n Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies - Ethical orientation from the Orient? The Buddhist-Christian encounter in

Volume 37, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-9507



Western Christendom's encounter with Tibetan Buddhism was for many decades essentially through the printed word, and texts in English and other European languages pertaining to the latter ethno-religious culture multiplied in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In his internationally popular novel of 1933, , James Hilton coined the term , which he adopted from the Tibetan term , and argued that certain lessons could be learnt from Tibetan Buddhism that were particularly applicable to the crisis in which the Western world found itself between the two world wars. Amongst these were a general spirit of toleration, moderation in personal ethics, and a critique of materialism. Hilton also voiced his concern that the modern world was heading towards a global holocaust that would destroy much of human civilisation, and put forth his case for preserving it. In the present article, these motifs are discussed in their historical context.

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