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Observations placeholder

Anagarika Govinda



Type of Spiritual Experience


Anagarika Govinda (May 17, 1898–January 14, 1985), born Ernst Lothar Hoffmann was the founder of the order of the Arya Maitreya Mandala and a promoter of Tibetan Buddhism, Abhidharma, and Buddhist meditation as well as other aspects of Buddhism. He was also a painter and poet.

Ernst Lothar Hoffmann was born in Waldheim, Germany, and studied philosophy, psychology and archaeology at Freiburg University. He did not finish his studies, but went to live in a German art colony on Capri in Italy, as a painter and poet. He lived on Capri from 1920 until 1928.  After having made a comparative study of the major religions, he became a convinced Buddhist at the age of 18.  In December 1928, Hoffman moved from Capri to Sri Lanka and stayed as a celibate Buddhist layman (brahmacāri).  In 1931 Govinda met the Tibetan Gelugpa meditation teacher Tomo Geshe Rimpoche and from then on he embraced Tibetan Buddhism.

On orders of Tomo Geshe Rimpoche Govinda founded his order, The Buddhist Order Arya Maitreya Mandala, on 14.10.1933. In 1947 he became a citizen of India, living in Darjeeling.

In 1947 he married the Parsi artist Li Gotami and lived in a house rented from the writer Walter Evans-Wentz at Kasar Devi, near Almora in northern India. Many people including Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Timothy Leary and Ralph Metzner, the psychiatrist R. D. Laing, and Tibetologist Robert Thurman came to visit Govinda at his ashram. From Kasar Devi, Govinda and Li Gotami undertook journeys to Tibet in the late 1940s, making a large number of paintings, drawings and photographs. These travels are described in Govinda's book The Way of the White Clouds.

He died in 1985.

Govinda wrote several books on a wide variety of Buddhist topics. His most well known books are The Way of the White Clouds and Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism, which were translated in many languages.

A description of the experience

Lama Anagarika Govinda (Ernst Lothar Hoffman) - The Way of the White Clouds

No work of importance, that one's heart is bent upon with single-minded devotion, will remain unfinished. This is what Tibet has taught me, where the saints and Siddhas of old kept on returning through ever new incarnations, in ever new forms until the present day — thus confirming what first came to me as a faint remembrance or message from the past and grew in the pursuance of a distant aim into an inner certainty.  It is not my ideal to be reborn for ever in this world, but neither do I believe that we can abandon it before we have fulfilled our task in it — a task which we may have taken upon ourselves in some remote past, and from which we cannot run away like cowards…

The source of the experience

Tibetan Buddhism

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps