Lobsang Rampa

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Lobsang Rampa
Lobsang Rampa, born as Cyril Hoskin (1910–1981)
Cyril Henry Hoskin

(1910-04-08)8 April 1910
Plympton, Devon, United Kingdom
Died25 January 1981(1981-01-25) (aged 70)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Other namesTuesday Lobsang Rampa, Carl Kuon Suo
Years active1956–1980
Known forThe Third Eye
SpouseSan Ra'ab Rampa
ChildrenSheelagh Rouse (adopted)

Lobsang Rampa was the pen name of Cyril Henry Hoskin (8 April 1910 – 25 January 1981), an author who wrote books with paranormal and occult themes. His best known work is The Third Eye, published in Britain in 1956.

Following the publication of the book, newspapers reported that Rampa had been born Cyril Henry Hoskin, and was a plumber from Plympton in Devon who claimed that his body hosted the spirit of a Tibetan lama going by the name of Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, who is purported to have authored the books. The name Tuesday relates to a claim in The Third Eye that Tibetans are named after the day of the week on which they were born.

The Third Eye[edit]

Rampa's book The Third Eye was published in November 1956 in the United Kingdom. The book purported to relate Rampa's experiences while growing up in Chakpori Lamasery,[1] Chokpori, Tibet, after being sent there at the age of seven. The title of the book is derived from an operation, similar to trepanation, that Rampa claimed he had undergone, in which a small hole was drilled into his forehead to arouse the third eye and enhance powers of clairvoyance. The book describes the operation as follows:

The instrument penetrated the bone. A very hard, clean sliver of wood had been treated by fire and herbs and was slid down so that it just entered the hole in my head. I felt a stinging, tickling sensation apparently in the bridge of my nose. It subsided and I became aware of subtle scents which I could not identify. Suddenly there was a blinding flash. For a moment the pain was intense. It diminished, died and was replaced by spirals of colour. As the projecting sliver was being bound into place so that it could not move, the Lama Mingyar Dondup turned to me and said: "You are now one of us, Lobsang. For the rest of your life you will see people as they are and not as they pretend to be."

During the story, Rampa sees yetis and eventually encounters a mummified body of himself from an earlier incarnation. He also takes part in an initiation ceremony in which he learns that during its early history the Earth was struck by another planet, causing Tibet to become the mountain kingdom that it is today.

The manuscript of The Third Eye had been turned down by several leading British publishers before being accepted by Secker and Warburg for an advance of £800 (£21,000 today). Fredric Warburg of Secker and Warburg had met the book's author, who at the time appeared in the guise of "Doctor Carl Kuon Suo". Intrigued by the writer's personality, Warburg sent the manuscript to a number of scholars, several of whom expressed doubts about its authenticity. Nevertheless, the book was published in November 1956 and soon became a global bestseller. The Times Literary Supplement said of the book: "It came near to being a work of art."[2]

Controversy over authorship[edit]

Original 1950s cover of The Third Eye

Explorer and Tibetologist Heinrich Harrer was unconvinced about the book's origins and hired a private detective from Liverpool named Clifford Burgess to investigate Rampa. "In January 1957, Scotland Yard asked him to present a Tibetan passport or a residence permit. Rampa moved to Ireland. One year later, the scholars retained the services of Clifford Burgess, a leading Liverpool private detective. Burgess's report, when it came in, was terse. Lama Lobsang Rampa of Tibet, he determined after one month of inquiries, was none other than Cyril Henry Hoskin, a native of Plympton, Devonshire, the son of the village plumber and a high school dropout."[3] The findings of Burgess' investigation were published in the Daily Mail in February 1958.[4] Hoskin had never been to Tibet and spoke no Tibetan. In 1948, he had legally changed his name to Carl Kuon Suo before adopting the name Lobsang Rampa.[5] An obituary of Fra Andrew Bertie, Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, claims that he was involved in unmasking Lobsang Rampa as a West Country plumber.[6]

Rampa was tracked by the British press to Howth, Ireland, and confronted with these allegations. He did not deny that he had been born as Cyril Hoskin, but claimed that his body was now occupied by the spirit of Lobsang Rampa.[7] According to the account given in his third book, The Rampa Story, he had fallen out of a fir tree in his garden in Thames Ditton, Surrey, while attempting to photograph an owl. He was concussed and, on regaining his senses, had seen a Buddhist monk in saffron robes walking towards him. The monk spoke to him about Rampa taking over his body and Hoskin agreed, saying that he was dissatisfied with his current life. When Rampa's original body became too worn out to continue (following the events of his second book Doctor From Lhasa where, as a doctor in charge, he was questioned and tortured to the brink of death by the Japanese after being seized in the advance following the capture of Nanning as part of the Battle of South Guangxi), he took over Hoskin's body in a process of transmigration of the soul.[8]

Rampa maintained for the rest of his life that The Third Eye was a true story. In the foreword to the 1964 edition of the book, he wrote: "I am Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, that is my only name, now my legal name, and I answer to no other."

To Donald S. Lopez, Jr., an American Tibetologist, the books of Lobsang Rampa are "the works of an unemployed surgical fitter, the son of a plumber, seeking to support himself as a ghostwriter."[9]

The authorship controversy was dramatised in a radio play, The Third Eye and the Private Eye, by David Lemon and Mark Ecclestone, first broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in August 2012.[10]

Influence on Tibetologists' callings[edit]

Donald S. Lopez, Jr., in Prisoners of Shangri-La (1998), points out that when discussing Rampa with other Tibetologists and Buddhologists in Europe, he found that The Third Eye was the first book many of them had read about Tibet: "For some it was a fascination with the world Rampa described that had led them to become professional scholars of Tibet."

Lopez adds that when he gave The Third Eye to a class of his at the University of Michigan without telling them about its history, the "students were unanimous in their praise of the book, and despite six prior weeks of lectures and readings on Tibetan history and religion, [...] they found it entirely credible and compelling, judging it more realistic than anything they had previously read about Tibet."[11]

Role in the Tibetan cause[edit]

Lobsang Rampa was a supporter of the Tibetan cause despite criticism of his books. In 1972, Rampa's French language agent Alain Stanké wrote to the Dalai Lama and asked for his opinion about Rampa's identity. He received a reply from the Dalai Lama's deputy secretary stating "I wish to inform you that we do not place credence in the books written by the so-called Dr. T. Lobsang Rampa. His works are highly imaginative and fictional in nature." The Dalai Lama had previously admitted that although the books were fictitious, they had created good publicity for Tibet.[12]

Later career[edit]

Lobsang Rampa went on to write another 18 books containing a mixture of religious and occult material. One of the books, Living with the Lama, was described as being dictated to Rampa by his pet Siamese cat, Mrs. Fifi Greywhiskers. Faced with repeated accusations from the British press that he was a charlatan and a con artist, Rampa went to live in Canada in the 1960s. He and his wife, San Ra'ab, became Canadian citizens in 1973, along with Sheelagh Rouse (Buttercup) who was his secretary and regarded by Rampa as his adopted daughter.

Lobsang Rampa died in Calgary on 25 January 1981, at the age of 70.


Rampa claimed that his 1964 book, Living with the Lama, was dictated to him by his cat
  • The Third Eye (1956)
  • My Visit to Venus (1957)[n 1]
  • Doctor from Lhasa (1959)
  • The Rampa Story (1960)
  • Cave of the Ancients (1963)
  • Living with the Lama (1964)
  • You Forever (1965)
  • Wisdom of the Ancients (1965)
  • The Saffron Robe (1966)
  • Chapters of Life (1967)
  • Beyond The Tenth (1969)
  • Feeding the Flame (1971)
  • The Hermit (1971)
  • The Thirteenth Candle (1972)
  • Candlelight (1973)
  • Twilight (1975)
  • As It Was! (1976)
  • I Believe (1976)
  • Three Lives (1977)
  • Tibetan Sage (1980)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ My Visit to Venus is based on work which Rampa did not approve for publication and was published some years after it was written. It describes how Rampa meets the masters of several planets during a trip in a spaceship. The original manuscript was written by Rampa, but this book was not. It was created by Gray Barker and published by Saucerian Books in 1966 who used Rampa's name and manuscript without his permission. Rampa finally gave his permission for the book to be published provided two alterations were made and ten per cent of the profits were sent to the Save A Cat League in New York City (letter to Gray Barker, dated 31 October 1966)[13]


  1. ^ Rampa, Lobsang (1956). "Chapter 4: At The Temple Gates". The Third Eye. Secker & Warburg. ISBN 9780345340382.
  2. ^ "T. Lobsang Rampa". The Times (obituary). 31 January 1981. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  3. ^ Lopez, Donald S. Jr. (1 December 1998). "Lobsang Rampa: The Mystery of the Three-Eyed Lama". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Archived from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  4. ^ Donald S. Lopez, Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West, University of Chicago Press, 1999, 294 pages, p.99-100: "Pallis, acting on behalf of a group of European experts on Tibet, retained the services of Clifford Burgess, a leading Liverpool private detective, in an effort to discover the true identity of T. Lobsabng Rampa. By the end of the month and three thousand miles of travel, Burgess had produced the following report: CYRIL HENRY HOSKIN - BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS [...] the February 3 Daily Express ran the headline 'The FULL truth about the Bogus Lama.'"
  5. ^ Donald S. Lopez, Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West], op. cit., p.101.
  6. ^ "Fra Andrew Bertie". The Times (obituary). 23 February 2008.
  7. ^ Agehananda Bharati (aka Leopold Fischer), Fictitious Tibet: the Origin and Persistence of Rampaism, in Tibet Society Bulletin, Vol. 7, 1974: "Hoskin had a ready explanation for his predicament: yes, he had indeed been born Cyril Henry Hoskin. That good gentleman's soul, however, had long since fled its corporeal form, so that the soul of a Tibetan lama, namely Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, could move in."
  8. ^ Chapter 8, The Rampa Story. Rampa says that this incident occurred at a house called Rose Croft in Thames Ditton.
  9. ^ Lopez, Donald S. Jr. (1998). Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. University of Chicago Press. p. 112.
  10. ^ The Third Eye and the Private Eye Archived 8 January 2018 at archive.today BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  11. ^ Lopez 1998, pp. 104, 112.
  12. ^ Mutton, Karen (2006). T. Lobsang Rampa: New Age Trailblazer. TGS Publishing. pp. 166–7. ISBN 9780971316607.
  13. ^ Rampa, Tuesday Lobsang (1971). Feeding the Flame. Corgi Books. p. 140. ISBN 9780552086110.

Further reading[edit]

  • Lobsang Rampa — New Age Trailblazer by Karen Mutton. ISBN 0-9713166-0-0
  • Newnham, Richard (1991). The Guinness Book of Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries. ISBN 0-85112-975-7
  • Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West by Donald S. Lopez Jr., ISBN 0-226-49311-3
Books by Sheelagh Rouse (alias Buttercup)
  • 25 years with T. Lobsang Rampa (2005) ISBN 9781411674325
  • Grace, The World of Rampa (2007)

External links[edit]

Excerpts from Rampa's writings, advocacy of his views[edit]