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  • Karl Thunemann

The Buddha Came to John Blofeld

In my search for the true nature of karma, my imagination is caught up by accounts of John Blofeld’s childhood discovery of a small sculpture of Buddha. The figure captivated him, and he incorporated it in his daily life. I wonder when he recognized this discovery was karmic –that he would spend most his adult life in Asia, immersing himself in the mystic teachings of Buddhism and Taoism.

I have read more than one account of his discovery of the Buddha. In my favorite, the boy found the sculpture on a street in the British city where he grew up. Perhaps I found this in his autobiography, but I am not certain. Other accounts provide a far more prosaic explanation. The boy found the sculpture in a junk shop and prevailed on his favorite aunt to buy it for him. Either way, the rest is history. Blofeld’s writing about Eastern religion and spiritual life opened doors for any Westerner who cared to look within. And he writes so movingly of the spirituality he discovered in Asia. He was transported.

John Blofeld

I have spent a few hours searching online for links to Blofeld and karma, but without success. Oh, there are a few entries that feature both the man and the idea, but these erudite articles fail to deliver the decisive answer: What did Blofeld believe about karma, and did he regard it as a major factor in his childhood discovery? Maybe there’s an answer in his book Beyond the Gods. But the book is rare. You can spend hundreds of dollars to buy it online or buy a lesser used copy for about $45. Does some karmic principle augur against issuing a new edition? But I can’t wait. My time is now, and it is waning! Maybe I can find this book through an interlibrary loan.

Insofar as I understand karma—which might yet be demonstrated as not all—Blofeld’s introduction to Buddha is a superb example of karma reaching through the static to someone in the West. But of course it reveals only one aspect of karma at work, when it must have multiple facets.

My brother had a similar karmic series of childhood events that led him to discover his own Eastern spiritual teacher. But it is not for me to recount here—only he can tell this story.

I believe—or is it just my fanciful imagination? —that I have a karmic relationship with Ganesha, the elephant-headed god whom Hindus revere as the lord of obstacles. Obviously, clearing obstacles seems to be Ganesha’s main business, but if you are headed down a dangerous path, don’t be surprised to find obstacles appearing suddenly to block your way! * But you would be wise to view this claim cautiously. Is it karma, or born of a fevered imagination?

If you have had karmic experiences that have profoundly affected your life, I would love to hear about them. But please, keep it brief! † *I recount my discovery of Ganesha in an earlier epistle,

†In an earlier post, I surveyed some of Blofeld’s work. See


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