A Four Leaf Clover Between The Pages Of Life – Tibetan Texts For Christmas
2 December 2011 -
It is the same oft-repeated and age-old call from the Supermen, throughout the millenniums, heard by Thoreau and Emerson and Whitman in America, to simple living and high endeavour, which this book transmits, from Tibet, the Land of the Snowy Ranges, to the peoples of the Occident, who have extolled and much preferred, but, of late, not without many disconcerting misgivings, their complex, industrialized way of life. (from the preface of ‘Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa’)
As Christmas approaches and we continue to look not only for presents but for an underlying pattern to existence, strange things can begin to happen, even in transactions over the counter of a humble bookshop. For instance, we are far from just a clearing house of dog-eared books here at BB, the average take-up rate of items people bring in to sell and that we actually want or need sitting at roughly 40%. It has to be said that occasionally people will even go away with their heirloom boxes or bags actually untouched, no doubt wondering either why we’re so fussy or why no-one would want a fish & chip stained copy of Pauline Hanson’s The Joys Of Monoculture anymore.
Yesterday however was one of those rare occasions when a person brought in a bag of books to sell and every every single item was one that we not only wanted but didn’t already have on the shelves. The lady in question was not so much concerned with the money she would make but that the fine books, which had augmented a central interest of hers for decades, found a new life in the right hands.
Pete bought the lot and had a fascinating discussion with her as well, in the course of which the woman explained that the books, predominantly texts from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, were in fact inherited by her as a child, in the same way the rest of us might inherit a shelf of Charles Dickens or Ion Idriess.
What a lovely non-assuming person she was, and what an excellent little bunch of books we now have available thanks to her.
The highlights of her cache were the Oxford University Press hardback copies of the four seminal texts of Tibetan spirituality, compiled and edited by W.Y Evans-Wentz in the early 20th century. Of course because she’d inherited these items as a child all are therefore much sought-after early editions.
W.Y. Evans-Wentz was one of those many late Victorians influenced in early adulthood by the theosophy of Madame Blavatsky. He was born in 1878 in New Jersey and studied at Stanford University with both William James and William Butler Yeats. An inveterate traveller in Mexico and particularly through Asia in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Evans-Wentz is best known, along with his Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries, for these remarkable editions of the four major Tibetan texts.
The Tibetan Book Of The Dead or The After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, according to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering – W.Y. Evans-Wentz (OUP 3rd Edition 1957) - $45
Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa: A Biography From The Tibetan being the Jetsun-Kahbum or biographical history of Jetsun-Milarepa, according to the late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering – W.Y.Evans-Wentz (OUP 2nd Edition 1958) - $40
Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines or Seven Books of Wisdom of The Great Path according to the late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering – W.Y.Evans-Wentz (OUP 2nd Edition 1958) - $40
The Tibetan Book Of The Great Liberation or The Method of Realizing Nirvana Through Knowing The Mind according to English Renderings by Sardar Bahadur S.W. Laden La, the Lamas Karma Sundhon Paul Lobzang Mingyur Dorje, and Kazi Dawa-Samdup – W.Y. Evans-Wentz (with psychological commentary by Dr C.G. Jung) (OUP 1stEdition 1954) - $50
Apart from the volumes of Evans-Wentz there were seven other items in the cache the lady brought in and also a beautifully pressed four-leaf clover, which we found later among the pages. A nice touch of botanical karma perhaps, after such a satisfying encounter.
Tibetan Thangka Painting: Methods & Materials by David P. & Janice A. Jackson (Shambala 1984) – $45 SOLD
A Sourcebook In Indian Philosophy – ed. By Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan & Charles A.Moore (Princeton 1973) - $12
The Nine Ways Of Bon: excerpts from Zi-brjid edited and translated by David L. Snellgrove (Prajna Press Boulder 1980) - $12 SOLD
Dharma Art by Chogyam Trungpa (Shambala 1996) - $20
Upside-Down Zen: A Direct Path Into Reality by Susan Murphy (Lothian 2004) - $12
Sufi: Expressions Of The Mystic Quest by Laleh Bakhtiar (Thames & Hudson 1979) – $12 SOLD
Tibetan Tantric Charms & Amulets – Selection and Text by Nik Douglas (Dover 1978) - $20 SOLD