Monday, September 07, 2009

Bo and Bon

Here is something that I personally find most interesting -- one of those ventures into speculative history that you "know" must be right -- but the task of proving it up seems daunting, lest the right set of circumstances comes along.

A dauntless, young Russian practitioner -- Dimitry Ermakov -- nephew of the head of archaeology at Kiev University, has taken the time and trouble to research what must surely be one of the most fascinating studies ever attempted: the relationship between Siberian shamanism and pre-Buddhist Bon. This is not for the faint of heart, but the author attacks it with great vigor, and he actually gets somewhere.

He starts with a simple question that has occurred to many of us through the years -- I seem to remember John Reynolds began exploring this many years ago -- and this is actually more of a "what if" than a question: what if magical traditions in Tibet during the Domai Bon era, actually had their origins elsewhere, and if so, where?

The simplicity is deceptive, because the answer to that question also impacts medicine just as heavily as it does religion. For example: there is much in the deeper practices of the Medicine Buddha (and Tibetan traditional medicine) than can be accounted for by Indian origins. There is indeed much in Vedic medical literature that smacks of elsewhere. The author doesn't shy away from these avenues -- indeed, he takes Indo-Iranian influence head on, which makes for an interesting read -- and he also opens up some lines of inquiry that are most worthy of further examination.

I don't want to spoil your joy of reading this book by dwelling on this and that -- I want to stop right now and earnestly suggest you support this young author's very valuable work by visiting his web site and then purchasing a copy.

Very highly recommended.

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