Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (Protection Squadron) during the Nazi reign. He was also an occultist. Himmler worshipped Ariosophy – the mythology of an Aryan master-race, and the Nazis had just adopted the Buddhist Swastika from India as their national symbol. Himmler also believed in Germany’s unbroken brotherhood with Tibet, a Buddhist nation – and a sage culture, one of the main reasons why today’s Germany still has an intense sympathy for the Tibetans who should not be part of China, the one Eastern competitor that by its sheer size and dominance threatens Germany’s self-image as the peak of human achievement. Himmler – together with Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s Deputy in the NSDAP – approved three German expeditions to the Himalaya kingdom in 1930, 1934-35, and again in 1938-1939. The mission’s mission was to search for the mythical kingdom of the saints – Shambhala. Again, the theme of holiness, that transcendents all German thought. Sino-Tibetan mythology had sages, not saints. The word saint is unknown in Tibetan language. Besides, a saint is heavily burdened by European/Christian culture. The sages ruled Shambhala, not saints. But Germany had no concept for sages and sagehood, and therefore would always search for die Heiligen.
Many of the German missionaries and travel writers also belonged to the class of sponsors in German orientalism. Germany had an obsession with holiness since the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation. Heilige were everywhere, and everything was heilig. Geek philosophy and Christianity was all they knew, and the Germans projected it onto everything. The Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther, and his translation of the Bible into German, had a tremendous effect on the German psychology. The mission of this new Christianity fell into the hands of the Germans. In his essay with the fitting headline Zur Geschichte der Religionen und Philosophie, the poet Heinrich Heine thus hailed Luther as the “gottberauschter Prophet” [a prophet intoxicated by God], gifted with “kalter scholastischer Wortklauber” [a cold and scholastic quibbler] and equipped with the “Schwert der Zeit” [the sword of time]. The possibilities of sages and sageness had never come to the Christian mind. Naturally, everything that an Englishman called – without thinking too much – a sage, a German thinker would correct: No, no, it’s a holy man! Logically impossible, because Christianity came to China from the West, the Germans miraculously found the biblical pattern all over the China already: Confucius, Mencius, and Laozi, Chinese shengren, were all called “Heilige” (Schott, 1826; Grube, 1902; Haas, 1920; Wilhelm, 1925; Biallas, 1928 etc.). Hindu deities, buddhas, bodhisattvas and even Brahmans were called “Heilige”, too. The Lamas of Tibet were called Heilige, and addressed “Ihre Heiligkeiten”.