Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies

In the past century, the Western view of Tibet has evolved from an exotic Shangri-la filled with golden idols and the promise of immortality, to a peaceful land with an enlightened society now ravaged by outside aggression. How and why did our perception change? How accurate are our modern conceptions of Tibet? Imagining Tibet is a collection of essays that reveal these Western conceptions. Providing an historical background to the West’s ever-changing relationship with Tibet, Donald Lopez, Jeffrey Hopkins, Jamyang Norbu, and other noted scholars explore a variety of topics - from Western perceptions of Tibetan approaches to violence, monastic life, and life as a nation in exile, to representations of Tibet in Western literature, art, environmentalism, and the New Age movement.
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Imagining Tibet - Review

Field of Interest/Specialty: Art
Posted On: 04/30/2018

Imagining Tibet was a long, but interesting compilation. The book was comprehensive and covered the history of Western interaction with Tibet in a thorough, though sometimes long winded manner. I was especially interested by the discussions on how people in general tend to see other cultures thru their own lens and how the West has romanticized Tibet for its own fulfillment. As a self proclaimed environmentalist, the chapter about the environment and the effects of modernization interested me, especially the discussion that it is easy to push your own values as one sits in their warm house with electricity and all the modern conveniences. The insight into the goals and aims of the exiled 14th Dalai Lama and the other lamas in exile was thought provoking. The book left me wondering and interested in what the future will hold for Tibetan Buddhism and what do the majority of people in Tibet want? Is religion still important or has materialism become a priority? Does the Dalai Lama believe that a return to Tibet is possible or has he shifted his effort toward sharing the religion as its only means of survival? In my curriculum for middle school art students this concept of seeing an art piece through ones own lens and then discovering more about it to understand a culture is my takeaway.