The Way and The Mountain ~ Marco Pallis

Very nice book. Written in 1960.



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''The Way and the Mountain is a selection of Marco Pallis' most important writings on Tibetan Buddhism. Pallis traveled extensively in the Himalayas and studied Buddhism from Lamas within the tradition before the communist invasion of Tibet in 1949.''


Quote from the book on Buddhist rituals in an isolated area in Sikkim in the mid 1950s.

''The rituals themselves, in the minds of these peasants, appear in the guise of an activity necessary for the maintaining of the equilibrium of life, communal or private, as an element on the one hand of order and on the other of protection against dangers, both material and subtle, and of course, in a more general way, the rituals provide a link with the Heavenly Powers.


This attitude, if limited and sometimes marred by superstitious misinterpretation of elements occuring in the rites themselves, is not altogether lacking in realism; for the chief purpose of rites, all the world over, is to keep open channels of communication with something which, if it were once shut off (as happens when the profane point of view has come to prevail, with consequent cessation of ritual activity), would inevitably leave the beings concerned exposed, helplessly, to all kinds of obscure influences of a subtle order, emanating from a  level far below the human, and these influences finding the field clear would tend to extend themselves further and further over the world of men.


This is perhaps the greatest danger resulting from materialism, which may be compared to a general encrusting over the human scene whereby the free circulation of the spiritual influence, of which tradition is the vehicle, is hindered more and more, until that crust, which in man is so aptly described as a ''hardening of the heart'', begins to crack by its own rigidity, whereupon the obscure forces of dissolution already mentioned begin to pour in, reducing everything to a state of disintegration.


This, broadly speaking, is the story of the modern world, and the loss of interest in the ritual function (itself part of the process of skepticism in regard to spiritual things, coupled with credulity in regard to a quasi-absolute validity of ''facts'' and their applications) is not the smallest of causes bringing about this result.''

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