Interview on the Guru Viking Podcast

Guru Viking interview image

Hi there –

Just a quick post to let readers know that an interview I recently did for Steve James’ ‘Guru Viking’ Podcast has now gone live. This is the first of a series of interviews that Steve is hoping to put out where he quizzes me about my life, interests, and research, so it offers a broader overview of how I became an anthropologist focused on the study of Tibet and esotericism. Have a listen, if you feel so moved!

Here’s Steve’s introductory blurb for the interview, along with his time-stamped summary of the contents of what turned out to be a great chat. Would never have thought I’d see ‘Childhood Vision of Jesus’ indexed next to my face, but this world and every mind is indeed full of wonders that never cease.


“In this episode I am joined by Dr Ben Joffe, anthropologist and scholar practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism.

We discuss Ben’s early interest in Western Occultism saw him become a professional tarot reader at age 11 and engage in rigorous self study of magical disciplines.

We learn about how Ben taught himself the Tibetan language, and follow him to Indian and Nepal where he carried out his doctoral field work among the Ngakpa community in exile.

Ben reveals the methodological and ethical challenges of being both a scholar and practitioner, and recalls the significance of meeting the man who would later become his teacher and mentor, Dr Nida Chenagtsang.

Audio version of this podcast also available on iTunes and Stitcher – search ‘Guru Viking Podcast’.

Topics Include:

0:00 – Intro
0:43 – Early interest in Western Occultism
13:56 – Franz Bardon and occult mind training
15:34 – Childhood vision of Jesus
25:55 – Western vs Buddhist mind training
28:35 – Ben’s personal development in the occult
38:33 – Tibetan studies as Ben’s ‘nerd rebellion’
52:45 – Teaching himself the Tibetan language
1:04:32 – Ben’s other languages
1:08:00 – The importance of language in tantric traditions
1:11:42 – An overview of Ben’s dissertation
1:15:14 – The research process
1:39:37 – Wang and the methodological and ethical challenges of being a scholar practitioner
1:51:37 – Where to find Ben’s work”


Ep44: Dr Ben Joffe – Ngakpa, the Occult, and Anthropology