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In the Shadow of the Buddha: Secret Journeys, Sacred Histories, and Spiritual Discovery in Tibet

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  122 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews

Spiritual biography meets edge-of-your-seat undercover reporting: how an American Buddhist smuggled out hard evidence of abuse and torture in Tibet.

For nearly a decade, Matteo Pistono smuggled out of Tibet evidence of atrocities by the Chinese government, showing it to the U.S. government, human rights organizations, and anyone who would listen. Yet Pistono did not origi

ebook, 272 pages
Published January 20th 2011 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published January 1st 2011)
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Tahlia Newland
Feb 12, 2011 Tahlia Newland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
IN THE SHADOW OF THE BUDDHA: Secret Journeys, Sacred Histories, and Spiritual Discovery in Tibet (Dutton; January 20, 2011) is Pistono's story, told in his own words, for the first time. Part undercover reporting, part spiritual biography, this book takes readers deep into the heart of Tibet: how Tibetans live today, their rich spiritual past, the tenacity of their faith, and firsthand accounts of repression and abuse by Chinese authorities, smuggled out by one dedicated man.

Disillusioned by a c
May 05, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure how objective I'm going to be but so far I love this book. I met and was friends with Matteo through Amnesty International while living in Wyoming. He was in college and I was a newly divorced mother of two in my early 30's. Even then, I was very impressed with his seriousness and maturity when it came to thinking globally. Only because that is not at all what was on the top of my list of priorities when I was 20. And he was a long-haired, snowboard shredder, free spirit with, who k ...more
Sep 18, 2011 Tamara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I was completely lost. The book moves quickly between the author's present-day journeys through Tibet and Tibetan Buddhist history. Perhaps it was my relaxed state of mind (I was reading it while on a camping trip in beautiful Big Sur), but in the beginning I had a hard time keeping up. Once I settled in to the back and forth pace, I was hooked. I was moved by the reporting aspect of the book with regard to the current human rights conditions in Tibet. I was curious about the history le ...more
Feb 28, 2012 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed the physical descriptions of the area of Tibet and high areas of India, but the author stretches credulity in some of his narratives. He accepts without question some very strange happenings, such as the bodies of lamas becoming, on their death, pure light, leaving behind only nails and hair. Also several grammar/usage errors, including "bailing" for "baling" and "symbols" instead of "cymbals."
3.5 stars. An interesting and inspiring account of Tibet's spirituality and history, the meaning of pilgrimages and sacred sites, and of Tibetan masters' teachings about the essence of life. However, I find that the style is not uniform throughout the book, being at times impersonal and dull and giving me the impression that some parts were written by a different hand. For this reason, the story doesn't flow smoothly especially in the first half of the book and so becomes less engaging and convi ...more
May 20, 2012 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Much like a modern version Alexandra David-Neel's "Magic and Mystery in Tibet," with the added thrills of the Chinese occupation, borders without papers, and smuggling documentary evidence of human rights violations. It is a triple story, as the sub-title implies, and they are well woven. Much of the spiritual discovery involves magic and mystery, and it has something of a believe it or not feel to it. If events like: "At this time, a robust raven landed on the windowsill of the room, cawing as ...more
May 03, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
amazing account so far an look forward to more a westerners exp in the name of smuggling evidence from tibet on abuses to buddhists and reveal to US. His going to the historical timeline while interweaving his exploration and enlightening political and spiritual journey was well done is well done. I met the author and is very humble obviously his teachings in tibet aided that attitude. Its different in that the smuggling of info by chinese govt she's factual evidence of believed atrocities perpe ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a powerful book on every level. in gratitude to the author. spiritual/political: how to navigate the landscape.
Come along with author Matteo Pistono on his Buddhist pilgrimage in Tibet as he follows the same path as Terton Sogyal in the late nineteenth century. His personal mission also becomes one for the Tibetan people as he bears witness to the human rights violations committed by the Chinese and smuggles photos and documents out for the world to see. “In the Shadow of the Buddha,” readers will travel both the world and in time as they learn about Tibetan Buddhism through the spiritual development of ...more
May 01, 2012 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This follows a young man Matteo's journey through Tibetan history and Tibetan Buddhism by way of following in the footsteps of great Buddhist figures. Throughout the book, it flips back between historical stories and those of the present, including teachings by various figures of Tibetan Buddhism and stories about recent atrocities against the Tibetan people under the current Chinese regime. It was an interesting read, with many stories throughout its pages.
Jan 14, 2013 Ruby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in one sitting last night. Really readable, and very interesting. The only reason I didn't give it five stars was that some of the historic stories lost me. I didn't have enough context for 1880s Buddhist history to stay following the people and events, other than the sweeping generalization that it was the time that China started to really crack down on making Tibet part of China and overthrowing the Buddhist governance in order to do so.
Mark V.
May 18, 2014 Mark V. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great saga, great introduction to some (preposterously) realized masters.
May 05, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been wanting to read a book about the oppression in Tibet that I could understand for a long time. This book really kept me interested by him being on a pilgrimage, the people he met and the history all woven together with his amazing quest of getting the Tibetan peoples voices heard. He is so commendable for this and very lucky to be alive!
Colin Stewart
Sometimes exciting, sometimes mystifying, sometimes depressing -- a recent history of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhist through the eyes and mind of a Western convert who smuggled out documentation of Chinese government repression at the same time as he plunged himself into a far-from-Western view of life.
Andrea Holck
It's like Into the Wild meets Lord of the Rings meets The Tibetan Book of the Dead meets The New York Times. I learned about the history of Tibetan Buddhism and the current political situation, which is much more complex historically and disturbing currently than I knew. Fascinating book.
Rowdy Scarlett
Apr 30, 2012 Rowdy Scarlett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, history

Terrific book. Part travelogue, part history, part pilgrimage, part human rights struggle. Well written, I had no trouble moving between past and present. Make me want to travel.
Mar 09, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A swashbuckling adventure of political activism and spirituality in Tibet.

I wrote a blog entry about it:
Ed Cross
A bit too superstitious for me. I did enjoy the reporting side of this book though.
Nancy Ann
Jul 11, 2012 Nancy Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book on Tibet, Buddhism, the China problem.
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