This episode involves a conversation with the Tibetologist Sam van Schaik. Sam wrote his original PHd thesis on Dzogchen and the work of Jigme Lingpa and has been involved in the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library, where he currently works, and also teaches at the SOAS University in London. He also happened to write one of my favourite books on Tibet, called appropriately, Tibet: A History. Well-written, entertaining and informative, Sam’s overview of the history of the country that has lived larger than life as a place holder for all manner of western fantasy is a book with academic chops but aimed at a general audience. If you like Donald S. Lopez’s work on Tibet and Buddhism, this is one for you for sure. We discuss it as well as his book Tibetan Zen but the lion’s share of the conversation concerns his latest work on Buddhist Magic. Something of a companion piece to Tibet: A History, it looks at the role magic has played throughout the history of Buddhism and in the wider world of Buddhism today beyond Mindfulness, Secularism, and the cute fantasy that westerners hold that Buddhism is not a religion, but a philosophy. Such folks might like to wonder if the other world religions have ever made similar claims too. I get a story in about my first encounter with the Shugden Oracle in case you are interested.