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Lobsang Rampa??????

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 Anyone read "The Third Eye" back in the seventies.
 Guy claimed to be a Tibetan Monk who was taught all kinds of secret rituals like astral projection and levitation.

Found this on him. Turns out he was an Irish ex plumber. The article also debunks Blavatsky pretty well.

The most relevant parts on Hoskins reposted.
Fictitious Tibet: The Origin and Persistence of Rampaism  by Agehananda Bharati
Tibet Society Bulletin, Vol. 7, 1974

Let me first of all stake my claim and explain some terms in the title: an apparently unexterminable tradition of sheer fiction taken as holy fact originated in Europe and America slightly before the turn of the century — the brainchild of some fertile writers and orators, a number of core tales about inaccessible Tibetan and Himalayan mystics took shape in contrivedly esoteric writings which gained steady momentum until its culmination in Lama Lobsang Rampa's, alias Mr. Hoskins', fantastically fraudulent output beginning with The Third Eye and its sequels. I call this whole phony tradition "Rampaism" after its phony consummator, Rampa-Hoskins, and his all-too-numerous followers in North America and Europe. This depressing crowd of partly well-meaning, totally uninformed, and seemingly uninformable votaries holds something like this as its modal view: that there is, somewhere hidden in the Himalayas (invariably mis-stressed on the penultimate 'a'), a powerful, mystical, initiate brotherhood of lamas or similar guru adepts, who not only know all the mysteries of the world and the superworld, who not only incorporate and transcend the teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity, but who also master all the occult arts — they fly through the air at enormous speeds, they run 400 miles at a stretch without break, they appear here and there, and they are arch-and-core advisors to the wise and the great who hide these ultimate links to supreme wisdom and control. In addition, they know all their previous incarnations, and can tell everyone what his incarnations were and are going to be. Geographically, the area where these supergurus reside is nebulously defined as "Tibet," "Himalaya," and it often includes the Ganges and India. This, very briefly, is the somewhat autoerotic creed of a large, and unfortunately still growing, crowd of wide eyed believers in the mysterious East, apropos which my colleague Professor Hurvitz at the University of British Columbia sagaciously remarked that "for these people, the East must be mysterious, otherwise life has no meaning." To put this somewhat less succinctly and more technically, the enormous, pervasive alienation of Euro-America from the religious themes of the Western world, matched with the general disgruntlement, with the superciliously religious in the established churches, the surfeit with scientific models which seem to generate war and destruction, and most recently the proliferating fascination with the exotic for its own sake — about which later in greater detail — all these contribute to the desperate quest for ideas, rituals, and promises that are different from those of the West, that are distant from the West, and that are easily accessible, without any intellectual effort, without any discursive input....

Let me now proceed to the arch-paradigm of esoteric phoniness of the latter days. In the mid-fifties. Messrs. Secker & Warburg, a perfectly respectable publishing firm in Britain, sent me a manuscript for evaluation. The author's name was Lama Lobsang Rampa, the title The Third Eye. I was suspicious before I opened the wrapper: the "third eye" smacked of Blavatskyan and post-Blavatskyan hogwash. The first two pages convinced me the writer was not a Tibetan, the next ten that he had never been either in Tibet or India, and that he knew absolutely nothing about Buddhism of any form, Tibetan or other. The cat was out of the bag very soon, when the "Lama", reflecting on some cataclysmic situation in his invented past, mused, "for we know there is a God." A Buddhist makes many statements of a puzzling order at times, and he may utter many contradictions; but this statement he will not make, unless perhaps — I am trying hard to find a possible exception — he is a nominal Nisei Buddhist in Seattle, Washington, who somehow gets into Sunday school at age eleven and doesn't really know what he is talking about. Even if we apply a very lenient scholarly defense for the statement "there are gods (lha) in Tibetan and North Indian Buddhism; by courtesy, the numerous Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the highly diffuse Buddhist pantheon could be, and sometimes are, referred to as gods" — the statement "there is a God" is and remains impossible for any Buddhist. The lha (deva) are gods because the European language translations of deus in Christian usage do not distinguish between God and gods on the lexical level. The capital 'G' is a very late attempt to remedy this, since there were only capital letters in Roman script at the time the Christian theological notions were conceptualized and codified. There may be thousands of gods, then, in Buddhism, but there certainly is no God. The ontological and affective status of the Buddha in Sri Lanka Buddhism, and mutatus mutandis, in other Buddhist areas, has recently bothered a very fine British scholar. (2) I concur with his results: though the Buddha is indeed worshipped like a god in many ways, he is not seen as a god, or as God. The semantic entailment of "God" is that of creatorhood, control, power, etc., which the Buddha obviously cannot have, since he has passed into mahanirvana and is hence extinct: in fact only Buddhas are extinct — men, gods, demons, etc., are in samsara; they, or some of them, have power, up to the power of creation like Brahma the Hindu demiurge, or the Judeo-Christian God.

But this was only one of the inane impossibilities of The Third Eye. Every page bespeaks the utter ignorance of the author of anything that has to do with Buddhism as practiced and Buddhism as a belief system in Tibet or elsewhere. But the book also shows a shrewd intuition into what millions of people want to hear. Monks and neophytes flying through the mysterious breeze on enormous kites; golden images in hidden cells, representing earlier incarnations of the man who views them; arcane surgery in the skull to open up the eye of wisdom; tales about the dangers of mystical training and initiation — in a Western worlds so desperately seeking for the mysterious where everything is so terribly accessible to inspection, where the divine has been bowdlerized or institutionalized, where it speaks with the wagging-finger lingo of moralistic nagging, the less hardy and the softer will seek that which is the opposite of all these turn-off factors.

I do not know how many of the readers of The Third Eye and the books that followed it, by the same author, actually believe in these cretinistic confabulations. But this is beside the point — for even if a reader tells us that he or she does really not believe in these things but that they serve as an inspiration, consolation, edification, and what not, this does not reduce the tragedy of the situation; far from it, it enhances the pathetic quality of the whole set. We cannot take our emotional cues from things, events and persons whose nonexistence we know. Taking instruction from parables is a different thing, it is morally and intellectually admissible. But the tales contained in The Third Eye do not even qualify as parables, since no moral qualities attach to mystical surgery and kite-flying and the whole lot of events the author has generated in his comic strip. We cannot permit the aesthetic argument either; the operation to open the third eye, the mystical apparitions, etc., may not be true or morally important, but they are pleasant to contemplate. If this were the only reason why people read The Third Eye, we could dismiss it with a shrug. But it isn't; for even where the aesthetic quality of these stories is praised, it is done with a view to obtaining esoteric knowledge — and esoteric knowledge cannot be had from esoteric lies.

Within about half a year from the time I read the manuscript, and reported to the publishers that the book is a fraud and should not be published, Messrs. Secker & Warburg evidently also asked other Tibetologists and people who know the subject matter, among them Hugh Richardson, the last British and the last Indian Government Resident in Lhasa; Marco Pallis, the British scholar-traveller; and Heinrich Harrer of Seven Years in Tibet fame, whom Mr. Richardson had once put under arrest in Lhasa. All of these people concurred, and gave the publishers independent, identical reports: the book is a fraud, and the man is a fake. However, publishers are not the harbingers of authenticity, but businessmen. They published the book in spite of the negative reports, anticipating its sales potential. And they were right. I understand the six British editions sold close to eighty thousand copies. The German translation, wouldn't you know it, sold close to a hundred thousand, and comparable numbers of copies were sold in other European languages.

Mr. Richardson and some other irate scholars then took the initiative into their own hands, to trace and subdue the writer. It didn't take long; The Tibetan Lama turned out to be Mr. Hoskins, an Irish ex-plumber, who sat it out in various libraries in London, reading science fiction, pseudo-orientalia including, no doubt, Blavatsky and concocting this amazing book. These findings were published in the British press, and booksellers were warned about the matter, so as not to be involved in fraud. E.J. Brill, the famous oriental publishing house and book agent in Leiden, Netherlands, circumvented the issue by advertising the book and adding a note in small print, indicating that the book was no genuine study of Buddhism or Tibet, but that it was interesting for the experiences it conveyed.

Now one would have thought that the disclosures about Rampa-Hoskins and Khasa-Hyde Park might impede, if not stop, the production. Far from it. Most of the millions who kept buying the book and its follow-ups did not know about the facts — they simply hadn't read the statements in the British press. Quite a few, however, did read or hear about these disclosures, and remained followers, no less ardent of the Lama; to wit, two Canadians who called me long distance from Toronto one night, saying: "Sir, you are a wicked person. You say Lama Lobsang is an Irish plumber; well he may be in the body of an Irish plumber, but the soul of a Tibetan Lama lives in him." "Well, then I can't win," I admitted, and they hung up. Reactions to this incredible situation are variegated and, to the cultural anthropologist concerned with ideological change, highly fascinating; and they are far more complex than the Canadians' effusions. Less than a year ago — over a decade after the Publication of The Third Eye, a colleague of mine, a historian with perfectly respectable academic credentials, visited and told me about the wisdom of Rampa, with glowing eyes. When I told him the facts in straight, brief words, he was visibly shaken, but said something like: okay, maybe the man is not Tibetan, but he grasps the truths of Buddhism. He does nothing of the sort, I said and proved — but I did not convince the man. He (that historian friend of mine) had gone into Rolfing, Macrodier, Yin and Yang, Hatha Yoga, and a half dozen of other things eminently available in America. To him, the question of genuineness or spuriousness did not pose any problem, and I have a strong hunch that this blurring of the possible distinctness between the genuine and the spurious is very much part of the total pattern of eclectic attraction to the esoteric.

Hoskins moved to Toronto and founded an ashram-like place with a medium-large following up to date. This is in the way of things on the lunatic fringe: but astoundingly, he wrote sequels of at least three more books after the exposure of The Third Eye, starting with Doctor in Chunking. All of these have been out in paperback for years, and they are visible on all sorts of shelves — bookstores of course, drugstores, airports, even Greyhound bus stations. Since publishers are no charitable organizations, this means that the book sell, in great numbers. Saying what I say about Lobsang Rampa, and mutatis mutandis about most other pseudo-Asian cults in the Western world, I have, of course, made many more enemies than friends. People simply cannot stand the idea that there is no abominable snowman, that there is no white brotherhood somewhere in the Himalayas, and that people do not fly through the air except in planes; least of all can they suffer the idea that religious specialists in Tibet are scholars, tough theologians, and down-to-earth monastic leaders, with lots of hard political know-how, and with the measure of cruelty and strategy that seems to be common to all ecclesiastic leader who also have secular powers; and this, of course, was very much the case in Tibet before the Chinese takeover.


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