenhower at their upcoming summit in Washington in December. Nehru was not entirely surprised by all this: Gyalo had already sought out Mullik and told the Indian intelligence chief in no uncertain terms that his brother would opt for exile.

As India's leadership digested these developments, the Dalai Lama departed the capital for an exhausting schedule of Buddha Jayanti festivities. He was still in the midst of this tour when Zhou returned to New Delhi for an encore visit on 30 December. In the interim, Nehru had had his Washington meeting with Eisenhower, and the Chinese premier had scheduled the stop specifically to discuss the outcome of that summit. As it turned out, however, Tibet was a major topic of conversation. In particular, Nehru used the opportunity to press Zhou about tempering China's harsh military and agrarian policies on the Tibetan plateau…

Anxious to broker a deal that would assuage both Lhasa and Beijing, Nehru summoned the Dalai Lama from his pilgrimage and underscored to the Tibetan leader that Indian asylum was not in the cards. But if that was bitter news, Zhou had earlier proposed a sweetener. While noting that China was ready to use force to stamp out resistance, he claimed that Mao now recognized the folly of rapid collectivization and pledged to delay further revolutionary reforms in Tibet.

Zhou and his senior comrades were by now gravely concerned over permanently losing the Dalai Lama. Leaving nothing to chance, Zhou was back in New Delhi on 24 January 1957 for his third visit in as many months.

Despite Beijing's lobbying, Gyalo and Norbu were still insistent that their brother choose exile. Torn over his future, the twenty-one-year-old monarch had already departed Calcutta on 22 January for Kalimpong, which by then was home to a growing number of disaffected Tibetan elite. Once there, he did what Tibet's leaders had done countless other times when confronted with a hard decision: he consulted the state oracle. Two official soothsayers happened to be traveling with his delegation; using time-honored -- if unscientific -- methods, the pair went into a trance on cue and recited their sagely advice. Return to Lhasa, they channeled.

As far as the Dalai Lama was concerned, the ruling of his oracles was incontrovertible, and the decision was made all the easier by the fact that nobody seemed anxious to give him refuge. Flouting the suggestions of his brothers, he declared his intention to go home. He crossed into Sikkim in early March and was compelled to remain in Gangtok until heavy snows melted from the mountain passes. There, he finalized plans to set out for Lhasa by month's end…

[A]s soon as the Dalai Lama received permission to attend the Buddha Jayanti, [William] Broe [CIA China Branch] felt it prudent to show heightened interest. Looking for a junior officer to spare, he soon settled on John Reagan. Twenty-eight years old, Reagan had joined the agency upon graduation from Boston College in 1951. He was soon in Asia, where he spent the next twenty-four months working on paramilitary projects in Korea. Switching to China Branch, he served two more years in Japan as part of the CIA's penetration effort against the PRC. Returning to the United States in 1955, Reagan divided the next twelve months between Chinese language training and trips to New York City to practice tradecraft against United Nations delegates.

As the branch's new man on Tibet, Reagan initially did little more than forward instructions for John Hoskins to make contact with Gyalo. He was silent on further guidance, primarily because senior U.S. policy makers had not yet ironed out a coherent framework for dealing with Lhasa. In earlier meetings between CIA and State Department officials during the summer of 1956, there had been those who felt that the Dalai Lama should flee to another Buddhist nation to offer a rallying cry for anticommunist Buddhists across Asia. Others, primarily inside the agency, believed that he could play a more important role as a rallying symbol in Lhasa among his fellow Tibetans. This was still the CIA's operating assumption in late 1956: once the Dalai Lama was in India, the prevailing mood at agency headquarters was that he should eventually go home.

Gyalo, meantime, was telling Hoskins that his brother had every intention of seeking asylum. With the Dalai Lama apparently intent on staying away from his homeland -- and therefore not conforming to the agency's preferred scenario of rallying his people from Lhasa -- Reagan was largely idle during most of the Dalai Lama's four-month absence from Tibet.

Eventually, however, the CIA looked to hedge its bets. Since the second half of 1956, a band of twenty-seven young Khampa men -- some still in their late teens -- had been growing restive in the enclave of Kalimpong. Most came from relatively wealthy trading families and had been spirited to India to protect them from the instability in their native province. Full of vigor, the entire group had ventured to New Delhi shortly before the Dalai Lama's Buddha Jayanti pilgrimage to conduct street protests. Once the Dalai Lama arrived, they sought a brief audience to make an impassioned plea for Lhasa's intercession against the Chinese offensive in Kham.

To their disappointment, the Dalai Lama counseled patience. "His Holiness only said things would settle down," recalls one of the Khampas. Undaunted, the twenty-seven young men shadowed the monarch during several of the Buddha Jayanti commemorative events. By early January 1957, this took them to Bodh Gaya, the city in eastern India where the historical Buddha was said to have attained enlightenment. While there, the Dalai Lama's older brother, Thubten Norbu, approached the Khampas and asked if he could take their individual photographs as a souvenir. Although it was an odd request, they complied.

For the next few weeks, nothing happened. Frustrated by the Dalai Lama's repeated rebuffs, the Khampas sulked back to Kalimpong. Several Chinese traders were in town, some of whom were rumored to have links to the Nationalist regime on Taiwan. Desperate, the Khampas sounded them out on the possibility of covert assistance from Taipei. It was at that point that Gyalo Thondup arrived and requested a meeting with all twenty-seven. For most of the young Khampas, it was the first time they had spoken with the Dalai Lama's lay brother. As they listened attentively, Gyalo lectured them to steer clear of the Kuomintang. "The United States," he told them cryptically, "is a better choice."

Less than a week later, the Dalai Lama arrived in Kalimpong, the oracles had their channeling session, and things changed dramatically. With the monarch's return journey now imminent, John Reagan in Washington scrambled to script a program of action. At its core, the plan called for a unilateral capability to determine how much armed resistance activity really existed in Tibet; further commitments could then be weighed accordingly.

The CIA had good reason to act with prudence. It already had a long and growing list of embarrassing failures while working with resistance groups behind communist lines. Perhaps none had been more painful than its experience against the PRC. There the agency's efforts had taken two tracks. The first was a collaborative effort with the Kuomintang government on Taiwan. Clinging to its dream of reconquering the mainland, the ROC in 1950 claimed to control a million guerrillas inside the People's Republic. Although a February 1951 Pentagon study placed the figure at no more than 600,000 -- only half of which were thought to be nominally loyal to the ROC -- Washington saw fit to support these insurgents as a means of appeasing a key Asian ally while at the same time possibly diverting Beijing's attention from the conflict on the Korean peninsula.

To funnel covert American assistance to the ROC, the CIA established a shell company in Pittsburgh known as Western Enterprises (WE). In September 1951, WE's newly appointed chief, Raymond Peers, arrived on Taiwan with a planeload of advisers. A U.S. Army colonel who had earned accolades during World War II as chief of the famed OSS Detachment 101 in Burma, Peers quickly initiated a number of paramilitary efforts. A large portion of his resources was directed toward airborne operations, including retraining the ROC's 1,500-man parachute regiment. Other WE advisers, meanwhile, were tasked with putting ROC action and intelligence teams through an airborne course.

To deploy these operatives, WE turned to the agency's Far East air proprietary, Civil Air Transport (CAT). By the spring of 1952, CAT planes were dropping teams and singletons on the mainland, as well as supplies to resistance groups that the ROC claimed were already active on the ground. Some of the penetrations ranged as far as Tibet's Amdo region, where the ROC alleged it had contact with Muslim insurgents.

Concurrently, the agency in April 1951 initiated a unilateral third-force effort using anticommunist Chinese unaffiliated with the ROC. Allocated enough arms and ammunition for 200,000 guerrillas, the CIA recruited many of these third-force operatives from Hong Kong, trained them in Japan and Saipan, and inserted them in CAT planes via air bases in South Korea…

That summer, an armistice sent the Korean conflict into remission. This provided the CIA with convenient cover to reassess its third-force track. Although it elected to maintain a China Base at Yokosuka, Japan, this unit was to handle primarily agent penetrations and low-level destabilization efforts; support for broader unilateral resistance got the ax.

Cooperative ventures with the ROC were not so easily nixed. Although Taipei had tempered its claims somewhat, it still pegged loyal mainland guerrilla strength at 650,000 insurgents. By contrast, a November 1953 estimate by the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) put the figure closer to 50,000. Despite this huge discrepancy, the NSC still advocated continued covert assistance to the ROC in order to develop anticommunist guerrillas for resistance and intelligence. Even temporary guerrilla successes, the council reasoned, might set off waves of defections and stiffen passive resistance.

Chiang Kai-shek could not have agreed more. Eager to vastly increase the scope of guerrilla support, the generalissimo in 1954 asked Washington for some 30,000 parachutes. Turned down the first time, he made further high-priority appeals over the next two years. These parachutes were needed for an ambitious plan to drop 100-man units near major PRC population centers. Hoping to set off a chain of uprisings, Chiang optimistically talked in terms of uprooting Chinese communism in as little as two years.

Hearing these plans, Washington patiently counseled against the proposed airborne blitz. On a more modest level, however, the CIA's assistance program continued unabated. In this, success was more elusive than ever. Despite inserting an average of two Nationalist agents a month through the mid-1950s, the ROC operatives were still being killed or captured in short order.

Although these reasons might have made covert operations against the PRC a study in frustration, Tibet appeared to be different. Unlike many of Taipei's wishful claims about other areas of the mainland, Tibet had a resistance movement corroborated by multiple, albeit dated, sources. What the CIA needed was timely data that could give a current and accurate picture of this resistance. And given the historical animosity between Tibetans and lowland Chinese, the agency needed to gather this information without resort to ROC assistance.

In February 1957, John Hoskins was ordered by Washington to immediately identify eight Tibetan candidates for external training as a pilot team that would infiltrate their homeland and assess the state of resistance. Gyalo, who had been in Kalimpong making an eleventh-hour bid to convince his brother to seek asylum, was given responsibility for screening candidates among the Tibetan refugees already in India. Although the twenty-seven Khampas did not know it, Gyalo intended to make the selection from their ranks. Using the photographs taken by Norbu at Bodh Gaya, he sought guidance from two senior Khampas in town, both of whom hailed from the extended family of Gompo Tashi Andrugtsang, a prominent trader of Tibetan wool, deer horns, and musk.

With their assistance, Gyalo soon settled on his first pick. Wangdu Gyato-tsang, age twenty-seven, had been born to an affluent Khampa family from the town of Lithang. He was well connected: Gompo Tashi was his uncle, as was one of the senior Khampas helping Gyalo with the selection. Wangdu also had the right disposition for the task at hand. Despite being schooled at the Lithang monastery from the age of ten, he did not exactly conform to monastic life. "He was hot tempered from childhood," recalls younger brother Kalsang...

When approached by Gyalo, Wangdu immediately volunteered for the mission. Within days, five other Khampas were singled out (Washington now wanted a total of six trainees, not eight), but only Wangdu was given any hint of the impending assignment. Four were from Lithang; of these, three were Wangdu's close acquaintances, and one was his family servant. The fifth was a friend from the nearby town of Bathang (also spelled Batang). All were still on hand to attend the Dalai Lama's final open-air blessing in a Kalimpong soccer field shortly before the monarch headed back toward Tibet...

Taking leave of the capital, Fosmire next rushed to Kurmitola for the arrival of the second Tibetan contingent. Like the first group, these trainees had crossed the border with Gyalo's cook and rendezvoused with a train bound for Dacca. Also like the first group, they consisted of Lithang Khampas -- ten, this time -- recruited from the Kalimpong refugee community.

-- The CIA's Secret War in Tibet, by Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:29 am

Part 3 of 3

Tanvi Madan@tanvi_madan, Apr 1, 2019
ps. [Jawaharlal] Nehru's remarks in Parliament on Tibet 60 yrs ago also had this section on Kalimpong, which is partly what sparked my interest in writing a book about this "nest of spies" in the 1950s. As I mentioned in this podcast, it'd probably make a good TV show too ... -hardcore/

Kalimpong, Sir, has been often described as a nest of spies, spies of innumerable nationalities, not one, spies from Asia, spies from Europe, spies from America, spies of Communists, spies of anti-Communists, red spies, white spies, blue spies, pink spies and so on. Once a knowledgeable person who knew something about this matter and was in Kalimpong actually said to me, though no doubt it was a figure of speech, that there were probably more spies in Kalimpong than the rest of the inhabitants put together. That is an exaggeration. But it has become that in the last few years, especially in the last seven or eight years. As Kalimpong is more or less perched near the borders of India, and since the developments in Tibet some years ago since a change took place there, it became of great interest to all kinds of people outside India, and many people have come here in various guises, sometimes as technical people, sometimes as bird watchers, sometimes as geologists, sometimes as journalists and sometimes with some other purpose, just to admire the natural scenery, and so they all seem to find an interest; the main object of their interest, whether it is bird watching or something else, was round about Kalimpong.

Naturally we have taken interest in this. We have to. While I cannot say that we know exactly everything that took place there, broadly we do know and we have repeatedly taken objection to those persons concerned or to their Embassies we have pointed this out and we have in the past even hinted that some people had better remove themselves from there, and they have removed themselves. This has been going on for the last few years so that there is no doubt that so far as Kalimpong is concerned there has been a deal of espionage and counter-espionage and a complicated game of chess by various nationalities and various numbers of spies and counter-spies there. No doubt a person with the ability to write fiction of this kind will find Kalimpong an interesting place for some novel of that type (Nehru 1959, 18-19, Parliament hearing in the Lower House, Lok Sabha)

Friends in Kalimpong - Nehru's "nest of spies" - talking glowingly of long mule trains winding down the mountainside, bells tinkling through the night.

An estimated daily turnover of Rs 400 million prompted the State Bank of India to open a branch. More than 10,000 men were engaged in sorting out mounds of white, grey or black Tibetan wool into bundles for export to the West.

Thousands more provided fodder and maize for the mules and exotic entertainment for their masters after the privations of a 10-day journey.

The mule trains also brought Kuomintang silver dollars, musk, borax, yaks' tails, curios and Chinese rice. They took back cement, kerosene, Indian manufactures, and even a car for the Dalai Lama, dismantled and carted up piece by piece.

It was whispered in Kalimpong that Indian officials turned a blind eye to rations and equipment for Mao Zedong's People's Liberation Army. A Kolkata firm was suspected of sending up fleets of jeeps - the more they sent the more money they made - for the PLA.

Principle has never impeded the profit motive of some businessmen. If there is no market for no-duty imports like goat's skin, horses, sheep, yak's tails, yak's hair and China clay, and no profit to be made out of permitted items such as iron-ore, wool, livestock produce and electrical appliances, they will find other merchandise to live up to the Trade Study Group's hopes of a Rs 12,203-crore (Rs 122.3 billion) turnover in a decade. Rhino horn, tiger pelts and who knows what other contraband.

After all, Gangtok's Lal Bazar always sold smuggled Chinese fabrics, porcelain and domestic gadgets.

-- Nathu La: It's more than revival of a trade route, by Sunanda K Datta Ray

I stayed in Kalimpong for the next fourteen years, working for the good of Buddhism as best I could, getting to know the local people, both Buddhist and Hindu, and being uplifted and inspired by the sight of Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world, dazzlingly white against the blue sky. In the course of my first seven years in the town I founded a Young Men’s Buddhist Association; started a monthly journal of Himalayan religion, culture, and education called Stepping-Stones; was ordained as a bhikshu or full monk by an international sangha; organized a public reception for the relics of the Buddha’s two chief disciples, then touring India amid scenes of wild popular enthusiasm; found a kindred spirit in Lama Govinda, the German-born artist and scholar; re-established contact with the Maha Bodhi Society (conditions at its headquarters had recently changed for the better); and became well known as a lecturer not only in Kalimpong and the surrounding area but also in Calcutta, Bombay, and Bangalore.

But if I was not to work for the good of Buddhism at the expense of my own good, spiritually speaking, I needed to have a means of uniting the two. I found this in the Bodhisattva ideal, especially as presented in Šãntideva’s Šiksã-samuccaya or Collection of Teachings: the ideal of the one who strives for Enlightenment not just for his own sake but for the sake of all living beings. It was not that the Bodhisattva literally gave up the prospect of Nirvãna for himself in order to remain in the world and help others achieve Nirvãna, as in the popular version of the ideal, but rather that he saw no difference between striving for his own Enlightenment and striving for theirs. He saw no difference because he had transcended the dichotomy of ‘self’ and ‘others’; and it was this very dichotomy that was the real obstacle to Enlightenment. Some years later I affirmed my allegiance to the Bodhisattva ideal by taking the Bodhisattva ordination. I took it from Dhardo Rimpoche, a Tibetan incarnate lama who had arrived in Kalimpong shortly before I did,whom I gradually got to know, and whom I came to revere as a living embodiment of the Bodhisattva ideal.

During those first seven years in Kalimpong I operated from a succession of borrowed or rented premises. In March 1957 the generosity of friends enabled me to buy a small hillside property on the outskirts of the town and there establish the Triyana Vardhana Vihara, the Monastery Where the Three Yanas Flourish. It was the year of the Buddha Jayanti or 2,500th anniversary of Buddhism, a year that was important for me on a number of counts. Besides establishing the Triyana Vardhana Vihara, I toured the Buddhist holy places as a guest of the Government of India together with Dhardo Rimpoche and fifty-odd other ‘Eminent Buddhists from the Border Areas’; took part in the official Buddha Jayanti celebrations in Delhi; met the Dalai and Panchen Lamas; and had the satisfaction of seeing my book A Survey of Buddhism published to widespread acclaim.

Towards the close of 1956, Delhi hosted a major international Buddhist gathering that was Freda's introduction to the Tibetan schools of Buddhism, which are in the Mahayana tradition as distinct from the Theravada school which is predominant in Burma. This Buddha Jayanti was to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Buddha's life. The Indian government wanted Tibet's Buddhist leaders to attend, particularly the Dalai Lama, who was that rare combination of temporal ruler and spiritual leader of his people. The Chinese authorities initially said no but at the last minute relented. Jawaharlal Nehru was at Delhi airport to welcome the twenty-one year old Dalai Lama on his first visit to India; the young Tibetan leader had at this stage not made up his mind whether he would return to his Chinese-occupied homeland or lead a Tibetan independence movement in exile. Freda played a role in welcoming the Tibetan delegation to the Indian capital. 'The radiance and good humour of the Dalai Lama was something we shall never forget,' she told Olive Chandler. 'I also got a chance of shepherding the official tour of the International delegates to India's Buddhist shrines and made many new friends.'18 A snatch of newsreel footage shows Freda Bedi at the side of the Dalai Lama at Ashoka Vihar, the Buddhist centre outside Delhi where the Bedi family had camped out a few years earlier. Both Kabir and Guli were also there, the latter peering out nervously between a heavily garlanded Dalai Lama and her sari-clad mother.19 Freda also received the Dalai Lama's blessing.

-- The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi, by Andrew Whitehead

Most important of all, perhaps, I became involved with the movement of mass conversion of so-called ‘ex-Untouchable’ Hindus to Buddhism.

This historic movement had begun in Nagpur, where Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the leader of the ex-Untouchables, had embraced Buddhism with 400,000 of his followers. Six weeks later he died suddenly in Delhi. I happened to arrive in Nagpur less than an hour before the news of his death was received there, and that night I addressed a condolence meeting attended by 100,000 grief-stricken and demoralized new Buddhists.

Ambedkar was not dead, I assured my audience. He lived on in them, and his work –- especially the work of conversion –- had to continue. In the next four days I visited practically all the ex-Untouchable ghettoes in the city, made more than forty speeches, and initiated 30,000 persons into Buddhism. By the time I left for Calcutta I had addressed altogether 200,000 people, and given them renewed confidence in their future as Buddhists. Leading members of the community declared that I had saved Nagpur for Buddhism. That may or may not have been true. I had certainly forged with the Buddhists of Nagpur, and indeed with all Ambedkar’s followers, a link that was destined to endure.

Dharmapala and the Tamil downtrodden

The interactions between Sri Lanka and India during the Sinhalese Buddhist Renaissance of the 19th and 20th centuries had reverberations in several parts of India. Some of these are only now coming to light in the literature. One reverberation was the rise of a Tamil emancipatory movement as described by the Christian social scientist, Aloysius in his Religion as Emancipatory Identity: a Buddhist Movement among Tamils under Colonialism. He writes from a Dalit (that is "untouchable") caste point of view. He considers the recent Buddhism in South India as a religion of the oppressed44.

Aloysius relates the recent interest in Buddhism in traditional Buddhist communities like those in Sri Lanka and Burma and North-East India as well as to orientalist scholars and publications like Arnold's Light of Asia. Aloysius positions an Indian national stage to Ambedkar, the Dalit leader who converted a large number to Buddhism, in contrast to the international Buddhism of Dharmapala. From the 1930s, Ambedkar was discovering Buddhism and reconstructing it for his own emancipatory use.

But, before Ambedkar, around the beginning of the 20th century among South Indian Tamils, there was a resurgence of Buddhism under the banner of the South Indian Buddhist Association. This had links to both the Theosophical Society and the Maha Bodhi Society. Aloysius describes how Dharmapala's teachings on Buddhism as a rational religion and against the caste system was important in this "Tamil emancipatory" exercise45.

One of the important acts of this Buddhist and Theosophical influence on South Indian Tamils was the "Free Schools for Parayar ["untouchable"] Children" started by Colonel Olcott46. In 1898, a Sakya Buddhist Society was formed by Pandit Iyothee Thass which is the main subject of Aloysius's book47. Pandit Iyothee Thass had sought out Olcott who had then written to Venerable Sumangala, the Principal of Vidyodaya College in Colombo about Thass's interest. In the presence of Dharmapala and another Buddhist monk who had arrived from Sri Lanka, a public meeting to form a Dravidian Buddhist Society for the lower castes was now held in Madras.

Pandit Thass then proceeded to Sri Lanka from Madras and met Venerable Sumangala "in the presence of a large and representative gathering" and with the blessing of the monk returned to Madras to start the "Sakya Buddhist Society", Olcott records how delighted the Chief Monk had been to meet the delegates of the Untouchables. The monks had told the Madras delegates that when they became Buddhist, all the arbitrary social distinctions would be removed off their shoulders and they would become free, "entitled to their own self-respect"48.

The delegates from Madras observed the Buddhist Five Precepts at the Vidyodaya temple to great enthusiasm from the Sinhalese audience. In the days following, the visiting new Tamil Buddhists went to key temples in Sri Lanka including the Kelaniya Temple, They met also the Chief Monks of the Royal Temples of Malwatta and Asgiriya as well as the Chief Monk of the Ramanna Nikaya49.

The new Tamil Buddhist community in South India now identified themselves as being original Indian Buddhists who had been put down by the Brahmin caste and were now only making a return to the Buddhist fold. Earlier, Iyothee Thass had already said that the outcaste communities were the original Tamils and were not part of the later Hindus. The new Buddhist converts now set out to explain their claimed Buddhist origins to other Tamil outcasts. Iyothee Thass shored up the "rediscovery" of this earlier Buddhist heritage by constructing Buddhist temples, having Buddhist burials, opening Buddhist medical halls, Buddhist colleges and a Buddhist Young Men's Association as well as celebrating the Buddha's birthday50.

The Sakya Buddhist Society began its activities in 1898 with religious meetings on Sundays, lectures on religious and social issues and getting members to take the Five Precepts. The Maha Bodhi Society also opened a branch in South India in 1900, but the two societies were distinct, sometimes working side by side, sometimes not. A Buddhist Young Men's Association was formed with Anagarika Dharmapala and Thass as joint secretaries but not much came out of it. Monks visiting Maha Sodhi Society did the rituals at the Sakya Buddhist Society. The latter also became an international center, Thass writing in 1911 noted that 260 Buddhist visitors from different pans of Europe and Asia including from Sri Lanka had on different occasions stayed at the Sakya Buddhist Society51.

Thass campaigned against orthodox Vedic-Brahminic ideas that were now coming from the Theosophy's headquarters at Adyar in Madras. Soon he was able to get help from other progressive elements from South Indian Tamils. The journal Tamilan became a major carrier of Buddhist thought. These Buddhists formed branch societies and one functionary Prof. Laksmi Narasu published in 1907 a book The Essence of Buddhism, a follow up to his lectures on Buddhism, rationalism and anti-Brahmanism. The introduction to the book was written by Anagarika Dharmapala and the book went on for several editions and was also translated into Japanese and Czechoslovakian. It was later the basis for a popular Tamil book by Appaduraiyar Putharathu Arularom ("Buddha's Compassionate Religion")52. During the period 1907-1914, the debates around rationalism, Dravidianism and anti-Brahmanism came to the fore through this "theory and practice of Tamil Buddhism". And Aloysius adds, "it was these very ideas that were later developed into a full-fledged political ideology within the Dravidian movement"53.

As activities of the movement intensified. there were writings by Tamils praising the Buddha. A member of the Society Lingaiah went to Sri Lanka to take up robes and study Pali at the Vidyodaya College54. A major preoccupation of the new South Indian Buddhists was to have a separate identity as Buddhists saying "Buddhists will not be treated as Hindus", and to be included as a separate demographic category. This was granted by the then British government as was a separate burial ground away from the Hindus55. Tamils who had migrated to different countries from South Africa to Myanmar also began to be incorporated in the new Tamil Buddhist movement. When the Buddhist delegation from Sri Lanka attended the Annual Conference of the Indian National Congress in 1923, Appaduraiyar joined the Sri Lanka delegation to press for a resolution to transfer Bodh Gaya to the Buddhists56. In the 1920s, a "Ceylon Tamil Buddhist Association" inspired by South Indian Tamil Buddhist revival and in close collaboration with Sinhalese-Buddhists was sponsoring propagation of Tamil Buddhist literatures57.

The rise of Ramasami Naickar ("Periyar") and the Dravidian movement in the 1930s began to see the down grading of Tamil Buddhism and its gradual replacement by a strident Tamil nationalism. The visits in the 1950s to Tamil areas by Ambedkar who was then considering converting to Buddhism, could not halt this drift to a strong Tamil nationalism. The mass conversions of Ambedkar and his followers in 1956, therefore, did not have an effect on Tamil Buddhism in the South Indian Dalit community. Yet the Tamil Buddhist social movement had existed for nearly half a century prior to this mass conversion of Ambedkar in 1956. Ambedkar also had once read the Essence of Buddhism by the Tamil author Narasu with its introduction by Dharmapala. Ambedkar declared that it was the best book on Buddhism to have appeared so far "a text which is complete in its treatment and lucid in exposition"58. Tamil Buddhists also had extensive discussions with Ambedkar in the series of Buddhist conferences of the 1950s in which Sinhalese were actively involved.

Summing up the contribution of the Tamil Buddhist movement to the Dravidian/Tamil movement in those years, Aloysius identifies three distinct phases, "its ideological antecedent, programmatic partnership and mass merger". The masses initially mobilised by the Buddhists later "became the foot soldiers of the Dravidian movement under the leadership of E. V. Ramasamy himself59. In fact in 1928, Periyar himself had been one of the Chief Guests and a speaker at the General Conference of the South Indian Buddhists Association held in Madras. Periyar, Aloysius notes held both the Buddha and Buddhism in high esteem and he himself spoke many a time from Buddhist platforms and through the Buddhist idiom60. Soon though, as Aloysius concludes "'the Dravidian movement took off from where the Tamil Buddhism left off ... to become an all embracing and mass popular Dravidian National Movement"6 . The various Dravidian political parties such as the DMK and its offshoots are the results of this movement.

White noting through Aloysius the influences of Sinhalese Buddhists on the Tamil oppressed, it is useful also to briefly recall another indirect influence, namely on Ambedkar. Again in this emancipatory movement too, the foot prints of the Sinhala Buddhist renaissance can be detected.

In his rallying slogans, Ambedkar spoke of liberty, equality and fraternity but emphasised that these were not taken from the French but from Buddhist sources. He said, "Let no one however say that I have borrowed my philosophy from the French Revolution. I have not. My philosophy has roots in religion and not in political science. I have derived them from the teachings of my master, the Buddha"62. The basic philosophy and ideas about his "master, the Buddha" had come to India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through primarily Sinhalese sources which influenced the European and Indian discovery of Buddhism that Allen recorded. And it was these that eventually became the reading material on Buddhism for Ambedkar.

In 1950 at the invitation of the Young Men's Buddhist Association, Colombo, Ambedkar visited Sri Lanka and addressed a meeting of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. This was an organisation started by the Sinhalese, as were almost all other global Buddhist organizations. In 1954, he visited Burma twice. The second visit was to attend the third conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. His actual conversion to Buddhism on 14 October, 1956, was done in an orthodox Theravada (that is Sinhalese) manner. He took the Three Refuges and Five Precepts from a Buddhist monk. In turn he administered them to 380,000 persons. A few weeks after the conversion he was in Kathmandu, attending the fourth conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. Here the theme of his speech was ''The Buddha and Karl Marx," a topic much debated and discussed by Sri Lankan Buddhist scholars and activists at the time. The present day Dalit Publisher "Critical Quest" has republished this speech61. In this little book arc given further details of his debt to Buddhist material of Sinhalese Buddhist origin. He describes going to Sri Lanka to observe how monks preach to see for himself the practice of Buddhism64.

The present followers of Ambedkar are today continuing the efforts begun by Dharmapala to regain the management of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya from the Hindus. These Ambedkar Buddhist campaigns have included marches, demonstrations, and other political acts.

Ambedkar's Buddhist movement's transformational influence on Indian politics is today well known not only in the Dalit groups that became Buddhist but also in politicians like Mayawati of Uttar Pradesh India's state with the largest population, Mayawati, a Dalit with great reverence for the Buddha, is spoken of as a future Prime Minister of India65.

If the above authors described aspects of Sinhalese Buddhists in a matter-of-fact manner, let us see how the anthropologists on Sinhalese Buddhism have treated them.

-- Dharmapala and the Tamil downtrodden, Excerpt from White Sahibs, Brown Sahibs: Tracking Dharmapala, by Susantha Goonatilake

In the course of my second seven years in Kalimpong I developed the Triyana Vardhana Vihara as a centre of interdenominational Buddhism. Thai, Vietnamese, and Tibetan monks came to stay with me, and there was even the occasional Western Buddhist. Much of my time when I was actually in Kalimpong was spent at my desk, and my literary output during this period included the books later published as The Three Jewels and The Eternal Legacy. At the suggestion of a friend I also started writing my memoirs. When not in Kalimpong I was usually to be found either in Calcutta, editing the Maha Bodhi Society’s monthly journal, or touring central and western India preaching to the followers of Dr Ambedkar. The fourth and longest of my preaching tours lasted from October 1961 to May 1962. In those eight months I visited more than half the states of India, gave nearly 200 lectures, and received 25,000 men and women into the Buddhist community.

But there was another thread running through the fabric of my life, during that second seven-year period: the colourful thread of the Vajrayãna. Since the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese in 1950, there had been a steady trickle of refugees into Kalimpong, and in 1959, when the Dalai Lama himself fled to India, the trickle became a flood. A number of the refugees were incarnate lamas. Naturally I got to know these, and between 1957 and 1964 received from some of the most distinguished of them various Vajrayãna initiations. Among my Vajrayãna gurus were Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche and Dudjom Rimpoche, both of whom subsequently became well known in the West. The Vajrayãna being nothing if not practical, I naturally came to devote more and more of the time I spent in Kalimpong to deity yoga and to the Four Foundation Yogas, especially to the Going for Refuge and Prostration Practice centred upon the figure of Padmasambhava, to whom I had felt strongly drawn ever since my arrival in the Himalayan region. As though in recognition of my connection with him, in the course of one of my initiations I was given the name Urgyen, Padmasambhava being known as the Guru from Urgyen or Uddiyãna.

The Legendary History of the Founder of Lamaism.

Once upon a time, in the great city of Jatumati177 in the Indian continent, there dwelt a blind king named Indrabodhi,178 who ruled over the country of Udyana or Urgyan. The death of his only son plunges the palace in deepest sorrow, and this calamity is followed by famine and an exhausted treasury. In their distress the king and people cry unto the Buddhas with many offerings, and their appeal reaching unto the paradise of the great Buddha of Boundless Light — Amitabha — this divinity sends, instantly, like a lightning flash, a miraculous incarnation of himself in the form of a red ray of light to the sacred lake of that country.

That same night the king dreamt a dream of good omen. He dreamt that a golden thunderbolt had come into his hand, and his body shone like the sun. In the morning the royal priest Trignadhara179 reports that a glorious light of the five rainbow-tints has settled in the lotus-lake of Dhanakosha, and is so dazzling as to illuminate the three "unreal" worlds.

Then the king, whose sight has been miraculously restored, visits the lake, and, embarking in a boat, proceeds to see the shining wonder, and finds on the pure bosom of the lake a lotus-flower of matchless beauty, on whose petals sits a lovely boy of eight years old, sceptred and shining like a god. The king, falling on his knees, worships the infant prodigy, exclaiming: "Incomparable boy! who art thou? Who is thy father and what thy country?" To which the child made answer: "My Father I know! I come in accordance with the prophecy of the great Sakya Muni, who said: 'Twelve hundred years after me, in the north-east of the Urgyan country, in the pure lake of Kosha, a person more famed than myself will be born from a lotus, and be known as Padma-sambhava, or "the Lotus-born,"180 and he shall be the teacher of my esoteric Mantra-doctrine, and shall deliver all beings from misery.'"

On this the king and his subjects acknowledge the supernatural nature of the Lotus-born boy, and naming him "The Lake-born Vajra,"181 conduct him to the palace with royal honours. And from thenceforth the country prospered, and the holy religion became vastly extended. This event happened on the tenth day of the seventh Tibetan month.

In the palace the wondrous boy took no pleasure in ordinary pursuits, but sat in Buddha fashion musing under the shade of a tree in the grove. To divert him from these habits they find for him a bride in p'Od-'c'an-ma,182 the daughter183 of king Candra Goma-shi, of Singala.184 And thus is he kept in the palace for five years longer, till a host of gods appear and declare him divine, and commissioned as the Saviour of the world. But still the king does not permit him to renounce his princely life and become, as he desired, an ascetic. The youthful Padma-sambhava now kills several of the subjects, who, in their present or former lives, had injured Buddhism; and on this the people complain of his misdeeds to the king, demanding his banishment, which sentence is duly carried out, to the great grief of the king and the royal family.

The princely pilgrim travels to the Shitani cemetery of the cool grove,185 where, dwelling in the presence of the dead as a Sosaniko186 he seeks communion with the gods and demons, of whom he subjugates many. Thence he was conducted by the Dakkinis or witches of the four classes to the cave of Ajnapala,187 where he received instruction in the Asvaratna abankara, after which he proceeded to the countries of Pancha, etc., where he received instruction in the arts and sciences direct from old world sages, who miraculously appeared to him for this purpose.

Other places visited by him were the cemeteries of the Biddha (? Videha) country, where he was called "the sun's rays," the cemetery of bDe-ch'en brdal in Kashmir, where he was called "the chief desire sage" (blo-ldan mch'og-sred), the cemetery of Lhun-grub-brtsegs-pa in Nepal, subjugating the eight classes of Dam-sri at Yaksha fort, where he was named "the roaring voiced lion," and to the cemetery of Lanka brtsegs-pa in the country of Zahor, where he was named Padma-sambha.

At Zahor (? Lahore), the king's daughter, a peerless princess who could find no partner worthy of her beauty and intellect, completely surrendered to the Guru — and this seems to be the "Indian" princess-wife named Mandarawa Kumari Devi, who was his constant companion throughout his Tibetan travels. At Zahor the rival suitors seize him and bind him to a pyre, but the flames play harmlessly round him, and he is seen within seated serenely on a lotus-flower. Another miracle attributed to him is thus related: Athirst one day he seeks a wine- shop, and, with companions, drinks deeply, till, recollecting that he has no money wherewith to pay his bill, he asks the merchant to delay settlement till sunset, to which the merchant agrees, and states that he and his comrades meanwhile may drink their fill. But the Guru arrests the sun's career, and plagues the country with full daylight for seven days. The wine-seller, now in despair, wipes off their debt, when welcome night revisits the sleepy world...

When the Guru, after passing through Nepal, reached Man-yul, the enemy-god (dgra-lha) of Z'an-z'un, named Dsa-mun, tried to destroy him by squeezing him between two mountains, but he overcame her by his irdhi-power of soaring in the sky. He then received her submission and her promise to become a guardian of Lamaism under the religious name of rDo-rje Gyu-bun-ma.

E-ka-dsa-ti.— When the Guru reached gNam-t'an-mk'ar-nag, the white fiendess of that place showered thunderbolts upon him, without, however, harming him. The Guru retaliated by melting her snow-dwelling into a lake; and the discomfited fury fled into the lake T'an-dpal-mo-dpal, which the Guru then caused to boil. But though her flesh boiled off her bones, still she did not emerge; so the Guru threw in his thunderbolt, piercing her right eye. Then came she forth and offered up to him her life-essence, and was thereon named Gans-dkar-sha-med-rDo-rje-sPyan-gcig-ma, or "The Snow-white, Fleshless, One-eyed Ogress of the Vajra."

The twelve Tan-ma Furies.— Then the Guru marched onward, and readied U-yug-bre- mo-snar, where the twelve bstan-ma (see figure, page 27) furies hurled thunderbolts at him, and tried to crush him between mountains; but the Guru evaded them by flying into the sky, and with his "pointing-finger" charmed their thunderbolts into cinders. And by his pointing-finger he cast the hills and mountains upon their snowy dwellings. Thereupon the twelve bstan-ma, with all their retinue thwarted and subdued, offered him their life-essence, and so were brought under his control.

Dam-c'an-r Dor-legs.— Then the Guru, pushing onward, reached the fort of U-yug-bye- tshan'-rdson, where he was opposed by dGe-bsnen rDo-rje-legs-pa (see figure, p. 26) with his three hundred and sixty followers, who all were subjected and the leader appointed a guardian (bsrung-ma) of the Lamaist doctrine.

Yar-lha-sham-po. — Then the Guru, going forward, reached Sham-po-lun, where the demon Yar-lha-sham-po transformed himself into a huge mountain-like white yak, whose breath belched forth like great clouds, and whose grunting sounded like thunder. Bu-yug gathered at his nose, and he rained thunderbolts and hail. Then the Guru caught the demon's nose by "the iron-hook gesture," bound his neck by "the rope gesture,'' bound his feet by "the fetter-gesture"; and the yak, maddened by the super-added "bell-gesture," transformed himself into a young boy dressed in white silk, who offered up to the Guru his life-essence; and so this adversary was subjected.

Tan'-lha the great gNan. — Then the Guru proceeded to Phya-than-la pass, where the demon gNan-ch'en-t'an-lha, transformed himself into a great white snake, with his head in the country of Gru-gu, and his tail in gYer-mo-than country, drained by the Mongolian river Sok-Ch'u, and thus seeming like a chain of mountains he tried to bar the Guru's progress. But the Guru threw the lin-gyi over the snake. Then the T'an'-lha, in fury, rained thunderbolts, which the Guru turned to fishes, frogs, and snakes, which fled to a neighbouring lake. Then the Guru melted his snowy dwelling, and the god, transforming himself into a young boy dressed in white silk, with a turquoise diadem, offered up his life-essence, together with that of all his retinue, and so he was subjected.

The Injurers. — Then the Guru, proceeding onwards, arrived at the northern Phan- yul-thang, where the three Injurers — sTing-lo-sman of the north, sTing-sman-zor gdon-ma, and sTing-sman-ston— sent hurricanes to bar the Guru's progress. On which the Guru circled "the wheel of fire" with his pointing-finger, and thus arrested the wind, and melted the snowy mountains like butter before a red hot iron. Then the three gNod-sbyin, being discomfited, offered up their life-essence and so were subjected.

The Black Devils.— Then the Guru, going onward, reached gNam-gyi-shug-mthon- glang-sgrom, where he opened the magic circle or Mandate of the Five Families (of the Buddhas) for seven days, after which all the commanders of the host of bDud-Devil offered their life-essence and so were subjected.

The-u-ran. — Then the Guru went to the country of gLar-wa-rkan-c'ig-ma, where he brought all the The-u-ran demons under subjection.

The Mi-ma-yin Devils. — When the Guru was sitting in the cave of Senge-brag-phug, the demon Ma-sans-gyah-spang-skyes-shig, desiring to destroy him, came into his presence in the form of an old woman with a turquoise cap, and rested her head on the Guru's lap and extended her feet towards Gye-wo-than and her hands towards the white snowy mountain Ti-si. Then many thousands of Mi-ma-yin surrounded the Guru menacingly; but he caused the Five Fierce Demons to appear, and so he subjected the Mi-ma-yin.

Ma-mo, etc.— Then he subjected all the Ma-mo and bSemo of Ch'u-bo-ri and Kha-rak, and going to Sil-ma, in the province of Tsang, he subjected all the sMan-mo. And going to the country of Hori he subjected all the Dam-sri, And going to Rong-lung-nag-po he subjected all the Srin-po. And going to central Tibet (dbUs) towards the country of the lake Manasarova (mal-dro), he subjected all the Nagas of the mal-dro lake, who offered him seven thousand golden coins. And going to Gyu-'dsin-phug-mo, he subjected all the Pho-rgyud. And going to Dung-mdog-brag-dmar, he subjected all the smell eating Driza (? Gandharva). And going to Gan-pa-ch'u-mig, he subjected all the dGe-snen. And going to Bye-ma-rab-khar, he subjected all the eight classes of Lha-srin. And going to the snowy mountain Ti-si, he subjected all the twenty- eight Nakshetras. And going to Lha-rgod-gans, he subjected the eight planets. And going to Bu-le-gans, he subjected all the 'dre of the peaks, the country, and the dwelling-sites, all of whom offered him every sort of worldly wealth. And going to gLo-bor, he subjected all the nine lDan-ma-spun. Then he was met by Gans-rje-jo-wo at Pho-ma-gans, where he brought him under subjection. Then having gone to rTse-lha-gans, he subjected the rTse-sman. And going to sTod-lung, he subjected all the bTsan. Then having gone to Zul-p'ul-rkyan-gram-bu-t'sal, he remained for one month, during which he subjugated gzah-bolud and three Dam-sri.

And having concealed many scriptures as revelations, he caused each of these fiends to guard one apiece. With this he completed the subjection of the host of malignant devils of Tibet.

Then the Guru proceeded to Lhasa, where he rested awhile, and then went towards sTod-lun. At that time mnah-bdag-rgyal-po sent his minister, Lha-bzan- klu-dpal, with a letter and three golden Pata, silken clothes, horses, and divers good presents, accompanied by five hundred cavalry. These met him at sTod-lun-gzhon-pa, where the minister offered the presents to the Guru. At that time all were athirst, but no water or tea was at hand, so the Guru touched the rock of sTod-lun-gzhon-pa, whence water sprung welling out; which he told the minister to draw in a vessel. Hence that place is called to this day gz'on-pai-lha-ch'u or "The water of the God's vessel."

From Hao-po-ri the Guru went to Zun-k'ar, where he met King mNah-bdag- rgyal-po, who received him with honour and welcome. Now the Guru, remembering his own supernatural origin and the king's carnal birth, expected the king to salute him, so remained standing. But the king thought, "I am the king of the black- headed men of Tibet, so the Guru must first salute me." While the two were possessed by these thoughts, the Guru related how through the force of prayers done at Bya-run-K'a-shor stupa in Nepal (see p. 315) in former births, they two have come here together. The Guru then extended his right hand to salute the king, but fire darted forth from his finger-tips, and catching the dress of the king, set it on fire. And at the same time a great thunder was heard in the sky, followed by an earthquake. Then the king and all his ministers in terror prostrated themselves at the feet of the Guru.

Then the Guru spoke, saying, "As a penance for not having promptly saluted me, erect five stone stupas." These the king immediately erected, and they were named z'un-m'kar-mch'od-rten, and exist up till the present day.

-- The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology, and in its Relation to Indian Buddhism, by Laurence Austine Waddell, M.B., F.L.S., F.R.G.S.

In 1963 the English Sangha Trust invited me to spend a few months in England. Prior to that I had not thought even of visiting the West: my life and my work lay in India. Two considerations induced me, eventually, to accept the invitation. The first was that my presence might help resolve the differences that had arisen between the two principal Buddhist organizations in London; the second, that my parents were growing old and I ought to see them. After several delays and postponements, and one more visit to western India, in August 1964 I therefore returned to England after an absence of twenty years.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:33 am

Chapter Three: The Embroidered Cushion

The Hampstead Buddhist Vihara was situated on Haverstock Hill, opposite a public house and within easy reach of Belsize Park Underground Station. It was a narrow, three-storey terrace property with a basement, and it was permeated by a peculiar smell which I subsequently identified as that of a combination of dry rot and boiled cabbage.

At the time of my arrival the Vihara’s only occupants were Ananda Bodhi and the three novices. The latter had all been ordained by Venerable Saddhatissa, the incumbent of the Sinhalese Vihara at Chiswick...


Hammalawa Saddhatissa Maha Thera (1914–1990) was an ordained Buddhist monk, missionary and author from Sri Lanka, educated in Varanasi, London, and Edinburgh. He was a contemporary of Walpola Rahula, also of Sri Lanka...

The Maha Bodhi Society invited Saddhatissa to become a missionary (dharmaduta) monk in India like his contemporary Henepola Gunaratana.

In order to teach to Indians he learnt Indian languages such as Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. While in India, he came to know B. R. Ambedkar, who reportedly obtained advice from him on how to draft the Indian constitution along the lines of the vinaya. He also obtained an M.A. Degree from the Banaras Hindu University and then became a lecturer there.

In 1957 he traveled to London at the request of the Maha Bodhi Society and lived the rest of his life in the West.

He obtained his PhD from the University of Edinburgh and held academic appointments at a number of universities. He was a visiting lecturer in Buddhist studies at Oxford University; a lecturer in Sinhala at the University of London; and Professor of Pali and Buddhism at the University of Toronto. He was a Buddhist Chaplain at the London University and a vice president of the Pali Text Society.

At the time of his death he was the head of the London Buddhist Vihara and the Head of the Sangha (Sanghanayaka) of the United Kingdom and Europe of the Siam Nikaya of Sri Lanka."

He was posthumously honored in 2005 by Sri Lanka with a postage stamp bearing his image.

-- Hammalawa Saddhatissa, by Wikipedia

(Ananda Bodhi as a junior bhikkhu was not competent to ordain), but it was Ananda Bodhi with whom they actually lived. Two of the novices were English and one was German (Ananda Bodhi himself was a Canadian), and all three wore dark brown habits girt about the waist with a cord, so that they looked more like Franciscan friars than Buddhist monks. When they went out they donned voluminous cloaks of the same colour, as did Ananda Bodhi whenever he did not want his yellow robes to be seen.

As none of them spent much time at the Vihara I usually saw them only at breakfast and lunch (there was of course no evening meal), and not always even then.On those occasions when we did eat together neither Ananda Bodhi nor the novices made the slightest attempt to include me in the conversation, or to let me know what was going on, and any question I put received no more than a perfunctory reply. The novices were totally wrapped up in Ananda Bodhi, and Ananda Bodhi clearly was wrapped up in himself and in his own schemes. Considering that I was a senior monk, their behaviour was a violation of monastic etiquette: it was deplorable even by the most elementary standards of decency; but I said nothing, kept my ears open, and bided my time.

One day the conversation over lunch was more than usually animated. Ananda Bodhi and the novices were all wildly excited; even the rather saturnine orderer of the more expensive kind of salmon was affected by the general mood. I gathered that they had spent the morning at Hampstead Town Hall, where an international psychiatric congress was being held that week. It was not clear in what capacity Ananda Bodhi himself had been present (he was not a psychiatrist), but he had intervened in the morning’s debate, apparently speaking from the gallery, and after criticizing the current methods of treating schizophrenia had confidently assured the assembled psychiatrists that the condition was curable and that it could be cured by means of Buddhist meditation. The kind of meditation he had in mind was the controversial Burmese ‘insight meditation’, his teaching of which was a principal cause of the differences that had arisen between the Sangha Association, as represented by him, and the Buddhist Society, as represented by Christmas Humphreys – differences with which I would soon be having to deal. How the psychiatrists had responded to the intervention – whether with interest, or astonishment, or amusement – did not transpire. Ananda Bodhi obviously was elated by what he had done, while the three novices gazed at him more admiringly than ever. The Master had spoken, their shining eyes seemed to say, and a new era was about to dawn for the world.

In the midst of the jubilation the telephone rang, and Ananda Bodhi answered it. The caller was Beth, whose name I had already heard bandied about. It seemed she telephoned the Vihara frequently, sometimes twice or thrice a day, to ask if she had the permission of ‘the Sangha’ to open a window, or wash her hair, or do one of a number of other quite ordinary things. Whether or not she was a schizophrenic, and whether or not Ananda Bodhi was treating her, I do not know, but the novices regarded poor Beth as a great joke, and talked about her in the most unfeeling manner. Later I inherited her, so to speak, and the telephone calls turned into a series of long, rambling letters that eventually petered out.

More than once, during those first few days of mine at the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara, the conversation at mealtimes revolved round various schemes of Ananda Bodhi’s. These were referred to, as often as not, in an allusive manner that was obviously intended to keep me in the dark as to what was going on, but I gathered that Ananda Bodhi had purchased, or was about to purchase, a large country house in Scotland. The project was being funded by one of his supporters, an elderly spinster, and the place was to serve as his personal headquarters and be quite separate from, and independent of, the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara. I also gathered that two other members of the English Sangha (or rather, of the Sangha in England) would shortly be arriving in England. They would be arriving from Burma, where they had been undergoing training as meditation teachers.

Mangalo and Vimalo were much more friendly than Ananda Bodhi, and much more communicative, so that I soon had a better understanding of what was going on, not only at the Vihara itself but also within the wider British Buddhist movement. Like Ananda Bodhi, both were considerably junior to me, in years as well as in respect of monastic ordination, and like Ananda Bodhi both were, of course, Theravãdins. Mangalo was English, and evidently from an upper middle-class family. He was tall and thin, with a round, monkey-like head and protruding ears, and though not really ill-natured he was much given to indulging in ridicule. As I afterwards discovered, he had given up a promising career at the Foreign Office – and left a fiancée – in order to become a Buddhist monk. Vimalo, who was German, presented a more robust appearance. Pink-faced and smiling, he bore himself stiffly, and was somewhat slow of speech. I never learned anything about his background, but he had a twin brother who also had become a bhikkhu and who for a while had lived at the Vihara with him and Mangalo. This brother had returned to Germany, where he had disrobed and married and was now a yoga teacher.

Different though the English and the German bhikkhu were in character and background, they had much in common. Both of course were monks, and both were Theravãdins, in addition to which both were inclined to attach more importance to the practice of meditation than to doctrinal study. Their position to this extent was unexceptionable; but they also shared, unfortunately, an attitude that I later on found to be characteristic of a certain kind of Western Theravãdin, whether member of the monastic order or lay supporter. While unsympathetic and even hostile to the Mahãyãna, they at the same time were strongly drawn to Christianity, especially in its more mystical aspects. Theravãda Buddhism and Christianity, they seemed to believe, had more in common with each other than had Theravãda Buddhism and the Mahãyãna. It was as though one could be a Theravãdin Buddhist without ceasing to be a Christian, whereas if one was a Theravãdin it was not possible for one to be a Mahãyãnist or even to accept the Mahãyãna as a genuinely Buddhist tradition. My own position was clean contrary to this. For me, theistic Christianity and non-theistic Buddhism were radically incompatible, so that it was impossible for a Buddhist to be at the same time a Christian, or a Christian a Buddhist, even though it might be possible for them to appreciate some of the more peripheral features of the religion to which they did not belong. During the period of my acquaintance with Mangalo and Vimalo (we were never close friends) the three of us therefore had some interesting discussions, and the differences between me and my two colleagues sometimes had amusing consequences.

I once happened to refer to the fact that for orthodox Christians the dogmas of Christianity were true in the literal sense, citing as an example their belief that Christ ascended bodily into heaven after his death on the cross. Mangalo emphatically denied this. According to him, the ascension was a purely spiritual event; its significance was symbolic, and no Christian believed otherwise. To this I replied that the doctrine of the bodily ascension of Christ was one of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. But this too Mangalo refused to accept, declaring that it was just another example of the way in which I misrepresented Christianity. Fortunately in the Vihara library there was a copy of the Book of Common Prayer bound up in one volume with the Bible. Turning to the Thirty-nine Articles, I read out Article 4, Of the Resurrection of Christ:

Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.

For once Mangalo ‘had not what to say’. On another occasion I returned from a short stay at the Sangha Trust’s meditation centre at Biddulph, in Staffordshire, to find people expressing their dissatisfaction with the previous Sunday’s lecture, which I had asked Vimalo to give in my place. All the German bhikkhu had done, they complained, was to read out a series of extracts – more than thirty of them – from the writings of Meister Eckhart. ‘We come to the Vihara to hear the Dharma,’ some of them told me, ‘not to learn about Christian mysticism.’ The two incidents lay in the future, but I mention them in this place, partly because they revealed something about the state of Buddhism in Britain at the time and partly because Mangalo and Vimalo play little further part in my story. (Mangalo disrobed a few years later and became an Anglican priest.) Meanwhile the two of them were there at the Vihara with me, and shortly after their arrival we agreed that since four Western bhikkhus were now living under the same roof we ought to hold a chapter meeting.

We met in the front room on the first floor, where lectures were held and where a green-and-gold Thai shrine, complete with shining brass Buddha image, stood against the far wall. To the left of the shrine, and to the right, two chairs had been placed, and on one of the chairs next to the shrine there was an embroidered cushion. When Ananda Bodhi at last swept in, he straightway plumped himself down on the chair with the embroidered cushion, as if it were his by right. Vimalo at once objected. ‘We ought to let Venerable Sangharakshita sit there,’ he said bluntly, ‘as he is senior to us.’ Whereupon the Canadian monk vacated the chair with a very ill grace, I took my seat on it, and our meeting began. I do not remember what we discussed. Probably it was on this occasion that it was agreed between us that during the winter Mangalo and Vimalo would take it in turns to live for a month at a time at the Biddulph centre and be available for individual instruction in meditation. Ananda Bodhi took very little part in the proceedings. His being compelled to relinquish the seat of honour seemed to have shaken him badly, and he may have been thinking that the incident represented a deposition from the throne of his hitherto unquestioned supremacy at the Vihara and within the English Sangha Association. Whether this was actually the case or not, I noticed that whereas when surrounded by the admiring novices he was quite bumptious, in the presence of his fellow bhikkhus he was more like a pricked balloon. No wonder he avoided our company as much as he could! I also noticed that Vimalo did not take him very seriously, and at times spoke of him slightingly.

After the chapter meeting none of us saw much of Ananda Bodhi. When in London he usually stayed at the English Sangha’s old home in Swiss Cottage, the lease on which had not quite run out. I therefore took possession of his room at the Vihara. It was situated on the second floor of the building, immediately above the meeting room, and was known as ‘the abbot’s room’. Beside the bed I found a crystal ball, together with half a dozen yards of black velvet.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:35 am

Chapter Four: Family Reunions and a Big Disappointment

My parents had separated during the War, when I was still living at home. Later they were divorced, and each remarried. Once I had melted into the Indian background and disappeared, for prudential reasons I stopped writing to them (I did not want the Army to be able to track me down, supposing it was minded to do so), and once I had gone forth as a homeless wanderer I naturally thought it incumbent upon me to sever all earthly ties. It was not that I did not love my parents, but that I loved the Dharma more, and wanted to devote my whole life to it; and devoting my life to the Dharma, I had concluded, meant becoming a monk, with all that this entailed in the way of separation from society and the family. Whenever I thought of my parents, and I certainly did think of them from time to time, it was with unalloyed affection, and gratitude for having given me a happy childhood. In any case, while in Ceylon I had told them that I was thinking of becoming a monk in India after demobilization and they had, in effect, given me their blessing.

At the time the English Sangha Trust invited me to England I had been a bhikshu for nearly fourteen years, during which period a change in my attitude to the monastic life had taken place. Though continuing to value real, as distinct from merely formal,monasticism, I no longer saw monastic life and spiritual life as virtually identical,which is the strict Theravãdin position, nor did I any longer see monastic life as necessarily involving an austere aloofness from the world. I therefore accepted the Trust’s invitation, not only because I might be able to help resolve the differences between the English Sangha Association and the Buddhist Society, but also because it would give me an opportunity of seeing my parents.

My mother was living in Rayleigh, in Essex, and within a week of my arrival in England I had caught the train at Liverpool Street and was on my way to see her. She had written to me some months earlier, having obtained my address from Christmas Humphreys, who had informed her that I was expected in the country shortly. This I had immediately confirmed, thus giving her plenty of time to get used to the idea of seeing me again. Our meeting was a joyful one. I would not have been surprised if my mother had become emotional and shed a few tears, or even if she had reproached me for having kept her without news of my whereabouts for so many years, but she did neither. She simply was overjoyed to see me, and it was clear from her demeanour that the only thing that mattered to her was that I was actually there at last. She had been a widow for three years and lived alone, though John, her elder grandson, who was nineteen and whom she had brought up, still had a room at the bungalow. News having been exchanged over a cup of tea, I gave her the presents I had brought. They included a set of six silver teaspoons, of ornate Newar workmanship, each one of which was set with a turquoise. The following day she took me with her when she went out shopping, and proudly introduced me to the numerous friends she met on the way. What they made of my shaven head and yellow robes I could not tell, for they were much too polite to show any surprise at them and behaved as though meeting a Buddhist monk in the high street was an everyday occurrence.

In outward appearance my mother was very little changed. Though she had grown a trifle stout, her expression was still youthful and her step light. But mentally there had been a change, though perhaps it was not so much a change as a development, a maturation, of qualities already present in her. She seemed more confident and self-assured than I remembered her to have been. I attributed this to the fact that during the seventeen years of her second marriage she had travelled abroad a lot with her husband, an inspector of school supplies whose official duties frequently took him to conferences in Europe. Her favourite countries, she told me, were Switzerland and Austria. They were so clean!

But if there had been little change in the outward appearance of my mother, the years had not dealt quite so kindly with my sister,who came to see me on the second or third day of my visit, my mother not having allowed her to come any earlier as she wanted to have me entirely to herself for a while. Joan was fifteen months younger than me, but already there were silver threads in her dark brown hair and it was soon apparent that she was a habitual smoker. She had been a young girl when I left England; now she was a haggard-faced woman on the verge of middle age. As my mother afterwards told me, she had led an adventurous – even a hectic – life, had married more than once, had given birth to three children and now was expecting a fourth, and for several years had lived – to my mother’s horror – in a real gypsy caravan, as she had an aversion to the city, to houses, and to ordinary domestic life. She was nevertheless of a placid, easy-going disposition, as I well knew, and I gained the impression that my mother worried about Joan much more than the latter worried about herself. That same day I met John, a shy and reserved youth, as well as his eleven-year-old brother David,who bombarded me with questions about India and wanted me to ‘talk Hindu’. I may also have met Joan’s husband Eddie, who was ten or twelve years her senior and whose entire working life had been spent with Ford Motors.

My father was living in Southfields, not far from Wimbledon Common, in the ground floor flat of the terrace house that had belonged to my grandmother. She had lived there with Aunt Helen, my father’s unmarried younger sister, and the place was hardly less familiar tome than my own home. On the outside it was unchanged. There was the same privet hedge, the same neat front garden, the same balustraded porch, the same dark green front door with the stained glass panels, and the same polished brass letter box which, as a very small boy, I had loved to rattle to announce my arrival. Within, much had changed. Gone from the walls of the entrance hall were the big Chinese painting and the ceremonial swords, gone from behind the front door the Tibetan ritual bell I had so loved to ring, and gone all the old-fashioned mahogany furniture that my grandmother had polished with such loving care. Gone, even, were the well-known portraits of my grandmother’s two deceased husbands and the photograph of my parents with me as a baby in long clothes, that used to hang in the living room. The living room itself was relatively unchanged, though it seemed smaller and narrower. There I gave my father and his wife their presents, and there the three of us had tea.My father’s present was a bowl from Bhutan, carved from the excrescence of an apple tree and lined with silver. (When I was a boy he had bought me many a ‘curio’, and it was fitting that now I should be giving him one.) To his wife I gave a set of Indian handmade placemats. No introduction to her had been necessary; she was already well known to me, and had been no less glad to see me than had my father. She was the sister of Auntie Hilda, the first wife of my mother’s brother Jack, and as a girl had often acted as my nursemaid.

Though my father was glad to see me, I soon observed that there was something on his mind. It related to my grandmother. I was certainly not surprised to learn she had been dead for some years, but it came as a shock when my father told me she had committed suicide. She had been living with them at the time (or they with her), there in Elborough Street, and one morning Florrie had returned from the shops to find her with her head in the gas oven. They had been shocked and distressed beyond words, and from the heartfelt way in which my father spoke of the unhappy event I could tell that it still distressed him even to think about it. I also had the impression that he was anxious I should not think that he and Florrie had neglected my grandmother in anyway or made her feel she was a burden to them. They had done everything for her they could, he assured me. Nothing had been too much trouble. I had no difficulty believing him, as he had always been an affectionate and dutiful son. But I also knew that my grandmother was a strong-minded, independent old lady, who would not have enjoyed being dependent on others, however close to her they were, and however happy they may have been to look after her.

My grandmother’s death had not been the only one within the immediate family. Uncle Charles, my father’s stepbrother and his junior by ten or more years, had died prematurely of a heart attack. He had inherited the Chinese painting and the ceremonial swords, together with the other curios and antiques his father had collected, which explained why they were not in their usual places. Like the rest of his estate, they were still the subject of litigation between his ex-wives. Aunt Helen had not been seen for many years. She had turned strange, as my father put it. Strangest of all, having inherited my grandmother’s house, she had sold it over their heads without consulting them, so that he and Florrie had woken up one morning to find they had a new landlord. This astonished me greatly, as Aunt Helen had always been conspicuously devoted to my father, and Florrie had for many years been her best friend.

Before I left my father handed me my Post Office Savings book, which I had entrusted to him twenty years earlier, on the eve of my embarkation for India. I had forgotten all about it. But my father had not forgotten. He had religiously sent the book in every year for the interest to be made up, with the result that I now had £120 to my name. I also had entrusted to my father the various notebooks containing my poems, together with the manuscript of my novel and the hundred or more books that had not been destroyed when our house was bombed. These I certainly had not forgotten. I was looking forward to the opportunity of casting a critical eye over my early literary efforts, especially the poems. But when I asked my father about them he looked blank. ‘Oh yes,’ he responded at length, passing his hand across his brow as he tried to remember, ‘there were a few poetry books. I think your cousin Ezalda took them.’ I was deeply disappointed.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:41 am

Chapter Five: At the Summer School

The buddhist society’s summer school was the highlight of the British Buddhist year, and had been so for more than a decade. It lasted a week, and was held at High Leigh, a conference centre on the outskirts of Hoddesdon, a small town in Hertfordshire. People came to it from all over the country. They came to meet fellow Buddhists and sympathizers with Buddhism, to attend lectures and classes, and to buy books on Buddhism and other Eastern religions that were not easily obtainable outside London.

That year I was the principal teacher, and as such was kept fully occupied. According to a report later published in Sangha, the monthly journal of the Buddhist Sangha Association, in the course of the week I conducted six meditation sessions, delivered ten lectures, held a question-and-answer meeting, participated in the School’s concluding brains trust, and recorded two interviews for the bbc. As the report went on to say,

The Ven. Sthavira’s experience at the Summer School, where he contacted a representative cross-section of English Buddhists, besides meeting old friends, was a great help to him in assessing the present position of the Buddhist movement in England.

One of the old friends I met was the author and translator John Blofeld, who four or five years earlier had spent three weeks with me in Kalimpong. He was not only a friend but a fellow disciple, the two of us having received the Vajrasattva initiation together from Dudjom Rimpoche. Another report,which appeared in The Middle Way, the quarterly journal of the Buddhist Society, spoke of me as combining the three approaches of the Hînayãna, Mahãyãna, and Vajrayãna, and as showing how the seeds of the last two are found in the first, and how the later developments grew without losing the fundamentals of the earlier approach. At the morning study classes, according to the same source, I outlined the Theravãda and Tibetan schools.

Thirty-three years later I have little or no distinct recollection of all this, which is why I am having to rely on the two journals for an account of what was, nevertheless, my first important assignment on my return to England. But although I have no distinct recollection of what I did at my first Summer School, in the way of delivering lectures and conducting meditation classes, a few vivid, if unconnected, impressions still remain, one of them sufficiently striking for me to have wanted to set it down in my notebook shortly afterwards. There also survives an article I wrote for The Middle Way on ‘Twenty Years After: Impressions of Buddhism in England’. In this article I commented on the fact that a high proportion of Western Buddhists seemed interested in meditation. I also gave an account of an experiment in Guided Meditation, as I called it, that I conducted at the morning meditation sessions.

The dining room at High Leigh was occupied by rows of long tables, with seating on either side. There were separate tables for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. At breakfast the first day I joined the vegetarians, among whom were Maurice Walshe, the Chairman of the English Sangha Trust, and his wife Ruth, both of whom had already been to see me at the Vihara. In previous years, monks attending the Summer School had always eaten by themselves, thus reinforcing the rigid Theravãdin separation between monks and the lay community, and the fact that I chose to do otherwise occasioned a certain amount of astonishment. But it also gave rise to a good deal of pleasure, so that I still have a vivid impression of the satisfaction and delight with which people received me when I sat down at their table that morning and the joy with which they hastened to serve me. Christmas Humphreys and his entourage, I noticed, were not vegetarians.

Anne Lobstein may or may not have been part of the entourage. She was a short, fresh-faced woman of about forty who, I afterwards learned, had written an article that the editor of The Middle Way refused to accept, on the grounds that it contained, besides an account of the writer’s mystical experiences, revelations concerning her love life. At the Summer School she took the morning study class in Zen, and it was this class I decided to sit in on as part of my programme of informing myself about the current state of Buddhism in Britain. When I walked in, the class was pleasantly surprised, but Anne looked shocked. ‘Oh no!’ she cried, ‘This is not fair.’ ‘In Zen everything is fair,’ I retorted, as I took my seat, and the poor woman had no alternative but to proceed. There would be a short period of quiet reflection, she at length announced, in an unsteady voice, presumably so that she would have time to compose herself. When we had sat with closed eyes for ten or fifteen minutes she gave a confused, rambling talk about the trees and the flowers and the butterflies, and about the blue sky and the bright sunshine (and indeed it was a glorious August day outside), and about how it was all One, and how that was Zen. Years later, when we were better acquainted, she told me that the episode had caused her deep embarrassment. She was then new to Zen, and had never taken a Zen class before, but Mr Humphreys had asked her to do so, and as she regarded him as her teacher (she was a member of his Zen class at the Buddhist Society) she felt unable to refuse.

Humphreys himself spoke more than once that week, his principal contribution in this regard being the evening lecture he gave on ‘A Buddhist Travelogue’. In this lecture he compared the spiritual life to climbing up the side of a mountain, and at one point described the spiritual mountaineer as ‘hacking off great bleeding lumps of self’ in the course of his ascent. The violent image made me shudder at the time, and it makes me shudder still. Of my own lectures I remember nothing. I do, however, remember an incident that took place immediately before one of them. Christmas Humphreys was to take the chair. On arriving at the lecture hall I found him waiting impatiently outside the door. ‘You’re two minutes late,’ he observed disapprovingly, looking up at the clock above the lintel as though for confirmation of his words. I could hardly explain that in India I was accustomed to meetings beginning two hours late, and murmured something about not having a watch. The upshot was that the following day he sent me into Hoddesdon with Muriel Daw, his Meetings Secretary, to choose a watch for myself at the local jewellers. The day being my birthday, it would be a birthday present to me from him and the Buddhist Society. At the jewellers I unwittingly selected what I afterwards came to know was a quite expensive watch, but it lasted me a long time, and served to remind me that I was now living in a different culture,with a different set of values, one of which was punctuality.

The impression that was sufficiently striking for me to want to set it down in my notebook, once I was back at the Vihara, related to the demonstrations of ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, that were given towards the end of the week by Stella Coe and her pupils. Stella Coe was a leading ikebana teacher, so I gathered, and a regular visitor to the Summer School. Some of the flower arrangements appeared to have a therapeutic effect. This was particularly the case with an arrangement representing a thoroughly selfish person carrying ‘a heavy coil of knotty karma’, the work of a stout, middle-aged woman in a blue dress. As my notebook entry went on to ask:

Did the almost hysterical laughter of the audience represent a release of tension brought about by the recognition, in consciousness, of the dark side of themselves? Does the traditional Japanese art have this therapeutic effect, or is it merely aesthetic? Or are the two not inseparable? Miss Coe and her pupils (except the young man, a comparative beginner) had a peculiarly radiant grace and kindliness which might, perhaps, be the result of continually evoking, through the flower-arrangements, images of beauty from the unconscious and incorporating – even assimilating – them into consciousness.

Whatever the explanation may have been, the grace and kindliness of Stella Coe and her three women pupils was very evident, and it gladdened my heart to see such a high degree of emotional positivity.

The differences that had arisen between the Sangha Association and the Buddhist Society were connected with the teaching of a particular form of meditation. I was therefore concerned to find out what place meditation occupied in the lives of British Buddhists, and in my article ‘Twenty Years After’ I touched on the subject. A high proportion of Western Buddhists seemed interested in meditation, and it was significant that at the Summer School there were four different meditation sessions a day, all of them well attended. In view of the alarmingly high incidence of mental strain and disorder this interest was natural, I observed, adding that it was always to be borne in mind that the significance of Buddhist meditation was not merely psychological but primarily spiritual: its goal was Enlightenment. The article continued:

Some people at the Summer School, however, regretted that a wider range of meditation practices were not available. As one of them told me, ‘We aren’t attracted by Zen, and we don’t like Vipassanã, and there doesn’t seem to be anything in between.’ Actually there is very much ‘in between’. At the 9.30 meditation sessions I conducted an experiment in what I afterwards called Guided Meditation, the class progressing from one stage to another of Mettã Bhãvanã (Development of Love) practice as directed at five-minute intervals by the voice of the instructor. Verbal directions were gradually reduced to a minimum until, in the last session, transition from one stage to the next was indicated merely by strokes on the gong. The experiment seemed successful, and it may be possible to apply the same technique to the teaching of other types of meditation. In any case, I feel strongly that there is a great need, among English Buddhists, for a wider and more intensive practice of the ‘classical’ systems of meditation, such as Mettã Bhãvanã and Ãnãpãna Sati (Respiration-Mindfulness), which are common to all Yãnas and which constitute the indispensable foundation of the more advanced techniques. I also feel that less attention is paid than might be to the devotional side of the Buddha’s Teaching. As the formula of the Five Spiritual Faculties reminds us, Faith (šraddhã) and Wisdom (prajñã), Energy (vîrya) and Meditation (samãdhi), must be in perfect equilibrium: Mindfulness (smòti) ‘is always useful’.

The Vipassanã that some people at the Summer School didn’t like was the controversial Burmese ‘insight meditation’ that Ananda Bodhi had been teaching, about which I shall have something to say later on. My experiment in Guided Meditation was an experiment in the sense that I had not taught meditation in this way before, and as the experiment was successful it did prove possible to apply the same technique to the teaching of types of meditation other than mettã-bhãvanã. Guided Group Meditation, as I now called it, came to be the standard way in which I taught mettã-bhãvanã and ãnãpãna-sati to beginners in meditation both at the Vihara and elsewhere. This served to encourage the practice of the ‘classical’ systems of meditation among English Buddhists, some of whom were inclined to hanker after more ‘advanced’methods of development.
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Re: Moving Against the Stream, by Dennis Lingwood

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:44 am

Chapter Six: Rustle of Autumn

During the war, meetings of the Buddhist Society were held at its two-room headquarters in Great Russell Street, not far from the British Museum. I attended a number of them, as well as once or twice participating in the Wesak celebration that was held each year in this or that Bloomsbury hotel, and made several friends among the other members. The most important of these new friends was Clare Cameron, the pixie-like editor of Buddhism in England (as The Middle Way was then called), who read my latest poems, invited me to tea at her Bayswater flat, and took me walking in Kensington Gardens. Though following my departure from England we corresponded for a while, it was only after I had settled in Kalimpong that a regular exchange of letters became possible. Clare was a good correspondent, so that I learned, in the course of the years, about Here and Now, the little magazine she had bought from the poet and mystic Derek Neville, about the magazine’s failure a few years later, about her growing interest in the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and J. Krishnamurti, about her association with Thomas Henry Hamblin (‘an English saint in an ordinary serge suit’) and his Science of Thought Review, about her becoming editor of the review, and, most recently, about her moving, on the death of Hamblin’s widow, into Bosham House, where she now lived and worked and where, one early autumn day, I visited her.

Bosham House backed on to the Sussex Downs, and from the front lawn, where we had tea, there was a view out over the waters of Bosham Creek. Clare was not greatly changed. Her hair was still cut in pageboy style, though it was grey now, her face wore the same enigmatic smile, and she was still a chain-smoker, albeit an apologetic one. As I knew from our correspondence, she had long since drifted away from the Buddhist Society, though she remained on friendly terms with Christmas Humphreys, but I was dismayed, even so, at the extent to which she had lost herself in the clouds of a vague, universalist mysticism. What was more, she assumed that after twenty years in the spiritual East I must be lost in them too and would, therefore, be in agreement with everything she said. ‘As you,with your great wisdom, of course know,’ she kept saying, by way of preface to some New Age platitude, blandly producing it as though it embodied the wisdom of the ages. Poor Clare! I felt deeply sorry for her; sorry that she had lost her way so badly; sorry she had not fulfilled the promise that shone so brightly in the pages of Rustle of Spring, the story of her East End childhood, which she had given me in the early days of our acquaintance. Much as I was glad to see my old friend again, my meeting with Clare was therefore a disappointment. It was a disappointment in more ways than one. Before leaving for India I had entrusted to her the thick black notebook containing my most recent poems, together with three books I particularly prized: the original, Shanghai edition of the Sûtra of Wei Lang; Tao the Great Luminant, a version of the works of Huai Nan Tzu, bound in blue silk and likewise published in the Far East; and the Bohn translation of Hegel’s Philosophy of History. But when I enquired after these precious volumes Clare only looked mystified. She had no recollection of them whatever.

Another old Buddhist Society friend was Claire Maison, who lived down the road from the Vihara, in a block of luxury flats. Like Clare Cameron, she was nearly seventy, and either because the two women were of the same age or because their Christian names were virtually identical I had always bracketed them together in my mind. Though Claire lived so near the Vihara, and was a member of the Buddhist Sangha Association, she was rarely well enough to attend meetings and once we had established contact I usually saw her in her own home. She was obviously a very sick woman, and even if I had remembered what she looked like twenty years earlier she now was so emaciated, and her deeply lined face had such a cadaverous look, that I probably would not have been able to recognize her. Besides often being in great pain, she was subject to moods of black despair, and in the course of some of my visits I had to spend time talking her out of them and into a more positive mental state. At times this was quite hard work, but I never minded, and Claire was always intensely grateful for whatever help I was able to give.

Though I had never known her so well as I had known Clare Cameron, or spent so much time with her, there was an incident from our wartime Buddhist Society days that had remained sharply etched on my memory. One night, after a meeting, Claire and I had walked together to Tottenham Court Road Underground Station, and while we stood waiting on the deserted platform she told me she was collecting material for the biography of Ananda Maitreya [Ananda Metteyya] she was planning to write. Ananda Maitreya, who was English by birth, was one of the first Westerners to become a Theravãdin Buddhist monk in the East, and the first Theravãdin monk of any nationality to visit Britain or, for that matter, the West. He therefore occupied an important place in the history of Western Buddhism and a biography was a great desideratum. But when I asked Claire, in the course of one of my visits, if she had been able to carry out her plan, she admitted, sadly, that she had not. She had not even been able to collect much in the way of materials for the work. Later, she gave me a few pamphlets written by Ananda Maitreya and a framed photograph of him, taken when he was a monk.

When I hung the photograph in the lecture room the resemblance between me and my predecessor was remarked on by a number of people. Some of them in fact took it, at first, for a photograph of me. Others thought I must be the reincarnation of Ananda Maitreya. Strange to say, not only had I been born two years after he died, I also drew my first breath not far from where he had drawn his last. Not that I had any memories of my previous existence, whether as Ananda Maitreya or anyone else. Yet if I had no memories of past lives, there were those within the British Buddhist movement who did. Christmas Humphreys believed he had been an officer in Pharaoh’s bodyguard, with a gold breastplate of which he was immensely proud. But he also once told me that he knew at least seven or eight women who claimed that in a previous life they had been Cleopatra.
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