This classic memoir by the remarkable French explorer and Buddhist Alexandra David-Néel is the one of the greatest Buddhist travelogues of the 20th century. She was the first European woman to meet the Dalai Lama (in the 1920s) and in 1924 became the first to enter the forbidden Tibetan capital, Lhasa.
She had already spent a decade travelling through China and Sikkim, India; lived and meditated in a cave on the Tibetan border; and everywhere learned about Buddhism from hermits, mystics and bandits. She recalled, 'In the course of my travels, I witnessed unusual events, met strange people and brushed the threshold of a particular spirituality'.
In Magic and Mystery in Tibet, Mme David-Néel recorded the mysterious, magical world she encountered. Among the extraordinary practices she described are the Tibetan mystics who could live naked in temperatures below freezing (tumo), monks who covered incredible distances on foot in strange leaps (lung-gom) and others who could seemingly defy gravity.
These practices became part of the legends of Tibetan Buddhism, as it became better known in the West - but they were first reported, from firsthand experience, by Mme David-Néel. Her writings proved a great influence on figures such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Alan Watts. What makes this audiobook a classic is that she was not just an observer or a travel writer but a meditator and practitioner, respected by the lamas and monks she met. Her descriptions of Tibetan Buddhism, though dating from a century ago, ring true now, even with our greater contemporary awareness and understanding.
Despite her decades of life travelling, often in great hardship, across the Far East and Central Asia, she lived until the age of 101, dying in her home country of France.
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