With all those light burning holidays — Kwanzaa, Hannukah, the Birthday of Tsongkhapa, the traditional Christian Saturnalia, and cold weather — fast approaching for we the peoples of the northern hemisphere of our tilting and spinning top-like globe, I thought it might be fun to answer, as if you had really asked me, the perplexing question that I probably only imagine is burning brightly in your minds, which is, Didn't Jesus Himself visit Tibet during his gap years? Somebody found His secret biography in a monastery in Leh, right? Didn't they find His tomb in Srinagar? Well, true, the idea of Jesus traveling in Tibet is ubiquitous in internet sites. Just try Schmoogling "Jesus in Tibet," but come right back here when you're done. Let's have a look at only one very important source of this idea, just to gauge its validity as a source of historical information. It could be instructive, I suppose, but not too instructive, I hope.
Reverend Levi H. Dowling (1844-1911), of Indianapolis, Indiana, was the revealer of The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, in which Jesus traveled to Lassa (meaning Lhasa) in Tibet and met up with some interesting people we might suppose to have been Tibetan Buddhists there. I would just like to call to your attention, valued reader, that this would have been long before the time of the legendary Tibetan Emperor Lha Totori Nyentsen, when the Dharma first descended on Tibet from the sky.
Here is the beginning of chapter 36 of the Aquarian Gospel:
"IN Lassa of Tibet there was a master's temple, rich in manuscripts of ancient lore. 2) The Indian sage had read these manuscripts, and he revealed to Jesus many of the secret lessons they contained; but Jesus wished to read them for himself. 3) Now, Meng-tse, greatest sage of all the farther East, was in this temple of Tibet. 4) The path across Emodus heights was difficult; but Jesus started on his way, and Vidyapati sent with him a trusted guide. 5) And Vidyapati sent a message to Meng-tse, in which he told about the Hebrew sage, and spoke for him a welcome by the temple priests. 6) Now, after many days, and perils great, the guide and Jesus reached the Lassa temple in Tibet. 7) And Meng-tse opened wide the temple doors, and all the priests and masters gave a welcome to the Hebrew sage. 8) And Jesus had access to all the sacred manuscripts, and, with the help of Meng-tse, read them all. 9) And Meng-tse often talked with Jesus of the coming age, and of the sacred service best adapted to the people of the age. 10) In Lassa Jesus did not teach. When he finished all his studies in the temple schools he journeyed toward the West. In many villages he tarried for a time and taught. 11) At last he reached the pass, and in the Ladak city, Leh, he was received with favor by the monks, the merchants, and the men of low estate. 12) And in the monastery he abode, and taught; and then he sought the common people in the marts of trade; and there he taught. 13) Not far away a woman lived, whose infant son was sick nigh unto death."
Levi must have gotten the name of the Emodus Mountains from Megasthenes. We don't know about it otherwise.
"The races which we may enumerate without being tedious, from the chain of Emodus, of which a spur is called Imaus (meaning in the native tongue snowy*), are the Isari, Cosyri, Izgi, and on the hills the Chisiotosagi, and the Brachmauae, a name comprising many tribes, among which are the Maccocalingae." (This was taken from
*That Megasthenes can say that Imaus contains the local word for 'snowy' certainly reminds of Tibetan Gangchen (Gangs-can), 'snowy,' which translates Sanskrit Himavant.
See also chapter 56 of the Aquarian Gospel for the Reverend's account of the international conference of seven sages held in Alexandria:
"6) Now, Alexandria was the center of the world's best thought, and here in Philo's home the sages met. 7) From China came Meng-tse; from India Vidyapati came; from Persia Kaspar came; and from Assyria Ashbina came; from Greece Apollo came; Matheno was the Egyptian sage, and Philo was the chief of Hebrew thought."
Vidyāpati is a fine Indian name meaning 'Lord of Knowledge,' but I fear the Reverend really may have intended the "cuckoo of Maithili," a 15th century author of love songs. Of course I can't be entirely sure of it.
Matheno is obviously Manetho.
Meng-tse reflects better the Chinese than does the Latinized Mencius with which most of those who were educated in Euro-America are more familiar. Of course there are chronological problems. Mencius had been dead for centuries when Jesus was born. Manetho lived in 3rd century BCE.
Kaspar is very probably Gaspar, the Persian among the Three Wise Men, who have no names at all in the Bible, although they do have names on the famous mosaics of Ravenna in Italy.
Or is he Caspar the Friendly Ghost of American cartoon fame? The idea suffers cruelly from the fact that this particular Caspar was never explicitly associated with Iran, and as if that were not enough there is one huge & pesky chronological conundrum.
Philo is the very well known philosopher of exactly that name, who was indeed a native son of Alexandria who happily married Athens to Jerusalem in his thinking. Unlike most of the other attendees, he actually was a contemporary of Jesus.
Until today I had always believed Apollo was a god and never even imagined he might be a human sage. I stand corrected.
Ashbina is a bit of a mystery, although I'm thinking it could be related to the Aśvins maybe. But they weren't Assyrians, now were they?
Believe what you want. But let's try and keep it believable. Holiday cheers!
Gideon Jasper Richard Ouseley (1835-1906 CE) was an interesting contemporary of Rev. L. Dowling and N. Notovich. I don't believe the three of them have ever been considered as a group, although I think they should be, at least as regards the Jesus + Tibet connection. Ouseley was a Lisbon-born Irish cleric, became a priest in 1870 in the Catholic Apostolic Church, although eventually excommunicated. He waged a life-long crusade for universal abstinence from meat, tobacco and alcohol. What is more relevant and to the point here, he claimed to have obtained, in 1881, through spiritistic means, meaning dreams and visions, the original document behind the Four Gospels. This came to him in the form of an Aramaic manuscript that had been placed for safekeeping in a Tibetan monastery by Essenes (note that, in books published in the 1880's — the heydey of the early Theosophical Society — Arthur Lillie had already argued that Jesus was *really* an Essene, and that the Essenes were *really* Buddhists). Ouseley himself never claimed to have traveled to Tibet, and neither did his Jesus. He called this visionary document The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, The Gospel of the Nazarenes, among still other names. This new Gospel "expounds the doctrines of Christ on universal compassion, vegetarianism and kindness to animals (involving abolition of animal sacrifices)." It was published in 1904. He wrote several other books, which seem not to be so well known, including one on cosmic rays, auras, and healing with colors. He was closely associated with the anti-vivisectionist and occultist writers Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland. Ouseley, Dowling and Notovich may have had quite different motives. Dowling's Jesus traveled to Tibet with a mission to read his way through a library and to learn from Meng-tse some updated rites suited to modern times. Notovich, of Russian Orthodox background, wanting his story to be believed, denied having any motives, but at times you can see his 'rationalism' shining through, in his expressions of doubt about the resurrection of Jesus and the like. Ouseley's Jesus never went to Tibet. It was His original and uncorrupted gospel — one that has Jesus preaching Ouseley's pet ideas — that went there. In general all three wanted to 'document' a new truth about Jesus and/or the teachings of Jesus by recovering texts from a safe place, one generally deemed inaccessible, which to their minds meant Tibet (both Tibet and Ladakh in the case of Notovich). All three — and Lillie, too (although he is renowned for opposing the Theosophical Society) — supply, each in his way, a counter-narrative to the usual accounts of Christian origins. If only for that reason they were bound to persuade some of their readers, to whom it mattered not at all that the author-revealers knew next to nothing about Tibet. Neither did it matter that the 'mysteries' they located there have hardly anything at all to do with the real mysteries (not to mention beauties, inspirations, truths) to be found there, while having very much to do with broad religio-cultural arguments then (and, OK, now) raging in and among Euro-American minds.
See and hear and read more:
John Buescher, Jesus in Tibet, and Other Tales from the Dawn of the Aquarian Age. Search for it at www.thdl.org, since my connection is unreliable at the moment. This is a video version of a lecture given in honor of the retirement of Prof. Jeffrey Hopkins. This is your best place to find out more about the lives and wives of Levi H. Dowling. The Reverend Dowling was actually living in L.A., and not in Indianapolis as I suggested above, having long left Indiana behind along with his minister's work with The Church of Christ, when he "transcribed" the Aquarian Gospel. Also fascinating to learn that he had an associate in L.A. named Frederick Oliver who channeled an entity who called himself "Phylos the Tibetan." This is wonderful news.
Levi H. Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, first published in 1908. Online versions are everywhere.
Arthur Lillie (b. 1831), Buddhism in Christendom, or, Jesus, the Essene, first published in 1887. A PDF of the original publication may be downloaded without charge here.
The Lost Years of Jesus. Look here, where you will find a useful timeline, as well as some alternatives to the alternative views. Don't miss Jesus with long blonde hair, headband, shepherd crook and Torah scrolls hiking amidst the yaks. 21st-century imaginary art at its best.
The Lost Years of Jesus: Was Jesus in Tibet? For this brief clip produced by EVTV, including hugely entertaining interviews with Glenn Kimball, author of Hidden Stories of the Childhood of Jesus, and with John Hogue, author of Messiahs: Visions & Prophecies, press here firmly.
K, The Missing Gospel. The whole Jesus-in-Tibet (& Kashmir) myth picked over and reified through digital effects in a forthcoming indie movie. Press here. But look here too! The announcement for this just-linked low-budget production was already nominated for "Worst News of the Week" back in September. A factoid movie for your factoid people could spell box-office success, unfortunately.
The Gospel of the Nazarenes, translated from the original Aramaic by Rev. Gideon Jasper Richard Ouseley M.A. Press here.
Charles Francis Potter, The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed. I read this book as a young person and was very impressed by it. I wonder what could have happened to my copy? Any idea about that, Kim? Jerry?
Robert M. Price, Jesus in Tibet: A Modern Myth, The Fourth R, vol. 14, no. 3 (May 2001). Press here.
Sam van Schaik, Christianity in Early Tibet. Found at the blogsite "Early Tibet." Press here.
Tibet Talk (Blog), The Lost Years of Jesus in Tibet. Press here.
Geza Vermes, Who's Who in the Age of Jesus, Penguin Reference Library (London 2005).
The photos were taken in Ravenna, Italy, in 2007. The glowing alabaster windows are from the tomb of Empress Galla Placidia (ca. 388-450 CE), erected in about 435 CE. The mosaic of the Three Wise Men is from Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, originally a church of the Arian "heretics" built in about 500 CE. The Arians followed the theology of the Alexandrian Arius (ca. 250-336). He had a subordinationist view of Christ's divinity, a view roundly condemned at the infamous Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. That's why, in the mosaics that follow, nothing remains of the "heretic" saints but their hands (look closely at the next-to-last pillar and see if you can spot one, or look here), their bodies replaced by curtains.