Gita, for the purpose of clarification, and to amplify upon some of the excellent points you raise, I offer the following.
Hansard's websites (presented as they were in in the third-party) asserted that he was 'selected' ".....by the Tibetan Dür Bön cultural community..... The Bön Community predicted Christopher’s birth, and when he was 4 years old his teacher, Ürgyen Nam Chuk, found him in New Zealand"
. Reference to credible and eminent authorities on the subject, reveal that the term Dur-Bon
relates to an archaic Tibetan funeral tradition, unrelated to healing or medicine, thus it's rather difficult to recognize how such a community can in fact exist, particularly as it is completely unknown to genuine Tibetan Bonpos. An immediate question thus arises. If this 'tradition' does not exist, how does one view Hansard's 'biographical' account, and claims made concerning his supposed 'lineage' and 'discovery'?
Which brings us to the subject of his 'teacher' Ürgyen Nam Chuk, who it is claimed was a member of the so-called GNam (another curious name) tribe in Amdo, Tibet's North-Eastern region. Hansard's 'biography' suggests that this Tibetan, having apparently found Christopher on a beach in New Zealand as a four-year-old, then trained the child in "...the pre-Buddhist and Bön spiritual teachings of Tibet".
In order to lay aside a sceptical and incredulous response, we have to accept certain presumptions such as; this person must have been fluent in English, or alternatively as an infant Christopher Hansard was already speaking perfect Tibetan! Or was there perhaps a more esoteric method which enabled his 'studies' ?
According information available at Companies House in London, Christopher Hansard was born on 3rd January 1957 which means that this Tibetan would have been inside Chinese occupied Tibet during the 1950/60s a period which witnessed major bloodshed, uprisings against the Chinese invasion, and later, the brutalities of the so-called Cultural Revolution. During this time Tibet experienced several catastrophic famines, as result of insane agricultural policies imposed by China, these were dark and harrowing decades for Tibet, and its people. Monasteries, including Bon centres, were being ransacked and destroyed. Yet somehow Ürgyen Nam Chuk not only managed to travel to New Zealand, but, in the remote and empty grasslands and deserts of Amdo, had somehow learned to speak English, to such a standard, as to tutor a four year-old boy in the profound complexities of a dubiously named Tibetan medical tradition! Equally puzzling is that, given the totalitarian nature of the Communist Chinese regime, how did this man obtain the required paperwork to leave Tibet, at a time when China had sealed-off Tibet from the outside world? Perhaps such an amazing claim can be partly supported by reference to the records held by the New Zealand authorities of his arrival into the country, clearly this Tibetan resided somewhere, maybe Christopher Hansard is willing to provide further details?
To my knowledge the first Tibetan who came to New Zealand arrived in 1967, but he travelled from the exiled Tibetan community in India, and certainly was not a member of the so-called gNam Tribe. Yet there are other questions concerning Mr.Hansard's 'teacher', which undermine the credibility of Hansard's claims. These state that so-called Ürgyen Nam Chuk came from what was described as "the Bon Community
" within a tribe "noted for their mystics, physicians, adepts and shamans".
Accepting these claims (for the purposes of further examination), how does Mr.Hansard explain the fact that Ürgyen is not a traditional Bon name, but is actually a Tibetan Buddhist name, closely associated with the Nyingmapa tradition? Considering the background he claims for Ürgyen Nam Chuk one would have reasonably thought he would have a non-Buddhist name, more in keeping with his supposed Bon surroundings? The mystery surrounding the existence of this 'teacher' deepens when we examine, more closely, his 'homeland' and supposed traditions. It was asserted on Hansard's website that this Tibetan was a member of the so-called "gNam Tribe"
in Amdo, Tibet.
Having spoken with a number of Amdo-Tibetans and respected Bon scholars this 'tribe' and its name remains completely unknown, which is rather strange given the iconic importance attached by Hansard, neither does it appear in any of the authentic Tibetan Bon texts. I was assured that there are many clan names in Amdo and the only one that comes remotely close is Nampa Dong, but then neither Hansard nor his 'teacher' mentioned that tribe.
It is also claimed that the mysterious 'Ürgyen' of the equally curious 'gNam Tribe', "....taught Christopher Hansard the twelve teachings of Bön".
According to the numerous conversations I have had with Bonpo Monks and Geshes, and based upon my own researches, these so-called "twelve teachings"
have no correspondence whatsoever with traditional Tibetan Bon religion. (Hansard would appear to have plundered sections of Namkhai Norbu's book in this regard). Nor do we find any clarity in his claim that they belong to "The gNam tradition of the Jangter Bön"
(the spurious gNam appearing again) when Hansard links so-called Jangter Bon, with what he states is the "Northern Treasure School"
According to a highly resected Bon scholar:
"The Bon tradition does have so-called the Northern treasure which was not a school though. It is a name given to a certain number of texts believed to have been unearthed in Zangzang in the northern Tibet in the 13th century, hence the word changter, 'treasure from the north' ".
Once again we find Mr.Hansard's account displaying serious inconsistences and facual inaccuracies. There are many others. Take for example the following comments made during an 2003 interview, which appeared on Global Voices Radio, when talking about a venue which was hosting a Hansard workshop on Vancover Island, Canada. Mr.Hansard is asked if there is something special about the Comox Valley and Vancouver Island which brought him there:" ..It is a very unique place and is mentioned in very old Tibetan Bon teachings, as is Vancouver Island...." .
What particular Bon texts would they be? How does Christopher Hansard explain how ancient Tibetans would be specifically aware of these particular locations, thousands of kilometres away, in a stange and different continent? Given that Mr.Hansard is not fluent in modern Tibetan, let alone the Zhang Zhung language of original Bon how exactly did he discover this 'fact'? Another esoteric transmission no doubt!
The uncritical and supine journalism which helped promote Christopher Hansard was too eager to consume the fantasy to permit even the most basic of journalistic standards to obstruct the exotic copy which filled a number of lifestyle and health pages. Onced the lie had been accepted it became a fact
, there were to be many more deceptions, such as the invented book reviewers, all given a sufficiently Tibetan, Bon gloss.
"I have read the Tibetan Art of Living; it is a rare treasure, a distillation by the author who has real understanding and spiritual achievement. It is a book shown to me by a professor at an American university and it is the real thing, I will encourage all students of differing types of Tibetan wisdom to learn from the new and emerging spiritual master.".Tsevegar Rimpoche, Dharamsala
"Christopher Hansard has obviously been taught by learned people and his spiritual realization is obvious. The west is fortunate to have such a treasure; I look closely to what the future may bring for him and his work." Dorjong Rimpoche, Tajit Bon Retreat, The Kingdom of Mustang
Upon first reading such 'reviews', some time ago now, I was most curious about the identity
of the 'authors' (particularly in light of their shared enthusiasm for using the same term 'treasure' in their reviews). Having many contacts in Dharamsala I was able to make a detailed enquiry, unfortunately no Tibetan was able to identify 'Tsevegar Rimpoche', a strange disappointment, not least because of the small size of that Tibetan settlement and given all Rimpoches are known by the community. Furthermore, the name itself 'Tsevegar' is rather curious, unlike any Tibetan name I have come across, more like Mongolian or Kazakh! Equally puzzling is the name of the second reviewer, 'Dorjong', another strange variation. What of the phrase 'Tajit'? This appears to have Turkic origins, yet its supposedly based in Mustang, a remote ethnically Tibetan region of Western Nepal that borders Tibet. How a Tibetan Bon monastery has acquired such a title is extremely puzzling. It has been suggested that Mr.Hansard was engaged in a vigorous and misleading campaign of self-promotion, after all his business was built upon an exotic fantasy of his own creation, and that such reviews were, in all likely-hood, authored by the ‘Master of Dur-Con’
Some particularly curious 'reviews' appear on the following
including the appearance of the non-existent 'Prof. Sonam Amdongyapa'"As a professor of Tibetan culture I can say that this book is genuine and excellent. KB Chaffin's review is interesting and I will inform the family of Mr Hansard's teacher about Mr Chaffin's words. Mr Hansard is a teacher and physician of Tibetan medicine of high calibre as many othodox (sic)doctors, East and West can attest to. The Tibetan Art of Living and Mr Hansards new book, The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking are powerful translations of Tibetan culture to West that bringsmuch needed clarity and wisdom
". Prof. Sonam Amdongyapa (Vienna)’
Having been actively involved in researching and writing upon Tibet for over twenty-years, I have had the good fortune to develop a number of working relationships with a number of Tibetan academics and writers. Curiously no Tibetan scholars I approached had ever heard of ’Professor Amdongyapa‘, a rather puzzling fact given the relatively small number of Tibetan Professors, and the obvious pride felt within the Tibetan community when one of their members reaches such a position. Under such circumstances one would reasonably have imagined such a name would have been fairly well known. I contacted too the Tibetan Community in Austria, as this ‘Professor’ was stated to be based in Vienna, they had never heard of that individual and had no record of that name. I also emailed the Austrian Universities, including private establishments, if they recognized the name of this ’Professor’. Not one had!
What person of integrity and normal intelligence would decide to adopt a Tibetan sounding name, and bestow upon themselves a 'Professorship', all for the purpose of endorsing a work by the ‘Master of Dur-Con
‘? Some clues lie in the name itself and certain elements of the review. The family name ‘Amdongyapa’ is peculiar, and not typically Tibetan. The first component ’Amdo’ is taken from a huge region in North Eastern Tibet, which borders China, it is completely unknown to me for Tibetans to name their child after a geographic, cultural and political territory. The normal procedure is that an infant is named by a Lama, who through insight, bestows a name that signifies some particular quality, usually personal or ’spiritual’, and often unique to that person.
However, if we recall Hansard’s so-called ’lineage’ and his ’teacher’, for both of which he made clear associations with Amdo, the name ‘Amdongyapa’ takes on a singular perspective., particularly if the ‘reviewer’ is seeking to reinforce Hansard’s ‘Dur-Con’ claims.
A closer examination of ‘Prof.Amdongyapa’s’ review proves illuminating:‘... I can say that this book is genuine and excellent. KB Chaffin's review is interesting and I will inform the family of Mr Hansard's teacher ………..’
So the authoritative credentials are first established (after all who can argue with a Professor? well I can, and do) Hansard’s book is then stamped with an ‘academic’ seal of approval; but more interesting still, this person, whose name just happens to be formed of a region that figures so large in Hansard’s colourful ‘Dur-Con' invention, is apparently in close contact with the relatives of that mysterious ’teacher’ of Christopher Hansard, who ’himself’ is stated (on a number of Hansard’s Websites) as coming from Amdo! What a convenient circle of coincidence!
Interesting to note the transparent deceptions at work here, which appeared to elude the experienced and trained eyes of a number of journalists within the print media, is it too much to hope that these people will have the same journalistic appetite to now expose the lie?
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/13/2009 07:27PM by jeff bowe.