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Book Review: White Lama by Douglas Veenhof

Review by Michael Laughrin,

White Lama"White Lama: The Life of Tantric Yogi Theos Bernard, Tibet's Lost Emissary to the New World" by Douglas Veenhof is a true-to-life biography that reads like a spiritual fairy tale. It is the thrilling story of the life of Theos Bernard, a Caucasian from Los Angeles. In his less than 40 years on Earth, he managed to receive both a law degree and a Ph.D. But these are not the main things for which he is famous. He was a true devotee of Hatha Yoga. His father was his first serious Yoga teacher.

After getting his law degree, he went to India to seek, and find, other "gurus" of Yoga and Enlightenment. However, in his travels and his studies, he found that his true calling was to immerse himself in the several-thousand-year-old tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He became interested in the path of Tantra (right-hand path) - both Hindu Tantra and Buddhist Tantra. But, he eventually discovered that his heart's desire was to follow Buddhist Tantra (AKA Tibetan Buddhism). He never gave up the path of classical Indian Hatha Yoga.

I will just touch on a few highlights of his life:

1. He learned Tibetan in his 20s and 30s.
2. He was said by several high-up Tibetan spiritual leaders to be the reincarnation of Padmasambhava, an extremely important Tibetan spiritual figure from the past.
3. He was allowed to buy, OR WAS GIVEN, several hundred volumes of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy books. No other Westerner was has ever, to my knowledge, received as many important Tibetan volumes as Dr. Bernard received.
4. He wrote several very clear spiritual books, including a Tibetan grammar book and a primer on Hatha Yoga.

He married twice - each time to a very wealthy woman. His combined his social life, his educational life, and his spiritual life should make most readers say, "WOW!"

Even though he was Caucasian, he was treated as a Tibetan of the highest spiritual attainment.

To me, at any rate, this book is thrilling, uplifting and inspirational. Dr. Bernard was a true seeker and devotee and the title given him by some - "White Lama" - seems entirely appropriate.

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