Critical Forum for the Investigation of the

Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala Myth


In Sanskrit, 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".


Over more 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 secret.


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?


Over the 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.


Here 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 for discussion:


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).


The Kalachakra-Tantra 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. 154).


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.


The Kalchakra 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 "demonic incarnation" (Shri Kalachakra I. 154).


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 centuries.


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. 163/165).


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".


The Kalachakra-Tantra 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".


At  the 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."


These are 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 bloodthirsty.


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.).


The Shambhala 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 Priestess")


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.


The Shambhala 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 community.


Even if 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 intentions.


Then, 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.


In a 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 Tantra.


The Critical 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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