Sexuality, Magic, and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism







Vicctor and Victoria Trimondi

The Shadow of the Dalai Lama



In March 1999 “The Shadow of the Dalai Lama: Sexuality, Magic and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism” by Victor und Victoria Trimondi appeared in Germany. The book looks in detail at the cultic background of Tibetan Buddhism and its clerical leader, the Dalai Lama. In this original work of analysis, interpretation and critique, the authors not only provide surprising, previously largely ignored factual information; they also undertake a philosophically well-grounded interpretation of Lamaism, rendering the Tibetan-Buddhist worldview understandable for Western readers through a comparison with European religious traditions. V. and V. Trimondi have succeeded in combining history, politics, religion and psychology in an impressive cultural-historical presentation.


The German edition of the book was published by the Patmos Group (Düsseldorf and Zurich) in the spring of 1999. The Patmos Group consists of four of the most reputable German-language publishers (Walter; Benzinger; Artemis and Winkler; Patmos) and specializes in the fields of psychology, mythology, comparative religion, classical antiquity, world literature, cultural analysis and contemporary history. Walter published the complete works of C. G. Jung. THE SHADOW OF THE DALAI LAMA thus appeared in the company of international classics. The authors hold all foreign rights.


Although this is a well-grounded and scholarly work, the language of the text is fluid and enlivening. The authors have paid particular attention to rendering Tibetan culture understandable to “laypeople” who have not dealt with it before. This study by V. and V. Trimondi measures up to all the criteria of a classic reference text and could well be described as a seminal work on the topic.


Of the book’s reception, the Berner Zeitung (a Swiss newspaper) reported that THE SHADOW OF THE DALAI LAMA "struck like a thunderbolt". To date (Oct. 2000) the work has been reviewed in over 200 different media outlets. Opinions have alternated between pro and contra, but virtually no review remains unemotional. Despite numerous initial calls for a boycott by the pro-Lamaist wing, the book has led to a fierce, ever-expanding discussion, and has in the meantime become a standard work on the critical examination of Lamaism and the metapolitics of the Dalai Lama. The major press organs (AZ; Focus; NZZ; Zeit; Facts; SZ; Presse; Standard; Badische Zeitung; Die Woche; Berner Zeitung; WOZ, etc.), numerous radio and television stations (ORF; 3SAT; BR; HR; SFB; WDR; SW; DRS2, etc.), and many “scene” magazines (Tattva Viveka; Women World Wide; Idea; Factum; Topic; Ab 40; Hier & Jetzt; Spuren; Novalis) have all run stories on the book. Within a very short time, THE SHADOW OF THE DALAI LAMA became a discussion topic in four other books.


In the German-speaking world, the book by Victor und Victoria Trimondi appeared in the middle of an already begun reconsideration of the Dalai Lama and his religious system. In 1998, the Scottish author June Campbell’s book (Traveller in Space: In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism, Athlone Press) had appeared, in which she reported on the system’s secret sexual practices and the sexual abuse of women, along with two explosive film reports on German — ARD (Panorama) — and Swiss— SFR (10 vor 10) — television, about the human rights violations associated with the suppression of the Tibetan Shugden religious community by the XIV Dalai Lama. These fuelled intensive discussion and opened the gateway for a critical debate. Nonetheless, THE SHADOW OF THE DALAI LAMA caused quite a furor when it appeared, and was not without its successors. Within a few months several other books with a critical content came onto the market. There was Colin Goldner’s Dalai Lama. Fall eines Gottkönigs [Dalai Lama: The Fall of a God-King] (Allibri Verlag), likewise a critical title, which confirmed factual material. The theology professor Michael von Brück picked up essential facts from the Trimondis and wrote a critical book on the topic himself (Religion und Politik im tibetischen Buddhismus [Religion and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism], Kösel Verlag). Then the former Buddhist, Martin Kamphuis, told of his disappointing experiences with the Lamaist system (Ich war Buddhist [I was a Buddhist], Pattloch Verlag).


THE SHADOW OF THE DALAI LAMA has also not been without a direct influence on public opinion about Tibetan Buddhism and its "god-king". When at the invitation of German Interior Minister Schily and the SPD (the governing party) the XIV Dalai Lama attended a public discussion in Munich in May 2000, a critical body had already formed. Not only did the press report critically and reservedly about the Nobel Peace Prize winner for the first time, there were also protests in front of the hall where he was appearing and the posters for the event were pasted over with protest notes. The chief critics were the Munich University Student Committee, the Forum for Critical Psychology, and SPD members. The accusations against the Dalai Lama in the media could no longer be overheard. Here are some examples from the press headlines. (Translations of such critical opinions are provided in a separate information flyer.)


"A system that despises women!" (AZ) — "Loved, honored and avoided!" — (AZ) "Free Tibet from the Lamas" (ASTA) — "Fuss about a cult figure" (Deutscher Freidenker Verband [German Freethinkers Association]) — "The Dalai Lama is no saint!" (Idea - Informationsdienst) — "Pretty lame: Dalai Lama and the Munich SPD" (AZ) — "Row in the SPD about Dalai Lama visit!" (SZ) — "The Dalai Lama - Welcome to Munich?" (AZ) — "A controversial guest" (SZ) - "The Dalai Lama rumpus" (SZ) - "The Entertainer!" (FAZ).


Politicians, journalists, artists, theologians — no one who deals with the Dalai Lama and his religion will be able to ignore the facts and arguments in this sensational yet sound study. It is a standard critique of Tibetan Buddhism. The subject areas encompassed by V. and V. Trimondi’s book, which also reveal potential target audiences, include the history of culture and religion, cross-cultural comparison, comparative religious studies, philosophy, political theory, international politics, state theory, interreligious dialogue, the sociology of religion, Buddhism, fascism, anarchism, ecological studies, feminism, gender studies, postmodernism, ethics, occultism, esotericism , mysticism, ritualism, mythology, magic, Oriental studies, history, anthropology, psychology, sexual theory, and consciousness studies.




© Copyright 2003 – Victor & Victoria Trimondi

The contents of this page are free for personal and non-commercial use,
provided this copyright notice is kept intact. All further rights, including
the rights of publication in any form, have to be obtained by written
permission from the authors.