(And the Jerusalem Above)
TIME = KALA, WHEEL = CHAKRA
The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Dharma
The Wheel of Genesis
Oh Wheel...Ezekiel 10:13.
Christianity in the West........Buddhism in the East.
Have we not known? have we not heard? hath it not been told us from the beginning? have we not understood from the Foundation (Yesod) of the earth?
It is He that sitteth upon THE CIRCLE OF THE EARTH...that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in...(Isaiah 40:21,22).
For here have we no continuing City, but we seek one to come...(Hebrews 13:14).
"Gautama the Buddha was descended from the noble family of the Sakyas who shared in governing the small state of Kapilavastu...He grew up beneath the snowy summits of the Himalayas, which could be seen glittering in the distance throughout the year. (We will recall from the Fourth chapter that the Sacred River Ganges descended from beyond its source in the Himalayas in its mystical journey from the Garden of Eden in the West to its outlet on the plains of India). As a boy and young man Gautama experienced the worldly happiness of his wealthy aristocratic world...
His happiness was shattered when he became conscious of the basic facts of existence. He saw old age, sickness, and death. (He experienced the inexorable presence of time, not the still point yet, but the ceaseless motion, and constant change). Horror and disgust at the wretchedness (the impermanence) of the flesh are ill becoming to me, he said to himself, for I too (clinging to the illusion), shall grow old, sicken, and die. 'As I thought these thoughts, all my courage failed me.' The consequence was his decision (which took traditional Indian forms) to leave his home, his country, his family, and his wealth to seek salvation in asceticism. He was twenty nine-years old...
Instructed in the ascetic exercises of Yoga, he practiced mortification of the flesh for many years in the woods. 'When I saw a cowherd or one who was gathering wood, I fled from forest to forest, from valley to valley, from peak to peak. And why? In order that I should not see them, and they should not see me.' For meditation demands solitude. 'Verily, this is a lovely bit of earth, a beautiful wood; clear flows the river and there are delightful places in which to bathe; round about are the villages. This is a good place for a noble man striving for salvation.' Here sits Gautama, waiting for the moment of Enlightenment, his 'tongue cleaving to his palate, clutching, squeezing, tormenting' his thoughts.
But all in vain. His mortification brings no awakening. He comes to understand that the truth remains veiled in asceticism, that empty constraint accomplishes nothing. Then he does something monstrous in the eyes of his Hindu faith; he begins to eat plentifully in order to restore his strength. Regarding him as a renegade, the ascetics with whom he has made friends break with him. He is alone, practicing pure meditation without asceticism...
Jesus said, "Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will find the kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return...(Gospel of Thomas 49).
One night as he meditates beneath a Fig Tree, a Great Awakening came to him. All at once a vision made everything clear to him: what is; why it is; how beings are caught up in blind lust for life; how they stray from body to body in a never-ending chain of rebirths; what suffering is, whence it is, how it can be overcome.
His insight is uttered as a doctrine: neither worldly pleasure nor ascetic mortification of the flesh is the right way of life. The former is ignoble, the latter is rich in suffering, and neither leads to the goal. Buddha's discovery is THE MIDDLE PATH. It is the path of salvation...The Life of Buddha and Jesus, pp.22,23.
If we have been following the chapters of this work to here, we have seen how the entire Christ-mystery, as well as the Doorway through the dimensions of this world into the World-beyond, are both situated at the same place along the Central, or Middle Pillar of the World Tree at which the Buddha sat. Did Gautama arrive at this Western, fully Christ-conscious state of mind? Not yet; the Bodhisatvas of the world refuse entrance into heaven until the Doorway to it is opened to all. Only then will they enter. He came, however, to the requisite and sublime point of consciousness (the annihilation of ego) that leads to it. Tradition has it that when he came to the World Tree, he sat down on the North side of the trunk (the Middle Pillar) and the earth tilted toward the North. He then sat down on the West side of the Tree, and the earth tilted even further toward the West. Likewise on the South side. Finally he stood on the East side of the Tree, and the world was in balance. He then sat down with his back to the West and from a completely Eastern point of view contemplated the very structure of the Universe itself:
"There is no use in our mimicking Eastern sensibility; for nothing would be more childish than to wish to aestheticize a psychic condition as this...With a stroke of genius (however) Levy-Bruhl has established Participation Mystique as being the hallmark of 'primitive' mentality. (Parentheses mine). As described by him it is simply the indefinitely large remnant of NON-DIFFERENTIATION BETWEEN SUBJECT AND OBJECT (in other words, the Divine contemplating itself)...insofar as the difference between subject and object does not become conscious, unconscious identity prevails...
By understanding the unconscious we free ourselves from its domination. The pupil is taught to concentrate on the light of the innermost region and, while doing so, to free himself from all outer and inner entanglements...
The Faustian split in the soul of the Germanic man is not yet healed; his unconscious is still loaded with those contents which must first become conscious before he can be liberated...
The increasing development of Western intellect and will has given us an almost fiendish capacity for aping such an attitude (of liberation), with apparent success, despite protests from the Unconscious. But it is only a matter of time until the counter position (spiritual reality) forces recognition of itself one way or another. Aping an attitude always produces unstable situations, which can be overthrown by the Unconscious (the Very Mind of Nature itself) at any time. A safe foundation is found only when the instinctive premises of the Unconscious win the same consideration as the viewpoint of the conscious mind...
This giving due consideration to the Unconscious runs violently counter to the occidental and particularly to the Protestant cult of consciousness. Yet though the new always seems to be the enemy of the old, anyone with a more than superficial desire to understand cannot fail to discover that without the most serious application of Christian values, the new integration can never take place." The Secret of the Golden Flower, by Richard Wilhelm and Carl Jung, pp.123-27.
(The Buddha's teaching)..."started from the belief...that all existence is suffering, and that the essential is redemption from suffering. Then, by way of the decision to live righteously in word and deed, the Path leads to immersion in various degrees of meditation and through meditation to the knowledge of what was already present in the initial faith: the truth of suffering. IT IS ONLY AT THE END THAT ONE ATTAINS CLEAR KNOWLEDGE OF THE PATH ONE HAS TRAVELLED...THE CIRCLE CLOSES, fulfillment is achieved. This Enlightenment is the step from endless coming-into-being and passing-away to eternity, from worldly existence to Nirvana." Buddha and Jesus, p.23.
I AM THE DOOR...(John 10:7-9).
THE JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE AND DEATH
"According to the wisdom of Buddha, we can actually use our lives to prepare for death. We do not have to wait for the painful death of someone close to us or the shock of terminal illness to force us into looking at our lives. Nor are we condemned to go out empty-handed at death to meet the unknown. We can begin, here and now, to find meaning in our lives. We can make of every moment an opportunity to change and prepare--wholeheartedly, precisely, and with peace of mind--for death and eternity...
From the Tibetan Buddhist point of view, we can divide our entire existence into four continuously interlinked realities: (1) life, (2) dying and death, (3) after death, and (4) rebirth. These are known as the four bardos (continued)...
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?...(Romans 6:3).
For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto those who are saved it is the power of God...(1 Corinthians 1:17-24).
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God (The Cosmic Christ, the Universal Bodhisatva), who loved me, and gave himself for me...(Galatians 2:20).
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Our Lord Hesus of the West and Crishna of the East), by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world...(Galatians 6:14).
...Because of the vastness and all-comprehensiveness of the bardo teachings...one will be guided, stage by stage, through the unfolding vision of the journey through life and death. Our exploration necessarily begins with a direct reflection on what death means and the many facets of the truth of impermanence--the kind of reflection that can enable us to make rich use of this life while we still have time (see Hebrews 3:12-15), and ensure that when we die it will be without remorse or self-recrimination (see John 5:25-29; Romans 2:10-16) at having wasted our lives (see Matthew 8:11,12). As Tibet's famous poet saint, Milarepa, said 'My religion is to live--and die--without regret.'
Contemplating deeply on the secret message of impermanence--what lies in fact beyond impermanence and death--leads directly to the heart of the ancient and powerful Tibetan teachings: the introduction to the essential 'nature of mind.' Realization of the nature of mind, which you could call our innermost essence, that truth which we all search for, is the key to understanding life and death. For what happens at the moment of death is that the ordinary mind and its delusions die, and in that gap the boundless sky-like nature of our mind is uncovered. The essential nature of mind is the background to the whole of life and death, like the sky, which folds the whole of the universe in its embrace...
Stop! reflect, meditate on the meaning of the Mandala of History. This is the First Death.
The Mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the Rising of the Sun unto the going down thereof.
Out of Zion, the perfection of Beauty, God hath shined...(Psalm 50:1,2).
In other words, He who is hid so sublimely and subjectively in the East (from the very mind of the East itself), has revealed Himself through the historical process, through the work of Divine Wisdom Herself, both in the West and to the mind of the West. It is here in the West that knowledge of the Divine is perfected. It is here in the West that the Christ Mystery unfolds.
...The teachings make it clear that if all we know of mind is the aspect of mind that dissolves when we die, we will be left with no idea of what continues, no knowledge of the new dimension of the deeper reality of the nature of mind. So it is vital for us all to familiarize ourselves with the nature of mind while we are still alive. Only then will we be prepared when it reveals itself spontaneously and powerfully at the moment of death; and be able to recognize it 'as naturally,' the teachings say, 'as a child running into its mother's lap'; and by remaining in that state, finally be liberated...
From what source or authority, then, can a book like this be written? The 'inner science' of Buddhism is based, as one American scholar puts it, 'on a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of reality, and on an already assessed, depth understanding of self and environment; that is to say, on the complete enlightenment of the Buddha.' The source of the Bardo teachings is the enlightened mind, the completely awakened Buddha mind, as experienced, explained, and transmitted by a long line of masters that stretches back to the Primordial Buddha...
Wherefore he saith, AWAKE thou that sleepest, and Arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light...(Ephesians 5:14).
The bardo teachings show us precisely what will happen if we prepare for death and what will happen if we do not. The choice could not be clearer. If we refuse to accept death now, while we are still alive, we will pay dearly throughout our lives, at the moment of death, and thereafter. The effects of this refusal will ravage this life and all the lives to come. We will not be able to live our lives fully; we will remain imprisoned in the very aspect of ourselves that has to die. This ignorance will rob us of the basis of the journey to enlightenment, and trap us endlessly in the realm of illusion, the uncontrolled cycle of birth and death, that ocean of suffering that we Buddhists call 'samsara.'
Yet the fundamental message of the Buddhist teachings is that if we are prepared, there is tremendous hope, both in life and death. The teachings reveal to us the possibility of an astounding and finally boundless freedom, which is ours to work for now, in life--the freedom that will also enable us to choose our death and so to choose our birth. For someone who has prepared and practiced, death comes not as a defeat but as a triumph, the crowning and most glorious moment in life." The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche, pp.11-14.
It is no coincidence that the teachings of Buddhism have arrived in the West at this time in history. Nor is it, as we shall see, any mere coincidence that the mysteries of Tibetan, or Mahayana, Buddhism have been forced (by heaven itself, as it is) from its mystical base near the summit of the Himalayas. This higher school of Buddhism was the repository and the guardian of a sacred Western treasure, which we have already begun to discover, and which it is now returning in the form of Kalachakra Initiation.
The connection between the early Church (those Essenes, or Therapeutes--spiritual healers or physicians--as they were known in some gnostic circles), and the Theraveda school of Buddhism has been noted by several scholars. Buddhist influences have also been recognized as far away as Britain and Ireland in those times...
"Buddhism abolished castes and sacrifices. The Tripitaka, or Bible, contains 592,000 verses, and the last Buddhist council was held in 251 B.C.
DR. Kenealy observes in his Book of God, 'The Irish hieratic language was called Ogham (pronounced OWM), which is the same as the Buddhist and Brahmin AUM, and the Magian and Mexican HOM, or ineffable name of God. This last, the Greek changed into AOM, (), or Alpha and Omega.' W. Anderson Smith, in Lewisiana, reluctantly acknowledges, ' We must accept the possibility of a Buddhist race passing north from Ireland.' Thus he and others must trace the relics of Buddhism in Scotland and the Hebrides through Ireland. Truly, as Fergusson writes, 'Buddhism, in some shape or other, or under some name that might be lost, did exist in Britain before the conversion of the inhabitants to Christianity.'
Hanloy, Chinese interpreter at San Francisco, who claims the discovery of America for his countrymen, who left written descriptions of the strange land, has this additional information--'About 500 years before Christ, Buddhist priests repaired there, and brought back the news that they had met with Buddhist idols (symbols) and religious writings in the country already. Their descriptions in many respects, resemble those of the Spaniards (centuries) after.'
In the vaulted stone building at Knockmoy, Galway Co., assumed by some to have been a Temple of the Tuatha (de Danaans), and next to which sacred spot an abbey was subsequently erected, is a figure taken for Apollo, bound to a tree, pierced with arrows, yet slaying the python (the Great Serpent) with his dart. Other three figures represent in their crowns and costume, Eastern divinities, before who, another is approaching. These have been conjectured to be the three, Chanchasm, Gonagom, and Gaspa, who attained the perfect state of Nirvana before the birth of Gautama, founder of Buddhism." Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, by James Bonwick, pp.153, 54.
After all there were lines of symmetry connecting these regions of the world in the oracles. And where these lines of force--these common spiritual axes--exist, one is sure to find actual historical pathways leading each in the direction of the other as well. We get a hint of their common association in the unmistakable Theravedic, or Buddhist (and later Franciscan) rules of purpose and conduct expressed in the tenth chapter of Matthew. And then, of course, we have the perspective of our own times, and access once again to the oracles, to support our understanding. We can now see how Buddhism and Christianity, each operating on the same sacred plain of human consciousness, are East-West reflections of each other. They are joined together along the central pillar of the Oracle, and between them they reflect all the subjective and objective dimensions of spiritual reality. In Buddhism (in the East) the idea of God is SUPREMELY present but hidden from itself, as the Spirit is from the natural forces it occupies and governs. In the West, however, God is ultimately revealed; or to put it another way: out of the experiences of the Lower world the mind of Christ is born. In Buddhist thought the mind approaches a state of nothingness--that dimensionless point that not only marks the moment of creation, or conception, itself, but where one is stripped of all attachments to the external world as well, as Paul himself expressed. It is where all things are neither this nor that; but also where all things are not neither this nor that. The Buddha, refusing to comment on anything beyond that point, teaches us to crucify our natural intellects and our common assumptions about the world on the cross of Eastern Consciousness. And so we must. But with a state of mind that can only come to perfection in the West (which is why Buddhism has been led this way again in our time), Christ illuminates that reality. The Buddha brings us to the Center, and Christ teaches us where that Center is, and where it leads. One cannot pass from the Seventh sefira on the Tree of Life to the Eighth without putting on the sacred precepts of the Eightfold Path...
(1) Right Understanding (free from superstition and delusion); (2) Right Thought (high and worthy of divine intelligence); (3) Right Speech (kindly, open, truthful); (4) Right Actions (peaceful, honest, pure); (5) Right Livelihood (bringing hurt or danger, or injustice and oppression, to no living being); (6) Right Effort (in self-training and self-control); (7) Right Mindfulness (the active watchful, and intentional mind); (8) Right Concentration(in deep mediation on the realities of life).
Pancha Shila (Five Precepts): (1) Take the precept to abstain from killing. (2) Take the precept to abstain from stealing. (3) Take the precept to abstain from adultery. (4) Take the precept to abstain from lying. (5) Take the precept to abstain from insobriety.
Acts of Merit: (1) Give charity to the deserving. (2) Observe the precepts of morality.(3) Cultivate and develop good thoughts. (4) Render service and attend to others. (5) Honor and nurse parents and elders. (6) Give a share of your merits to others. (7) Accept the merits that others give you (without getting lost in them). (8) Hear the doctrine of righteousness. (9) Preach the doctrine of righteousness. (10) Rectify your faults.
The Blessed one set the Wheel of the most excellent Law a-rolling at Sarnath and he began to preach to the Five bhikshus (disciples), opening to them the gate of immortality, and showing them the bliss of Nirbana. And when the Blessed One began his sermon, a rapture thrilled through all the universe.
The Buddha said: The spokes of the Wheel are the rules of pure conduct; justice is the uniformity of their length; wisdom is the tyre; modesty and thoughtfulness are the hub in which the immovable axle of truth is fixed.
They who recognize the existence of suffering, its cause, its remedy, and its cessation, has fathomed the Four Noble Truths. They will walk in the right path. Right Views will be the torch to light his way. Right Aims will be his guide. Right Words will be his dwelling place on the road. His gate will be straight, for it is Right Behavior. His refreshments will be the Right Way of earning his livelihood. Right efforts will be his steps; Right Thought his breath; AND PEACE WILL FOLLOW IN HIS FOOT PRINTS...
Spread the truth and preach the doctrine IN ALL QUARTERS OF THE WORLD, so that in the end all living creatures will be citizens of the Kingdom of Righteousness. Thus Spake the Buddha. Compiled by Swami Suddhasatawananda. Sri Ramakrishna Math Printing Press. Mylapore, Madras India.
Likewise, what has not been fully noticed by Western scholars is the part of the interchange between Buddhism and primitive Christianity that Buddhism carried away with it to the East, and to Tibet in particular, giving rise in time to the Mahayana and the Pure Land schools of Buddhist thought...
"It has never been realized, says Stcherbatsky, what a radical revolution had transformed the Buddhist church when the new spirit, which however was for a long time lurking in it, arrived at full eclosion in the first centuries A.D.. When we see an atheistic, soul-denying philosophic teaching of a path to personal final deliverance consisting in an absolute extinction of life, and of a simple worship of its human founder, superceded by a magnificent High Church with a Supreme God, surrounded by a numerous pantheon, and a host of saints, a religion highly devotional, highly ceremonial and clerical, with an idea of Universal Salvation not in annihilation, but in eternal life, we are fully justified in maintaining that the history of religions has scarcely witnessed such a break between old and new within the pale of what nevertheless continued to claim common descent from the same religious founder." The central Philosophy of Buddhism, by T.R.V. Murti, p.5.
THE GREATER VEHICLE OF MAHAYANA BUDDHISM
"From about the first or second century A.D. onwards. a new and very different kind of Buddhism arose in India. The new school, which claimed to offer salvation for all, styled itself 'Mahayana' The Greater Vehicle (to salvation), as opposed to the older Buddhism, which it contemptuously referred to as 'Hinayana,' or the Lesser Vehicle. The Mahayana scriptures also claimed to represent the final doctrines of the Buddha, revealed only to his most spiritually advanced followers, while the earlier doctrines were merely preliminary ones. Though Mahayana Buddhism, with its pantheon of heavenly buddhas and bodhisatvas and its idealistic metaphysics, was strikingly different in many respects from the Theraveda, it can be viewed as the development into finished systems of tendencies which had existed long before--a development favored and accelerated by the great historic changes taking place in northwestern India at that time...
A further development which encouraged the tendency to theism was the growth of interest in the 'bodhisatva.' This term, literally meaning 'Being of Wisdom,' was first used in the sense of previous incarnations of the Buddha. For many lives before his final birth as Siddhartha Gautama the Bodhisatva did mighty deeds of compassion and self-sacrifice, so he gradually perfected himself in wisdom and virtue. Stories of the Bodhisatva, known as Birth Stories, and often adapted from popular legends and fables, were very popular with lay Buddhists, (as they are with Christians still in our time), and numerous illustrations of them still occur in early Buddhist art...
The next stage in the evolution of the theology of the new Buddhism was the doctrine of the 'Three Bodies'. If the true ideal was that of the bodhisatva why did not Gautama remain one, instead of becoming a Buddha and selfishly passing to Nirvana? This paradox was answered by a theory of docetic type, which again probably had its origin in popular ideas prevalent among lay Buddhists at a very early period. Gautama was not in fact an ordinary man, but the manifestation of a great spritual being. (These, we will immediately notice, are the very same ideas that Christianity wrestled with in the many years of debate leading up to the Council of Nicea in the Fourth century). The Buddha had three bodies--The Body of Essence, the Body of Bliss, and the Transformation Body. It was the latter only which lived on earth as Siddhartha Gautama, an emanation of the Body of Bliss, which dwelled forever in the heavens as a sort of supreme god. But the Body of Bliss was in turn the emanation of the Body of Essence, the ultimate Buddha, who pervaded and underlay the whole universe. Subtle philosophies and metaphysical systems were developed parallel with these theological ideas, and the Body of Essence was identified with Nirvana. It was in fact the World Soul, the Brahmin of the Upanishads, in a new form. In the fully developed Mahayanist cosmology there were many Bodies of Bliss, all of them emanations of the single Body of Essence, but the heavenly Buddha chiefly concerned with our world was 'Amitabha' ('Immeasurable Radiance'), who dwelt in 'Sukhavati,' 'the Happy Land,' the heaven of the West. With him was associated the earthly Gautama Buddha, and a very potent and compassionate Bodhisatva, Avalokitshvara ('the Lord Who Looks Down')." The Buddhist Tradition in India, China and Japan, by William Theodore de Bary, pp.73-77.
"Two parallel sets of myths and legends have developed in Tibetan culture: those of the pre-Buddhist religion sometimes referred to as Bon, and those of the special form of Buddhism which evolved in Tibet from the 7th century AD onwards. The term Bon was originally applied to a class of priest-magicians (magi), not to the religion itself, which was known as lha-chos, 'sacred matters,' as distinct from mi-chos, 'human matters.' From the point of view of mythology its principle features appear to have been a cult of gods of the sky, the earth, and the lower regions, and a cult of Mountains and divine Kings. The later Bon-po monks (followers of Bon), as known through their literature and living tradition, preserved very little of these earlier beliefs. In the course of their history they absorbed and reproduced all kinds of beliefs with which they met, indigenous and foreign, and between the 7th and 13th centuries--the period of the propagation of Buddhism in Tibet--Bon evolved into a somewhat incongruous form of Tibetan Buddhism...
The Bon-pos claim that their teachings came from the West, through their founder gShen-rab...This suggests that they first came into contact with a form of Buddhism practiced in countries (some theorize) as Gilgit and Uddiyana to the west of Tibet...The Bon-pos and the Buddhists wrote in the same language and both used the same Buddhist literature brought from India, except the Bon-pos claimed it was their own and would not admit its Indian origins..."
Chief among those Western mysteries which were confided to Bon-po Buddhism at the time of Christ, and taken to Tibet for safekeeping--in the Heavens of human comprehension as it were, in the higher, Eastern dimensions of the Oracle--was, again, the Mystery of Jerusalem, the City Above, the Mother of Us All...The Hidden Kingdom of Shambhala:
THE HIDDEN KINGDOM OF (JERUSALEM) SHAMBHALA
"The quest for an earthly Paradise is one of the oldest and most enduring themes of mythology. Ancient clay tablets dating back to the 2nd millennium B.C. tell of the hero Gilgamesh and his epic journey to the Garden of the Sun in search of the secrets of immortality. In the 2nd century B.C. the Chinese emperor Wu Ti sent envoys looking for the mythical palace of Hsi Wang Mu--the dwelling place of the immortals, hidden in the mysterious Kunlun Mountains of Central Asia. During the Middle Ages Irish monks set out on the Atlantic, seeking legendary isles of the Blessed where they might find salvation. Centuries later the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, hoping to find a Garden of Eden in the new world.
Tibetans have long held a tradition of just such an earthly Paradise, called Shambhala--a mythical kingdom that is hidden among the Snow mountains north of Tibet. (Snow, a six-stemmed crystal is another symbol of that hidden place named Beauty on the Tree of Life). There in the sanctuary free from strife and want, a line of divine kings is said to be preserving the highest teachings of Buddhism for a time in the future when barbarians will destroy all true religion in the world outside. When the barbarians try to conquer even Shambhala, a Saviour king will emerge with a supernatural army to defeat them in great battle and establish a golden age throughout the world."
A Buddhist prayer: "MAY I QUICKLY TAKE BIRTH IN SHAMBHALA, THE TREASURY OF JEWELS, AND COMPLETE THE STAGES OF THE HIGHEST YOGA TANTRA."
For a comprehensive study of the Mystery of Shambhala (the Hidden Jerusalem), please read" The Way to Shambhala, A Search for the Mythical Kingdom Beyond the Himalayas, by Edwin Bernbaum, Ph.D.
AMIDA (AMITABHA) AND THE PURE LAND
"'There is only one Way,' the 'Lotus Sutra' says again and again,'not two or three.' All human beings are to achieve Buddhahood through the same Great Vehicle, Mahayana. No class or group is to be disqualified; there are to be no separate catagories, such as the Hinayana and pseudo-Mahayana sects distinguish, for those of different social status of individual capability. No matter what means men avail themselves of, all find their ultimate fulfillment in the single, universal Way of Mahayana.
This was the central truth of Buddhism which reigned supreme in the Heian period (in Japan). The two leading sects, Tendai and Shingon, both acknowledged such an idealistic and egalitarian view of man's potential for enlightenment...
Kukai's 'Ten Stages of Religious Consciousness' (exemplifieded at the same time in the Japanese mandated tendency to place things in a hierarchical framework)...This quality perhaps on Kukai's Esoteric Buddhism, as well as its emphasis on art and ritual, accounts for the high favor which his new faith won in the citadels of Heian culture. For the Esoteric doctrine, which entrenched itself not only at the court but at Nara, the old center of Buddhism, and at Mt. Hiei, the Tendai center, put far less stress in practice on the universal hope of attaining Buddhahood than it did on the special means to be employed by each individual. The Buddha and all creatures were made of the same stuff, the same Six elements. But in the diverse manifestations of the Mandala might be seen the different aspects and functions of the Three Mysteries: Body, Speech, and Mind. Through their proper functioning alone could Buddhahood be attained, and the secret knowledge of these functions was possessed by the Shingon priesthood alone. Inasmuch as Shingon Buddhism was esoteric, it also tended to be exclusive.
In the twelfth century, with the sudden collapse of the Kyoto court and the onset of the feudal era, among the swift and bewildering changes that ensued was a sweeping redirection of religious life in Japan...In an age often seen as dominated by hardened warriors and held in the tight grip of military government, it may seem paradoxical that Japanese Buddhism should for the first time have become a mass movement, a democracy of faith, offering to everyone tangible hope for salvation in this life. Yet this is the most evident and significant feature of medieval Buddhism: that it was not preserved as a mere heirloom of the 'ancien regime,' but elbowed its way out among the people and made itself at home in the households of humble folk.
In this popularization of Buddhism no doctrine or sect was more influential than that associated with the Buddha Amida (Amithabha), whose Western Paradise or 'Pure Land' offered a haven to weary souls in that strife-torn age...
This faith was not by any means the creation of medieval Japan. It derived from the Mahayana Buddhism of Northern India and Central Asia, and for centuries the worship of Amida (The Buddha of Boundless Light) had been tremendously popular in China. Nevertheless the spread of Pure Land doctrines in medieval times represented a striking change in outlook for the Japanese, and in the process of establishing itself, the doctrine too underwent profound changes. For one thing, the earlier forms of Japanese Buddhism had all stressed the attainment of Buddhahood, the achieving of enlightenment, whereas this faith aimed at rebirth in a land of Bliss. At the same time there was a shift in emphasis away from the individual's efforts to achieve enlightenment toward an exclusive reliance on the saving power of the Buddha. This meant a strong monotheistic tendency--all honor and devotion to Amida alone--in contrast to the strong polytheistic tendency of Esoteric Buddhism, with its multitude of icons directing worship to a vast pantheon of Buddhas and Bodhisatvas."
The rise of Pure Land Buddhism was not merely an outgrowth of the new feudal society...Already in the late Heian period we find individual monks who sensed the need for bringing Buddhist faith within the reach of ordinary men...Kuya (903-972), a monk on Mt. Hiei, was one of these....Dancing through the streets with a tinkling bell hanging from around his neck, Kuya called out the name of Amida and sang simple ditties of his own composition,such as:
He never fails to reach the Lotus Land of Bliss, Who calls, if only once, the name of Amida. (and)...
A far, far distant land is Paradise, I've heard them say. But it can be reached by those who want to go.
The Buddhist Tradition, by William de Bary, pp.314-316.
THAT CHRIST MAY DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS BY FAITH; THAT YE BEING ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE (AND COMPASSION, MERCY),
MAY BE ABLE TO COMPREHEND WITH ALL SAINTS WHAT IS THE BREADTH, AND LENGTH, AND DEPTH, AND HEIGHT;
AND TO KNOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST, WHICH PASSETH KNOWLEDGE, THAT YE MIGHT BE FILLED WITH ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD. (FROM THE WEST, AS FAR AS THE EAST AND BACK AGAIN)...(Ephesians 3:17-19).
"Finally we come to the possibility that lies at the limits of scientific conceptualization, close to the Tibetan's mystical view of reality. SHAMBHALA MAY BE HIDDEN IN A FOURTH DIMENSION that is as concrete and real as the Three dimensions we normally see.
Modern physics has revealed that space contains strange curves and warps that do not fit our usual picture of reality; perhaps physicists will someday discover the existence of other dimensions that lay outside the range of ordinary perception. The theory of Relativity already speaks of a fourth dimension of Time. Why not one of space? In any case mathematicians and scientists commonly use the idea of multidimensional space as a tool to analyze the properties of what they investigate.
The fourth dimension is relatively easy to conceptualize but difficult to visualize. Our usual Euclidean model of space has three dimensions, each one perpendicular to the other--one going east to west, another north to south, and the third up and down. If we add a forth line--call it 'here to there'--that runs at right angles to all the others, it will extend into the fourth dimension.
Although we may not be able to do this visually, we can certainly do it mathematically...These spaces would be like paintings stacked against a wall; as long as we looked only at the first, or top one, we would fail to see the others behind it--or even suspect that they even existed. Shambhala could conceivably be hidden right here, an inch away from us, in another world that we do not perceive because we focus our attention completely on the familiar one we know." The Way to Shambhala, A Search For the Mythical Kingdom, p.49.
It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying, 'here it is, or there it is.' Rather the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it...(The Gospel of Thomas 113).
THE DALAI LAMA TO BESTOW
KALACHACKRA INITIATION IN JULY 1989
The mystery of the Vedic (Judea)Saptan and Homer's Hierosolyma (The Higher Jerusalem).
"Kalachackra means 'Wheel or Cycle of Time.' Over the centuries the rarely performed ceremony has evolved into an elaborate public performance, including teachings by the Dalai Lama, Tibetan religious and ritual dances by monks in ornate costumes and headgears, and the creation of large Mandalas of colored sands.
Kalachackra is an invitation of the Annatura or Highest Yoga Tantra class and is very important for the disciple to take the empowerment with the motivation to attain enlightenment in order to benefit all sentient beings. This is Boddhicita motivation. Stressing the importance of selfless motivation...
Who can receive the Initiation? The qualifications of someone who wishes to receive the Kalachackra transmission for actual practices are as follows: in terms of bodhimind, which cherishes others more than oneself, the best disciple dwells in an unfeigned experience of this sublime mind; the medium disciple has had a small flash of it in their meditations, and the lowest should have at least as intense appreciation for and interest in developing it.
In terms of their philosophical development: the best disciple has a undistorted experience of the nature of ultimate reality as explained in the Middle Way or Mind Only schools of Mahayana thought. The medium disciple has a correct understanding based on study and reason. The lowest disciple should have at least a strong appreciation for and interest in this particular system. The purpose of the Initiation is to plant certain karmic seeds in the mind of the recipient, but if a person does not possess the openness of a certain degree of spiritual interest it is very difficult for the seeds to take hold.
History has it that the Kalachackra teachings were brought to India from the legendary Kingdom of Shambhala and then to Tibet. Since then its unbroken lineage has passed through many great religious scholars in Tibet...Speaking of Shambhala, His Holiness said...'If you lay out a map to search for Shambhala it is not something you can find. You cannot get there by buying an airplane ticket ...So we consider the ticket to be one's own merit. It takes great merit to arrive at such a place.'" Tinley Nyanduk, News Tibet, May-Aug. 1988.
Richard Wilhelm and Carl Jung (unknowingly) say in The Secret of the Golden Flower: "It is characteristic of the Western mind that it has no concept for the Tao."..."The Chinese character is made up of the character for 'head' (consider the concept of Kether on the Tree of Life) and that for 'going'...Others translate it as 'Way,' 'Providence,' or even 'God,' as the Jesuits do. This shows the difficulty. 'Head' can be taken as consciousness, or 'the Conscious Way.' This agrees with the fact that the 'Light of Heaven' which dwells between the eyes as the 'heart of heaven' is used synonymously with the Tao."
If thou wouldst complete the diamond body with no outflowing,
Diligently heat the roots of consciousness and life;
Kindle light in the blessed country ever close at hand,
And there hidden, let thy true self dwell.
THE CIRCULAR MOVEMENT AND THE CENTER
"As has already been pointed out, the union of opposites on a higher level of consciousness is not a rational thing, nor is it a matter of will; it is a psychic process of development which expresses itself in symbols...
I AM the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE--(I AM the TAO, the DHARMA and the CH'I)...(John 14:6).
...When the fantasies are expressed in thoughts, (principles, true Gnostic archai), the results are intuitive formulations of dimly felt laws or principles, which at first tend to be dramatized or personified. If the fantasies are expressed in drawings, symbols appear which are chiefly of the so-called mandala type. Mandala means a circle, more especially a magic circle, and this symbol is not only found throughout the East but also among us...The early Middle Ages are especially rich in Christian Mandalas, and for the most part show Christ in the Center, with the Four evangelists, or their symbols, at the cardinal points. This conception must be very ancient, for the Egyptians represented Horus with his Four sons in the same way. (And it is known that Horus had a close connection with Christ). Later there is to be found an unmistakable and very interesting mandala in Jacob Boehme's book on the soul. This later mandala, it is clear, deals with the psycho-cosmic system and is strongly colored by Christian ideas. He calls it the 'philosophic eye.' or 'the mirror of wisdom,' which obviously means a summa of secret knowledge. For the most part the mandala is that of a flower, cross, or wheel, with distinct tendencies toward quadripartite structure... Mandalas of this sort are also found in the sand paintings used in ceremonies of the Pueblo and Navaho Indians...I have also found mandala drawings among the mentally ill, and indeed among people who did not have the least idea of them...
Our text promises to 'reveal the secret of the Golden Flower of the Great One,' The Golden Flower is the light, and the light of heaven is the Tao. The Golden Flower is a mandala symbol which I have often met with in material brought to me by my patients. It is drawn either seen from above as a regular geometric ornament, or as a blossom growing from a plant...a drawing of this kind also expresses the origin of the Golden Flower, for according to the Hui Ming Ching the 'germinal vesicle' is nothing other than the 'Yellow (Solar) Castle,' the 'heavenly heart,' the 'terrace of life,' the 'square inch field in the square foot house,' THE DRAGON CASTLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA.' IT is also called 'the border region of the Snow Mountains,' the 'primal pass,' the 'realm of greatest joy,' the 'land without boundaries,' and 'the altar upon which consciousness and life are made.' If a dying man does not know this...he will not find the unity of consciousness and life in a thousand births, nor in ten thousand aeons...
For quite in accord with the Eastern conception, the mandala symbol is not only a means of expression, but works an effect...The image has the obvious purpose of drawing a magical circle around the centre, the sacred precinct of innermost personality in order to prevent flowing out...The magical practices are nothing but the projections of psychic events, which are here applied to the psyche, in reverse, like a kind of spell on one's own personality. That is to say...the attention, or better said, the interest, is brought back to an inner, sacred domain, which is the source and goal of the soul, and which contains the unity of life and consciousness. The unity once possessed has been lost, and now must be found again. (In other words, if one can perceive the structure of the mandala as encompassing all existing things, one can internalize the perception and become all they perceive).
The 'enclosure' (which is also defined by the space of one's own individual life, and one's own thoughts) is expressed by the idea of a 'circulation.' The 'circulation' is not merely motion in a circle, but means on the one hand, the marking off of the sacred precinct, and, on the other, fixation and concentration. The Sun Wheel begins to run; that is to say, the Sun is animated and begins to take its course, (see Malachi, chapter 4), or in other words, the Tao begins to work and to take over leadership...They cause the poles of light and darkness to rotate, that is Day and Night alternate. Thus the circular movement also has a moral significance of activating all the light and dark forces of human nature, and with them, all the psychological opposites of whatever kind they may be...The symbol is the primitive expression of the unconscious, but at the same time it is also an idea corresponding to the highest intuition produced by the consciousness." The Secret of the Golden Flower, pp.97-107.
"When the light is made to move in a circle, all the energies of heaven and earth, of the light and the dark, are crystallized. This is what is termed seed-like thinking, or purification of the energy, or purification of the idea...Then suddenly there develops a seed pearl. (One of great value). It is if a man and woman embraced and conception took place. Then one must be quite still and wait. The circulation of light is the epic of Fire...
If, when there is quiet, the spirit has continuously a sense of great joy as if intoxicated or freshly bathed, it is a sign that the Light-principle is harmonious in the whole body; then the Golden Flower begins to bud... And when one has the feeling that this great Earth is a world of light and brightness, that is a sign that the body of the heart opens itself to clarity. It is a sign that the Golden Flower is opening...
If one discerns the beginning of the Buddha's path, THERE WILL BE THE BLESSED CITY OF THE WEST." The Golden Flower, pp.30, 49, 71.
The City of Righteousness
"This fine passage, from the latter part of the Questions of King Menander, is probably the work of a hand different from that which composed the dialogues which we have already quoted. In it the Buddha almost takes on the character of a savior god, who, like Amitabha in the developed Mahayana mythology, built a heaven for his followers. Nirvana is not described in negative terms, but in very positive ones, and the meataphor of the busy, populous, and prosperous city hardly suggests the rarefied Nirvana of the previous passage, but a heaven in which personality is by no means lost. It suggests in fact to the Western reader THE NEW JERUSALEM of the Book of revelation...
'The builder of a city...first chooses a pleasant and suitable site; he makes it smooth, and then sets to work to build his city fair and well proportioned, divided into quarters, with ramparts round about it...And when the city is built, and stands complete and perfect, he goes away to another land. And in time the city becomes rich and prosperous, peaceful and happy, free from plague and calamity, and filled with people of all classes and professions and of all the lands...All these folks coming to live in the new city and finding it so well planned, faultless, perfect, and beautiful, exclaim: "Skilled indeed must be the builder who built this city!"
So the Lord...in his infinite goodness...when he had achieved the highest powers of Buddhahood and had conquered Mara (the spirit of the world and the flesh, the Buddhist satan) and his hosts, tearing the net of false doctrine, casting aside ignorance, and producing wisdom...built the City of Righteousness.
The Lord's City of Righteousness has virtue for its ramparts, fear of sin for its moat, knowledge for its gates, zeal for its turrets, faith for its pillars, concentration for its watchmen, wisdom for its palaces. The 'Basket of Discourse" for its marketplace, the 'Supplementary Doctrines' its roads, the 'Conduct' its court of justice, and earnest self-control is its main street.
The Lord has laid down the following subjects for meditation: the ideas of impermanence, (All things in the temporal world are passing away. Do not fight for them, or kill for them); the nonexsitence of an enduring (physical) self (Do nothing to glamorize it or immortalize it. Be one with the process of change and transformation. Simply keep the Body healthy and devoted to God, and pass out of it into Nirvana); of the impurity and of the wretchedness of life (to the pure, of course, all things are pure); of stopping the influx, and of ridding oneself of evil tendencies; of passionlessness; of dissatisfaction with all things in the world; of the impermanence of all conditioned things; of mindful control of breath; of the corpse in disintegration; of the execution of criminals with all of its horrors, (which is the work of God, not 'man'); the ideas of friendliness, of compassion, of joy, of equanimity; the thought of death; and mindfulness of the body...Whoever wishes to be free from age and death (in the world-to-come) takes one of these as a subject for meditation, and are thus set free from passion, hatred, and dulness, from pride and from false views; he crosses the ocean of rebirths, dams the torrent of his cravings, is washed clean of the threefold stain, (of anger, lust, and greed), and destroys all evil within him. So he enters the Glorious City of Nirvana, stainless and undefiled, pure and white, unaging, deathless, secure and calm and happy, and the mind is emancipated as a perfect being." The Buddhist Tradition, by de Bary, pp.30-32.
Her walls are Salvation, and her gates Praise..(Isaiah 60:18).
Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come...(Hebrews 13:13,14)
And I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God (out of the East), prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a Great Voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and They will dwell with them, and they shall be Their people, and God Themselves shall be with them, and be thier God...
And They carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that Great City, the Holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God...
And the City lieth Foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and I measured the City with a reed, Twelve thousand furlongs. The Lenght and the Breadth and the Height of it are equal...(Revelation 21).
WHEN JERUSALEM IS FOURSQUARE
Now, although anyone would justly lament the destruction of such a work as this was, the most admirable of all the works that we have seen or heard of, both for its CURIOUS STRUCTURE and its MAGNITUDE, and also for the vast wealth bestowed upon it, as well as for the glorious reputation it had for holiness; yet might such a one comfort himself with this thought, that it was fate that decreed it to be so, which is inevitable, both as to living creatures and as to works and places also...
A false prophet was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get up upon the temple, and that they there should receive a miraculous sign of their deliverance. Now there was a great number of these false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; AND THIS WAS IN ORDER TO KEEP THEM FROM DESERTING, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such a deliverance. (See Deuteronomy 29:14-29).
Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God Himself; WHILE THEY DID NOT ATTEND, NOR GIVE CREDIT TO THE SIGNS THAT WERE SO EVIDENT, AND DID PLAINLY TELL THEIR FUTURE DESOLATION. But like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciation that God made to them. THUS THERE WAS A STAR RESEMBLING A SWORD, WHICH STOOD OVER THE CITY, AND A COMET THAT CONTINUED A WHOLE YEAR. Thus also, before the Jews rebelled, and before these commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7; Colossians 2:16-23; 3:1-6), SO GREAT A LIGHT SHONE ROUND THE ALTAR AND THE HOLY HOUSE THAT IT APPEARED TO BE BRIGHT DAY-TIME...
... which Light lasted half an hour. This Light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same time a HEIFER, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, BROUGHT FORTH A LAMB IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TEMPLE...
Moreover, the Eastern gate of the INNER court, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by 20 men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep in the firm floor, which was there made of ONE ENTIRE STONE (the Stone Rejected, and it is marvelous in our eyes), WAS SEEN TO BE OPENED OF ITS OWN ACCORD ABOUT THE SIXTH HOUR OF THE NIGHT...This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the Gate of Happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies...
Besides these...a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the accounts of it would seem a fable, were it not related by those who saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for BEFORE THE SUN SETTING...
...chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the Clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the Priests WERE GOING BY NIGHT INTO THE INNER COURT OF THE TEMPLE, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise (like the noise of the 20th century), and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "LET US REMOVE HENCE."
But what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, who, for four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in great peace and prosperity, came to the feast whereon it is our custom to make tabernacles to God in the temple, and began on a sudden to cry aloud:
"A voice from the East, a voice from the West, a voice from the Four Winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Holy House, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people."
Thus was his cry,as he went about day and night in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent of the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man and gave him a great number of severe stripes...yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was "WOE, WOE TO JERUSALEM...
Now if anyone consider these things, they will find that God takes care of mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and voluntarily bring upon themselves; for the Jews, by demolishing the tower of Antonio, had made their temple Foursquare, while at the same time they had it written in their sacred oracles THAT THEN SHOULD THEIR TEMPLE BE TAKEN, AS WELL AS THEIR HOLY HOUSE, WHEN ONCE THEIR TEMPLE SHOULD BECOME FOURSQUARE." The Wars of the Jews, Book VI.4:8-
Thus saith the Lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her...(Ezekiel 5:5).
Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the Four Corners of the land...(Ezekiel, chapter 7).
A Tibetan Message Sent Through Hopis and Maoris to Canadian Aleuts
THE WAY TO SHAMBHALA
A Search for the Mythical Kingdom Beyond the Himalyas
by Edwin Bernbaum, Ph.D.
EXCERPTED FROM CHAPTER ONE: BEHIND THE RANGES:
Behind the ice walls of the Himalyas lie the empty deserts and remote mountains of Central Asia...(There) explorers have come across the ruins of great civilizations that have flickered in and out of existence like mirages in time. SOME HAVE LEFT RECORDS TO IDENTIFY THEM; others have simply faded out of of history...
Many have sensed the presence of some mysterious influence hidden in Central Asia. Hindu mythology looks north of the Himalyas for MERU, THE MYSTICAL MOUNTAIN AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, where Indra, King of the Gods, is supposed to have his jeweled palace. (Psalm 48:1,2). The ancient Chinese believed that their Immortals--such as Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism--had gone to live forever on a jade mountain SOMEWHERE WEST OF CHINA ON THE HEIGHT OF THE KUNLUNS. An old Buddhist legend HOLDS THAT THE KING OF THE WORLD WILL BE BORN CLUTCHING A CLOT OF BLOOD IN HIS HAND; Genghis Khan was supposedly born in this fashion, and swept out of the heart of Central Asia nearly to conquer the world, CREATING AN EMPIRE THAT REACHED FROM THE DANUBE TO THE SEAS OF CHINA. The Muslims of Persia, whom he devastated, came to believe he was the Scourge of God, sent out of the Gobi to punish them for their sins. Modern scholars, looking for the origins of religion, have turned to the spirit journeys of the Central Asian shaman, a sort of medicine man who goes in trance to other worlds to rescue the kidnaped souls of the sick and dying.
During the nineteenth the British , who had taken over India, took an interest in Tibet, a mysterious country to the north that was ruled by lamas, or Buddhist priests, and isolated from the world outside. The Theosophists, members of an occult religious movement that became popular in England and America...spread their belief that spiritual supermen with knowledge and powers far exceeding those known to science lived somewhere beyond the Himalayas, where they secretly guided the destiny of the world. This, and the accounts of various explorer, whom the lamas tried to keep out, helped to establish Tibet's image as THE ULTIMATE MYSTICAL SANCTUARY, PROTECTED BY THE HIGHEST MOUNTAINS ON EARTH.
All of this probably inspired James Hilton to write Lost Horizon, his novel about Shangri-la, a Tibetan monastery hidden behind snow peaks in an idyllic valley where people live for hundreds of years without growing old. Only those who get lost can find the way to this sanctuary, concealed not in the Himalayas, as might be expected, but in the (mystical) Kunluns on the northern rim of Tibet. There they lead peaceful lives devoted to the study and enjoyment of art, literature, music, and science collected from all over the world.
As the High Lama explains to the hero of the novel, THE PURPOSE OF SHANGRI-LA IS TO PRESERVE THE BEST OF EASTERN AND WESTERN CULTURE FOR AFTER "A TIME WHEN ALL MEN, EXULTANT IN THE TECHNIQUE OF HOMICIDE WILL RAGE SO HOTLY OVER THE WORLD THAT EVERY PRECIOUS THING WILL BE IN DANGER, EVERY BOOK AND PICTURE AND HARMONY, EVERY TREASURE GARNERED THROUGH TWO MILLENNIUMS." THEN, WHEN THE WARS ARE FINALLY OVER AND "THE STRONG HAVE DEVOURED EACH OTHER," THE TREASURES SAVED IN THE HIDDEN SANCTUARY OF SHANGRI-LA WILL ENABLE MANKIND TO EMERGE FROM THE RUINS OF THE PAST AND BUILD A NEW AND BETTER WORLD.
Something about the novel resonated so strongly in so many people's minds that "Shangri-La" became a common word for any kind of hidden sanctuary or earthly paradise. During his presidency, Franklin Roosevelt built a hideaway in the hills of Maryland and named it after Hilton's idyllic monastery; later on, after his death, IT WAS GIVEN ITS PRESENT NAME, CAMP DAVID...Was Lost Horizon simply a romantic fantasy, or was it based on something deeper of which Hilton may or may not have been aware?...
While many Westerners have regarded Tibet as the mysterious hidden sanctuary, Tibetans themselves have looked elsewhere for such a place. Their sacred texts point to Shambhala, a mystical kingdom hidden behind SNOW peaks somewhere north of Tibet. THERE A LINE OF ENLIGHTENED KINGS IS SUPPOSED TO BE GUARDING THE MOST SECRET TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM FOR A TIME WHEN ALL TRUTH IN THE WORLD OUTSIDE IS LOST IN WAR AND THE LUST OF POWER AND WEALTH. THEN, ACCORDING TO PROPHECY, A FUTURE KING OF SHAMBHALA WILL COME OUT WITH A GREAT ARMY TO DESTROY THE FORCES OF EVIL AND BRING IN A GOLDEN AGE. UNDER HIS ENLIGHTENED RULE, THE WORLD WILL BECOME, AT LAST, A PLACE OF PEACE AND PLENTY, FILLED WITH THE RICHES OF WISDOM AND COMPASSION.
THE TEXTS ADD THAT A LONG AND MYSTICAL JOURNEY ACROSS A WILDERNESS OF DESERTS AND MOUNTAINS LEAD TO SHAMBHALA. WHOEVER MANAGES TO REACH THIS DISTANT SANCTUARY, HAVING OVERCOME NUMEROUS HARDSHIPS AND OBSTACLES ALONG THE WAY, WILL FIND THERE A SECRET TEACHING THAT WILL ENABLE HIM TO MASTER TIME AND LIBERATE HIMSELF FROM ITS BONDAGE. The texts warn, however, that ONLY THOSE WHO ARE CALLED AND HAVE THE NECESSARY SPIRITUAL PREPARATION WILL BE ABLE TO GET TO SHAMBHALA; others will find only blinding storms and empty mountains--or even death.
The earliest references to Shambhala are found in the most sacred books of Tibetan Buddhism, a set of more than three hundred volumes called the Kangyur and Tengyur. These works, known as the Tibetan Canon, are for Tibetans what the Bible is for many Westerners; they include the sayings of the Buddha and commentaries on his teachings by later saints and scholars....The oldest volumes concerning Shambhala were first written down in Tibetan around the eleventh century A.D. as translations from older works in Sanskrit, the sacred language of India. THE CONTENTS OF THE ORIGINAL BOOKS WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN KEPT HIDDEN IN SHAMBHALA FOR OVER A THOUSAND YEARS BEFORE COMING TO INDIA IN THE TENTH CENTURY (in other words, since the time of Christ).
Since that time a number of poets, yogis, and scholars of Tibet and Mongolia have composed additional works on the hidden kingdom, many of which have been lost and forgotten. But the most secret aspects of Shambhala have never touched paper: They have been transmitted from teacher to initiated disciple by spoken word only. Lamas say that without these oral teachings many of the texts, which are written in obscure symbolic language, cannot be properly understood. In addition, lay people have passed on numerous folk stories about Shambhala--some about the war and golden age to come, and others about the mystics who have gone there and the treasures they have brought back. A few artists have also painted rare paintings that show the Kings and their mystical kingdom surrounded by Snow mountains.
According to the earliest texts, Shambhala lies north of Bodhgaya, a Buddhist shrine in northern India, but since the kingdom is hidden, they fail to specify exactly where or how far. Guide books written later describe the routs to Shambhala, but in terms so vague and archaic that their directions are extremely difficult to follow. As a result, most lamas are unsure of the kingdom's location and hold differing opinions as to where it might be, ranging from northern Tibet to the North Pole...
The texts are much more specific about the kingdom itself and give a remarkably clear and detailed picture of it. According to their descriptions, a great ring of SNOW MOUNTAINS glistening with ice completely surrounds Shambhala and keeps out all those not fit to enter. Some lamas believe the peaks are perpetually hidden in mist; others say that they are visible but so remote that few can ever get close enough to see them. THE TEXTS IMPLY THAT ONE CAN CROSS THE SNOW MOUNTAINS ONLY BY FLYING OVER THEM, BUT LAMAS POINT OUT THAT THIS MUST BE DONE THROUGH SPIRITUAL POWERS--WHOEVER TRIES TO GO BY AIRPLANE OR ANY OTHER MATERIAL MEANS WILL MEET DESTRUCTION ON THE OTHER SIDE...
To emphasize that spiritual powers are needed to cross over the mountains, one painting I saw shows A GROUP OF TRAVELERS WALKING OVER A RAINBOW INTO SHAMBHALA...
The jeweled palace of the King at the center of Shambhala shines with a glow that lights up the Night like Day, reducing the Moon to a dim light in the sky...In the center of the palace is the golden throne of the King supported by eight carved lions and encrusted with the rarest gems. All around it, for miles in every direction, spreads the scent of sandalwood incense. As long as the King remains on this seat of Wisdom and Power, A MAGIC JEWEL GIVEN HIM BY THE SERPENT DEITIES WHO GUARD HIDDEN TREASURES ENABLES HIM TO SATISFY ALL HIS WISHES. MINISTERS, GENERALS, AND COUNTLESS OTHER ATTENDANTS, SURROUND HIM, READY TO OBEY HIS EVERY COMMAND...In addition, the storerooms of his palace hold treasures of gold and jewels beyond conception. FROM THE TIBETAN POINT OF VIEW, THE KING OF SHAMBHALA POSSESSES ALL THE POWER AND WEALTH THAT BEFIT A UNIVERSAL EMPEROR...
Tibetans have...taken the (Indo-European) Sanskrit name Shambhala to mean "the Source of Happiness." But this does not mean that Shambhala is merely a paradise of liquid bliss...If a person does good deeds and acquires enough merit, he will be reborn in the heaven of the gods...But there is a catch: After hundreds of years of blissful life as a god (think of the time between the birth of Christianity and our own time), he will exhaust his store of merit...Then he will know that death is near, and he will suffer all the anguish he has temporarily avoided; he will die and be reborn again, BUT THIS TIME IN HELL (In the West).
According to Buddhism, good deeds, even those dome out of compassion, are not enough; a person must also acquire the wisdom that will enable them to WAKE UP TO THE TRUE NATURE OF REALITY AND KNOW THEMSELVES AS THEY REALLY ARE. (Ephesians 5:14). When this happens, they will transcend all suffering and attain Nirvana (the Changeless State), the ultimate goal beyond heaven and hell. Having, thereby, achieved enlightenment (Christ Consciousness), they will become a Buddha, "Awakened Ones," no longer subject to the vicissitudes of life and death.
Although many lay Tibetans regard Shambhala as a heaven of the gods, most lamas consider a A PURE LAND, A SPECIAL KIND OF PARADISE MEANT ONLY FOR THOSE ON THEIR WAY TO NIRVANA. According to the texts, the kingdom provides the conditions under which one can make the fastest possible progress toward enlightenment. Whoever reaches Shambhala or is reborn there can never fall back to a lower state of existence and will attain Nirvana in this lifetime or very soon thereafter. Lamas add that Shambhala is the only Pure Land that exists on earth. When I inadvertently suggested to the Dalai Lama that it might be only an imaginary or immaterial paradise of the mind, he immediately replied, "NO, DEFINITELY NOT: SHAMBHALA HAS A MATERIAL EXISTENCE IN THIS WORLD."
Because of their focus on attaining enlightenment, the inhabitants of Shambhala devote most of their time to study and practice of the highest wisdom known to Tibetan Buddhism--THE KALACHAKRA, OR WHEEL OF TIME." This is the most complex and secret of Tibetan teachings; lamas will reveal its inner essence only to those initiated into it, and they add that even among initiates only a very few outside Shambhala can understand the deep symbolism of its texts and meditation. The Dalai Lama, who confers many of the initiations, regards the Kalachakra as one of the most effective and speedy methods of attaining enlightenment--provided one practices it correctly and with the proper motivation...
More than any other form of Tibetan mysticism, the "Wheel of Time" is concerned with finding eternity in the passing moment, the indestructible in the midst of destruction. . As a consequence, those who practice the Kalachakra seek the perfect state of Nirvana right here in the imperfections of the world. Rather than renounce worldly activities and interests for asceticism...the people of Shambhala use everything, even the distractions of luxury and family life, as means of attaining enlightenment. They strive to free themselves from illusion through the very things that bind other to it...
EXCERPTED FROM CHAPTER SEVEN, THE JOURNEY:
Tibetans believe that there are various ways of going to Shambhala. Many of them think that the only way open today is DEATH AND REBIRTH...
Blessed and holy are they who have part in the First Resurrection (thus the First Death): on such the Second Death (the death of the physical body itself) hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a Thousand years (The One Thousand years is wholly symbolic, and has to do with the hidden structure of the oracle--the Tree of Life. Or, as the Buddha taught, the path to spiritual perfection is a Thousand Mile journey)...(Revelation 20:6).
They feel that it is no longer possible to develop the superhuman powers needed to follow the guidebooks to Shambhala: All a person can do in these degenerate times is pray and hope to be reborn there in some future reincarnation. Despite the prevalence of this belief, a number of Tibetans still believe in the possibility of reaching the kingdom in this very lifetime. In support of their position, they cite stories of people who are supposed to have actually taken the journey to Shambhala. Some of these stories tell of yogis or lamas with exceptional powers who claim to have traveled to the kingdom in their physical bodies. Others speak of spiritual or mental journeys taken without the body in meditation...
(Whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth); such a one caught up to the Third Heaven...(2 Corinthians 12:2).
We also find a number of accounts of people who are supposed to have visited the kingdom in their dreams...We will examine stories of all three kinds of journey to Shambhala: physical, mental or spiritual, and dream....We should note, however, that Tibetans tend to regard Death and Rebirth as a fourth kind of journey, which can also lead to Shambhala. According to Tibetan Buddhism, when a person dies, his consciousness leaves the body and begins to wander through a visionary landscape of the after death state. If he can realize the empty nature of everything he meets, recognize the lights, deities, and demons he sees as products of his own mind, he will attain enlightenment. If, on the other hand, he takes these visions to be real and flees from them in terror, he will eventually seek refuge in the safety of a comforting womb and wind up born in (the same unenlightened) state of existence. Lamas read the Bardo Thodol or Tibetan Book of the Dead over a dead person's body to guide his consciousness away from these pitfalls, toward enlightenment--or at least to a good rebirth in a Pure Land such as Shambhala...
It suggests that whichever way one tries to go, one can only reach the kingdom by undegoing some kind of death and rebirth. The ordinary self or ego that one feels oneself to be simply does not have the power or purity needed to make the journey; IT MUST DIE AND GIVE WAY TO SOMETHING DEEPER AND MORE POWERFUL. Although the story speaks of a physical death, it also hints of another kind, which can take place in this very life. For it to happen, one must relinquish the cherished beliefs and attachments that maintain the ego and give it a sense of of concrete existence--a painful experience that can feel like death itself...WHEN ONE UNDERGOES THIS EXPERIENCE AND DIES TO ONE'S OLD SELF, THE DEEPER LEVELS OF MIND COME TO LIFE: A NEW PERSON CAPABLE OF MAKING THE JOURNEY IS BORN.
EXCERPTED FROM CHAPTER NINE, THE INNER JOURNEY (The Divide Between the Mind of Christ and the Mind of Antichrist).
If Shambhala symbolizes the end of the journey into the hidden depths of the mind, India--or Tibet--represents its beginning in the familiar realm of the surface consciousness. This in turn suggests that the vast expanse of intervening countries described in the guidebooks to Shambhala symbolizes another part of the mind which we have not yet considered. So far, in looking beneath the surface consciousness, we have examined only the innermost mind and the deeper levels around it. But the unconscious, as we shall call all of the mind outside of the range of ordinary awareness, holds much more. IT INCLUDES A VAST AND MYSTERIOUS REGION SIMILAR TO THE LITTLE-KNOWN LANDS BETWEEN INDIA AND SHAMBHALA WITH ALL THEIR DEMONS AND DEITIES--A REGION FILLED WITH DELUDED PASIONS AND SUBLIME INSIGHTS, REPRESSED DESIRES AND ALTRUISTIC IMPULSES, A CONFUSING BLEND OF THE DEMONIC AND THE DIVINE.
The unconscious consists, in fact, of two major parts, which we shall call the superconscious and the subconscious. The superconscious is the pure region symbolized by Shambhala--the realm of the innermost mind together with the deeper levels that surround it. We use this term because it contains a clear and purified awareness that can penetrate to the true nature of things as they are. THE GREAT DISTANCE SEPARATING SHAMBHALA FROM INDIA AND TIBET INDICATES THAT THE SUPERCONSCIOUS IS HIDDEN DEEP IN THE MIND, FAR FROM THE ILLUSIONS OF THE SURFACE CONSCIOUSNESS.
The subconscious, as its name suggests, lies just beneath the surface consciousness in the gap between it and the superconscious. WE FIND THE SUBCONSCIOUS SYMBOLIZED BY THE VAST EXPANSE OF LANDS THAT LIE BETWEEN THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF THE JOURNEY TO SHAMBHALA. As we shall see in our interpretation of the guidebooks, the subconscious contains a mixture of different elements, some of which come from the superconscious and some of which come from the surfce consciousness. The former provide bright rays of illuminating awareness, while the latter generate dark clouds of delusion. The surface consciousness unwittingly contributes its share to the subconscious by repressing those parts of itself--passions, fears, and so forth--that do not fit the ego, its symbol of itself. As a result they become unconscious and mix with elements from the deeper levels of the mind that are rising toward consciousness, trying to awakenn. Because of this, when we dip beneath the surface consciousness, we find ourselves in a fluid region of shifting states of mind where things have a double-edged nature that can both help and hinder us in our quest for liberation.
Although repressed and out of sight, the alienated parts of the surface consciousness continue to function, often in warped and chaotic ways. Without control or direction, they can spread ;ike cancerous growths through the subconscious, appropriating the energy of various elements of the deeper levels of the mind that are there. In the process, they gain power over the rest of the surface consciousness, producing inexplicable quirks of thought and emotion. Unseen conflicts between repressed impulses struggling blindly gainst each other can break out in the form of...contradictory behavior, ranging from the symptoms of mild neurosis to those of severe (spiritual) psychoses (as is being demonstarted by the spirit of Antichrist in these last times)...
EXCERPTED FROM CHAPTER TEN, THE INNER PROPHECY:
Having looked into the inner meaning of Shambhala and of the journey to it, we can now turn to the last major theme of the myth: the prophecy of the final battle and the golden age to come. Like the preceding...themes, it speaks of a liberation that occurs within as well as without. According to the prophecy, the future King of Shambhala will come not only to deliver the world from the external tyranny of the barbarians (Daniel 2:3,4; 7:9,10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10), but also to liberate its inhabitants from the internal bondage of their own delusions. The main purpose of the final battle and the golden age is to bring about the conditions and teachings needed to attain enlightenment--to help people awaken the innermost mind and know the true nature of Reality. Since the events of the prophecy lead up to this end, it makes sense to examine them in some detail to see what their symbolism can reveal about the path to liberation...
Jesus answered them, Verily I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin,
And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed...(John 8:34-36).
From The Himalayas, Art For Your Soul's Sake