To listen to the podcast episode click here
What do the Dalai Lama, the X Files, UFOs, Sex Magic, Tibetan singing bowls, Yeti-Monsters, demons, dharma, wizards, Tantra & Darwin have in common? Why, Ben Joffe of course. He was our latest guest on the Imperfect Buddha podcast and he had quite a lot to share. So who is he?
Ben Joffe is a cultural anthropology PhD candidate from South Africa whose research focuses on the anthropology of Tibet and Tibetan diaspora. His doctoral dissertation research is specifically concerned with Tibetan Buddhist non-celibate tantric ritual specialists, or ngakpa/ma (sngags pa/ma སྔགས་པ/མ), living outside Tibet. He is interested in how the esoteric knowledge and charisma of these long-haired tantric Buddhist wizards are being mediated, circulated, appropriated and contested. His research explores how this is taking place both as a part of the increasing globalization of Tibetan Buddhism, and in light of Tibetans’ efforts to make legible a Tibetan nation in exile and to both preserve and reform Tibetan culture as stateless refugees. His research examines how ngakpa/ma engage institutional and other forms of authority in exile, and the ways in which the expertise, charisma and activities of these specialists can be said to contribute to the forging of particular moral orders and imaginaries in situations of dislocation, change and uncertainty. As such, Ben’s interests include: