Out to lunch with Tibetan Lamas
Bombast and Flitterflop turn over the mud of magic and mystery in Tibet
PART FIVE of Astral Conversations—an unusual series of investigations into the occult with a humorous twist.
We find that indefatigable occult student, Bombast and his excitable acolyte, Flitterflop, once again embroiled in a heated debate; this time about Tibetan Lamas. As some of our readers will know, the vast dimensions of the astral world contain many counterparts of similar places on earth. But as we explained in the introduction to our first article in this series, appearances there have the disconcerting habit of changing when we least expect them to—not always for the better.
So do not be alarmed if during the course of their conversation our two colourful friends find themselves in very different surroundings from the cosy sitting-room of a suburban villa in which we encounter them. Remember that you—dear reader, and we, the recorders of this astral conversation—are privileged beings who are now observing a non-physical dimension, and as long as this vision lasts you are under our protection, and we will not allow any of the denizens of the astral world to harm you.
FLITTERFLOP: "I have always regarded The Third Eye as an absolute must read for anybody who wants to know the real facts about Tibetan Lamas, magic and mysticism. I absolutely loved it when I first read it and still dream of living in Tibet and meeting a real, live Lama like Lobsang Rampa."
BOMBAST (shaking his head in disbelief): "I don't know which is worse, the fact that you consider an unemployed plumber from Plympton as an authority on Tibetan magic and mysticism, or that you actually want to live in a filthy yurt and eat rancid yak butter for the rest of your life!"
FLITTERFLOP: "Unemployed plumber?"
BOMBAST: "Didn't you know? Lobsang Rampa's real name was Cyril Henry Hoskin—an unemployed plumber from Plympton in Devon. Whether he was any good at unblocking drains is open to question, but he was hopeless at impersonating a dead Tibetan monk."
FLITTERFLOP: "Why do you say that?"
BOMBAST: "Because Hoskin had never been to Tibet and never had his 'third eye' opened by a surgical operation as he claimed."
FLITTERFLOP (petulantly): "You don't have to go to Tibet to know about Tibetan magic and mysticism."
BOMBAST: "That's true. You can get it from the books of Theosophical pundits of poppycock like Annie Besant and 'Bishop' Leadbeater. Come to think of it, I believe Leadbeater and Besant are now 'ascended masters' themselves."
FLITTERFLOP: "Are you saying that's where Lobsang Rampa got his teachings from?"
BOMBAST: "Possibly not. Even Besant and Leadbeater drew the line at suggesting you need to drill a hole in your head to develop clairvoyance. On the other hand, you probably need a hole in the head or even several, to swallow the Tibetan tripe our inventive pipe fitter filled 19 books with."
FLITTERFLOP: "Well . . . I have to admit that the surgical operation did seem a bit implausible . . . but that doesn't mean that he wasn't a real Tibetan master incarnated in the body of an Englishman."
BOMBAST (looking meaningfully at his interlocutor): "It's one thing to claim that an old soul can take over the body of a complete nincompoop, but don't you think it's stretching even your credulity when the occupant is entirely ignorant of their own language?"
FLITTERFLOP: "I find that hard to believe."
BOMBAST: "What, that old souls take over complete nincompoops? I agree. You're the living proof that it's impossible."
FLITTERFLOP (loftily): "I've learned to ignore your jibes. I meant that I find it hard to believe that Lobsang Rampa didn't know Tibetan when he used Tibetan phrases in his books."
BOMBAST: "He copied some bits of Tibetan cribbed from other authors—badly—which is not the same thing at all."
FLITTERFLOP: "Can you prove that?"
BOMBAST: "Easily. When Fredric Warburg, the publisher of The Third Eye, greeted Hoskin with a Tibetan salutation during one of their many meetings, our artful artisan responded with a blank look. When he learnt that he had been addressed with the Tibetan for 'Did you have a pleasant journey?' the would-be Lama fell writhing to the ground in apparent agony. After he recovered, he explained that in order to prevent himself from divulging secrets to the Japanese during WW2, he had hypnotically blocked his own knowledge of Tibetan. From that day onwards, the merest whisper of his native tongue was enough to send him into agonies of self-inflicted, post-hypnotic torture."
FLITTERFLOP (unconvinced): "But his books sold in their millions."
BOMBAST: "So they did. Which proves that Warburg was a savvy businessman first and a sceptic a long way second. He also published Mein Kampf in English, even though both his parents were Jewish, which strongly suggests that he knew a money-spinner when he saw one, however implausible and badly written!"
FLITTERFLOP: "Are you saying that Lobsang Rampa made everything up?"
BOMBAST: "Not everything. Like other purveyors of poppycock, past and present, he drew on several sources for his so-called 'teachings'. One was his own colourful fantasy of Tibet as an exotic land of magic and mystery where an unemployed plumber could assume the identity of a leading light of the Lhasa occult hierarchy without ever leaving England. Another were the works of genuine scholars such as Walter Evans-Wentz, whose English translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead was published nearly twenty years before our moralising monk presented Warburg with his manuscript of The Third Eye. Yet another was the books of writers who knew even less about Buddhism than he did and nothing at all about magic or mysticism."
FLITTERFLOP (intrigued): "Such as?"
BOMBAST: "Frederick S. Oliver for one. He was an American teenage psychic who wrote a turgid fantasy about Atlantis called A Dweller on Two Planets which he claimed was channeled by 'Phylos the Tibetan.' The book was published in 1905 and sold like cheap Chinese smartphones on Black Friday. Among the fantasies he dreamed up which are still popular today were 'dark-side energy', cigar-shaped UFOs, Lemurian 'masters' hiding out under Mount Shasta in California and jaunts to Venus with alien supermen."
FLITTERFLOP: "That sounds familiar."
BOMBAST: "I should think it does. A Dweller on Two Planets is one of the primary sources for much New Age nonsense and partly responsible for the 'ascended masters' cults derived from it."
FLITTERFLOP: "But that doesn't mean that everything Lobsang Rampa taught was wrong, does it?"
BOMBAST (grudgingly): "Even a fake Tibetan monk can be right sometimes, especially when he plagiarises the Secret Doctrine and The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which Hoskin clearly did. Those two sources alone provide more than enough material to write a hundred books about Tibetan magic and mysticism. If you then add the Abominable Snowman, Shangri-la, levitating Lamas, and eerie goings-on in caverns below the Potala to the mix and sugar it with a large dose of Buddhism, Hinduism, Spiritualism, Paganism and extra-terrestrials, you have a sure-fire recipe for success. The sad part of it all is that whilst Hoskin's books do undoubtedly provide solace and inspiration for many seekers, particularly those who are dissatisfied with Western religions and know nothing about the Ancient Wisdom, they also fill their heads with a lot of very dangerous nonsense."
FLITTERFLOP: "Such as?"
BOMBAST: "That anyone incarnating on earth for a special purpose never has to bother going through childhood and adolescence, because, according to Hoskin, this is a complete waste of time. So they just take over someone else's body, usually at around 40 years of age, which by a not-so curious coincidence is the age that Hoskin claimed Lobsang Rampa took over his body. Not only does this reveal his complete ignorance of the purpose of incarnation in a physical body, but promotes the dangerous notion that possession by so-called 'spiritual' entities is a good thing when every genuine spiritual teacher from Jesus to Blavatsky has condemned it as the worst kind of black magic.
"In one of his books he says that 'Buddhi' means wisdom, which is typical of the misleading hash he makes of the teachings he plagiarised. The word actually means 'soul', which it's true is wise, but it's not the source of that wisdom, which is God alone, or 'Atma' in man—the Divine source of all our spiritual principles. H. P. Blavatsky first revealed the triad 'Atma–Buddhi–Manas' to the west, which can be interpreted as 'Spirit–Soul–Mind'. Hoskin not only mistakes 'Buddhi' for wisdom but compounds his error by failing to understand the difference between 'Budha'—which Sanskrit word does mean wisdom—and 'Buddha', the teacher of that name. New Age numpties are still making the same mistake today.
"Among the madder claims he made was that several of his books were dictated telepathically to him by 'Fifi Greywhiskers'—who was not, as you may suppose, a dishy discarnate diva—but his cat! Which may explain why he donated the royalties from My Visits to Venus to a feline charity in New York!"
FLITTERFLOP: "OK, you've convinced me he was wrong about many things, and that the things he was right about have been mostly stolen from others. So why did he do it?"
BOMBAST: "Good question. I think he was an honest fraud—if there is such a thing—who sincerely believed he was helping people. Nor was he after their cash as so many contemporary purveyors of poppycock are, though he undoubtedly enjoyed the fame and income his books brought him. He gave millions of people what they wanted to hear. Neophytes flying through the air; instant clairvoyance through DIY brain surgery; trips to Venus in spaceships accompanied by Venusians with the unlikely names of 'the tall one' and 'the broad one', not to mention the chance of travelling to faraway, exotic places and meeting a real, live Tibetan Lama. Heady stuff for a jaded western audience desperately seeking mystery, magic, glamour and thrilling adventures to fill the spiritual vacuum in their lives wouldn't you say?"
FLITTERFLOP: "OK, I admit I was taken in by it all."
BOMBAST (musingly): "It does make one wonder whether there isn't a Lama living somewhere in Tibet who claims to host the body of a dead West Country plumber and is writing books on how to install combination boilers . . ."
FLITTERFLOP: "Now you're just being silly."
BOMBAST: "Am I?" (suddenly looking around the room in alarm) "I say, what's that roaring noise? It sounds like a waterfall to me!"
FLITTERFLOP (jumping up): "Good Heavens! I think the walls are dissolving!"
BOMBAST: "So they are. We must be transiting into another part of the astral world. Look out, we're falling!!"
(Suddenly, and without warning, the two found themselves lying on a snowy, rock-strewn hillside overlooking a sprawling Tibetan lamasery. Above a colonnaded courtyard directly below them floated the menacing form of a Tibetan Lama, who was holding converse with a congregation of black-robed monks.)
FLITTERFLOP (whispering): "What a dreadful-looking fiend! Can he see us?"
BOMBAST: "I jolly well hope not, or we're toast. Do stop shaking, you'll start an avalanche and then the whole lot of them will be after us."
FLITTERFLOP: "What are those horrible things circling around the Lama's head?"
BOMBAST: "They look like vampire bats to me."
FLITTERFLOP (quivering with fear): "Can they see us?"
BOMBAST: "I rather doubt it. Bats are blind. Hence the expression."
FLITTERFLOP: "Wait a moment! The Lama has just taken off what looks like a pair of spectacles and is wiping them on the sleeve of his robe. Do Tibetan demons wear spectacles?"
BOMBAST: "I don't think so. Especially not round, metal-rimmed 1950's National Health specs. Just a minute . . . it's Cyril Hoskin—I mean Lobsang Rampa—I'd know that long, weasel face anywhere!"
FLITTERFLOP: "Good Heavens! So it is. So this is where he holds court now. Not very cosy, is it? I wonder what he's saying to those monks. Can you understand him at all?"
BOMBAST: "With difficulty. If only those dratted bats would stop their abominable squeaking!"
FLITTERFLOP: "Did he just say 'om mani padme hum'?"
BOMBAST: "It sounded more like 'Um, money, pay me soon' to me."
TIBETAN LAMA (with a thick, west-country accent): "Some say my prayer-speaking revelatory system is circumscribed when you block out mystique . . ."
FLITTERFLOP: "What gibberish is he talking?!"
TIBETAN LAMA: ". . .apply the Third Eye humming mode . . . to rein in dyspeptic cranks."
FLITTERFLOP: "What on earth is a 'humming mode'?"
BOMBAST: "Not 'humming mode'—'plumbing code'. Surprisingly, it's not gibberish. What I think he said was: 'One way we might repair a leaking lavatory cistern is described in my new book due out next week' and 'always abide by the plumbing code when draining septic tanks."
FLITTERFLOP: "Astonishing! So he didn't say 'disposed group meeting hissed him', but 'this closed-loop heating system'?"
BOMBAST: "Exactly. He's giving the monks a primer on plumbing."
FLITTERFLOP: "That would explain why the dorje, or Tibetan thunderbolt, he's waving around, looks more like an adjustable plumber's wrench!"
BOMBAST: "Confound those dratted bats, they're coming closer."
FLITTERFLOP: "I'm not so sure they are bats. Do bats have feathers? They look more like black chickens to me."
BOMBAST: "Perhaps they're the Lama's Karmic fowls come home to roost!"
FLITTERFLOP: "Very droll."
(Just then, one of the 'black chickens' landed next to Bombast, and thrusting out its yellow beak, snatched a magnificent gold pocket watch from his embroidered silk waistcoat and flew away with it.)
BOMBAST (shouting): "That was no chicken, it was a thieving great magpie!"
FLITTERFLOP: "How appropriate. Do keep your voice down."
BOMBAST: "I will not. The cheeky blighter has just made off with my antique solid gold repeater! It was a present from the Hungarian Adept, the sublime ascended Master Rakoczi, himself!"
BOMBAST: "No. I bought it in a jumble sale in Plymouth."
FLITTERFLOP: "That's synchronicity for you."
BOMBAST: (ducking behind a rock) "I think the Lama has spotted us."
TIBETAN LAMA: "Ha! Two interlopers come to spy on us and learn the secrets of re-pressurising a filling loop in a combination boiler!"
BOMBAST (scrambling to his feet and taking to his heels): "Quick—run for it!"
TIBETAN LAMA (addressing the magpies, black chickens, or possibly vampire bats, circling around his head): "After them, me luverlies!"
(The form of the loquacious Lama expanded until it filled all the sky. It rose and floated high above them like an empty soap bubble shot through with lurid flashes of sickly yellow and Day-Glo pink, and from the bubble the hectoring voice of the plumber from Plympton assailed them for the last time. Fortunately for our astral adventurers, a gust of refreshing wind blew away his words—and he and the entire scene was dispersed like hot air escaping from a deflated balloon. Flitterflop and Bombast heaved a huge sigh of relief as they found themselves transported back to the familiar surroundings of their cosy astral villa.)
FLITTERFLOP: "Thank goodness we're back. Did we really see the spirit of Lobsang Rampa or was it all an astral illusion?"
BOMBAST (thoughtfully): "Well . . . although there is a certain poetic justice in the notion of a Lama in Lhasa claiming to host the body of a dead West Country plumber who is writing books on how to install combination boilers . . . I rather think that part of it was an interpretation of our own minds."
FLITTERFLOP (perplexed): "How do you mean?"
BOMBAST: "Well, we thought we heard him haranguing his followers about plumbing. But it's equally possible that the mystical gibberish we first heard was what he was saying. You'll remember that 'M' mentioned the possibility of this when we were discussing Consciousness after death with him."
FLITTERFLOP: "I do. He said that after death we experience either the realisation of our correct beliefs or the illusions we created during our previous life. So you're saying that Hoskin is still carrying on with the nonsense he learned during his past life on earth?"
BOMBAST: "I don't see any other explanation. 'M' made it quite clear that what we believe during life colours what we experience after death. That would also explain why we thought he was talking about plumbing because that's what we expected to hear."
FLITTERFLOP (reflectively): "It seems to me that life on earth and here in the astral world is much the same; it's all a dream—nice for some, less so for others. Where does it all end and reality begin? What is reality really?"
BOMBAST: "Good questions which no doubt 'M' would have the answers to if he were here. As he's not, you'll have to put up with me."
FLITTERFLOP: "Are you saying you have the answers?"
BOMBAST: "No, but I think Hermes did. Have you read the Virgin of the World?"
BOMBAST: "Another book to add to your ever-growing reading list."
FLITTERFLOP: "What did he have to say about reality?"
BOMBAST: "Many good things."
FLITTERFLOP: "Such as?"
BOMBAST (handing him a slim volume from the bookshelf behind him): "Here, read it for yourself. It will open at the right page."
FLITTERFLOP (doubtfully): "Will it? How's that possible?"
BOMBAST (smiling artfully): "This is an astral book, my boy, things work differently in the astral world, as you should know after all our previous meetings here."
FLITTERFLOP (reading): "This certainly is true, that we know nothing of Truth. How should it be otherwise? Truth is the supreme virtue, the sovereign Good which is not obscured by matter, nor circumscribed by the body; the naked Good, evident, unalterable, august, immutable. Now, the things which are here below are incompatible with the Good; they are perishable, changing, various, passing from form to form. That which is not even identical with itself, how can it be real? All that transforms itself is illusive, not only in itself, but by the appearances which it presents to us one after another.'
"This is splendid stuff! It explains why what we saw earlier wasn't true, though it seemed to be real."
BOMBAST: "I thought you'd like it. Carry on, there's more."
FLITTERFLOP (reading): "The real consists solely in itself, and remains what it is. Man is composed of manifold elements, and does not continue identical with himself. So long as he inhabits a body he passes from one age to another, and from one form to another. Often, after but a short interval of time, parents no longer are able to recognise their children, nor children their parents. That which changes in such wise as to be no longer recognisable as itself, can it be a real thing? Should we not rather think this succession of diverse appearances an illusion? Look only on the eternal and the Good as the Real. Man is transient, therefore he is not real; he is but appearance, and appearance is the supreme illusion."
BOMBAST: "The next verses sum up the whole question of reality in a nutshell."
FLITTERFLOP (reading further): "And what, then, is the primordial Reality? He Who is One and alone; He Who is not made of matter, nor in any body, Who has neither colour nor form, Who changes not, nor is transmuted, but who always Is."
BOMBAST: "So, are you now going to actually read the books I keep lending you?"
FLITTERFLOP: "Oh yes, definitely. I've already wasted more than enough time on this Tibetan nonsense."
BOMBAST: "Well, I wouldn't say it's all nonsense. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is well worth reading, though like most such books it mixes up some occult truths with a great many falsehoods and half truths. There may even be genuine Masters in Tibet, but if there are, we may be sure they're not remotely like our colourful Lama, Lobsang Rampa, or the fanciful characters dreamed up by Theosophists."
FLITTERFLOP: "You mean mahatmas like 'Morya', 'Kuthumi', 'Saint Germain' and the Hungarian 'Rakoczi' you mentioned earlier?"
BOMBAST: "And a hundred others. I'm especially fond of the 'master Hilarion'—the supposed 'Lord of the Fifth Ray'—who apparently lives in an 'etheric retreat' in Crete. It really would be too hilarious for words, if it were not taken in such deadly earnest by so many otherwise sane people."
FLITTERFLOP: "Do they never stop to think how presumptuous such beliefs are?"
BOMBAST: "What do you mean?"
FLITTERFLOP: Well . . . given that most of us will never have any personal contact with the movers and shakers in this world, isn't it rather presumptuous to believe you can make direct contact with the leaders of humanity in the next?"
BOMBAST: "They don't think, that's the problem. They just suck these fantasies up like a bath sponge."
FLITTERFLOP (anxiously): "Speaking of baths, I think I may have nodded off in mine and left the tap running!"
BOMBAST: "That explains the roaring noise we heard earlier. I should wake up now if I were you or you'll be needing more than a Tibetan Lama to repair the damage to your bathroom floor!"
With that, Flitterflop stifled an exclamation too indelicate to publish and promptly vanished, while Bombast faded from view, quietly chuckling to himself. Once again, our intrepid pair have uprooted another of the fanciful notions which infest the occult jungle like poisonous weeds. How much more undergrowth they will have to clear from their path remains to be seen. Until then, we wish them and you—dear reader—every success on the path to the Light.
If you have enjoyed this discussion you may also like Tripping out with Shamans—the sixth of our encounters with Bombast and Flitterflop. You can find a full list of the Astral conversations between these two colourful occult students on our home page.
© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article added 21 March 2016. Updated 12 February 2017.