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Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling

(1878-1965). Orientalist, authority on comparative religion, editor and translator of Tibetan religious scriptures. Born in New Jersey to parents who were Free Thinkers and Spiritualists, he joined the Theosophical Society (TS), Point Loma in 1902 and was encouraged by Katherine Tingley to pursue his education at Stanford University, California. There he received his Master’s degree in 1906 and thenceforth continued his studies at Oxford University where he wrote his first book, The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. During his many travels in the Far East, he studied for several years in Tibet, where he was ordained as a Buddhist monk. In 1927 he published The Tibetan Book of the Dead, the first book to describe the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism for the Western public. In this book he submitted evidence that Blavatsky was intimately acquainted with the higher lamaistic teachings.

In 1918 Evans-Wentz stayed at ADYAR, the headquarters of the TS where he had discussions with Annie BESANT. While in India he met Alice CLEATHER, a theosophical writer and lecturer, who was then living at Darjeeling. In 1923 he returned to Point Loma and worked there with Tingley.

Evans-Wentz is chiefly noted for his editing and translation of Tibetan classics which were an important contribution to Western understanding of the Tibetan religion. He died in San Diego in 1965.

His works include:

The Tibetan Book of the Dead, (London: Oxford University Press, 1927); Tibet’s Great Yogi, Milarepa, (London: Oxford University Press, 1928) Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, (London: Oxford University Press, 1935); The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation (London: Oxford University Press, 1954).


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