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Shambhala

Mysteries of the Kingdom of Shambhala

Shambhala, which is a Sanskrit word meaning “place of peace” or “place of silence”, is a mythical paradise spoken of in ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient scriptures of the Zhang Zhung culture which predated Tibetan Buddhism in western Tibet. According to legend, it is a land where only the pure of heart can live, a place where love and wisdom reigns and where people are immune to suffering, want or old age.

Shambhala is said to be the land of a thousand names. It has been called the Forbidden Land, the Land of White Waters, Land of Radiant Spirits, Land of Living Fire, Land of the Living Gods and Land of Wonders. The Hindus call it Aryavartha (‘The Land of the Worthy Ones); the Chinese know it as Hsi Tien, the Western Paradise of Hsi Wang Mu; and to the Russian Old Believers, it is known as Belovoyde.  But throughout Asia, it is best known by its Sanskrit name, Shambhala, Shamballa, or Shangri-la.

Shambhala

Shambhala is described as a land of paradise. Photo credit: Naughty Dog-Uncharted

The legend of Shambhala is said to date back thousands of years, and reference to the mythical land can be found in various ancient texts. The Bön scriptures speak of a closely related land called Olmolungring. Hindu texts such as Vishnu Purana mention Shambhala as the birth place of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu who will usher in a new Golden Age. The Buddhist myth of Shambhala is an adaptation of the earlier Hindu myth. However, the text in which Shambhala is first discussed extensively is the Kalachakra.

The Kalachakra refers to a complex and advanced esoteric teaching and practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Shakyamuni Buddha is said to have taught the Kalachakra on request of King Suchandra of Shambhala.

As with many concepts in the Kalachakra, the idea of Shambhala is said to have outer, inner, and alternative meanings. The outer meaning understands Shambhala to exist as a physical place, although only individuals with the appropriate karma can reach it and experience it as such. The inner and alternative meanings refer to more subtle understandings of what Shambhala represents in terms of one's own body and mind (inner), and during meditative practice (alternative). These two types of symbolic explanations are generally passed on orally from teacher to student.

As the 14th Dalai Lama noted during the 1985 Kalachakra initiation in Bodhgaya, Shambhala is not an ordinary country:

Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there.

Buddhist depiction of Shambhala from Sera Monastery

A Buddhist depiction of Shambhala from Sera Monastery (private collection). Image source.

The Prophecy of Shambhala

The concept of Shambhala plays an important role in Tibetan religious teachings, and has particular relevance in Tibetan mythology about the future.  The Kalachakra prophesies 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 king of Shambhala will emerge from Shambhala with a huge army to vanquish "dark forces" and usher in a worldwide Golden Age.

Though the Kālachakra prophesies a future war, this appears in conflict with the vows of Buddhist teachings that prohibit violence. This has led some theologians to interpret the war symbolically – the Kālachakra is not advocating violence against people but rather refers to the inner battle of the religious practitioner against inner demonic tendencies.

Shambhala’s hidden location

Over many centuries, numerous explorers and seekers of spiritual wisdom have embarked on expeditions and quests in search of the mythical paradise of Shambhala, and while many have claimed to have been there, no one has yet provided any evidence of its existence or been able to pinpoint its physical location on a map, however most references place Shambhala in the mountainous regions of Eurasia. 

Ancient Zhang Zhung texts identify Shambhala with the Sutlej Valley in Punjab or Himachal Pradesh, India. Mongolians identify Shambhala with certain valleys of southern Siberia. In Altai folklore, Mount Belukha is believed to be the gateway to Shambhala. Modern Buddhist scholars seem to conclude that Shambhala is located in the higher reaches of the Himalayas in what is now called the Dhauladhar Mountains around Mcleodganj.  Some legends say that the entrance to Shambhala is hidden inside a remote, abandoned monastery in Tibet, and guarded by beings known as the Shambhala Guardians.

Himalayan Mountains

According to Buddhist traditions, Shambhala is located in the Himalayan Mountains. Photo source: Wikipedia.

For some, the fact that Shambhala has never been found has a very simple explanation – many believe that Shambhala lies on the very edge of physical reality, as a bridge connecting this world to one beyond it.

While many disregard Shambhala as the fanciful subject of myth and legend, for others, a belief in Shambhala stirs an inner yearning to one day find this utopian kingdom.

Featured image: An artist’s depiction of Shambhala. Photo credit:   Naughty Dog-Uncharted

By April Holloway

References

Mystery of Shambhala – by Jason Jeffrey

Shambhala – New World Encyclopaedia

Shambhala - The Magic Kingdom – International Kalachakra Movement

The Prophecies of Shambhala – Stranger Dimensions

Comments

Regardless of the culture, the belief in an underground realm somewhere deep within a mountain can be found. These underground cities are most often associated with the dead, as a place the soul goes to once life comes to an end. Whether it is called Hades, Tartarus, Xibalba, Duat, Patala or Hell each correlates to the myths and legends associated with Shambhala.

True, however there are quite a few "underground" cities that have been found, and it stands to reason that there are many that we will never find due to avalanches and the such.
Id say the asian mythology probably refers to it but for instance the greeks had their own "underground" places or towns built into cliff faces as did alot of other cultures, id say its streaching it a little bit far to say they all come from this one perticular myth.
Then again you have "Dr" in your name and im just a Lemon, so what do i know ;P

Bitter, I love the sarcasm because it shows that you can take of the mask that would suggest to others that you are a nice person and just be yourself. Nice people repress their true thoughts and feelings and in doing this the pressure of all that anger and bitterness builds and usually comes out in passive aggressive ways....ways that hurt others, punish them so that they do not know why they are being punished. The reason has to remain hidden because if it came out then a solution to the anger might have to be found and then the passive aggressive anger and hate would not have a foundation anymore.
Why do I mention this....off topic? Not really. The Kingdom is found within. Only by knowing yourself and understanding why you and others do what they do requires a lot of time in introspection and self analysis. Over time the metaphysical becomes more real, what starts out as vague impressions become obvious and you know it is not just your imagination. The world around you changes and there is a euphoria, a bliss that makes you have a sense that everything is alright. "Darkness flees before you" and you are able to discern evil and see it for what it is. Evil does not disappear...at least not for me at this point, but it does not have the power to influence me or my life so much anymore, The shades of grey that I used to see now are clear black and white. The other day I came across a snake skin. I did not realize that the cornea of the eyes are actually shed along with the entire external skin, even the mouth edges. When I think about the fact that before that skin was shed that cloudiness over the snakes corneas had to really interfere with its vision. I have the impression that this paradise can be seen when the black smoke of Typhon clears, when that cloudy surface over the corneas is shed. It is not really a place, it is an awakening of the consciousness in the fifth dimension....the Sleeping Beauty that lays dreaming in this world.....I do not think we have to die to go to heaven.
Six years ago I started yoga and my heart chakra started to open....I had about two months of incredible bliss. as it started to go away I was confused....I thought I was coming into enlightenment....why was it leaving me. Then I read in the Lotus Sutra about a master leading people to find a treasure and they grew weary. So, he created a temporary paradise so they could rest, they did not want to leave, so he caused the paradise to disappear so they would continue their journey to find the treasure. What I had was the peacock phase in Alchemy....these last six years since then have been hell for me. I ended my marriage and quit my job as an ER physician, I have lived in solitude unable to stand to be around people. Two years living as a vagrant in a national forest wondering if I have totally lost my mind....while I read all I could trying to understand what was going on with me.
The Kingdom is within, but I suspect that as we progress into the new age of Aquarius, there will be some major changes in the external world as well.

I will add.....during my search for understanding, I have come across some who promote the idea that there are Ascended Masters....some of whom live in Mount Shasta. I have encountered people who worship Baphomet, and practice dark magic...tantra and vampirism (not just blood, but also the vital life force of people who are unaware of what is happening). So as a woman of wisdom, a Physiatrist advises, if some one next to you makes you feel drained or bad....move away from them. So, if someone were to tell me they have found this hidden city, I would have to suspect that they belong to the black lodge

My Dear Rita,
It is not a matter of every culture having the same form of belief, thereby trivializing this subject.....for if you were informed then you would know that the reason for thes3e same beliefs is that the cultures, all of them, have been impacted by the fact that there are ufo bases near them.....underground cities and what-not. And that these fallen angels have been inter-acting with man-kind since the days of Creation
But then, maybe you DO know this and are trying to trivialize it on purpose.
There are many, many openings to Shambhala around the world. This is old news.

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