Dalai Lama and 9/11
The interviews presented
here were conducted by Victor and Victoria Trimondi in German and then
translated into English:
No. 2 - Edi Goetschel - November 1999
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
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
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
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
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
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
Peter Roth - April 1999
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
- "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
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
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- That political power will be executed by the monastic clergy.
- 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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
The above-mentioned Shambhala myth, which predicts
a world war in the year 2327 is also extremely aggressive toward
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:
the lines like trees that have had
their roots cut;
the female lines like brooks that have dried up in winter;
the children and grandchildren like eggs smashed against rocks;
the servants and followers like heaps of grass consumed by fire;
their dominion like a lamp whose oil
has been exhausted;
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
Critical Links to Lamaism