Shambhala sun - ( Image compiled by Dr. Blog )

Is there really a hidden galaxy of minds living in seclusion in an inaccessible part of Asia, or is it merely a myth? Shambhala, the "Hidden Kingdom," is thought of in Tibet as a community where perfect and semiperfect beings live and are guiding the evolution of humankind.

Shambhala is considered to be the source of the Kalacakra, which is the highest and most esoteric branch of Tibetan mysticism. The Buddha preached the teachings of the Kalacakra to an assembly of holy men in southern India. Afterwards, the teachings remained hidden for 1,000 years until an Indian yogi-scholar went in search of Shambhala and was initiated into the teachings by a holy man he met along the way.

The Kalacakra then remained in India until it made its way to Tibet in 1026. Since then the concept of Shambhala has been widely known in Tibet, and Tibetans have been studying the Kalacakra for the least 900 years, learning its science, practicing its meditation, and using its system of astrology to guide their lives. As one Tibetan lama put it, how could Shambhala be the source of something which has affected so many areas of Tibetan life for so long and yet not exist?

An Old Tibetan Buddhism profecy

There comes a time when all life on Earth is in danger. In this era, great barbarian powers have arisen. One is in the western hemisphere and one in the center of the Eurasian land mass. Although these two powers have spent their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable destructive power, and technologies that lay waste our world. In this era, when the whole future of sentient life seems to hang by the frailest of threads, the kingdom of Shambhala begins to emerge.

You can’t go there, for it is not a place, it is not a geopolitical entity. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors - that is the term Choegyal used, “warriors.’ Nor can you recognize a Shambhala warrior when you see her or him, for they wear no uniform, or insignia, and they carry no banners. They have no barricades on which to climb to threaten the enemy, or behind which they can Wde to rest or regroup. They do not even have any home turf. Always they must move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves.

Now the time comes when great courage-moral and physical- is required of the Shambhala warriors, for they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power, into the pits and pockets and citadels where the weapons are kept to dismantle them. To dismantle weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where decisions are made.

The Shambhala warriors have the courage to do this because they know that these weapons are “mind-made.” ... they can be unmade by the human mind. The Shambhala warriors know the dangers that threaten life on Earth are not visited upon us by any extraterrestrial powers, satanic deities, or preordained evil fate. They arise from our own decisions, our own lifestyles, and our own relationships.

The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary, he said. You have to have compassion because it gives you the juice, the power, the passion to move. When you open to the pain of the world you move, you act. But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other - you need insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between good guys and bad guys, but that the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With insight into our profound interrelatedness, you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, too conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of the compassion.

Together, within each Shambhala warrior and among the warriors themselves, these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. ‘They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world.

Tibetan religious texts describe the physical makeup of the hidden land in detail. It is thought to look like and eight-petaled lotus blossom because it is made up of eight regions, each surrounded by a ring of mountains. In the center of the innermost ring lies Kalapa, the capital, and the king?s palace, which is composed of gold, diamonds, coral, and precious gems.

The capital is surrounded by mountains made of ice, which shine with a crystalline light. The technology of Shambhala is supposed to be highly advanced; the palace contains special skylights made of lenses which serve as high-powered telescopes to study extraterrestrial life, and for hundreds of years Shambhala?s inhabitants have been using aircraft and cars that shuttle through a network of underground tunnels. On the way to enlightenment, Shambhalans acquire such powers a clairvoyance, the ability to move at great speeds, and the ability to materialize and disappear at will.

The prophecy of Shambhala states that each of its kings will rule for 100 years. There will be 32 in all, and as their reigns pass, conditions in the outside world will deteriorate. Men will become more warlike and pursue power for its own sake, and an ideology of materialism will spread over the earth. When the “barbarians” who follow this ideology are united under an evil king and think there is nothing left to conquer, the mists will lift to reveal the icy mountains of Shambhala. The barbarians will attack Shambhala with a huge army equipped with terrible weapons. Then the 32nd king of Shambhala, Rudra Cakrin, will lead a mighty host against the invaders. In a last great battle, the evil king and his followers will be destroyed.

By definition Shambhala is hidden. It is thought to exist somewhere between the Gobi Desert and the Himalayas, but it is protected by a psychic barrier so that no one can find the kingdom who is not meant to. Tibetan lamas spend a great deal of their lives in spiritual development before attempting the journey to Shambhala. Those who try to get there who are not wanted are swallowed by crevasses or caught in avalanches. People and animals tremble at its borders as if bombarded by invisible rays. There are guidebooks to Shambhala, but they describe the route in terms so vague that only those already initiated into the teachings of the Kalacakra can understand them.

Strange sightings in the area where Shambhala is thought to be seem to provide evidence of its existence. Tibetans believe that the land is guarded by beings with superhuman powers. In the early 1900s an article in an Indian newspaper, the Statesman, told of a British major who, camping in the Himalayas, saw a very tall, lightly clad man with long hair. Apparently, noticing that he was being watched, the man leaped down the vertical slope and disappeared. To the major?s astonishment, the Tibetans with whom he was camping showed no surprise at his story; they calmly explained that he had seen one of the snowmen who guard the sacred land.

A more detailed account of these “snowmen” guardians was given by Alexandra David-Neel, an explorer who spent 14 years in Tibet. While traveling through the Himalayas she saw a man moving with extraordinary speed and described him as follows: “I could clearly see his perfectly calm impassive face and wide-open eyes with their gaze fixed on some invisible distant object situated somewhere high up in space. The man did not run. He seemed to life himself from the ground, proceeding by leaps. It looked as if he had been endowed with the elasticity of a ball, and rebounded each time his feet touched the ground. His steps had the regularity of a pendulum.”

Conclusion

Tibetan texts containing what appear to be historical facts about Shambhala, such as the names and dates of its kings and records of corresponding events occurring in the outside world, give Tibetans additional reason for believing that the kingdom exists. Recent events that seem to correspond to the predictions of the mythic kingdom add strength to their belief. The disintegration of Buddhism in Tibet and the growth of materialism throughout the world, coupled with the wars and turmoil of the 20th century, all fit in with the prophecy of Shambhala.

References:

The People’s Almanac #3 by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace
Joanna Macy’s memoir Widening Circles
Sakyong Mipham Jampal Trinley Drad?l Rinpoche’s speaks