Lobsang Rampa is the pen name of an author who wrote books with paranormal and occult themes. His best known work is The Third Eye, published in Britain in 1956.
Following the publication of the book, newspapers reported that Rampa was Cyril Henry Hoskin (8 April 1910 – 25 January 1981), a plumber from Plympton in Devon who claimed that his body hosted the spirit of a Tibetan lama going by the name of Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, who is purported to have authored the books. The name Tuesday relates to a claim in The Third Eye that Tibetans are named after the day of the week on which they were born.
The Third Eye
In November 1956 a book called The Third Eye was published in the United Kingdom. It was written by a man named as Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, and it purported to relate his experiences while growing up in Chakpori Lamasery Chokpori, Tibet after being sent there at the age of seven. The title of the book is derived from an operation, similar to trepanation, that Rampa claimed he had undergone, in which a small hole was drilled into his forehead to arouse the third eye and enhance powers of clairvoyance. The book describes the operation as follows:
The instrument penetrated the bone. A very hard, clean sliver of wood had been treated by fire and herbs and was slid down so that it just entered the hole in my head. I felt a stinging, tickling sensation apparently in the bridge of my nose. It subsided and I became aware of subtle scents which I could not identify. Suddenly there was a blinding flash. For a moment the pain was intense. It diminished, died and was replaced by spirals of colour. As the projecting sliver was being bound into place so that it could not move, the Lama Mingyar Dondup turned to me and said: “You are now one of us, Lobsang. For the rest of your life you will see people as they are and not as they pretend to be.”
During the story, Rampa sees yetis and eventually encounters a mummified body of himself from an earlier incarnation. He also takes part in an initiation ceremony in which he learns that during its early history the Earth was struck by another planet, causing Tibet to become the mountain kingdom that it is today.
The manuscript of The Third Eye had been turned down by several leading British publishers before being accepted by Secker and Warburg for an advance of £800 (£17,000 today). Fredric Warburg of Secker and Warburg had met the book’s author, who at the time appeared in the guise of “Doctor Carl Kuon Suo”.
Intrigued by the writer’s personality, Warburg sent the manuscript to a number of scholars, several of whom expressed doubts about its authenticity. Nevertheless, the book was published in November 1956 and soon became a global bestseller. The Times Literary Supplement said of the book: “It came near to being a work of art.”
Controversy over authorship
Explorer and Tibetologist Heinrich Harrer was unconvinced about the book’s origins and hired a private detective from Liverpool named Clifford Burgess to investigate Rampa. The findings of Burgess’ investigation were published in the Daily Mail in February 1958. It was reported that the author of the book was a man named Cyril Henry Hoskin, who had been born in Plympton, Devon, in 1910 and was the son of a plumber. Hoskin had never been to Tibet and spoke no Tibetan. In 1948, he had legally changed his name to Carl Kuon Suo before adopting the name Lobsang Rampa. An obituary of Fra Andrew Bertie, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, claims that he was involved in unmasking Lobsang Rampa as a West Country plumber.
Rampa was tracked by the British press to Howth, Ireland, and confronted with these allegations. He did not deny that he had been born as Cyril Hoskin, but claimed that his body was now occupied by the spirit of Lobsang Rampa.According to the account given in his third book, The Rampa Story, he had fallen out of a fir tree in his garden in Thames Ditton, Surrey, while attempting to photograph an owl. He was concussed and, on regaining his senses, had seen a Buddhist monk in saffron robes walking towards him. The monk spoke to him about Rampa taking over his body and Hoskin agreed, saying that he was dissatisfied with his current life. When Rampa’s original body became too worn out to continue, he took over Hoskin’s body in a process of transmigration of the soul.
Rampa maintained for the rest of his life that The Third Eye was a true story. In the foreword to the 1964 edition of the book, he wrote:
I am Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, that is my only name, now my legal name, and I answer to no other.
To Donald S. Lopez, Jr., an American Tibetologist, the books of Lobsang Rampa are “the works of an unemployed surgical fitter, the son of a plumber, seeking to support himself as a ghostwriter.”
Influence on Tibetologists’ callings
Donald S. Lopez, Jr., in Prisoners of Shangri-La (1998), points out that when discussing Rampa with other tibetologists and buddhologists in Europe, he found that The Third Eye was the first book many of them had read about Tibet; “For some it was a fascination with the world Rampa described that had led them to become professional scholars of Tibet.”
Lopez adds that when he gave The Third Eye to a class of his at the University of Michigan without telling them about its history, the “students were unanimous in their praise of the book, and despite six prior weeks of lectures and readings on Tibetan history and religion, […] they found it entirely credible and compelling, judging it more realistic than anything they had previously read about Tibet.”
Role in the Tibetan cause
Lobsang Rampa was a supporter of the Tibetan cause despite criticism of his books. In 1972, Rampa’s French language agent Alain Stanké wrote to the Dalai Lama and asked for his opinion about Rampa’s identity. He received a reply from the Dalai Lama’s deputy secretary stating “I wish to inform you that we do not place credence in the books written by the so-called Dr. T. Lobsang Rampa. His works are highly imaginative and fictional in nature.” The Dalai Lama had previously admitted that although the books were fictitious, they had created good publicity for Tibet.
Lobsang Rampa went on to write another 18 books containing a mixture of religious and occult material. One of the books, Living with the Lama, was described as being dictated to Rampa by his pet Siamese cat, Mrs Fifi Greywhiskers. Faced with repeated accusations from the British press that he was a charlatan and a con artist, Rampa went to live in Canada in the 1960s. He and his wife, San Ra’ab, became Canadian citizens in 1973, along with Sheelagh Rouse (Buttercup) who was his secretary and regarded by Rampa as his adopted daughter.
Lobsang Rampa died in Calgary on 25 January 1981, at the age of 70.
Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobsang_Rampa