"I believe the idea of Shambhala has not yet come to full flower, but that when it does it will have enormous power to reshape civilisation. It is the sign of the future. The search for a new unifying principle that our civilisation must now undertake will, I am convinced, lead it to this source of higher energies, and Shambhala will become the great icon of the new millennium." – Victoria LePage, Shambhala
For thousands of years rumours and reports have circulated that somewhere beyond Tibet, among the icy peaks and secluded valleys of Eurasia, there lies an inaccessible paradise, a place of universal wisdom and ineffable peace called Shambhala – although it is also known by other names.
James Hilton wrote about it in the 1933 book Lost Horizon, Hollywood portrayed it in the 1960s film ‘Shangri-la’, and recent films such as ‘Kundun’, ‘Little Buddha’ and ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ allude to the magical utopia.
Even author James Redfield, noted for his New Age best seller The Celestine Prophecy, has written a book called The Secret of Shambhala: In Search of the Eleventh Insight.
Shambhala, which in Sanskrit means “place of peace, of tranquility,” is thought of in Tibet as a community where perfect and semi-perfect beings live and are guiding the evolution of humanity. Shambhala is considered to be the source of the Kalachakra, which is the highest and most esoteric branch of Tibetan mysticism.
Legends say that only the pure of heart can live in Shambhala, enjoying perfect ease and happiness and never knowing suffering, want or old age. Love and wisdom reign and injustice is unknown.
The inhabitants are long-lived, wear beautiful and perfect bodies and possess supernatural powers; their spiritual knowledge is deep, their technological level highly advanced, their laws mild and their study of the arts and sciences covers the full spectrum of cultural achievement, but on a far higher level than anything the outside world has attained.
By definition Shambhala is hidden. Of the numerous explorers and seekers of spiritual wisdom who attempt to locate Shambhala, none can pinpoint its physical location on a map, although all say it exists in the mountainous regions of Eurasia.
Many have also returned believing that Shambhala lies on the very edge of physical reality, as a bridge connecting this world to one beyond it.
The Sanskrit and Tibetan Shambhala has also been identified by no less an authority than Alexandra David-Neel, who spent years in Tibet, with Balkh – in the far north of Afghanistan – the ancient settlement known as “the mother of cities”.
Present day folklore in Afghanistan asserts that after the Muslim conquest, Balkh was known as the “Elevated Candle” (“Sham-i-Bala”), a Persianisation of the Sanskrit Shambhala.
Tibetan lamas spend a great deal of their lives in spiritual development before attempting the journey to Shambhala. Perhaps deliberately, the guidebooks to Shambhala describe the route in terms so vague that only those already initiated into the teachings of the Kalachakra can understand them.
As Edwin Bernbaum says in The Way to Shambhala:
"As the traveler draws near the kingdom, their directions become increasingly mystical and difficult to correlate with the physical world. At least one lama has written that the vagueness of these books is deliberate and intended to keep Shambhala concealed from the barbarians who will take over the world."1
The lama’s reference to the barbarians “who will take over the world” is directly connected to the prophecy of Shambhala. This prophecy tells of the gradual deterioration of mankind as the ideology of materialism spreads 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 snowy 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.
As the cultures of the East and West collide, the myth of Shambhala rises out of the mists of time. We now have access to numerous Buddhist texts on the subject, along with reports by Western explorers who set out on the arduous journey in search of Shambhala. There is much we can learn for our own individual journey of spiritual understanding.
The Lost World of Agharta
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