At the heart of the Tibetan nebula: the case of T. Lobsang Rampa

Traveling without even having to travel is perhaps the dream solution to the constraints posed by the closing of borders and budgetary limits. The technology already exists, basically, and for as long as the world is world. All it takes is a cocktail of imagination, daring and – why not? – of lying. And some writers have understood this better than others.

In 1956, out of nowhere, a certain T. Lobsang Rampa published in Great Britain The third eye. The book tells the “I”, in what looks like an autobiographical tale, the story of a young Tibetan nobleman, Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, who was sent to a medical lamasery at the age of seven.

In Chakpori – one of the sacred mountains of Lhasa and site of the Tibetan medical school, destroyed by the Chinese in 1959 -, under the protection of the 13e Dalai Lama, he learns medicine, religion, martial arts and “the deepest secrets of the Tibetan esoteric sciences” – through alien mummies and yeti apparitions. His extraordinary psychic powers are then increased after a surgical operation called “opening the third eye”, which stimulates the medium centers of the brain.

According to the first biography provided by his English publisher – who claims to have seen a medical degree issued by a Chinese university -, T. Lobsang Rampa was “doctor of medicine, doctor of science, graduate of letters. In 1937, he was in Shanghai (sic), surgeon in the Chinese aviation. At the beginning of 1938, he was taken prisoner by the Japanese. During the World War, he was captured again by the Japanese and tortured: his legs were broken to prevent him from escaping. In 1944, he was sent to Hiroshima as a surgeon attached to a women’s camp – further torture. “

Tibet without pain

And it doesn’t stop there: “In the confusion caused by the explosion of the Hiroshima bomb, he escapes and finds himself on a Korean beach. At the cost of much suffering he won Moscow. There he is suspected of spying and arrested. We take him to Poland where we leave him to his sad fate. It crosses Poland, Germany, France. In Cherbourg, he embarked for the USA by working on the boat to pay for his trip. In 1951, weary of American life, he landed in England. He survives by illegally practicing his profession as a doctor. Then we ask him to write his autobiography and it’s The third eye. »Phew.

The same year, shortly after the publication of the book, Hugh Richardson, British diplomat and tibetologist (he had led the diplomatic mission to Tibet for nine years, from 1936 to 1945), made a devastating criticism in the Daily Telegraph and Morning Post, a London daily newspaper, “Imaginary Tibet”: “There are countless gross inaccuracies in life and customs that suggest a western staging of boulevard theater. “

Despite these reservations, the book became an immediate success.

In 1958, a group of Tibet experts hired a private investigator to investigate Rampa. The author of Third eye would actually be a certain Cyril Henry Hoskin, born in 1910 in Plympton in Devon, a county in the south-west of England. His father was a plumber, Hoskin had never been to Tibet and did not speak Tibetan. He was employed in a correspondence course business. In 1948 he officially changed his name to Carl Kuan Suo (or Dr Kuan Suo) before adopting the literary pseudonym of Tuesday Lobsang Rampa.

Demystification? As in most hoaxes, hoaxes, or shams, there comes a point when you reach a tipping point. The object can fall on either side of the thin line between reality and fiction.

And that’s where, with Rampa, things get particularly interesting.

My run in Canada

The British press quickly found the writer to confront him with these allegations. The llama’s explanations are not long in coming. He denies nothing, but claims that appearances are more complex: Hoskin’s body has in fact been occupied for several years by the spirit of Lobsang Rampa …

He explains himself in detail in his third book, History of Rampa, published in 1960. Tibetan lamas, using a technique called transmigration, freed Hoskin from his own body so that the soul of Lobsang Rampa could settle there. Here. And the skeptics will be confused.

Faced with accusations of literary hoax and charlatanism, harassed by journalists, Rampa left Britain in the early 1960s – physically, this time. He moved to Windsor, Ontario. Then, in 1962, lived briefly in Montevideo, Uruguay. We know that, because it’s there that Carl Kuan Suo once again officially changed his name to Tuesday Lobsang Rampa.

Then return to Ontario and a brief episode in New Brunswick. Before settling in … Montreal, where he met Alain Stanké, then journalist and director of Éditions de l’Homme. Stanké, who was his neighbor at Habitat 67, quickly became his publisher for Quebec, his French-speaking literary agent (a little against his will, he says) and even his friend. This is what he says in Rampa: impostor or initiate?, a book published in 1980.

Having moved to Vancouver in 1972, Rampa died in 1981 in Calgary, taking all his secrets with him, after having published 19 books which are said to have sold over fifteen million copies – mostly translated into French in the famous collection “The mysterious adventure” of the editions J’ai Lu.

Against the background of the spiritual evolution of humanity, the writer has touched on everything: metempsychosis, astral journeys, prophecies, aliens and flying saucers, telepathy with cats, crystal balls, chakras, lark.

Tibetan lama, genius impostor, total writer? “Whatever idea you have of yourself, you are what you think,” he wrote, whose books, paradoxically, have certainly inspired some vocations from Tibetan scientists as serious as they are scientific.

If Rampa is generally granted today part of the authorship of the New Age movement, he is undoubtedly also the author of one of the most fascinating and strongest literary mystifications of the XXe century.

And in a way, Tuesday Lobsang Rampa will have managed to achieve immortality, since his work survives him.

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