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Kalachakra thangka[1] from Sera Monastery (private collection).

In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Shambhala (also spelled Shambala or Shamballa; Tibetan: bde 'byung, pron. De-jung) is a mythical kingdom hidden somewhere in Tibet. It is mentioned in various ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra[2] and the ancient texts of the Zhang Zhung culture which predated Tibetan Buddhism in western Tibet. The Bön[3] scriptures speak of a closely related land called Olmolungring.


[edit] In the Buddhist Kalachakra teachings

Shambhala (Tib. bde 'byung) is a Sanskrit term meaning swayam + bhala meaning self benefited or swayam + bala meaning self powered. Commonly it is understood to be a "place of peace/tranquility/happiness". Shakyamuni Buddha is said to have taught the Kalachakra tantra on request of King Suchandra of Shambhala; the teachings are also said to be preserved there. Shambhala is believed to be a society where all the inhabitants are enlightened, actually a Buddhist Pure Land, centered by a capital city called Kalapa. An alternative view associates Shambhala with the real empire of Sriwijaya where Buddhist master Atisha studied under Dharmakirti from whom he received the Kalachakra initiation.

Another alternate interpretation postulates that Shambhala is an actual kingdom whose geographical location can be found in the precolonial Philippines.[4]

Shambhala is ruled over by a line of Kings of Shambhala known as Kulika or Kalki Kings (Tib. Rigden), a monarch who upholds the integrity of the Kalachakra tantra. The Kalachakra prophesizes that when the world declines into war and greed, and all is lost, the 25th Kalki king will emerge from Shambhala with a huge army to vanquish "Dark Forces" and usher in a worldwide Golden Age. Using calculations from the Kalachakra Tantra, scholars such as Alex Berzin put this date at 2424 AD.[5]

Rigdan Tagpa or Manjushrí Kírti is said to have been born in 159 BCE and ruled over a kingdom of 300,510 followers of the Mlechha (Yavana or "western") religion, some of whom worshiped the sun. He is said to have expelled all the heretics from his dominions but later, after hearing their petitions, allowed them to return. For their benefit, and the benefit of all living beings, he explained the Kalachakra teachings. In 59 BCE he abdicated his throne to his son, Puṇdaŕika, and died soon afterwards, entering the Sambhoga-káya of Buddhahood.[6]

As with many concepts in the Kalachakra Tantra, the idea of Shambhala is said to have "outer", "inner", and "alternative" meanings. The outer meaning understands Shambhala to exist as a physical place, although only individuals with the appropriate karma can reach it and experience it as such. As the 14th Dalai Lama noted during the 1985 Kalachakra initiation in Bodhgaya, Shambhala is not an ordinary country:

Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there.

There are various ideas about where this society is located, but it is often placed in central Asia, north or west of Tibet. Ancient Zhang Zhung texts identify Shambhala with the Sutlej Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Mongolians identify Shambala with certain valleys of southern Siberia.

The inner and alternative meanings refer to more subtle understandings of what Shambhala represents in terms of one's own body and mind (inner), and the meditation practice (alternative). These two types of symbolic explanations are generally passed on orally from teacher to student.

The first Kalachakra masters of the tradition disguised themselves with pseudonyms, so the Indian oral traditions recorded by the Tibetans contain a mass of contradictions with regard to chronology.

[edit] Chögyam Trungpa

Although Chögyam Trungpa, founder of Shambhala International, came out of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, in his teachings Shambhala Vision has its own independent basis in human wisdom that does not belong to East or West or any one culture or religion [7]. The Shambhala kingdom is seen as an enlightened society that people of all faiths can aspire to and actually realize. The path to this is provocatively described as the practice of warriorship – meeting fear and transcending aggression – and of secular sacredness – joining the wisdom of the past and that of one's own culture in the present.

Trungpa's Shambhala teachings have inspired numerous educational, artistic, and spiritual institutions, including Naropa University, Shambhala Training, Shambhala Sun, Miksang photography, The Shambhala School, Shambhala Institute, Shambhala Buddhism, Shambhala Prison Community, Peacemaker Institute, and many others.

[edit] Western fascination

Rigden Takpa or Manjushríkírti, King of Shambhala

The Western fascination with Shambhala has often been based upon fragmented accounts of the Kalachakra tradition, or outright fabrications. Tibet was largely closed to outsiders until recently, and so what information was available about the tradition of Shambhala was haphazard at best[8].

The first information that reached western civilization about Shambhala came from the Portuguese Catholic missionary Estêvão Cacella, who had heard about Shambala (which they transcribed as "Xembala"), and thought it was another name for Cathay or China. In 1627 they headed to Tashilhunpo, the seat of the Panchen Lama and, discovering their mistake, returned to India.[9]

The Hungarian scholar Sándor Kőrösi Csoma, writing in 1833, provided the first geographic account of "a fabulous country in the north...situated between 45' and 50' north latitude".

During the 19th century, Theosophical Society founder HP Blavatsky alluded to the Shambhala myth, giving it currency for Western occult enthusiasts. Later esoteric writers further emphasized and elaborated on the concept of a hidden land inhabited by a hidden mystic brotherhood whose members labor for the good of humanity.[citation needed]

The mystic Nicholas Roerich[10] and the Soviet agent Yakov Blumkin led two Tibetan expeditions to discover Shambhala, in 1926 and 1928.[11] Apparently inspired by Theosophical lore, Heinrich Himmler and Rudolf Hess sent German expeditions to Tibet in 1930, 1934-35, and 1938-39. [12].

The myths of Shambhala were part of the inspiration for the story of Shangri-La told in the popular novel Lost Horizon published in 1933, possibly influenced by the accounts of Nicholas Roerich published under the title Shambhala three years earlier.[11]

The myth has been appropriated in a variety of modern comic books including The Shadow, Prometheus, 2000 AD, Gargoyles #6, and Warlord.

The American rock band Three Dog Night recorded the song spelled 'Shambala' in 1973 track 5 on the album cyan. Partial lyrics include "Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain with the rain in Shambala." Written by Daniel Moore.

[edit] Western esoteric traditions

Madame Blavatsky, who claimed to be in contact with a Great White Lodge of Himalayan Adepts, mentions Shambhala in several places without giving it especially great emphasis. (The Mahatmas, we are told, are also active around Shigatse and Luxor.) Blavatsky's Shambhala, like the headquarters of the Great White Lodge, is a physical location on our earth, albeit one which can only be penetrated by a worthy aspirant.[citation needed]

Later esoteric writers like Alice Bailey (the Arcane School) and the Agni Yoga of Nicholas and Helena Roerich have also appropriated Shambhala in the service of their own philosophies. The Roerichs see its existence as both spiritual and physical.[citation needed] Alice A Bailey has Shamballa (her spelling) to be an extra-dimensional or spiritual reality on the etheric plane, a spiritual centre where the governing deity of Earth, Sanat Kumara, dwells as the highest avatar of the Planetary Logos of Earth, and is said to be an expression of the Will of God. [13] Shamballa is thus a word in her books that conveying the idea of a vast focal point of energies (both solar and extra-solar energetic life)which are assembled and brought together by the planetary Logos in order to create a manifestation adequate to His unfolding intention and planetary service. [14] As thus, Shamballa is a state of consciousness or a phase of sensitive awareness wherein there is acute and dynamic response to divine purpose; a response made possible by the synthesis of purpose and of spiritual relationship which exists between those who are associated with Sanat Kumara. [15] Sanat Kumara is the synthesising Unit - the Lord of the World Himself - of the 104 kumaras, and is thus himself the 105th Kumara. [16] In Bailey’s books, Shamballa is known to be the only place of complete ‘peace’ and is the ‘centre where the will of God is known’, which is working through The spiritual Hierarchy of liberated human beings, known as Masters, and their disciples in the world, which makes this Hierarchy not a centre of peace but a very vortex of loving activity, and a meeting place of energies coming from the centre of the divine will (Shamballa), and from humanity, which is called the centre of divine intelligence. [17] Peace, as the expression of the will of Shamballa, produces balance, equilibrium, synthesis and understanding, plus a spirit of invocation which is basically an action producing reaction. [18] Shamballa is the head centre, symbolically, of our planetary Life, focusing will, love and intelligence in one great and fundamental Intention and holding that focused point throughout the entire life cycle of a planet. This great Intention embodies current purpose and expresses itself through the medium of that Spiritual Plan which ‘the masters know and serve’. [19] Shamballa is thus the origin of the spiritual science and esoteric knowledge of life-cycles. According to Bailey, three great energies are focused in Shamballa, the seat of fire: 1. The Energy of Purification (innate in the manifested universe, which gradually and steadily adapts the substance aspect to the spiritual); 2. The Energy of Destruction (under cyclic law, this destructive energy comes into play and destroys the forms of life which prevent divine expression; or through the determinations of humanity itself which – under the Law of Karma – makes man the master of his own destiny); 3. The Energy of Organisation (The relation of spirit and matter produce ordered process which again, cyclically and under law, creates the manifested world as a field for soul development and as an area wherein divine purpose is wrought out through the medium of the plan, expressed through seven rays qualities or force lines in spiritual growth). [20] Much is said in the esoteric teachings of Bailey regarding Shamballa as spiritual force, but little is mentioned as regards to where Shamballa may be found as a locality on Earth, but she shares that the Gobi Desert holds a focal point of that etheric Shamballa in which Sanat Kumara dwells.

Related "hidden land" speculations surrounding the underground kingdom of Agartha led some early twentieth-century occultists (especially those associated with Nazi or Neo-Nazi occultism, i.e. Nazi mysticism) to view Shambhala as a source of negative manipulation by an evil (or amoral) conspiracy. Nevertheless, the predominant theme is one of light and hope, as evidenced by James Redfield's and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's respective books by that name.[citation needed]

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ Crossman, Sylvie and Jean-Pierre Barou, eds. Tibetan Mandala, Art and Practice (The Wheel of Time). New York: Konecky & Konecky, 2004. ISBN 1568524730. pp.20-26
  2. ^ The Tantra by Victor M. Fic, Abhinav Publications, 2003, p.49.
  3. ^ The Bon Religion of Tibet by Per Kavǣrne, Shambhala, 1996
  4. ^
  5. ^ [|Berzin, Alexander] (1997). "Taking the Kalachakra Initiation" (html). Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  6. ^ Das, Sarat Chandra (1882). Contributions on the Religion and History of Tibet. First published in: Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. LI. Reprint: Manjushri Publishing House, Delhi. 1970, pp. 81-82.
  7. ^ Trungpa, Chogyam. Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior. Shambhala, 1988
  8. ^ Lopez, Donald S. Jr. Prisoners of Shangri~La, Tibetan Buddhism and the West, The University of Chicago Press, 1998
  9. ^ Bernbaum, Edwin. (1980). The Way to Shambhala, pp. 18-19. Reprint: (1989). Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles. ISBN 0-87477-518-3.
  10. ^ Archer, Kenneth. Roerich East & West. Parkstone Press 1999, p.94
  11. ^ a b Meyer and Brysac (2006) p. 454
  12. ^ Hale, Christopher. Himmler's Crusade, John Wiley & Sons., Inc., 2003
  13. ^ Bailey, Alice A, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire 1932 Lucis Trust. 1925, p 753
  14. ^ Bailey, Alice A, Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. II, p. 404
  15. ^ Bailey, Alice A, The Rays and the Initiations, p. 276
  16. ^ Bailey, Alice A, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire 1932 Lucis Trust. 1925, p. 386
  17. ^ Bailey, Alice A, The Reappearance of the Christ, p. 28
  18. ^ Bailey, Alice A. The Externalization of the Hierarchy, Lucis Trust. 1957, p. 165
  19. ^ Bailey, Alice A. Discipleship in the New Age, Volume 2. Lucis Trust. 1944 pp. 519-20
  20. ^ Bailey, Alice A, The Rays and the Initiations, pp. 84-6

[edit] References

[edit] Further reading

  • Allen, Charles. (1999). The Search for Shangri-La: A Journey into Tibetan History. Little, Brown and Company. Reprint: Abacus, London. 2000. ISBN 0-349-111421.
  • Martin, Dean. (1999). "'Ol-mo-lung-ring, the Original Holy Place." In: Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places In Tibetan Culture: A Collection of Essays. (1999) Edited by Toni Huber, pp. 125-153. The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, H.P., India. ISBN 81-86470-22-0.
  • Symmes, Patrick. (2007). "The Kingdom of the Lotus" in "Outside", 30th Anniversary Special Edition, pp. 148-187. Mariah Media, Inc., Red Oak, Iowa.

[edit] External links

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