Studies in Comparative Religion
The First English Journal on Traditional Studies - established 1963
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Marco Pallis
Marco Pallis (1895-1990) was born of Greek parents in Liverpool, England, educated at Harrow and Liverpool University, and served in the British army during the World War I. He wrote two books deriving from his experiences traveling in the Eastern Himalaya region and with Tibetan Buddhism: Peaks and Lamas (1939) which was reprinted several times and became something of a bestseller, and The Way and the Mountain (1960). Pallis also wrote many articles for Studies in Comparative Religion, some of which are included in his last publication, A Buddhist Spectrum.


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Type TitleAuthor/
Reviewed Author*
Author 2/
Ossendowskyi's SourcesPallis, Marco Vol. 15, No. 1 and 2. ( Winter-Spring, 1983) Buddhism
The Veil of the Temple: A Study of Christian InitiationPallis, Marco Vol. 15, No. 1 and 2. ( Winter-Spring, 1983) Christianity
A Fateful Meeting of Minds - A. K. Coomaraswamy and R. GuénonPallis, Marco Vol. 12, No. 3 and 4. ( Summer-Autumn, 1978) Comparative Religion
Nembutsu as RemembrancePallis, Marco Vol. 12, No. 1 and 2. ( Winter-Spring, 1978) Buddhism
Author and musician Marco Pallis shares his insights into why certain music, and particularly contrapuntal music, "provides an image of the Universe at the level of 'the Lesser Mysteries'; when practiced with this truth in mind, it will serve as a support of contemplation and the joy it incidentally evokes will be seen as a reflection of the Divine Bliss."
Metaphysics of Musical PolyphonyPallis, Marco Vol. 10, No. 2. ( Spring, 1976) Comparative Religion
One of the great interpreters of Buddhism, particularly in its Tibetan form, was Marco Pallis. In this extended essay, Pallis devotes himself to demonstating the traditional concept that "both these principles must be brought into play and harmoniously blended if ever spirituality is to ripen its proper fruit in enlightenment" In the first, more general part of the essay, Pallis surveys a number of doctrines, tells stories from Tibetan culture, explains Buddhist symbols, considers spiritual virtues, and finds common ground in the ideas and practices of several religions. In the second part, he examines "a number of examples, all based on personal observation or experience in the Tibetan world, of how the conjoint principle of Wisdom and Method operates in various circumstances of spiritual life."
The Marriage of Wisdom and MethodPallis, Marco Vol. 6, No. 2. ( Spring, 1972) Buddhism
Author Marco Pallis here presents a detailed and comprehensive explanation of the fundamental Buddhist concept of karma. In order to accomplish this, he also explains such related terms as samsara, dharma, "selfhood," "rebirth," and "Buddhahood." Although the emphasis is clearly upon the Buddhist perspective, Pallis finds ways to make points about spiritual states of mind, human actions, and eschatological states that apply equally to Christians and practitioners of other faiths.
Living One's KarmaPallis, Marco Vol. 6, No. 1. ( Winter, 1972) Buddhism
Book Review
The New ReligionsNeedleman, Jacob *Pallis, Marco Vol. 5, No. 3. ( Summer, 1971) Comparative Religion
Marco Pallis’s review of the book The Vatican Oracle by Father Brocard Sewell becomes an article in its own right as it looks closely at the causes and effects of the innovations proposed in the Catholic Church in the light of the author’s thoughtful concerns. Pallis uses these concerns to examine the relationship of the western and eastern church and what its disunity means, the differing attitude by the eastern and western churches towards the liturgy, the hierarchy, contemplation and brotherhood, the modern world and the abuse of nature.
Thinking Round a Recent BookPallis, Marco Vol. 4, No. 4. ( Autumn, 1970) Christianity
The life and work of Thomas Merton are described in this article; the author recalls the role that Mr. Merton played in the Catholic Church, and his positive influence in the communication between different religions. The author here recalls his own meeting with Mr. Merton and his personal impressions of the man. Merton’s view of the Church as well as his interest in other religions such as Zen Buddhism are presented as being a part of his “overwhelming urge to lose himself in God”. The reader is provided with a concise account of the remarkable life of Mr. Merton, from his initial entry into the Catholic Church to his later hermitage and retreat.
Thomas Merton 1915-1968Pallis, Marco Vol. 3, No. 3. ( Summer, 1969) Christianity
Book Review
The reviewer Marco Pallis praises the authors’ work in creating such a well-laid out book, according to Pallis this book provides a clear account of the daily life of Tibetans, including their clothing, housing and food. The arts and crafts of Tibet are also a main topic of the book, with a particular emphasis on handmade Tibetan rugs. The history of Tibet is also discussed in this book, up to the 20th century when Tibet became more affected by the British. The reviewer concludes that “A work like the present one is not merely a pointer to past Tibetan glories; indirectly it is a call to self questioning on the part of all who will read with attention, wherever they may belong.”
A Cultural History Of Tibetauthor(s), various *Pallis, Marco Vol. 3, No. 3. ( Summer, 1969) Buddhism
“This idea of "grace," which translates a divine function, is by no means unintelligible in the light of traditional Buddhist teachings, being in fact implicit in every known form of spirituality, the Buddhist form included.” Marco Pallis attempts to reconcile the idea of grace within the Buddhist tradition, as well as delve into the Buddhist philosophies and compare these to other religions.
Is There Room for "Grace" in Buddhism?Pallis, Marco Vol. 2, No. 4. ( Autumn, 1968) Buddhism
Responding to Donald H. Bishop’s article "Forgiveness in Religious Thought", Marco Pallis expands on the themes of mercy and forgiveness in the world religions, particularly in Buddhism. He discusses as well the necessary counterbalance of justice; the different manifestations of this principle in the world religions and some errors in perception regarding its role in the various religions.
Encounter of Mercy and JusticePallis, Marco Vol. 2, No. 3. ( Summer, 1968) Buddhism
In this exposition of the spiritual life, Marco Pallis explains that the interior life is the fruit of the marriage of Wisdom and Method – “Wisdom which illuminates with the truth” and Method which provides the act by which the knower becomes what he knows. The supreme instrument of Method is the Life of Prayer in the widest sense, enshrined in religious tradition which serves to maintain the balance between theory and practice. The methodic invocation of a Sacred Name or formula is at the centre of the process, the Name “being first the apparent object of invocation and then its subject, until finally the subject-object distinction disappears altogether.”
Discovering the Interior LifePallis, Marco Vol. 2, No. 2. ( Spring, 1968) Buddhism
Book Review
Marco Pallis praises this book by Bhikshu Sangharak-shita for the clarity with which it is written making available to a more popular audience understanding of the three main pillars of Buddhism – Buddha, doctrine and the assembly of followers. The author concludes with a short survey of popular Buddhism and here ‘he shows that all the traditional institutions, when rightly understood, provide links and keys whereby the "three jewels" are kept continually in the minds of people like a seed which, ripened by good karma, will by and by flower in complete self-dedication to "the one thing needful."’
The Three Jewels: An Introduction to BuddhismSangharak-shita, Bhikshu *Pallis, Marco Vol. 2, No. 2. ( Spring, 1968) Buddhism
Marco Pallis was one of the best informed Europeans on all aspects of traditional Tibetan life, and one of the most authoritative on its spiritual center, and thus its related expansion into the arts. This brief survey of a variety of traditional Tibetan arts proceeds from the perspective that the light of the Buddha's Doctrine reveals itself through the particular symbolism of the traditional arts. Pallis surveys Tibetan architecture, painting, the plastic arts (such as the art of modeling images of Buddhas and Saints, along with metal casting), woodwork, metalwork and weaving (including rug-making). His brief survey nonetheless gives fascinating insights that illustrate the basic point: "The supreme work of art, in Buddhist eyes, is Enlightenment itself; the human art of living, with all its component arts, is as a bow bent to speed an arrow to that target."
Introduction to Tibetan ArtPallis, Marco Vol. 1, No. 1. ( Winter, 1967) Buddhism
Noted traditionalist author Marco Pallis responds to a previous issue's correspondence on reincarnation. He begins with an objective look at Guénon's tendency to use a harsh tone when attacking modern tendencies, but also charmingly notes this necessary mission requires "special qualities, in the man, such as rarely go with delicately adjusted expression." Pallis makes some very interesting points in his response to Mr. Calmeyer's correspondence, summarized in the phrase that "human birth is a rare and correspondingly precious opportunity." Pallis suggests several corrections to Guénon's conclusions on reincarnation, and offers some thought-provoking insights on the subject in general.
Correspondence on reincarnationPallis, Marco Vol. 1, No. 1. ( Winter, 1967) Buddhism
The Veil of the Temple: A Study of Christian InitiationPallis, Marco Tomorrow, Vol. 12, No. 2. ( Spring, 1964) Christianity
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