Sexuality, Magic, and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism








Dalai Lama and 9/11


The interviews presented here were conducted by Victor and Victoria Trimondi in German and then translated into English:


"Yabyum" No. 2 - Edi Goetschel - November 1999

Reasonable Doubt

In the west, Tibetan Buddhism is considered a paragon of peaceableness, Tantra as the essence of "holy sex". The book, "The Shadow of the Dalai Lama" by Victor and Victoria Trimondi, presents a completely different picture. They explain the most important elements of their critique to YABYUM: the militant power politics of the Dalai Lama, sexual magic, and misogyny.

YABYUM: Your critical discussion of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism, and the associated politics fills a bulky tome of over 800 pages. What motivated you to examine the problematic in this breadth and depth.

Victor and Victoria Trimondi: Five years ago, when we began the research for our cultural historical book we had a thoroughly positive attitude toward Tibetan Buddhism. Like very many people, we believed that the Dalai Lama expressed with courage and conviction a majority of the social cum political and individual values which were also close to our hearts: peaceableness, compassion for all suffering creatures, the overcoming of class and racial barriers, ecological awareness, individual freedom, the transcending of the concept of ‘enemy’, a sense of community, social engagement, inter-religious dialog, a meeting of cultures and much more.

But we were especially attracted to Tantrism, the actual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Here it appeared was a religion, which at last took the equality of the sexes seriously, and rather than banishing erotic love from the sacred realm placed it at its very center.

But it was not just the history of ideas which united us with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. As a publisher I have published books of his, and have organized several symposia and major events for him. In 1982 I brought him from Paris to the Frankfurt Book Fair in a small propeller-driven aircraft. The plane was caught in a storm and began to toss wildly. All the passengers grew pale, including the Dalai Lama. Such moments in life generate bonds, and a relaxed friendship developed.

We were particularly taken with His Holiness’s religious tolerance. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama never urged people to abandon their inherited religion and join Buddhism. In contrast he strongly warned against a change of religion and repeatedly stressed that it was a person’s clear duty to go over any belief which he or she wanted to take on with a fine-tooth comb, to approach it with total skepticism and a completely critical spirit and only then make a decision.

YABYUM: And that’s what you did?

Victor and Victoria Trimondi: This is exactly what we have done! With the intention of discovering in Tibetan Buddhism a spiritual teaching able to offer answers and solutions to the problems of the world, we studied the foundations of Buddhism, the Tantric texts, the history of Tantrism, and the biographies of earlier Tantrics, but above all we got down to the problem of the history of Tibet, the Dalai Lamas and the politics of the Tibetans in exile.

The results were more than sobering, and led to a total revision of our previous attitude. Instead of a peaceful and tolerant culture we discovered a warlike and aggressive one; instead of a positive attitude towards women and sexual equality we came to know a system which took the oppression and exploitation of women to new refined heights. The repression of dissidents, despotism, intolerance, a boundless obsession with power, the use of demonization and fear as political instruments, contempt for everything human – we were forced to recognize everything we had never expected in the texts, rituals and history of this religion.

At times the recognition of the shady side of Tibetan Buddhism was accompanied by a sense of personal crisis for us – since it meant taking leave of a highly valued person, a spiritual role-model and a personal friend.

YABYUM: How did you proceed in your investigations?

Victor and Victoria Trimondi: By now there is a substantial amount of source material available on Tibetan Buddhism in many European languages. A majority of the higher and highest tantras have been translated worldwide by the most highly qualified Tibetologists, and in many cases confirmed by English-speaking lamas. Methodologically, we did not limit ourselves to a classic textual criticism. That was never our intention, as we wanted to write a work of cultural criticism and depth psychology, not a Tibetological treatment. Because – as is not at all well known – Tibetan Buddhism is a mythological system it is not sufficient to simply describe the system.

In terms of method we have been influenced by one of the basic principles of modern ethnology. Ethnologists of the most varied persuasions are in consensus that to understand a myth, to grasp its "logic", one has to come under the influence of the myth, without allowing oneself to become entranced. Only then can the meaning of a myth be translated into academic language.

YABYUM: In your book you bring up various topics for discussion – the militant Shambhala myth for example, with its final goal of a Buddhocratization of the world, or the oppression and abuse of women in Tibetan Buddhism. What significance does the topic of tantra have?

Victor and Victoria Trimondi: Tantrism concerns a very delicate topic, namely the role of the sexes in the sacred realm. In all patriarchal religions the woman has been banished from the mysteries centuries ago. The central social role, as "priest" or "politician", was on principle played by a man. The historical Buddha and his original teaching also show strong androcentric tendencies. At first glance traditional Tantrism in India and Tibet appears to be different. Yet when we critically examine the practices recommended there and their symbolic designations, we soon discover that in most cases we are here dealing with one of the most refined methods for exploiting the polarity of the sexes, specifically the woman and the feminine energy, or gynergy.

Yet the traditional tantras are in no sense exhausted -in terms of their intentions – as sensual-spiritual techniques for cultivating erotic love between the sexes and to create an equal unity of both partners, as western neo-Tantrism so often and so gladly sees them. Rather, the practices include the sexual magic activation of symbolic fields with a transpersonal i.e., a theogonic and cosmogonic content. Tantra and power – personal, spiritual, and political – are thus considered synonyms in every relevant text we know of. In our book we have described in detail how the connection is made between tantric sexual magic and politics, between a myth (Shambhala) and a Buddhocratic apocalyptic vision in the Kalachakra Tantra, the "King of the Tantras". Whether one takes the effectiveness of such a practice seriously or not – it ought in any case be rejected since it displays warlike, cruel, misogynist and despotic traits.

YABYUM: Critics of your book assert that tantric texts and images have symbolic meanings and should never be misunderstood to be practical instructions. As an aside, that would mean that the concepts and exercises of the New Age tantra were absolute nonsense. What is the basis for your position on this point?

Victor and Victoria Trimondi: The Buddhist discussion about the "purely symbolic" or "real" meaning of the tantra texts is as old as the latter. It is also completely understandable, since in the exercises of Vajrayana almost all the ethical directives of the Vinaya Pitaka, the rules of the order prescribed by Buddha, are broken. Among the breaches of the rules required is not just sexual intercourse, which is basically forbidden for a Buddhist monk. The tantras also call for other, very aggressive acts which can even include a murder.

The discussion about "symbolic" vs. "real" is also a part of the Tibetan tradition and, all things considered, it can be said that almost all important lamas assume a real performance of the sexual practices, irrespective of whether they themselves have employed such practices or not. Tsongkapa, the founder of the order of the Yellow Hats, for example, has a very virtuous image and it is said he never practiced with a real sexual partner, a mudra. Whether this is true or not aside, Tsongkapa is in any case the author of important tantric (sexual magic) commentaries and his statements on the symbol-debate are unequivocal: "A female partner counts as the basis for the completion of the liberation".

If you engage yourself intensively with the material, you very rapidly find out that in the highest tantras real women are preferred or even prescribed. This arises from the sense and inner logic of the tantra texts, as described in detail in our book

YABYUM: Then how can it be explained that there is such a heated debate about this?

Victor and Victoria Trimondi: Above all there are two misunderstandings which have contributed to the purely symbolic interpretation of the tantras: The exiled Tibetan lamas, led by the Dalai Lama, have demonstratively presented themselves as celibate monks here in the West. Insofar as this refers to the renunciation of marriage, it applies only to the Gelug-pa order, the Yellow Hats, but not for the three other schools, Kagyü-pa, Sakya-pa, and Nyingma-pa. But in tantric rituals the Gelug-pas also practice with real mudras. Miranda Shaw cites modern Yellow Hat masters like Lama Yeshe, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, and Geshe Dhargyey, who are said to have performed their rituals with real women. June Campbell has reported on her tantric relationship to the very famous Kagyü master Kalu Rinpoche. Both women are Tibetologists and know the system from the inside as former practicing Buddhists.

The book by the German lama Anagarika Govinda, "Grundlagen tibetischer Mystik" [Basics of Tibetan Mysticism], was most decisive for the misunderstanding that the tantric texts could only have a symbolic meaning. This was a best-seller which brought many western people into close contact with Tibetan Buddhism for the first time. Govinda is an almost fanatical advocate of the "pure symbol thesis" – dakinis as pure soul – and he tries with great zeal to free Tibetan Buddhism from any "sexual dirt".

YABYUM: What consequences does your research have for New Age Tantra?

Victor and Victoria Trimondi: In our book we expressed completely openly that we have in principle a very positive attitude to the sacralization of sexuality, as is encouraged in Tantrism in general. On the condition, however, that both partners before, during, and following the tantric performance recognize one another as equal poles. This, when we examine the symbolic world of the various traditional tantra texts, both Buddhist and Hindu, cannot be guaranteed in any case we know of. Broadly, the schools can be divided into those with what we call an androcentric direction or those with a gynocentric one. The Tibetan schools are all androcentric, even when one practices according to the "Candamaharosana Tantra", a text that is cited again and again for its positive attitude to women.

The so-called "New Age Tantra" attempts to verbally cultivate and maintain the equality of the partners. But they must be careful not to become the victims of a misunderstood symbolic world and praxis and thus unconsciously employ traditional mechanisms of oppression. For example, the ritual objects, hand gestures (mudras), or mantras employed are often the methods of a cunning system of energy exploitation, and their naive and unreflecting adoption by "western" Tantra schools can repeat and cement the traditional negative development. In addition, New Age Tantra concentrates too much on the bodily/sexual area – lust and sensuality – and neglects the intellectual/metaphysical aspect. Yet this has always been a part of the tantric way. However, it concerns a macro/microcosmic dimension which can only be understood with knowledge of a "mystic science".

We also find it regrettable and limiting that the mental level gets less attention than it is due in both New Age and traditional Tantra. In our view, a "mystical union" of the two partners is important and desirable on a psychological level as well. The unio mystica of the souls is an event through which both partners can experience their power and beauty. A meeting of souls should be cultivated, taught, and learnt in the same way as the physical and metaphysical meeting of man and woman.

It further concerns the ethical and humane role an enlightened pair ought to play in society. In precisely the same manner as traditional Tantrism can contain a meta-social dimension, the problematic side of which we have revealed in our book, so too "modern Tantrism" ought to assume social-ethical and humanist responsibility, rather than simply allowing individual peak experiences. Spirituality obliges - it is a gift which should serve the harmony of balance in society. Perhaps it is time for "neo-Tantrism" to abandon its egocentric one-sidedness and serve in the interests of a cultural renewal.

New Age Tantra may be, to formulate cautiously, the prototype for a new religious culture which places the polarity of the sexes in the center. But in our view it still requires very many additional components in order for a real "cultural schema" to develop out of this "milieu".

YABYUM: What consequences are there for Buddhism as a philosophy or religion, which to many people in the West appears to be currently the only, at any rate the most attractive, spiritual teaching and lifestyle?

Victor and Victoria Trimondi: It would take pages to answer this question, since it requires a very complex reply, especially since it is not a matter of questioning the entire system, like Colin Goldner certainly does in his book Dalai Lama: Fall of a God-King.

The first condition for any improvement is always a critical and open consciousness. In this connection we would like to cite the following saying of the historical Buddha: "Your doubts are grounded, Son of Kesa. Hear my instruction: do not believe traditions [!] because they are old and have passed through many generations before us; believe nothing on the basis of rumor or because people talk much of it; do not believe just because you are shown the written witness of some wise old person; never believe anything because speculations indicate it, or because old habits lead you to hold it to be true; believe nothing simply on the authority of your teacher and minister. That which in your own experience and examination seems reasonable and serves your health and well-being as it does that of all other beings, take that to be true, and live accordingly." (Anguttara Nikara I, 174)

This criticism – legitimated and required by Buddha – is primarily a matter of discussing the myths and traditional dogmas as well as the question of whether these are still compatible with the humanistic political demands of our time. In this connection a critical discussion of the history of Buddhism, its historical relation to the state, to war, to the question of the sexes, etc., is also important. At the start of the new millenium, no religion may avoid such an investigation. A critical examination of the present is equally necessary, that is, to be specific, discussion with the living Tibetan teachers. Only after such a critique has been honestly conducted should one decide to adopt Tibetan Buddhism as a religion or to let it be.

YABYUM: What consequences need to be drawn with regard to political engagement for a free Tibet?

Victor and Victoria Trimondi: Political engagement for a "free" Tibet is demanded by neither the Tibetan government in exile nor the Dalai Lama; instead, according to the Strasbourg Declaration of 1989, it is exclusively a matter of Tibetan "autonomy" under Chinese administration, along the lines of the Hong Kong model. Whether such a model is taken seriously by the Tibetans in exile we cannot say, in all events the sympathizer scene still runs around with the cry of "Free Tibet" and does not bother itself much with the decisive difference in international law between "autonomy" and "sovereignty".

We do not want to interfere with the Tibetans’ political concept. However, we are fundamentally opposed to an overemphasis on the nation state, as is currently once again in fashion everywhere. The Tibetans must decide honestly for themselves whether they are so oppressed by the Chinese that a detachment from China is the only way to achieve freedom. In any case people there ought to come together to emancipate themselves from the structures of political Lamaism and seek out autonomous ways in the interest of their people. Women and men from the west should assist them in this.

Interviewer: Edi Goetschel

Hans Peter Roth - April 1999

"Berner Zeitung"

1. - BZ: Why does so-called objectivity and unbiased judgment vanish from many scientific institutes and editorial offices when anybody voices criticism of the Dalai Lama or Tibetan culture, as you do? Why is it that the Dalai Lama has up till now been somehow inviolable and barely criticized - not just among the Tibetans themselves but also in western cultural circles?

TRIMONDI: Because many of the "experts" (Tibetologists, religious studies scholars, journalists) already believe in Buddhism and practice meditation or are active in the many Tibet support groups. They cannot and therefore will not make objective judgements at all. - Because by now the Dalai Lama and his country represent a widespread object of longing and a myth in the west, both of which have a taboo character. The loss of this myth frightens many people. - Because there is essentially no appreciation of the close interweaving of politics and religion which from its own doctrine defines Lamaism. - Because one will simply not admit the monstrous nature of this system and does not want to lose any illusions, principally because here in the West the Christian churches are rejected by many "seekers" and Tibetan Buddhism with the Dalai Lama at the helm appears to be a worthy alternative. - Because international Lamaism itself engages in extremely clever cover-up politics and does not present itself as it really is to the west. - Because the Dalai Lama is an important political chess piece in the negotiations between the West and China and thus enjoys the "freedom to do as he chooses".

2. - BZ: Will the pendulum now swing in the other direction?

TRIMONDI: At any rate an identification with the "God-King" from Tibet will not be so unquestioningly accepted as it was before our book was published. Already, the majority of our opponents have announced that a critical stance toward their own system has been badly neglected. We can thus safely assume that partial critiques of various aspects of Lamaism and Tibetan history will become increasingly common. Whether a fundamental discussion rooted in the philosophy of religion and cultural criticism such as we have broached develops will become clear in the coming months. There are a number of indications for it. But finally it depends upon whether the so-called "liberal" public takes up the topic.

3. - BZ: What is it that makes Eastern religions, including Buddhism, so fascinating for western cultures?

TRIMONDI: The most fascinating aspect besides the exoticism is probably the promise of individual enlightenment. It is true that Buddhism Tibetan-style states that the Ego (and thus the personality) must be abandoned along the path to enlightenment. Nonetheless a westerner believes on principle that he (as individual and human being) is the one to achieve enlightenment. What is rarely perceived is the fact that the "initiated" pupil through the ritual praxis becomes a partial aspect of a spiritual-political culture, which represents the power interests of a monastic caste and the "deities" functioning behind them. Rather than reaching enlightenment the pupil ends up as an instrument of a codified religious system. In most cases he doesn’t even know its real history or its true intentions.

4. - BZ: Can a westerner understand the stance, attitudes, practices, and rituals of a Dalai Lama or a Tibetan Buddhist at all if he has no esoteric world view?

TRIMONDI: Only with great difficulty! You do not need to have a solid esoteric world view to be able to understand the Dalai Lama, but at times you have to engage with the logic and paradigmatic assumptions of the esoteric in order to understand what the Tibetan "God-King" intends with his system. A secular attitude, which from the outset rejects as figments of the imagination the connection and mutual influence of ritual and politics, of sexual magic rites and power, of micro- and macrocosm, the existence of supernatural beings in human form, the doctrine of incarnation and much more, cannot comprehend how this "occult" system functions. You would dismiss it all as ineffectual or perhaps at best as pretty trappings to edify the soul. The Dalai Lama and his clergy are very well aware of this and count on it. Only on very rare occasions does the Fourteenth Dalai Lama speak in public in esoteric terms, instead he expertly addresses the so-called "liberal" consciousness, that is as a "democrat", a "modern scientist", a "rationalist", a "bearer of culture", a "human rights activist", an "ecologist", a "winner of the Nobel peace prize", etc. Through this he also wins the hearts of all "agnostics" and can pretend to be fundamentally different to the other religions.

5. - BZ: Can this be a source of danger for the profane, materialistically oriented West?

TRIMONDI: Yes! The profane West underestimates the power of myths and religions and refuses to initiate a wide-ranging discussion on the topic. It blindly leaves the religions to their sphere, on the condition that they abide by the laws of the state. Myths have great power, however! This was especially apparent in the case of National Socialism. Increasingly, historians stress the mythic/religious element in Stalinism and Maoism as well. The West ought to have woken up after the events of the "Iranian revolution" at the latest. But a discussion of the dogmatic, visionary and religious-historical foundations of the Ayatollah movement nonetheless remained a marginal phenomenon. (An exception in this country is Peter Scholl Latour.) Neither the "Taliban in Afghanistan", nor the "slaughter in Algeria", nor the "Hamas" religious programs have led to a broad discussion about the myths and images with which these movements orient themselves. The war currently raging in Kosovo is completely unthinkable without the "myth of the blackbird field". Even the numerous fundamentalist currents in the West or the brutal violence in American schools are determined by mythologies. It is (more than ever) mythic images which influence human consciousness. Thus the aggressive "Shambhala myth" of Tibetan Buddhism can become just as dangerous as the corresponding concepts of an Islamic jihad (holy war).

But revealing and evaluating the myths behind the religious political movements and currents of the "postmodern" is just one side. This must be supplemented by the "work on myth", the transformation or alternatively creation of new myths which are compatible with the humanum (humanism, a global peace ethic, equality of the sexes, human rights, etc.).

6. - BZ: Do the Tibetans aspire to a spiritual occupation of the West?

TRIMONDI: Not the Tibetan people as such but the ritual character of Lamaist Buddhism has as its goal the conquest of the planet and the establishment of a worldwide Buddhocracy. The programs for this are recorded in what is known as the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala myth. Many of our critics are most irritated by this fact, which we treat in detail in our book, and thus dismiss it as an assertion which we have simply made up. Yet the religious-political role of a "Chakravartin", i.e., a spiritual/worldly Dominus Mundi ("world ruler"), has stood for centuries at the center of most Asian religions and is still sought after there. In the history of many countries on this continent a "Chakravartin" (world ruler) was the constantly awaited savior figure. Numerous "sacred" rulers from India, Tibet, China or Southeast Asia claimed either to already fulfill or to aspire to a corresponding function.

This vision of global power is no longer normally connected with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama as an individual. Nonetheless the Tibetan hierarch performs rituals (the Kalachakra Tantra) and disseminates prophetic myths (the Shambhala myth), the contents and goal of which are the establishment of a worldwide Buddhocracy, even if they outwardly appeal to western democratic principles and the ethical maxims of Mahayana Buddhism.

This is not a matter of a "conspiracy", but rather the execution of a religious-political program. A "conspiracy" would imply that a group of people had joined together in a secret society in order to seize control of the state. This is out of the question in the case of Tibetan Buddhism. Among Buddhists of the Tibetan school, the establishment of the Dharma (the Buddhist teaching) world wide is a completely open topic, and not a secret one, it is an element of dogma and is supported by many orthodox statements. The same is true for the establishment of a global Buddhocracy. For example, in 1997 at an international conference on Tibet in Bonn, the famous Tibetologist Robert Thurman, father of the actress Uma Thurman, announced the imminent fall of the decadent and materialist West and its replacement by a worldwide Buddhocratic dominion in Tibetan style. The Hollywood actor Richard Gere spoke (in 1998) of a chain reaction which should lead to an explosive spread of Tibetan Buddhism in the coming years in the West.

But it is not just the West which is to be occupied by Lamaism, but also the East; the Shambhala myth should also spread to the Asian countries, especially China. Thus, in recent times the Dalai Lama constantly suggests an agreement with the Chinese in which economy and religion are traded. They (the Chinese) and their "successful" business could in future provide for the "material" well-being of the Chinese people, whilst he (the Dalai Lama) and his "successful" religion attend to their "spiritual" well-being - i.e., in other words the Tibetan "God-King" intends a Lamaization of China.

7. - BZ: Can the Tibetan movements in the West be compared to sects or religious groups with monopolizing tendencies?

TRIMONDI: This question can only be answered once the difference between sects and official religions has been clearly defined. However, this is not that easy! "Monopolizing tendencies" may be found in both, just as there are attempts among both to encourage human freedom. We nonetheless consider Lamaism an extremely dangerous system of "monopolization", above all because it does not play with all its cards on the table, leaves the world in the dark as to its true intentions (the claim to global power by a monastic elite), and because it is active on the main political stage.

"Die Woche" [The Week] - Mark Spörrle and Torsten Engelhardt - 19 March 1999

The power of images

Victor and Victoria Trimondi believe in the influence of Tibetan myths on reality

DIE WOCHE: The methods with which you settle accounts with Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama in your book seem questionable to us. First you depict drastic religious images, myths and rituals. Then you suggest that these imaginary worlds are literally put into action; that Buddhist lamas would practice sexual magic rituals as written down centuries ago. But this is like claiming that the ritual of the Last Supper is a act of real cannibalism.

TRIMONDI: It is a generally recognized fact that rituals take place in Tibetan/Tantric Buddhism. The entire culture is based upon this. Likewise, in the traditional conceptual system of this culture there is no distinction made between reality and symbol. Thus the rituals are understood and performed as both symbolic and real acts. As in all sacred cultures, in Tantrism the old texts are still the basis for the rituals today.

DIE WOCHE: Phrases like "We assume ..." constantly recur in your book; where is the evidence?

TRIMONDI: If you mean whether religious images, myths and rituals have an influence on reality, this idea is a commonplace in the field of religious studies and the European history of philosophy. Given the impression left by Germany’s national socialist past it seems to us downright naive to deny the power of images and symbols. Every religious or political movement needs them to anchor itself in the consciousness of the masses.

DIE WOCHE: And you believe this is still true at the start of the 21st century?

TRIMONDI: Of course. In the last 20 years as a counter-movement to the "rational world view" we have experienced an explosive renaissance of every possible esoteric and religious cult with which people identify uncritically. Very few people worry about the obsession with power or the potential for violence in religious images, political myths and the associated rituals. It was thus a complete surprise when the Ayatollah Khomeni proclaimed a theocracy in Iran 20 years ago.

DIE WOCHE: You believe Tibetan Buddhism capable of the same explosive social and political force as Islam. You even believe a Buddhist holy war is possible. Isn’t this wildly exaggerated?

TRIMONDI: A Buddhist war is laid out as a firmly established element in the so-called Shambhala myth of the Kalachakra ritual. This myth predicts a final battle between Buddhist and Islamic armies in the year 2327 and is anchored in the minds of practicing Buddhists via a ritual performance.

DIE WOCHE: And you want to make religious myths responsible for this? It is much more a case of politicians increasingly instrumentalizing religions in the interests of power.

TRIMONDI: Naturally there are politicians who use religious images to achieve power-political advantage. But there are also religious fanatics who make use of politics to embody their religious images.

DIE WOCHE: Then you believe Tibetan Buddhism is capable of religious terrorism?

TRIMONDI: The history of Tibetan culture shows that the country was not just controlled by meditating "Buddhas", but likewise by an aggressive belief in demons. Religious terrorism has accompanied the history of Lamaism from its founding stages. Even among the Tibetans in exile there are expressions of violence which border on religious terrorism.

DIE WOCHE: And therefore you now accuse the Dalai Lama of being a token democrat, that his parliament of exiles is a farce?

TRIMONDI: Since a worldwide Buddhocracy with a world ruler at its peak is sought in the Dalai Lama’s ritual nature, this vision does not square with the Dalai Lama’s democratic professions. The Dalai Lama is simultaneously the supreme spiritual leader and lifetime head of state. In the most important political questions he does not seek the advice of this ministers, but instead consults a state oracle, who is a Mongolian war god.

DIE WOCHE: That’s these old myths again.

TRIMONDI: If you are talking about the establishment of a worldwide Buddhocracy, then we would like to point out that the American Tibetologist and mouthpiece for the Dalai Lama, Robert Thurman, at a conference on Tibet in Bonn in 1997 publicly announced that the decadent and materialist West would disintegrate in the very near future and be replaced by a Buddhist state and moral codex.

DIE WOCHE: That is in stark opposition to what the Dalai-Lama always says.


DIE WOCHE: You detect a worldwide revival of religious desires. And you attribute a special significance to Buddhism in this light.

TRIMONDI: Because of the way in which Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama present themselves in the West, they provide for many people an ideal image which they can no longer find anywhere else. Since there has been no enlightening debate up till now, the "shady sides" of this religion, its leader the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and Tibetan history remain unknown among the general public and completely unresolved.

BAYRISCHE RUNDFUNK – Geseko von Lüpke - March 1999

The image of the Dalai Lama as a modern saint, Prince of Peace, human rights campaigner, tolerant and compassionate religious leader is - so they say in their book - the product of skillful manipulation. What is false about the Dalai Lama, who again and again says wise things, whose parliament in exile has a Western constitution and who himself maintains warm relations with western cultural, academic, and political celebrities? How can this image suddenly change from light to shadow?

TRIMONDI: The Dalai Lama has without doubt his bright side. And we are also convinced that what the Dalai Lama says and outwardly represents is to be thoroughly supported. The Dalai Lama makes contact with the West under the maxims of what is called Mahayana Buddhism. At the center of his philosophy stands, for example, compassion for all suffering beings. And we would never contemplate saying anything negative about such concepts. But the Dalai Lama is not just who he outwardly pretends to be, but he also has his shady side. Just as his religion has its shady side. And these dark aspects consist in a ritual character, which is not known at all here in the West. They further consist in a history which includes very, very dark chapters, which has – like most religions – its "skeletons in the closet".

What are the key points of your criticism of Tibetan Buddhism, or alternatively of the Dalai Lama as an individual, or can they not be separated?

TRIMONDI: The first key point is that in the ritual character of Tibetan Buddhism religious practices are performed, which cannot be reconciled with our European system of values. The second key point is that the Tibetans in exile and the Western followers of Lamaism outwardly present the history of the Tibetan people and clergy as it never was. It has – just like European history – its bloody chapters. The third key point consists in the extremely problematic sociopolitical conditions among the Tibetans in exile and between the various monastic factions.

One of the central indictments of Tibetan Buddhism is the statement that with this religion we are dealing with a fundamentalist, aggressive ideology which has long-term military ambitions to control the world. This sounds like – to put it simply – a second Scientology sect. How do you substantiate this allegation?

TRIMONDI: The deeply warlike element in the Tibetan religion has never been questioned or removed over the centuries. There are countless gods of war who, in the political conflicts which this country has had to endure, are activated again and again, who are prayed to and summoned through rituals. The Dharmapalas - the so-called protective gods which are important for this religion– originated in the warlike and very aggressive pre-Buddhist past of the Tibetan people. They were integrated in the system, but not transformed.

I refer for example to the Dalai Lama’s protective god, Palden Lhamo by name. Here we are dealing with a bloodthirsty woman who murdered her own son because he didn’t want to accept the Buddhist teachings. She then made a saddle from his skin, which she fitted to her mule. These are images, very powerful, aggressive images, which we encounter again and again in this system and which the well-known Dutch psychoanalyst Fokke Sierksma in the 60s compared with images from Aztec culture.

However, for us the political aggressiveness which is expressed in the so-called Shambhala myth is much more decisive The Shambhala myth originated in a time in which the Buddhist denomination was under much pressure from Islam and had taken on a warlike myth which in response proclaimed a Buddhist jihad (holy war), in order to victoriously counter an invasion by the Islamic armies. And these days this myth is once again playing (in very many variant forms) an eminently important role, and has spread worldwide, although interpretations of the myth is subject to all manner of variations.

But myths are always drawn from a non-rational domain and have evolved over periods and various cultural stages of development. Does it make sense to ascribe such power over the current thoughts and feelings of the Tibetan Buddhists to a myth which is many hundreds of years old like the Shambhala myth or the Kalachakra Tantra?

TRIMONDI: A myth vanishes when it is no longer in the consciousness of the people. A myth is activated - as Mircea Eliade has shown - through ritual. We solemnize the myth, we participate in the myth, when we practice a rite which evokes a myth. The most significant ritual for the Dalai Lama is the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala myth mentioned there is thus also addressed. Just how wide a distribution the Shambhala myth has achieved here in the West can even be illustrated at a very profane level by the fact that the Internet contains a astonishingly large number of references to the term Shambhala. There are hundreds of thousands of them. This Tibetan myth has become an extremely strong symbol for the most varied groups and has received both positive and extremely negative interpretations. As an example of the latter I would just like to briefly mention that it had a profound influence upon the religious system of the poison-gas guru Shoko Asahara, who carried out a terrorist attack on the Tokyo underground in 1995 in which 5000 people were injured and a number killed.

What is the Shambhala myth?

TRIMONDI: The Shambhala myth is a Buddhist eschatology, a vision directed at a goal which is to happen at some (future) stage. And this vision has the following contents: the Buddhization of the whole world and connected to this the establishment of a global Buddhocracy. To arrive at this goal a military conflict between the military forces of Buddhism and of other religions, especially Islam, is unleashed. It ends in  the victory of the Buddhist armies over the legions of the other religions in a final battle, followed by the establishment of a grand utopian kingdom. Thus then, a classic eschatology like those we know from other cultures as well.

Now if we fall back upon this power of myth, can we (not) just as well apply this to European history and say that the Apocalypse of St. John could be a problem for the public image of the pope, that finally he also runs around with such "shadows"? Or does this just apply to Buddhism?

TRIMONDI: Not under any circumstances! There is an interesting analysis by Klaus Vondung of the influence of the Apocalypse of St. John on military conflict in Germany. It was unexpectedly common! Even the early circle around Hitler, above all Josef Göbbels, referred to the Book of Revelations. There has hardly been a European war in the course of which an attempt has not been made to establish some kind of a connection to the black-and-white thinking of the Apocalypse, mostly in order to religiously legitimate one’s own interests and to demonize the enemy. The difference to the images of world destruction of Tibetan Buddhism is in this case not a matter of content, but consists in the fact that there is an endless amount of critical literature about the pope and the history and dogma of Christianity, which can be read by anybody who wants to. This is not the case for Tibetan Buddhism and our book is to date one of the very few critical texts available in the German-speaking market.

Tantrism, that is the only religion which makes sexuality between man and woman a holy deed, is in your analysis not just misogynist and sexist, but also possibly encourages the abuse of children, ritual violence up to murder, and you also talk of cannibalism. Are you talking here about rare outgrowths or is this for you an integral element of this culture and religion?

TRIMONDI: It is an integral element, at any rate when understood symbolically, and also really, in the dominant opinion of tantric scholars. Such activities must be carried out, that is the principle of Tibetan Tantrism, which should provide a short path to enlightenment. This short way to enlightenment demands that the initiand exposes himself to the greatest extremes and commit the worst transgressions, which are otherwise not allowed in Buddhism. That is, he must in principle be able to commit all the offenses which you mentioned in your question; he must be able to bring himself to a position which lies beyond good and evil, and must thereby overcome the attachment to social and ethical norms as such. This is the principle behind Tantrism. The texts do in fact contain the recommendation to perform a sacred sexual act with 12-year-old girls. Age plays an important role here, because it has a symbolic significance. In our book we have presented several examples to show that such things have really happened and still happen. The breach of ethical norms is a tantric leitmotif, since this religion demands these extremes in order to accelerate the way to enlightenment.

How does the misogynist Tibetan lama differ from the Austrian bishop who is reputed to have abused children? To put it another way: don’t celibate religions always produce double standards, concepts of an enemy and sexually inhumane behavior?

TRIMONDI: It has to be stated first up that Tibetan Buddhism is not fundamentally celibate. Celibacy only applies to the Gelugpa sect. All other sects grant the monks permission to marry. But this does not mean that sexual magic rites are not practiced by the celibate monks. In contrast, they are even more strictly observed by them. The tantric ritual is something totally unique, something which need not lead to a permanent repetition. It is a sort of Eucharist, a sacred feast which is cultivated at the heart of this religion and it is of course different to the satisfying of sexual needs by Austrian bishops who do not link their satisfaction with any mystery.

Nevertheless the nature of Tibetan ritual is no less problematic. In contrast – above all because the sexual magic praxis is based upon the use of the feminine energies ("gynergy") for the benefit of the tantric master and upon their theft from the woman in order to construct an androcentric energy body of one’s own. This is why we consider this system more perfidious than the sexual offenses of Catholic priests. The latter are understandable human weaknesses, which are certainly also found in many lamas. But the religiously justified principle of making use of sexuality and the love between man and woman for a male-oriented way of enlightenment and growth of power, that strikes us as much more problematic.

This gynergy - this magical technique for "drawing off" the feminine energy for the power gain of the man - stands at the center of your analysis. But this is in itself quite a ludicrous concept of sexual relations. Can one then derive misogyny and sexism from this?

TRIMONDI: But of course! We began this book with the intention of writing a positive work about Tibetan Buddhism and the sexual topics it encompasses. But in the course of our research we were with great regret forced to conclude that this cult encouraged polarity or equality of the sexes in no manner whatsoever, but rather the opposite. In the tantric praxis we are confronted with a one-sided orientation, in which the feminine element serves exclusively as a means to an end for the masculine part. At the end of the various meditation practices the woman, who has been first elevated to a goddess, vanishes from the cosmic stage and in the final instance from the social setting as well. On a societal level, a Tibetan nun must prostrate herself before even the lowliest monk, the reverse is never the case. On a metaphysical level we have the same constellation. At first the tantric master elevates his partner to the status of a goddess in order then in the course of the ritual to integrate her energy into his masculine body, so that he can unite the masculine and feminine forces within himself.

Tantrism is thus a matter of a functionalized relationship, which is not based upon me and you, in which no exchange between equals takes place; rather we have here before us a technification, a mechanization of the energy of love as a means to an end. Tantrism is clearly not a misogynist religion, it is a deeply misogynist religion in which the woman serves the man as a means to the ends of establishing his spiritual and political power.

Finally, you too are writing from a Eurocentric perspective. Is it at all possible to examine another culture with such universal or multicultural values?

TRIMONDI: We have to make a judgment as "Westerners"! You mention Eurocentrism. The fact is that Tibetan Buddhism has spread widely in the West and that there are tens of thousands of people of Western origin who are now practicing believers in Vajrayana, that is, Tantrism. This makes Tibetan Buddhism a Western cultural phenomenon. It is no longer an exotic religion. These days I can no longer study the tantras in Tibet, instead I must go to Colorado (USA) or southern France or in the Eifel, because that is where the most important tantric masters teach and because that is where most of the Western pupils are. Thus, we are no longer dealing with old Tibet, with a country which is completely cut off from the rest of the world, but instead it is a matter of a formerly non-European cultural schema and practices which have in the meantime become our own.

At the same time here in the West we do have a tendency to very strongly idealize ancient religions. For example, the fact that the whole world talks about Chief Seattle and the Indians, or that masses of books are published about the Australian Aborigines, are clear indications of this. The Indians have also abandoned children, and the Aborigines have held bloody rituals. Is there then a pure, virginal religion, which doesn’t have a shady side?

TRIMONDI: This is a European affliction, or – depending on your point of view – something quite endearing about the Europeans, namely that we idealize exotic peoples. Tacitus did this with the Germanic tribes, Montesquieu sought the good among the Persians, and Rousseau simply among the "noble savages". I belong to a generation which has naively idealized the North American Indians, or even all ‘primitive’ peoples, because we saw them as an alternative to our materialistic and technoid civilization. Only after more intensive engagement with the ancient tribal religions we initially admired – like the Hopi Indians for instance- have my wife and I arrived at the conclusion that it is fundamentally problematic to uncritically take on images and practices from these exotic religious systems. Primitive religions, like ‘high’ religions, have their positive sides, even Tantric Buddhism has these, but they also have their shady sides. In the seventies there was a widespread tendency to cultivate such idealizations of oppressed peoples. This has proved – we must self-critically admit - to be dangerous and wrong.

Now you were actively involved in helping weave the myth of the Dalai Lama. Can we not say that the shadow of the Dalai Lama or of any religion becomes larger the higher they have previously been thrust into the light?

TRIMONDI: That’s an almost physical phenomenon! Naturally, if somebody is very much in the limelight, the shady side seems more intense. Since the Dalai Lama has become a worldwide symbol of purity and virtue and for many people currently represents the one world figure who unites in himself the most noble and tolerant qualities, the dark features which are now coming to light have an enormous significance. The shadows do indeed become blacker the more brightly lit a figure is.

Why have you made this about-face if he was also a figure of light for you in the past?

TRIMONDI: The Dalai Lama was for me a person who appeared to integrate within himself a great number of values which were at that time highly valued in our milieu - the committed ecological milieu of the 70s. At that stage I published a book of his called the Logic of Love through my publishing house(Dianus-Trikont-Verlag). The Dalai Lama was for me then a person who made it possible for me to speak of love as a social virtue. We were also very grateful to him that some things could now be said, like that love and politics need not represent two opposites. For exactly this reason we (my wife and I) set out to produce an analysis of Tibetan Buddhism, because we believed we had found there the important values, which we had sought in vain in other religions, for example the sacred equality of the sexes.

Every religion we know of is focused upon a single-sex masculine being. Or modern feminism has the opposite, a feminine deity set at its center. In Buddhist Tantrism we believed we had finally found a religious perspective in which man and woman, god and goddess could meet with one another on a metaphysical plane. But what we had to discover was a sacred technique, the perfidy of which put in the shade everything which other religions make of erotic sex. This opened our eyes and led us to have to develop a very critical attitude towards the tantric system.

We criticize the Dalai Lama not because of his statements, but because of his religious system, Tantrism, and because of the rituals which he performs, especially the Kalachakra ritual. He does not say anything about this ritual, and talks just as little about the political conflicts of the Tibetan exile community, in which an outwardly democratic parliament obtains its political decisions from a state oracle. We do not criticize him as a simple monk, as he is so keen to appear. He is simultaneously man and monk, but he is also a sacred king and a spiritual master and a powerful divinity. He can only be understood in this totality.

Does a work of cultural criticism need to penetrate the mysteries of a religion? You describe such an analysis in your book as a sine qua non for the survival of western humanism in this world.

TRIMONDI: Yes, it must absolutely definitely do that. A culture based upon mysteries interprets its cultural evolution via these mysteries. This is true of traditional Islam, it is true of traditional Christianity and it is also true of traditional Judaism. Everything which present in the mysteries of a religion from the outset, gives meaning to future historical events. The interpretation of history here is identical to eschatology. In such cultures there is no secular realm, everything – even history – is derived from the mysteries, and becomes "hiero-history", the history of the holy. From this point of view the expulsion of the Tibetans from their country supports the vision that only now can the Dharma or Tibetan Buddhism spread world wide. Thus, in Buddhist circles one can find the interpretation that the invasion by the Chinese was a necessary sacrifice by the Tibetan people, which needed to be made so that all of humanity could now follow the way of the Dharma.

Myths are very dependent upon symbolism. What you have just said implies that you assume that the symbolism of any mythology has a very direct connection to social reality, or respectively that violent symbols always find expression in the politics of a culture which makes reference to particular mythologies.

TRIMONDI: This is for us a fact, which in the West has nonetheless not yet received the recognition it is due. We are of the opinion that symbols and myths have a profound influence on social structure. The most graphic example is certainly national socialism, which from the outset made use of the formative power of myths and deliberately employed this to establish an aggressive and deadly system. We cannot pretend that social and psychological causes alone led to the rise of the Nazis. It was the racist myths, the gods of Richard Wagner, occult ideas from the theosophical milieu which were the influences behind this.

We are convinced that myths can have the same power for a culture as a paradigm, that they can form the very pillars of a culture. But on the other hand we are also convinced that myths can be both critically refurbished and transformed. Insofar we make use of an enlightened rationalism. Since, however, the power of the myths decisively shapes human society, we do not believe that it is possible to let them simply disappear via rationality. We are therefore not "pure" rationalists. We do not believe that human society can be shaped purely according to the criteria of reason, nor that we can do without the images, affects and mysteries. But we do not think that we are forced to uncritically accept the traditional images and mystery cults. We often believe that humans as creative beings have an influence on the development of myths, that we can transform existing and superseded myths, that we can create new myths which are compatible with our humane European inheritance.

But the terrible and often hidden shadowy religious myths are still dominant– such as the Apocalypse of St. John in Christianity, the jihad in Islam, and the Shambhala myth in Tibetan Buddhism. Human dignity demands that these myths be transformed or abolished via decree. Such a step is necessary for the future of our global society. Such images are used again and again to stir people to destructive fantasies and actions.

What would be the consequence of refusing these mythological aspects of our own or foreign cultures? Would that mean that we would then automatically be surprised by fundamentalist trends?

TRIMONDI: We think that such images would break out again and again in critical situations and could then be used by fundamentalist forces. There are two models for dealing with myths: one is denial or silent acceptance, the other is to conduct what we call a "mythological discourse". It is not just our modern "rational era" which has denied itself myths; similar things have occurred before, during the Roman empire for example. Rome had a very interesting relation to myth and the numerous schools of belief of the time; a relation which is repeating itself in the West today: one allows all mythologies and religious groups, tolerates and accepts them, yet only under the condition that they not attack the power of state control. This is the sense in which the Roman state let the pantheon be built, that ecumenical ‘round temple’, in which the gods of the various peoples and religions found their place. Precisely this is something which we are experiencing again today, in the face of this flood of sects, religious groups and "born-again" traditions and their relations to the modern state. But finally this politics has led to a situation in which one of these religions, namely Christianity, could seize political power. This sealed the fate of the "profane" Roman empire.

The Roman era was – as far as religions are concerned – extremely non-creative. We mean by this that the beliefs found there were more or less formed, their teachings and practices were already fixed. In the centuries of the preceding Hellenism the situation was completely different. There the most diverse religious groups were still in dialog or in confrontation and there was a lively intellectual exchange about their various mysteries. It was a time of "mythological discourse". Christianity, for example, is a product of this exchange between various Jewish/Gnostic currents. Such a process is necessary today: a Hellenistic model which supports the development of new religious currents which are compatible with the humanistic world view of Europe, which enables a fundamental examination of the existing traditions from this humanistic aspect, which allows inter-religious comparison. All the major religions still orient themselves to questionable traditions and "gods", which emerged thousands of years ago and which bear all the characteristics of an outdated era. This is even valid within the cult mysteries.

Now this whole enthusiasm for Tibetan Buddhism takes place very much in the context of the New Age or the revitalization of the esoteric in modern society. Do you consider your analysis important in the regard that subterranean currents, which are also present in our culture, here also come to the surface more?

TRIMONDI: The so-called New Age movement - however skeptical one is about it - was in its initial phase - in the 70s and 80s – characterized by the fact that this above-mentioned discourse between the various schools of belief did actually take place: there were Christians, Buddhists, Cabalists, shamen, etc., who all together were searching for new ways and set out on a shared new vision quest. In addition there was the contribution of the newly established spiritual women’s movement, which time and again articulated the rights of females in the religions. But this original milieu was very soon crushed between the established traditionalists, various fundamentalist sects and the rationalistic, profane public (the party of denial). The discourse could not be continued and everything stayed as it was: here the worldly state - there the religious confessional churches and sects, whereby however, the latter began to grow world wide and - as in the past in Rome – are in the process of claiming the rights of the state as their own, for example in Iran and Afghanistan.

ORF - "Treffpunkt Kultur"- Katja Sindemann - February 1999

1. - ORF: Why did you write this book? What are your concerns, what is your goal?

TRIMONDI: Five years ago, when we began the research for our cultural historical book we had a thoroughly positive attitude toward Tibetan Buddhism. Like very many people, we believed that the Dalai Lama expressed with courage and conviction a majority of the social values which were also close to our hearts: peaceableness, compassion for all suffering creatures, the overcoming of class barriers, ecological awareness, the transcending of the concept of ‘enemy’, a sense of community, social engagement, inter-religious dialog, a meeting of cultures and much more.

But we were especially attracted to Tantrism, the actual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Here it appeared was a religion, which at last took the equality of the sexes seriously, and rather than banishing erotic love from the sacred realm placed it at its very center. It was not just the history of ideas which united us with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. As a publisher I have published (some of) his books, and have organized several symposia and major events for him. In 1982 I brought him from Paris to the Frankfurt Book Fair in a small propeller-driven aircraft. The plane was caught in a storm and began to sway wildly. Such moments in life generate bonds and an albeit loose friendship developed.

We were particularly taken with His Holiness’s religious tolerance. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama never urged people to abandon their inherited religion and join Buddhism. In contrast he strongly warned against a change of religion and repeatedly stressed that it was a person’s clear duty to go over any belief which he or she wanted to take on with a fine-tooth comb, to approach it with total skepticism and a completely critical spirit and only then make a decision..

This is exactly what we have done! With the intention of discovering in Tibetan Buddhism a spiritual teaching able to offer answers and solutions to the problems of the world, we studied the foundations of Buddhism, the tantric texts, the history of Tantrism, and the biographies of earlier Tantrics, but above all we got down to the problem of the history of Tibet, the Dalai Lamas and the politics of the Tibetans in exile.

The results were devastating, and led to a total revision of our previous attitude. Instead of a peaceful and tolerant culture we discovered a warlike and aggressive one; instead of a positive attitude towards women we got to know a system which took the oppression and exploitation of women to new refined heights. The repression of dissidents, despotism, intolerance, a boundless obsession with power, the use of demonization and fear as political instruments, contempt for everything human – we were forced to recognize everything we had never expected in the texts, rituals and history of this religion.

We became increasingly aware that the Dalai Lama must be an ingenious manipulator, who deceives his followers and the whole western world about the true intentions of his atavistic religious system. At times this was accompanied by a sense of personal crisis for us – since it meant taking leave of a highly valued person, a spiritual role-model and a personal friend.

2. - ORF: What do you criticize in Tibetan Buddhism with regard to the treatment of women – on the one hand on a ritual, on the other the concrete personal and social level? How do you justify your thesis that in the ritual the woman’s energies are exploited by the male tantric master?

TRIMONDI: In contrast to a widely held opinion, Tibetan Buddhism is not a religion based on celibacy and sexual abstinence. Rather it is based upon Tantrism - an old sexual magic tradition imported from India whose practices have always been held secret.

The central concern of the secret tantric rituals is the transformation of sexual and feminine energies into spiritual and political power to the benefit of a patriarchal monastic elite. At heart it is a matter of the sexual magical decanting and theft of feminine energy and its subsequent concentration within the person of the tantric master, that is the currently practicing lama. By absorbing the feminine forces, on the metaphysical level he becomes an androgyne, a bisexual being who unites the power potentials of both sexes in himself and is thus overwhelming.

The perfidious element to these rituals is that in the first phase the woman is elevated and worshipped by the tantric master a goddess and creatrix. But at the end of the magical practices she is cut out of the proceedings and has absolutely no further spiritual significance, let alone any growth in power. She does not find any matching recognition as a spiritual, mental or real partner. She is simply an instrument of the tantric master’s power, a "spiritual battery" for him on his way to enlightenment and omnipotence.

In Tantrism, this theft of feminine energy is metaphysical, emotional, bodily, mythical, social, and ecclesiastical.

Metaphysically the energy theft is performed via the so-called "incorporation of the goddess". During the sexual magic ritual the tantric master prays to his partner as a goddess, but at the end of the ceremony he internalizes the energies of his divine "lover", and thus develops an "inner lover"; through this he - within his imagination – becomes a bisexual being, "god and goddess in one". Afterwards he sends his tantric partner home as a totally "normal" woman.

In some tantras ritual sexual contact with girls as young as eight years old is allowed. Only in the most rare of cases are the female tantric partners Buddhist nuns. Prostitutes and lower-status girls are preferred. Since Tibetan Buddhism has spread to the west, western women have increasingly taken over the role of being the lamas’ tantric sexual partners.

Emotionally, the tantric masters, like the priests of most religions, live from the strength of feminine devotion. Women serve him as a higher, divine being. They are the servants of their lord and have surrendered their own individual will. It is precisely in this renunciation of their own power that they express their spiritual love. In contrast to this, the tantras forbid a practicing lama any emotional or mental attachment to his partner. He must coldly and calculatingly perform the tantric ritual without feeling.

The bodily absorption of feminine power shows especially clearly just how concrete the tantric master conceives the transfer of female energy to be. The climax of the tantric performance is namely the so-called drawing up of the female seed. The "female seed" is understood to be either the woman’s menstrual blood or – depending on the commentary – some other vaginal secretion, which is said to contain highly concentrated magic female forces. Through what is known as the Vajroli method, for example, the tantric master uses his penis to draw up this coveted stuff from out of the female sexual organs, and following the sexual union uses it to build a bisexual so-called diamond body in his imagination. Even the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, who always outwardly presents himself as a simple monk who understands little about sexuality, is completely in the know about the Vajroli method.

On the other hand, the tantras absolutely forbid the ejaculation of the male seed during the sexual act. For the tantric master this would mean a disastrous loss of power.

On a mythical level the exploitation of feminine energy finds expression in a founding myth which describes the Buddhization of Tibet. The legend tells of how the country’s first Buddhist king, Songtsen Gampo, defeated a female giant by the name of Srinmo. Srinmo is considered the female incarnation of pre-Buddhist Tibet, who defended herself against the new teaching from India with all means. The Gampo king threw Srinmo, the "Mother of Tibet", down and nailed her to the ground with twelve nails. Over each nail he built a Buddhist monastery, and over Srinmo’s heart the Yokhang was built, the main temple of Tibetan Buddhism. It is said that beneath the Yokhang there is a large lake, formed from the heart blood of the giantess. The first centers of clerical power in the Land of Snows were thus built upon the stigmatized body of an mistreated woman, to demonstrate the absolute male domination of Tibet. The country of Tibet is mythically conceived of as a woman who has been conquered, punished and enslaved by the lamas.

On a social level, access to holy sites is highly restricted for women. There are monasteries and mountaintops which may never – or only on precisely determined occasions - be entered by women. In Lamaism everything feminine is impure and harmful outside of the tantras. Translated literally, the Tibetan word for woman means "lowly born", but the word for man is "being of higher birth". This says everything about the social status of women in traditional Tibetan culture.

Even at an ecclesiastical level, i.e., within the Buddhist congregation or Sangha, women still have an inferior rank. According to doctrine, Buddhist teachings assume that a woman cannot achieve enlightenment without first being reborn as a man. Nuns, even when they hold the office of abbess, must always be the first to bow before even the lowliest Buddhist monk.

Tantrism incorporates the general principle of Mahayana Buddhism that a woman cannot achieve enlightenment in her lifetime. She must first be reborn as a man.

This pervasive and methodical suppression and exploitation of woman and the feminine in Tibetan-Buddhist culture is what motivates us to speak of a "tantric female sacrifice". Several weighty pointers indicate that in the early phases of the tantras such sacrifices also really were carried out on women. Thus Tantric Buddhism is not concerned with the sexes cooperating with one another in an equal partnership, but rather that the masculine principle control the feminine, use it in its own interests and finally destroy it in for the sake of omnipotence.

This tantric obsession is completely foreign to the original Buddhism. The historical Buddha raised the chastity and celibacy of his monks to one of the highest maxims, alongside poverty and peaceableness. He fled everything feminine and his system is thus characterized not by the exploitation, but rather by the fear of women. To the question of whether a monk were permitted to have sexual intercourse, Shakyamuni answered: "It were better, simpleton, that your sex enter the mouth of a poisonous snake than that it enter a woman. It were better, simpleton, that your sex enter an oven than that it enter a woman". The Buddhist Tantrics however, did not put an end to this original misogyny, rather they intensified it by exploiting and destroying the feminine energy in the interests of power.

3. ORF: You accuse the Dalai Lama of aspiring to world domination and wanting to establish a Buddhocracy. How do you substantiate your thesis?

TRIMONDI: We do not accuse the Dalai Lama of that; rather, the idea of world domination and the establishment of a world wide Buddhocracy are traditional components of Tibetan Buddhist doctrine. They are the driving force behind the highest Tibetan state ritual, the Kalachakra Tantra.

The latter concerns a complicated ritual performance with 15 different initiations, via which at heart the powerful position of a world ruler, a so-called "Chakravartin", ought to be gained. Kalachakra means in translation the ‘Wheel of Time’. He who rules time reigns over the course of history and of the stars – this exactly is the deeper intention of this ritual.

What should we understand a global Buddhocracy to mean from a traditional Tibetan point of view?

  1. That Buddhism counts as the sole state religion of our planet and tolerates no other schools of belief beside it, or alternatively totally excludes them from the structures of power.
  2. That on a world-wide scale political and spiritual dominance are not distinct from one another, i.e., that the world church and the world state are united.
  3. That political power will be executed by the monastic clergy.
  4. That the global head of state, the world ruler, is not simply a man, but an incarnation of a Buddha being, that is, a living divinity on earth.

Essentially this concept represents a transfer of the traditional Tibetan state structure onto the whole planet. In Tibet too, the head of state was also an incarnated Buddha being - the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan "God-King" is considered the supreme Kalachakra Master. He has performed the public part of the ritual a total of 25 times since 1954, several times in the West, and by now in front of hundreds of thousands of people. There is no doubt among his followers that this is a ceremony which prepares for the Buddhization of the world. For example, at an international conference on Tibet in Bonn in 1997, the famous Tibetologist Robert Thurman, father of the well-known actress Uma Thurman, announced the imminent fall of the decadent and materialistic West and its replacement with a global Buddhocratic rule along Tibetan lines. The renowned Hollywood actor Richard Gere talks of a chain reaction which should in the coming years lead to an explosive spread of Tibetan Buddhism in the West.

4. - ORF: What connections do you see between fascism and Tantrism?

TRIMONDI: Tibetan Tantrism has had an exceptionally powerful, up till now barely acknowledged, attraction for fascist visionaries. The idea of a world kingdom, the union of worldly and spiritual power in a single individual, the military ideology of the Shambhala myth, the uncompromisingly male orientation, the tantric female sacrifice, the entire occult ambience has been concretely adopted and welded into an aggressive myth by several fascist intellectuals.

The first we should mention here is Julius Evola. This Italian occultist was for many years Benito Mussolini’s spiritual advisor and principal ideologist and a celebrated guest lecturer for German SS units. In a number of his writings he precisely describes the sexual magic transformation of feminine energy into political power – just as we know it from Tibetan Tantrism. He himself practiced such rites. In dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini he saw the precursors of future Maha Siddhas (these are powerful Buddhist tantric masters), who will some day rule the world with their magic powers.

An even more dazzling individual is the president of the Chilean National Socialists, Miguel Serrano. Serrano was Chile’s ambassador to India, then Austria, Bulgaria and former Yugoslavia, and to the UN.

In 1978 a book by him appeared, in which he claimed that Hitler is still alive, having fled to the subterranean kingdom of Shambhala, and is preparing for a new world war from there. He will return as a warlike "avatar", the incarnation of a god. For Serrano, the esoteric core of the SS consisted of an occult order of Buddhist-oriented warriors who performed sexual magic practices. The tantric sacrifice of the woman threads through all of his writings like a recurring motif. Serrano bases his own racist-nazi vision on central elements of Tibetan Tantrism and the Shambhala myth, one which he terms "esoteric Hitlerism".

The Chilean rightly counts as the occult eminence of modern, international fascism. In the meantime, his phantasmagoric claims, which are taken completely seriously, have found a fanatical following in the German-speaking Nazi scene. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama has met Serrano a number of times. He was the first foreign diplomat received by the "God-King" upon crossing the Indian border in his flight in 1959.

His Holiness has also maintained and still maintains friendly contacts with former SS members. Above all with the Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer, who joined the SS in 1938, and who progressed to be teacher of the young God-King in the nineteen forties. Heinz Schäfer, academic leader of the notorious National Socialist Ahnenerbes, and Bruno Beger, who carried out experiments on humans in Auschwitz, also were and still are members of the Dalai Lama’s circle of acquaintances. They were both members of a Tibet expedition organized by Heinrich Himmler before the Second World War.

The Dalai Lama’s contact to a further great admirer of Adolf Hitler also proved disreputable. The prince of the church was publicly criticized when his connections to the Japanese apocalyptic guru Asahara, whom he met a total of five times, became known. In 1995 Asahara carried out a poison-gas attack on the Tokyo underground in which a number of people died and over 5000 were injured.

The Tibetan God-King’s good relations with Asahara were very rapidly dismissed as a regrettable misjudgment in the official press. There was no sustained analysis of Asahara’s religious system or his spiritual motives. If this had occurred, one would have soon reached the conclusion that Asahara had essentially oriented himself using models from Tibetan Buddhism. It is not difficult to prove that his ideology, rituals, goals, and the arguments supporting his murderous deeds are assembled from elements of the tantras and the Shambhala myth. Asahara felt such an attraction to Tibetan culture that he was convinced his newborn son was the new Panchen Lama.

The frequent and close involvement of Tibetan Buddhism with fascism should alert the West. However, the Dalai Lama delivers the democratic parties of western political life maxims exclusively from Mahayana Buddhism, whilst fascism sticks to the true Tibetan path, that of the tantras and the Shambhala myth.

5. ORF: You reject the Dalai Lama’s efforts towards democratic structures in the Tibetan community as superficial and inadequate. Why?

TRIMONDI: As we have already pointed out, the Lamaist state is in principle a Buddhocracy, a religious state; democratic structures are foreign to it. Nonetheless the Fourteenth XIV Dalai Lama makes repeated and very successful appeals to the principles of western democracy. What can be made of this?

Since 1961 an official parliament exists among the Tibetans in exile. Anybody who examines the history of this representative body will see that we are dealing with is a continuation of the old Buddhocratic principles beneath a layer of western make up. For example, the Dalai Lama is head of state for the term of his life; there has never in the almost forty-year history of this body been a majority decision against the "God-King". In answer to a question from a western journalist as to whether this would be even possible, the Vice President, Thubten Lungring, replied, "No - not possible!" The first party of Tibetans in exile (The National Democratic Party of Tibet) was first founded in the mid-nineteen nineties.

The Dalai Lama also allows his political decisions to be determined by another most undemocratic institution - we mean the state or Nechung oracle. This involves a former Mongolian war god who possesses a human medium and is consulted about all important political decisions. In both of his autobiographies, the Dalai Lama stresses over pages just how important the advice of his oracle was and how he fundamentally oriented his politics along these lines. The parliament also consults the oracle god when it no longer knows what to do.

Because of the contest between two oracle gods, the state oracle on the one hand and his adversary, the Shugden oracle, on the other, the exile Tibetan community is currently undergoing a grueling inner-political test. All sorts of features found in despotic regimes has come to light in this conflict: the persecution of dissidents, religious intolerance, professional bans, bloody riots, death threats, document forgery, up to political murder. The image of peace-loving Tibet and its gentle residents, which was so widespread here in the West, has turned into its opposite.

6. ORF: The Dalai Lama is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, how is this compatible with your thesis that Tibetan Buddhism supports aggression and war?

TRIMONDI: In the West the Dalai Lama has gained his fame and charisma not least because he approached the public with a consistent peace program. Numerous people in the West, including many non-Buddhists, see in him a morally superior "apostle of peace" and see in his culture a message of peace to the whole world.

This pacifist image is, however, a deliberately staged falsification: Tibetan Buddhism is neither peaceful in principle, nor was the history of the Tibetans peaceful, nor were the Dalai Lamas princes of peace, nor is the politics of the Tibetans in exile pacifist.

Rather, the tantras and Tibetan mythology are extremely aggressive and the physical destruction of the enemies of the Buddhist teachings counts among the constantly repeated demands in the highest ritual texts. According to doctrine, every Buddha or Bodhisattva has his wrathful and destructive side.

There are numerous protective divinities who employ the cruelest methods against enemies.

The war god Begtse for example still enjoys a high cultic reverence among the lamas. Iconographically he is shown consuming the heart torn out of an enemy. In the warring disturbances in Mongolia at the end of the nineteen twenties, this murderous heart ritual was actually carried out by Mongolian lamas.

The Dalai Lama’s main protective divinity is Palden Lhamo, a terrible war goddess who rides through a lake of boiling blood on a mule and lays waste to all around her. As a saddle Palden Lhamo uses the skin of her own son, whom she herself sacrificed when he refused to accept the Buddhist teachings. The Dalai Lama is also considered to be an incarnation of the brutal war hero, Gesar von Ling.

One of the tasks of conversion for early Buddhism in Tibet was the defeat of the non-Buddhist demons of the country, but these were then integrated into the new religion without having to surrender their aggression. A transformation of their wrath, brutality and hate into mildness did not take place; in contrast, these negative characteristics were multiplied, albeit now directed outwardly, against the enemies of the doctrine.

The above-mentioned Shambhala myth, which predicts a world war in the year 2327 is also extremely aggressive toward dissidents.

Similarly, Tibetan history is in no sense a peaceful chapter, as the monks would have us believe today. At the beginning stand the armies of the king Songtsen Gampo, 7th century founder of a Tibetan empire: they were feared throughout Asia because of their cruelty and mercilessness. Nonetheless this king is revered as an incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the "Lord of Compassion". The present Dalai Lama is also considered to be an embodiment of this general.

The worldly dominance of the monastic elite in Tibet begins with the murder of King Langdarma, which was carried out by a lama. The ensuing history of Tibet is characterized by the most bloody battles between the various monastic factions. In it the warring sects on principle cooperated with non-Tibetan powers, especially the Mongolians and the Chinese.

The "civil war" between the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Karmapa, the leader of the Red Hats, in the 17th century represents a climax in the military history of this people. The mentality with which this cruel conflict was conducted is shown by a battle hymn of the "Great Fifth" Dalai Lama, which would curse his enemies to the third generation:

Make the lines like  trees that have had their  roots cut;

Make the female lines like brooks that have dried up in  winter;

Make the children and grandchildren like eggs smashed against  rocks;

Make the servants and followers like heaps of grass consumed by fire;

Make their dominion like a lamp  whose oil has been exhausted;

In short, annihilate any  traces of them, even their names.

Even in our century the battles between the various monasteries have not ceased. Hence, for example, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the Ninth Panchen Lama faced one another as two warring parties, and at times rearmed against one another. In Mongolia in the nineteen twenties an "order of Buddhist warriors" was formed, which leaned heavily upon the Shambhala myth and revered Genghis Khan as a Bodhisattva. The military potential of this culture is also effective among the Tibetans in exile. For years Tibetan guerillas cooperated with the CIA and were supported by the Fourteenth XIV Dalai Lama in this. "In an official message," the latter explains, "I called the guerillas ‘reactionaries’ and announced that the Tibetan people should not assist them. At the same time the delegation was instructed to tell the guerillas to keep fighting. We spoke with two tongues, the official and the unofficial. Officially we saw their actions as rebellion, but unofficially we regarded them as heroes and told them so."

In our book we publish a document from which it appears that the Fourteenth XIV Dalai Lama still secretly supports the aggressive, nationalistic opposition to China whilst outwardly presenting himself as conciliatory. His 1998 statement in which he supported the Indian nuclear weapon tests is also alienating. For a number of years already the community of Tibetans in exile has been shaken by intense internal disputes between various groups of monks, in which bloody noses have not been rare and where there is no shrinking from acts of murder.

Critical Links to Lamaism



© Copyright 2003 – Victor & Victoria Trimondi

The contents of this page are free for personal and non-commercial use,
provided this copyright notice is kept intact. All further rights, including
the rights of publication in any form, have to be obtained by written
permission from the authors.