Mission to Tibet recounts the fascinating eighteenth-century journey of the Jesuit priest Ippolito Desideri (16841733) to the Tibetan plateau. The Italian missionary was most notably the first European to learn about Buddhism directly with Tibetan scholars and monksand from a profound study of its primary texts. While there, Desideri was an eyewitness to some of the most tumultuous events in Tibet’s history, of which he left us a vivid and dramatic account.
Desideri explores key Buddhist concepts including emptiness and rebirth, together with their philosophical and ethical implications, with startling detail and sophistication. This book also includes an introduction situating the work in the context of Desideri's life and the intellectual and religious milieu of eighteenth century Catholicism.
"Of all the Roman Catholic missionaries to Asia, the Italian Jesuit Ippolito Desideri (1684-1733) was perhaps the most remarkable. Despite his fervent hope of converting Tibet to the Christian faith, he was in important ways the first Western scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, translating Buddhist texts into Italian and writing scholarly tomes in Tibetan, complete with quotations from Nagarjuna. Mission to Tibet offers the first complete English translation of Desideri's captivating account of his sojourn in Tibet."--Donald Lopez, Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan "As this accomplished translation by Michael J. Sweet, edited by Leonard Zwilling, demonstrates, Desideri was more than merely a determined and subtle opponent of a religion not his own; he was also a perceptive scholar of Tibetan doctrine, an amazing linguist, and a fascinating travel writer. Sweet has captured his essence in this commanding work. Everyone with an interest in Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism, world history, and world religion will enjoy this wonder-filled account of Desideri's pioneering adventure, intimately detailed from Rome to Lhasa and back."--Jeffrey Hopkins, author of Meditation on Emptiness "Mission to Tibet is the most important work to appear in the field of Desideri studies since Luciano Petech's critical edition of the Jesuit's writings over fifty years ago. That Mission to Tibet provides a rip-roaring adventure, political intrigue, and a window onto a long-lost Tibet only adds to the pleasure of reading this new translation."--Trent Pomplun, Dept. of Theology, Loyola University Maryland, and author of Jesuit on the Roof of the World "Sweet's and Zwilling's thorough historical work and beautiful translation make this book an instant classic and essential resource for anyone interested in the history of intercultural learning, comparative theology, and missiology."--John Makransky, Associate Professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology, Boston College