Forum for the Investigation of the
Tantra and the Shambhala Myth
Kalachakra means "The Wheel
of Time ", but it is also the name of the supreme Tibetan "Time
God". The Kalachakra Tantra
is held to be the last and the most recent (10th century) of all the tantra
texts that have been revealed, and is considered by the lamas to be
"the pinnacle of all Buddhist systems".
than 25 years, many hundreds of thousands have been “initiated” through the
Kalachakra Tantra by the XIV
Dalai Lama. Of these, large numbers are
illiterate people from India. But even
the "educated" participants from the West barely know anything
about what this ritual actually entails, since alongside its public aspect
it also has a strongly guarded secret side. In public, the XIV Dalai Lama
performs only the seven lowest initiations; the subsequent eight of the total
of 15 initiations continue to remain top
There is no
talk of these eight secret rites in the pamphlets, advertisements or
brochures, and especially not in the numerous affirmations of the XIV Dalai
Lama. Here, the Kalachakra Tantra
appears as a dignified and uplifting contribution to world peace, which
fosters compassion with all living beings, interreligious dialog,
interracial and intersubjective tolerance, ecological awareness, sexual
equality, inner peace, spiritual
development and bliss for the third millennium ("Kalachakra for World Peace"). The motto for the whole show
is quoted from the XIV Dalai Lama: "Because we all share this small
planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other
and with nature." The highly focused, extremely tantric initiation of
Tibetan Lamaism thus garners the kudos of a "transcultural and
interreligious meeting for world peace".
But are the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala myth truly pacifist? Do
they really encourage harmony and cooperation among people? Do they make
any real contribution to freedom and justice, equality of the sexes,
religious tolerance or ethnic reconciliation? Are they a comprehensive,
politically humanist, democratic and nonviolent contribution to world peace?
past few years, increasing criticism has been leveled at Tibetan Buddhism,
the history of Lamaism, conditions among the Tibetans in exile and the XIV
Dalai Lama himself, criticism which is not from the Chinese quarter.
Historians from the USA have begun
questioning the widespread glorifying whitewash of Tibetan history (Melvin
C. Goldstein, A. Tom Grundfeld). Critical Tibetologists have raised
accusations of deliberate manipulation by official Tibetology (Donald S.
Lopez Jr.). Tibet researchers
have investigated the "dreams of power" that are activated and
exacerbated by the "Tibet myth"
nurtured by Lamaists (Peter Bishop). Prominent politicians have had to
admit the evidence of their own eyes that the Chinese are not committing
"genocide" in Tibet, as the
Tibetans in exile continue to claim (Antje Vollmar, Mary Robinson). Former
female Buddhists have condemned, on the basis of personal experience and
with great expertise, the systematic and sophisticated oppression and abuse
of women in Tibetan Buddhism (June Campbell). Psychologists and
psychoanalysts have investigated the aggressive and morbid character of
Lamaist culture (Robert A. Paul, Fokke Sierksma, Colin Goldner). From
within the Dalai Lama’s own ranks, overwhelming evidence of his intolerant,
superstitious and autocratic nature has been amassed since 1997 (Shugden
Affair). Lamaism’s rituals have also been subjected to strong criticism.
The humanistic, peace-loving, tolerant and ecumenical intentions of the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala myth it contains have been
interrogated in a comprehensive study (Victor and Victoria Trimondi).
Biting criticism of the XIV Dalai Lama and his system founded on magic has
also been broadcast in German, Swiss and Austrian television (Panorama, 10
nach 10, Treffpunkt Kultur). In Munich, on the
occasion of a visit by the Tibetan religious potentate (in May 2000), there
was even a split in the SPD, whose "pro-Dalai Lama" wing had
invited the Tibetan "God-King" to a gala event. The media as a
whole has been equally divided: the Dalai Lama has been accused of, among
other things, having an undemocratic and autocratic leadership style,
suppressing any political opposition, acting to repress religious
minorities; letting policy be determined by possessed oracles rather than
through dialog and debate, deliberate falsification of the history of
Tibet, maintaining uncritical relationships with former members of the SS
and neo-nazis, defaming critics and conducting misogynist rituals. Felix Austria – this criticism seems
to have floated by the beautiful mountains of Austria like a slim
cloud that hardly turns a head.
are some of the points raised by the critics of the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala
myth it contains that the Critical Forum Kalachakra is putting forward
The secret rites of the Kalachakra Tantra may not, under pain of medieval punishment
for body and soul, be discussed with the uninitiated. The “head and heart” of whoever reveals
its occult secrets "will burst
asunder" and they will burn in the deepest hell. There are good
reasons for this, then in the eight highest initiations there is talk of
things that stand in complete contradiction to a humanist system of values
(Michael Henss – Kalachakra – ein
tibetisches Einweihungsritual – Zurich 1985, 46).
is anything but pacifist, rather, it prophesies and promotes a bloody
religious war for world domination between Buddhists and non-Buddhists (Shambhala myth).
The text explicitly names the
"leaders" of the three monotheistic religions (Judaism,
Christianity, Islam) as opponents of Buddhism: "Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, the White-Clad one [Mani], Muhammad and Mathani [the
Mahdi]". The Kalachakra Tantra
describes them as "the family of
the demonic snakes" (Shri Kalachakra I.
Thus, the Kalachakra
Tantra is opposed to all religions of Semitic origin, and for this
reason has been pressed into service by right-wing radical and anti-Semitic
circles for their racist propaganda.
Tantra invokes a global war between the Islamic and the non-Islamic
world in which the followers of Mohammed are presented as the principal
enemies of the Buddhists. The original text refers to Mecca, where
the "mighty, merciless idol of the barbarians" lives as a
(Shri Kalachakra I.
Murderous super-weapons possessed by the
Buddhist Shambhala Army and employed against "enemies of the
Dharma" are described at length and in enthusiastic detail in the Kalachakra Tantra (Shri Kalachakra I. 128 –
142). Modern Lamaist interpretations of these military arsenal fantasies
indulge in spectacular comparisons to the weaponry of the 20th and 21st
The Buddhist art of war in the Shambhala
battles is obviously at odds with basic human rights, and is instead
described in the original text as "merciless"
and "cruel". "The supremely ferocious [Buddhist] warriors will cast down the barbarian horde" and "eliminating" them "together with their followers".
(Shri Kalachakra I.
All the participants in a Kalachakra initiation
(i.e., also those in Graz) have the questionable privilege of being reborn
as "Shambhala Warriors"
in order to be able to participate in the prophesied apocalyptic battle as
either infantry or officers, dependant on rank. High lamas of particular
lineages have already been assigned to commanding positions (E. Bernbaum – Der Weg nach Shambhala – Auf der Suche
nach dem sagenhaften Königreich im Himalaya – Hamburg 1982, 252, 35).
According to a vision of the Tibetan Lama
Kamtrul Rinpoche, it is the reincarnated Dalai Lama himself, who as
wrathful field marshal will lead the Buddhist army into the Shambhala
battle (Rudra Chakrin) to conquer
all evil in the universe. Propagandists for the Kalachakra Tantra peddle a primitive martyr cult that resembles
that of the Moslem jihad warriors: he who falls in the Shambhala war is
rewarded with guaranteed entry to the Shambhala paradise (E. Bernbaum – Der Weg nach Shambhala – Auf der Suche
nach dem sagenhaften Königreich im Himalaya – Hamburg 1982, 253).
At all levels, the Kalachakra Tantra fosters the postulation of (and negotiation
with) a conceived “enemy” and – completely at odds with the original
teachings of the historical Buddha or the ethical demands of Mahayana Buddhism
– advocates war between "good" and "evil", between the
"faithful" and the "unbelievers".
contains a Buddhocratic doctrine of state which is even more
"theocratic" than the fundamentalist Islam concept of theocracy,
then the Buddhist "Chakravartin" (world ruler) is seen as a
direct "incarnation" or "emanation" of the Supreme
Buddha (Adi Buddha), as a walking "God-Man" on earth, whilst the
"Caliph" is only God’s (Allah’s) "representative" on
earth, who does not even have the rank of a "prophet".
pinnacle of the authoritative Buddhocratic Kalachakra state, on the
"Lion Throne" resides an absolute "Priest-King" (Chakravartin), who unites in his
person religious, political, juridical and military might. There is
absolutely no civil "separation of powers" here. Those familiar
with the constitutional position of the Dalai Lama in traditional Tibet (up
until 1959) know that the office of the Tibetan "God-King"
corresponded to that of a Chakravartin in miniature. The highly questionable
and half-hearted democratization reforms that the XIV Dalai Lama has
introduced among the Tibetans in exile would be obliterated afresh through
the Buddhocratic, state political consequences of the Kalachakra Tantra teachings.
The right to a Buddhocratic world supremacy is
an explicit demand of the Kalachakra
Tantra. Here too we find a fundamentalist correspondence to Islamist
ambitions to global domination. If both systems are set to confront another
as deadly enemies in a bloody apocalyptic battle, then this is a
consequence of the logic of their theocratic-cum-Buddhocratic absolutism.
Modern Buddhocratic visions for our planet
which are welcomed by the XIV Dalai Lama are built upon the foundations of
the Kalachakra Tantra. See in
this regard Robert A. Thurman’s book – Revolution
von Innen – Die Lehren des Buddhismus oder das vollkommene Glück
(1999), where the author develops the authoritative political theory of a
"Buddhaverse". As early as 1979, Thurman, described by Time
magazine as the "spokesman of the Dalai Lama" in the USA, saw the
Tibetan religious leader in a dream enthroned as a "Time God"
over the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, while the great swarm of
notables – mayors, senators, company directors and kings, sheiks and
sultans, celebrities and stars buzzed around him; caught up in the
maelstrom of the 722 dancing deities of the Kalachakra Tantra swarmed
around him just like bees in pinstripes around a huge hive.
In the secret higher stages of initiation the Kalachakra Tantra demands the
unconditional and unlimited surrender to the absolute will of the
administering guru (in this case the Dalai Lamas as Kalachakra master). The
"ego consciousness" and the personality of the initiand are
extinguished step by step, so as to transform him into a human vessel for
the in part warlike and aggressive tantric deities and Buddhist figures.
Hence, the Kalachakra Tantra
brings no "ennoblement", "transfiguration" or
"integration" of the individual, but rather its systematic
"elimination" in the interests of a codified religious pattern.
In the eight secret higher initiations of the Kalachakra Tantra, extreme mental
and physical exercises are used to push the initiand into a state beyond
good and evil. The original text thus requires the following misdeeds and
crimes of him: killing, lying, stealing, infidelity, the consumption of
alcohol, sexual intercourse with lower-class girls. As in all the other
tantras, here too these requirements can be understood both symbolically
and literally. Even the XIV Dalai Lama finds it legitimate for a Kalachakra
adept to kill a person under special circumstances, "who are harmfull to the [Buddhist] teaching". He insists,
however, that this be "motivated by compassion" (Dalai
Lama – The Kalachakra Tantra – Rite
of Initiation – London, 1985, S. 348 ff.) .
In the highest magical initiations, what are
known as "unclean substances" are employed. The Kalachakra Tantra recommends the
consumption of the meat of various taboo animals. Human meat (maha mamsa) is also employed as a
ritual substance. It is usually taken from the dead and, writes the tantric
grand master and Shambhala King, Pundarika, in his traditional Kalachakra commentary, is the "meat of
those who died dueto their
own karma, who were killed in battle due to evil karma or and due to their own fault, or
that of robbers and so forth who were executed". He continues with
the advice that it is sensible to consume these substances in the form
of pills. The flesh of innocent people, who have been killed as
sacrifices to the gods, out of fear, as part of an ancestor cult, out of
desire (greed) or for money, is laden with "unspeakable sin" and
may not be used in the rituals. "But
which falls in the bowl unasked-for is without unspeakable sin" –
and may therefore be put to use. (In: John Ronald Newman - The outer wheel of time: Vajrayana
Buddhist cosmology in the Kalacakra Tantra - Madison 1987, 266 f.).
Numerous ritual objects employed in the
ceremonies are made from corpses (bowls made from human skulls, trumpets
made of leg bones, bone necklaces). A glance at the great Kalachakra
thangka (wall tapestry) which will be hanging above the throne of the XIV
Dalai Lama during the whole of the ceremony in Graz is enough to convince
one of the wrathful character of this ritual. The Time God
"Kalachakra" depicted there together with his consort, the Time
Goddess "Vishvamata" in sexual union while standing, hold in
their total of 32 hands 24 objects of an aggressive, morbid or warlike nature (hooks, sword, machete, drums
and vessels made of skull bowls, a scepter whose peak is adorned with three
severed human heads, etc.)
In the secret higher initiations of the Kalachakra Tantra sexual magical
rites take place, the aim of which is to transform "sexuality"
into worldly and spiritual power. The real or imaginary women (both are
possible) used in these represent particular forms of energy, whereby age
plays an important role. One begins with ten-year-old girls. Up to the age
of 20, the female sexual partners represent positive characteristics. If
they are older they are regarded as the bearers of the negative energies
of scorn, rage, hate etc. and as
"demonesses". In the
8th to 11th levels of initiation into the Kalachakra Tantra sexual magic experiments are made with just
" one" woman; in the 12th to 15th levels, the so-called Ganachakra, a total of 10 women take
part in the ritual along with the master and the initiand. It is the
pupil’s duty to offer his Lama the women as a "gift". "Laity" who are to be initiated
into the ritual are supposed to offer up their female relatives (mother,
sister, wife, daughter, aunt, etc.). One can read in the Kalachakra
Mûlatantra that "If the pupil
does not hand these wisdom consorts over to his master, in order to protect
his family, then [the master] may not perform this ritual."
Consecrated monks and novices, however, may make use of unrelated women
from various castes. In the secret ritual itself the participants
experiment with the masculine and feminine seed (sperm and menstrual blood).
In the Kalachakra Tantra women
are regarded as mere "energy donors" for the male practitioners
and once the ritual is over they have no further role to play (see in this
regard Nâropâ – Iniziazione Kâlacakra
– Roma 1994).
In the current age, which according to the
teachings of Lamaism is hastening towards an apocalyptic end (Kali yuga),
the Kalachakra Tantra has a
particularly destructive and aggressive character. It includes special
rites which are supposed to accelerate the general decline through symbolic
acts. "What is Kalachakrayana
[the Kalachakra Way]?" – asks one of the leading experts in the field
of Tantrism, the Indian Shashi Bhusan Dasgupta, and tellingly answers,
"The word kala means time, death and destruction. Kala-Chakra is the Wheel of Destruction."
just some of the problematic aspects that critics object to in the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala Myth it contains. They
ought to provide sufficient grounds to question whether this ritual can
still be seen as having a humanistic, peaceful, tolerant, freedom-loving
and ecumenical character. In addition, the Shambhala myth integrated into the Kalachakra Tantra has – insofar as it has been accorded
historical and ideological relevance – led to extremely aggressive behavior
patterns, megalomaniac visions, conspiracy theories and terrorist activity.
But above all it exercises a special fascination for neo-fascist circles
and provides a source of ideological
inspiration for them.
In the wars between Byelorussians, Bolsheviks
and Mongolians, the Shambhala myth
was associated with ideas of the return of Genghis Khan at the beginning of
the twenties. The Mongolians saw themselves in this conflict as
"Shambhala warriors". Their military actions were extremely
The Italian fascist and right-wing extremist
philosopher of culture, Julius Evola, saw in the mythic realm of Shambhala the esoteric center of a
sacred warrior caste and suspected that the palace of the world king, whose
escutcheon was the swastika, could be found there. He held lectures on
these views for the the SS “Ahnenerbe”.
In the occult literature (the "Nazi
mysteries”), "masters" from Shambhala
are depicted as the hidden string pullers who are supposed to have
participated in the "magical" creation of the Nazi regime (Trevor
Ravenscroft, Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier u. a.).
In the ideological SS underground of the
post-War period and in the "SS mysticism" of the nineties, the
mythical kingdom of Shambhala is
seen as a sanctuary for an aggressive and morbid "Nazi religion"
(Wilhelm Landig, Jan van Helsing u. a.).
myth is one of the ideological pillars of "esoteric
Hitlerism". This is the worldwide, racist, occult doctrine of the
Chilean diplomat, Miguel Serrano,
and the Indian by adoption, Savitri Devi ("Hitler’s
With his concept of the Shambhala warrior, the now deceased Tibetan Lama, Chögyam
Trungpa (1940-1987), laid the first foundations for a potential "Combative Buddhism", already
found in large parts of East Asia, in the West. Instead of monasteries,
Trungpa’s Shambhala warriors live
in military camps, meditation is accompanied by military parades, in place
of the begging bowl his pupils carry weapons and rather than monastic robes
they wear military uniforms. The master himself no longer moved around in
Buddhist style, with yellow and red monastic robe and walking staff and
sandals, but rather rode forth on a white horse (in accordance with the
apocalyptic prophecy of the Kalachakra Tantra) in peaked cap, tunic and
high boots. The Shambhala coat of arms can be seen on the saddle of a horse
in a photo of the martial Trungpa.
Myth provides the ideological basis for the terrorism of the Japanese
apocalyptic guru, Shoko Asahara. He derives his apocalyptic visions from
the teachings of the Kalachakra
Tantra. His intention is to accelerate the onset of the Shambhala war
and this is his justification for his poison-gas attacks on the Tokyo
Underground. Asahara was the first leader of a sect to make the "uninvolved
" from outside of his own organization the target of his deadly
attacks and thus opened the floodgates for the religiously motivated
international terrorism that has become the number one topic in the world
these fascist and terrorist interpretations of the Shambhala myth are erroneous, it is therefore all the more
pressing that the XIV Dalai Lama and his followers lay bare the Kalachakra
ritual in all its detail, correct possible distortions, projections and
misuses, and distance themselves publicly from its more problematic
contents, that or edit them out of the traditional texts. Instead, however,
there have in the past been numerous friendly meetings between the Tibetan
religious leader and former SS figures (Heinrich Harrer, Bruno Beger), the
founder of "esoteric Hitlerism", Miguel Serrano, and the
terrorist, Shoko Asahara, whom even after the Tokyo attacks he described as
his "friend, albeit an
imperfect one”. Only later did he distance himself from him. It is the duty
of the city of Graz, the provincial government of Styria, the various
political factions, the media, the intellectuals and not least the
Christian institutions, to begin a broad public discussion of this ritual, so as not be
drawn into something which is diametrically opposed to their original
according to statements in numerous international media reports, Tibetan
Buddhism is the "trend religion" of our time. Through the XIV
Dalai Lama, through both his charismatic appearances and his ostensibly
humanist speeches and writings, a gigantic, unreflective cultural import of
Eastern concepts into the West is taking
place, one which displays fundamentalist characteristics and serves as an ideological
foundation for various fundamentalist camps and can continue to so serve in
the future. The Buddhist leader appeals to people’s deep need for harmony
and peace, but the history of Lamaism itself, the contents of the Tibetan
tantras and their complex of rituals, even the conditions which prevail
among the Tibetans in exile, are
anything but peaceful and harmonic.
There are passages in the Kalachakra Tantra which brazenly
call for a "war of the religions", which are intolerant and
aggressive. In Tibetan Buddhism we have an archaic, magic-based religious
system, which has remained to a large extent untouched by the fundamentals
of the Western Enlightenment. This is also the reason it is so attractive
for right-wing extremists. For centuries it has led to social injustices
that any freedom-loving citizen of today would be forced to reject. The
equality of the sexes, democratic decision making and ecumenical movements
are in themselves foreign to the nature of Tantric Buddhism, although the
XIV Dalai Lama publicly proclaims the opposite.
reaction to 11 September 2001, Der Spiegel drew attention to
aggressive elements and fundamentalist currents in the three monotheistic
religions in an article entitled
"Religious Mania – The Return of the Middle Ages". As is so often
the case in such cultural critiques, Buddhism was spared. This is untrue!
All of the topics criticized in this article (battles against unbelievers and dissidents, religious
wars, armament fantasies,
theocratic visions of power, apocalyptic
predictions, misogyny, etc.) are to
be found in a particularly concentrated degree in the Kalachkra
Forum Kalachakra (CFK) demands that a wide-ranging cultural debate over the
Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala myth. The CFK collects
informations, distributes and translates documents.
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