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The Way of the White Clouds

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  672 ratings  ·  97 reviews
"A devoted Buddhist and a spokesman for Tibetan culture, Lama Anagarika Govinda was one of the last foreigners to journey through Tibet before the Chinese invasion of 1950. Govinda's luminous and candid account is a spectacular and gloriously poetic story of exploration and discovery, and a sensitive and lucid interpretation of Tibetan traditions. Comprised of elements fro ...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 1966)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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Vinayak Kuruveri
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
!!! ... the feeling after reading this book. I did not end up reading it like ONE book, rather i chose taking up chapters occasionally whenever i needed some spiritual insights. I did finish many other books after i started reading this book, but nothing gave the warmth of coming back to this book and getting lost in those beautiful dreamy world that Anagarika Govinda has framed here!

This is a cult-classic.... Totally different perspective to the current generation of what life could be, can be
Nguyen Hanh Phuoc An
Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was on my father’s shelf, but I didn’t know its presence. One day, after watching the film “ Seven years in Tibet”, I was truly interested in Tibet. By chance at that time I touched this book and read it thoroughly. After finishing “ the way of the white cloud” , I clearly knew that Tibet was deeply in my mind. Thank to this book, I found my own way
Erni Bär
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is about the "old" Tibet. Having read it about 35 years ago for the first time when it was kind of a hippie classic I was simply overwhelmed. No Tibetan Lamas were known then in the USA or EU. Of course Govinda created his very own Tibet bubble to live in mentally and partly physically too. But who cares? He has never fantazised along in a way Lobsang Rampa did for example. Being a born German one cannot blame him for being a rather romantic person. And the Lama was a serious artist in ...more
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book worked my brain as well as my heart and my spirit. The author writes very poetically. The author's tone is very endearing and evoked compassion and empathy. ...more
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, favourites
It seems like Lama Anagarika Govinda managed to do the impossible - write a work that is part travelogue, part journal, part memoir, without at any point taking himself too seriously. For a work so reverential and lofty, it is Anagarika's fundamental good humour and lighthanded narration that keeps the reader from ever being bored. An altogether precious foray into 1930s Tibet and an introduction to the stories and tenets of Tibetan Buddhism. I listened to over 13 hours in a week - what's the au ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual, travel
I savored this book like a fine wine and did not want it to end. Govinda magically transferred the reader to pre-China controlled Tibet and allowed one to feel as though you were traveling beside him throughout his sacred wanderings. The author went to Tibet for a conference in his role as Buddhist librarian in Sri Lanka, ended up meeting his guru and spend the next 15-20 years making his way around the country documenting ancient sites with words and drawings and eventually with photos as taken ...more
Few books are life changing. This one was for me - in its own way. It is a powerful autobiographical account by Lama Anagarika Govinda of his discipleship with a Rinpoche of great fame, from Tibet. Of course he could have made the more interesting bits up - but when you read the account and come to a judgement about his character, you may conclude that fantastic as some of the experiences are, he did experience them.

His description of camping in the high mountains of Tibet and coming across rock
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhist
In this evocative and passionate journey through a lost Tibet, Lama Govinda convinces us not just of the efficacy of buddhist doctrine but of the power of devotion and reverence to move the human heart towards ever increasing compassion. Govinda's own unyielding, almost romantic loyalty to the teachings and his own teachers is a powerful inspiration. The first chapter alone captures the living spirit of Buddhism more than any other text I have read. ...more
Heidi Nummi
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is ecstatic. Simply wonderful. My deepest respect for the writer and his mission in life and death.
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Spiritual-travel autobiography of the famous Western seeker who became an an ardent Tibetan Buddhist. Govinda's writing of the his journey and the austere, haunting Tibetan landscapes is great, as well as his admiring portraits of the Lamas and Gurus he encounters along the way. I share his distrust of some of the more bizarre mortification practices intermixing in Tibetan Buddhist rituals. Govinda though spends 3 chapters arguing to demonstrate the reality of reincarnation and is obviously capt ...more
Hollis Fishelson-holstine
I came across references to this book in many other books about Buddhism and was excited to find it on the shelf at Powell's. However, it is in many ways more travelogue than spiritual guide. It is a fascinating story of a young German man who becomes committed to Buddhism (along with his eventual wife) and their travels in Tibet prior to the Chinese occupation. It makes you long to have seen what they saw (although I'm not sure I would have survived the physical difficulties!) I can't quite buy ...more
Mihály Zágon
A few interesting thoughts in the beginning and then I had hard time even to finish it. Calling science and intellectual analysis inferior and "demanding" psychology to accept occult and esoteric experiences without thinking feels too offensive to my western mind. I really appreciate the descriptions of personal experiences and mostly I couldn't find too much meaning in them. The descriptions are shallow or when they try to have more depth they end up being long sentences going in circles. Of co ...more
Mike S
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Tibetan Buddhism
Shelves: metaphysics
This is a fascinating account of Tibetan Buddhism and customs. A must read for anyone interested in the subject. After reading this I wished I could have lived in Tibet before the latest Chinese occupation. What a fascinating culture!
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The first Buddhist book I ever read.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This charming memoir of a spiritual quest follows the travels of the poet-painter-explorer born Ernst Hoffman but known to the world as Lama Anagarika Govinda. The book details his journeys through Tibet shortly after WWII, not as a tourist but as a devout pilgrim, residing in monasteries and taking instruction at the feet of his guru, the legendary Tomo Rinpoche. The book is filled with vivid depictions of Tibet's otherworldly landscapes and fascinating inhabitants, and relates striking anecdot ...more
Rajiv Chopra
This book simply took my breath away. I discovered the book when I was reading a book called "Himalaya". Intrigued, I decided to buy it.

There was a world of famous explorers, and then there is a world of explorers who were incredible in many ways. Lama Angarika Govinda falls into the latter category. This is travel at an extremely difficult level. It is a travel that is both external, and internal. He forces you to look into yourself, while taking you on a journey through a world that is probab
Nikolas Alixopulos
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although he was one of the pioneers of Westerners studying Eastern philosophy his name has become less known than his contemporaries. Lama Govinda was able to capture in his writings the essence of Tibet before the invasion of China. The elements of mystery and awe in his travels is a refreshing read in the structured digital age of today. It is hard to believe that this book is less than a 100 years old, but at the same time resonates here and now. Truly timeless.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Govinda records his experiences in Tibet, pre-Chinese takeover. His experiences provide inspiration for fellow bodhisattvas to continue on the way of the Buddha. Also, he challenges an especially western mentality among young Buddhist converts to live more so by a hollow shell of rationality and logic while eschewing much faith and spirituality. Surely we must allow room for both.
Sophy H
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: outdoor-nature
An extremely poetic description of pre-Chinese invasion Tibet.

Wonderful vistas, illustrative commentary, evocative writing. But there was just too much of it.

I have to say I was struggling to reach the end of this book. It felt just that little too long and at times slightly repetitive.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a free thinker, I still find this book a wonderful read. My 2nd book about Tibet, and this mysterious place has some attraction to me
Thanh Duong
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Completed Challenge 9: one book about Tibet
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Viet Nguyen
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nice book!
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Magical telling of magical travels and adventures - engraving Tibet within my heart
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Born Ersnt Lothar Hoffman in Germany, Lama Anagarika Govinda (1898-1985) converted to Buddhism as a young man and spent his life learning, teaching, and writing, as well as painting. The Way of the White Clouds describes Govinda's several visits to Tibet in the 1930s and 1940s, grouped into five sets of chapters. Each batch of chapters has a geographic focus, but each is also a vehicle for introducing a particular theme: his mystical experiences with his guru; the metaphysical powers demonstrate ...more
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
This is an amazing book, beautifully written, touching, awe inspiring and utterly compelling from start to finish. It brings to life the spiritual tradition, iconography and rituals of Tibet and paints a multi-faceted portrait of the adventures of a spiritual seeker in the remote and beautiful lands of Tibet as he documents the wild landscape, the people, the living tradition and the ancient frescoes of the monasteries of this wonderful heritage that is Tibetan Buddhism.
If you are interested
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
It’s a good, mystical-feeling book about Tibetan Buddhism and the author journey to explore the snowy mountain paradise. However, this book fails to give you a true picture of what Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture are about.

I don’t know why Govinda potrayed Tibetan Buddhism in this way. I think there’s not wrong with it as maybe he is an enthusiast of the religion or he is a serious practitioner and wanted to keep his practice secret. Either way, I did feel like I was cheated after I learne
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most influential & meaningful text I've read in over a decade. If I could gift its message to all of humanity, I would.

"We have to turn from a wayward, chaotic consciousness, from a mind that is agitated or diverted by all kinds of ephemeral objects and illusions, to a directed, i.e. co-ordinated, harmonised consciousness, which is not directed towards any particular point or limited object, but which consists so-to-say in the integration of all directions and points. 'One-pointedness' (ekagrat
Rosemary Allix
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
My Buddhist friends were surprised I had not read this book, so I immediately ordered a lovely second hand copy off Amazon (it's one of those books better read in a well thumbed edition). Parts of this book are mid-blowingly amazing. How did they make those journeys across such a wild part of the world and find such hidden treasures. I know this book has inspired people to take up Tibetan Buddhism, and I can understand why. Loved it. Not in a cosy way, it is writing to be in awe of. ...more
Mar 20, 2013 added it
Read this book way back in the '90s . Came across this in Clementi library and borrowed it to read again . I recall that this was about a German who happened to be in Tibet just before China became a communits country and some of the experiences he went through. I was impressed. I am still impressed with this second reading. Read it with an open mind... ...more
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Lama Anagarika Govinda, born Ernst Lothar Hoffmann, was the founder of the order of the Arya Maitreya Mandala and an expositor of Tibetan Buddhism, Abhidharma, and Buddhist meditation as well as other aspects of Buddhism. He was also a painter and poet.
Lama Anagarika Govinda ist einer der bekanntesten buddhistischen Gelehrten und Schriftsteller aus dem We

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