Magic and Mystery in Tibet
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Magic and Mystery in Tibet

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  303 ratings  ·  27 reviews
David-Neel illustrates the point that there is much more to life than is found on the surface. Readers are initiated into powerful meditations, breathing exercises, the control of body heat, visions, shamanic magic and past life recollection.
Paperback, 356 pages
Published January 20th 2000 by Book Tree (first published 1929)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 704)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Oct 13, 2008 Happydog rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Buddhists, magical practitioners
Recommended to Happydog by: Self
Absorbing view of Tibetan Buddhism as it was practiced in the very early 20th century. Although David-Neel is a product of her time, and this book is definitely not objective, what she was writing about is almost opposite to the cerebral image that Buddhism projects now.

This particular translation from the French is rather old-fashioned and sometimes difficult to read, which is complicated by David-Neel's bad case of cultural superiority. It is quite evident that she perceives the Tibetans as l...more
Anton Channing
I came across this book as part of my research into the concept of a 'tulpa' from Tibetan mysticism, this being a kind of thought-form so intensely visualised by the sorcerer that both the sorcerer and others experience the thought-form as solid, possibly even mistaking it for a real person. David-Neel was apparently the first European author to write of the concept after spending many years in Tibet during a time when it was supposedly closed to Europeans, ignoring several instructions for her...more
Delia O' Riordan
I was utterly enthralled by this book when I read it a few years after David-Neel's death. I haven't re-read it in the intervening decades so my impressions are those of a much younger me. What I can say with confidence is that David-Neel must have been incredibly strong both physically and mentally to undertake her historic journey and incredibly courageous in the face of danger from many quarters from natural to man-made. I had no knowledge of the ancient Bon tradition prior to reading Magic a...more
Marsha Altman
This is Alexandra David-Neel's account of various mystical traditions she encountered while traveling in Tibet during the reign of the 13th Dalai Lama. While her other books focus on how she came to be on these long journeys and how she disguised herself to get into Lhasa, this one focuses on magicians, mystics, and lamaist traditions she discovered during her research. She tries to maintain a healthy air of skepticism concerning the stories she is told, but eventually is drawn in by a few diffe...more
George Ilsley
Read this one years ago. Not sure how much of it is actually true. Some of it might be, but my BS detector is pretty active when reading this author.

The writing is a strange mixture of learning and bombast. The author seems to have missed any buddhist teachings on ego. For example (and this happens over and over), she will meet some high lama, and after he questions her a bit, she will assert that he then completely accepts that she is highly learned. Everyone is dazzled by me! I am so perfectly...more

What an explore! She not only made an early 20th century and incredibly perilous trek from Europe to Tibet, she lived there for fourteen years, wrote and fluently spoke all Tibetan dialects, professed Buddhism, adopted an ordained lama, and delved deeply into mysticism, all while remaining "a disciple of Descartes and of Claude Bernard, practicing the philosophic skepticism of the former, which according to the latter should be the constant ally of the scientific observer." What a woman!

Pierre Mercier
It is great in the sense that she gives a insight into the roots of Buddhism in Tibet which are strongly tied to Hindu Tantric practices and Shamanistic beliefs from Tibetan tribes which exists way back before the existence of Tibet. A funny quote is that the love of fermented beer or chang by Tibetans is linked to their Supreme Guru, Padmasambhava ( the supreme magician sorcerer)whose true historical verifyable details of his life or lives.... are hard to check and abound in epic legends.......
Oct 14, 2008 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the mystical side of Tibet
Shelves: metaphysics
The author lived in or near Tibet for over a decade, walked across the country several times, spoke with everyone and anyone about all sorts of mystical topics, and meditated enough to have her own experiences as well as earning respect and having a reputation as someone worthwhile to talk with. This is a must read for anyone interested in the mystical side of Tibet.
Hayden Chance
Fascinating look at the real Tibet and the influence the ancient Bon had and still still have on that area. Neel penetrated the country and learned secrets that very few outsiders were privileged to see and she did it at time when women were not "allowed" to do such things.
Ruta Sevo
You might need an academic interest to read this story of the strangest beliefs and practices revealed by a Victorian woman who became a Tibetan Buddhist nun and learned the Tibetan language to do it. She wrote thirty books in her lifetime. An amazing, unreal bio.
Just finished this book. I love travel books and this certainly qualifies. No one today going to Tibet could have such experiences and in this book, she shares some of her more amazing encounters and experiences.
This is my favorite kind of non-fiction - a perfect example of truth being stranger than fiction. It's fascinating, obscure, a little whacky and off-beat. I love books like this.
Wonderful read by the first Western woman to not only visit Tibet but become a lama of the highest order. A very truthful and revealing telling of her time there.
One of the scariest non-fiction books I've ever read. I have an immense respect for the author for her tenacity, knowledge, curiosity, power of mind and humanity.

Some truly unbelievable stories about mystics in Tibet and tibetan version of budhism. I already miss reading this book. Need to find more by her.
Stephanie Curran
This is a great book which I nearly finished but have had to move on to other things.
un pò fiacco verso la metà, riprende ritmo nelle ultime pagine
Certainly the biggest woman traveller of the last century!
Svetla Angelova
Александра Давид-Неел, с рождено име Луиз-Йожени-Александрин-Мари Давид, е френска пътешественичка, теософка и анархистка.

Пребивава в Африка, Индия, Сиким, Япония и Тибет. Автор на редица пътеписи от тези места. На 21 год. посещава лекциите в Сорбоната по източните езици, както и сбирките на Теософското общество. В Париж членува във феминистки, масонски и анархистически общности. От ранните си години се интересува от необичайни и увлекателни четива като приключенските романи на Жул Верн и слуша...more
Oct 09, 2012 jma rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to jma by: personal research
Shelves: history
A must read for many reasons: Alexandra David-Neel was the first woman to travel in Tibet (disguised as a monk) during the later half of the 1930's, she was a practicing buddhist, made extensive studies and reported on Tibetan buddhism & mysticism, and wrote numerous books and articles.
Chris Lemig
To be honest, I couldn't get through this one. I gave it one hell of a try though. The subject matter was facinating but I just couldn't get past the style: very dry, dense prose. Maybe some other time...
fascinating information surrounded by lots of tedious information, but nevertheless, a very worthy read.
A very relaxing and informative book to read. Alexandra David-Neel writes in a very easy style
Monika Müller
Interesting how the first Western woman, who was considered as a Lama, was traveling in Tibet!
Step outside of your limited World..reading it..that is all I have to say..
I read this when I was but a lad. Don't know how it holds up.
Kasia is currently reading it
Apr 19, 2014
Herve Alfieri
Herve Alfieri marked it as to-read
Apr 17, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 23 24 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Tibetan Yogas Of Dream And Sleep
  • The Life of Milarepa: A New Translation from the Tibetan
  • From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet
  • Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet (Kodansha Globe)
  • The Heart of the World: A Journey to the Last Secret Place
  • The Words of My Perfect Teacher
  • The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death
  • A Fez of the Heart: Travels Around Turkey in Search of a Hat
  • The First and Last Freedom
  • Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind
  • Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama
  • La porta proibita
  • Stick Out Your Tongue
  • A Dragon Apparent: Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
  • The Hotel on the Roof of the World: From Miss Tibet to Shangri La
  • Crazy Wisdom
  • Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land
  • Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit
Alexandra David-Néel (October 24, 1868 - September 8, 1969) was a French explorer, anarchist, spiritualist, Buddhist and writer. She is most known for her visit to the forbidden (to foreigners) city of Lhasa, capital of Tibet (1924). She was born in Paris, France and died in Digne, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. She wrote more than 30 books, about Eastern religion, philosophy, and her travels. Her well-...more
More about Alexandra David-Néel...
My Journey to Lhasa: The Classic Story of the Only Western Woman Who Succeeded in Entering the Forbidden City Secret Oral Teaching in Tibetan Buddhist Sects Initiations and Initiates in Tibet Tibetan Tale Of Love And Magic Journal De Voyage, Tome 2:  Lettres à son mari (14 Janvier 1918   31 Décembre 1940)

Share This Book