Asia Program

Events

Book Launch:Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West

March 03, 2004 // 2:30pm4:00pm

Jeffery Paine presented his newest publication, Re-enchantment, at a book launch event and live webcast organized by staff of the Asia Program, The Division of United States Studies, dialogue, and the Center's Audiovisual Department. Paine briefly outlined the many personalities featured in the book. First, he described Frenchwoman Alexandra David-Neel, an unlikely religious pilgrim to the mountains of Lhasa, Tibet. As the first Western woman to make such a journey in 1915, she spent 14 consecutive years in and around Tibet documenting and photographing Tibetan life, religion and culture, later to be the subject of her many books published upon her return to France. Paine next described Diane Perry (Tibetan name "Tenzin Palmo"), an Englishwoman who also made a fateful migration to the mountains seeking spiritual guidance in 1964. Since that time, Palmo has attained much popular status as a Buddhist nun, author and speaker. Lastly, Paine briefly mentioned the life of Jarvis Jay Masters, a death row inmate who has gained notoriety as a Buddhist convert in San Quentin. Paine's overview of these figures included ideas about the important factor of timing (Civil Rights Movement, War in Vietnam) in Tibetan Buddhism's successful, unexpected success in the West, including America, Europe and the UK.

Commentator Harvey Cox provided further insights on the life of Tibetan Buddhist Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, with whom he studied with during the 1970s at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO. Paine's substantial chapter on Trungpa, according to Cox, successfully portrays the man's unconventional ways, his visceral appeal, as well as his lasting contributions to the creation of Tibetan Buddhist Centers and publishing houses like Shambhala Press. Cox also agreed with Paine in Buddhism's success in the West being based on its contact with practitioners of non-hostile religious traditions like Judaism. However, he had hoped that Paine's book would include a deeper discussion about the interaction between the cultures of Christianity (the West) and Buddhism (the East) in order to demonstrate again to the reader why Buddhism was able to come so far in so little time with Western audiences. Lastly, Cox talked about the need for an explanation in the book about Tibetan Buddhism's ability to heighten the idea of oneness between human beings in our current time of unrelenting religious strife and division.

George Liston Seay, Executive Producer and Host, 691-4145
drafted by Rachel Edmonds

 

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