The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Part II – 2. The Dalai Lama (Avalokiteshvara) and the Demoness (Srinmo)

© Victor & Victoria Trimondi



Part II




The Shambhalization plan for Japan is the first step toward

 the Shambhalization of the world. If you participate in it,

you will achieve great virtue and rise up to a higher world

Shoko Asahara


In order to be able to understand and to evaluate the person of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and the history of Tibet, we must first set aside all of our contemporary western conceptions in which the domains of religion and politics, of magic and government decisions, and of worldly and spiritual power are separate from one another. We must also not allow ourselves to be influenced by the public self-presentation of the exiled Tibetan head of state, by his declarations of belief in democracy, by his insistent affirmations of peace, by his ecumenical professions, or by his statements on practical politics. Then a closer examination reveals the entire performance, oriented to western values, which he offers daily on the world political stage, to be a political tactic, with the help of which he wants to put through his atavistic and androcentric world view globally — a world view whose dominant principles are steeped in magic, ritual, occultism, and the despotism of an ecclesiastical state.


It is not the individual political transgressions of the Dalai Lama, which have only been begun to be denounced in the Euro-American media since 1996, which could make his person and office a fundamental problem for the West. Even if these “deficiencies” weigh more heavily when measured against the moral claims of a “living Buddha” than they would for an ordinary politician, these are simply superficial discordances. In contrast, anybody who descends more deeply into the Tibetan system must inevitably enter the sexual magic world of the tantras which we have described. This opens up a dimension completely foreign to a westerner. For his “modern” awareness, there is no relation whatsoever between the tantric system of rituals and the realpolitik of the head of the Tibetan government in exile. He would hardly take seriously the derivation of political decisions from the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala Myth. But it is precisely this connection between ritual and politics, between sacred sexuality and power which is — as we shall demonstrate — the central concern of Lamaism.


European-American ignorance in the face of atavistic religious currents is not limited to Tibetan Buddhism, but likewise applies to other cultures, like Islam for example. It is currently usual in the West to draw a stark distinction between religious fundamentalism on the one hand, and the actual human political concerns of all religions on the other. The result has been that all the religious traditions of the world were able to infiltrate Europe and North America as valuable spiritual alternatives to the decadent materialism of the industrialized world. In recent years there has not been much demand for a sustained critical evaluation of religions.


Yet anybody who reads closely the holy texts of the various schools of belief (be it the Koran, passages from the Old Testament, the Christian Book of Revelations, or the Kalachakra Tantra), is very soon confronted with an explosive potential for aggression, which must inevitably lead to bloody wars between cultures, and has always done so in the past. Fundamentalism is already present in the core of nearly all world religions and in no sense does it represent an essential misunderstanding of the true doctrine. [1]


The Dalai Lama is without doubt the most skilled and successful of all religious leaders in the infiltration of the West. He displays such an informed, tolerant, and apparently natural manner in public, that everybody is enchanted by him from first sight. It would not occur to anybody upon whom he turns his kindly Buddha smile that his religious system is intent upon forcibly subjecting the world to its law. But — as we wish to demonstrate in what follows — this is Lamaism’s persistently pursued goal.


Although understandable, this western naiveté and ignorance cannot be excused — not just because it has up until now neglected to thoroughly and critically investigate the history of Tibet and the religion of Tantric Buddhism, but because we have also completely forgotten that we had to free ourselves at great cost from an atavistic world. The despotism of the church, the inquisition, the deprivation of the right to decide, the elimination of the will, the contempt for the individual, the censorship, the persecution of those of other faiths — were all difficult obstacles to overcome in the development of modern western culture. The Occident ousted its old “gods” and myths during the Enlightenment; now it is re-importing them through the uncritical adoption of exotic religious systems. Since the West is firmly convinced that the separation of state and religion must be apparent to every reasonable person, it is unwilling and unable to comprehend the politico-religious processes of the imported atavistic cultures. Fascism, for example, was a classic case of the reactivation of ancient myths.


Nearly all of the religious dogmata of Tantric Buddhism have also — with variations — cropped up in the European past and form a part of our western inheritance. For this reason it seems sensible, before we examine the history of Tibet and the politics of the Dalai Lama, to compare several maxims of Lamaist political and historical thought with corresponding conceptions from the occidental tradition. This will, we hope, help the reader better understand the visions of the “living Buddha”.


Myth and history

For the Ancient Greeks of Homer’s time, history had no intrinsic value; it was experienced as the recollection of myth. The myths of the gods, and later those of the heroes, formed so to speak those original events which were re-enacted in thousands of variations by people here on earth, and this “re-enactment” was known as history. History was thus no more and no less than the mortal imitation of divine myths. “When something should be decided among the humans,” — W. F. Otto has written of the ancient world view of the Hellenes — “the dispute must first take place between the gods” (quoted by Hübner, 1985, p. 131).


If, however, historical events, such as the Trojan War for example, developed an inordinate significance, then the boundary between myth and history became blurred. The historical incidents could now themselves become myths, or better the reverse, the myth seized hold of history so as to incorporate it and make it similar. For the ancient peoples, this “mythologizing” of history signified something very concrete — namely the direct intervention of the gods in historical events. This was not conceived of as something dark and mysterious, but rather very clear and contemporary: either the divinities appeared in visible human form (and fought in battles for instance) or they “possessed” human protagonists and “inspired” them to great deeds and misdeeds.


If human history is dependent upon the will of supernatural beings in the ancient view of things, then it is a necessary conclusion that humans cannot influence history directly, but rather only via a religious “detour”, that is, through entreating the gods. For this reason, the priests, who could establish direct contact with the transcendent powers, had much weight in politics. The ritual, the oracle, and the prayer thus had primary status in ancient societies and were often more highly valued than the decisions of a regent. In particular, the sacrificial rite performed by the priests was regarded as the actual reason whether or not a political decision met with success. The more valuable the sacrifice, the greater the likelihood that the gods would prove merciful. For this reason, and in order to be able to even begin the war against Troy, Agamemnon let his own daughter, Iphigeneia, be ritually killed in Aulis.


Very similar concepts — as we shall demonstrate — still today dominate the archaic historical understanding of Lamaist Buddhism. Religion and history are not separated from one another in the Tibetan world view, nor politics and ritual, symbol and reality. Since superhuman forces and powers (Buddha beings and gods) are at work behind the human sphere, for Lamaism history is at heart the deeds of various deities and not the activity of politicians, army leaders and opinion makers. The characters, the motives, the methods and actions of individual gods (and demons) must thus be made answerable in the final instance for the development of national and global politics. Consequently, the Tibetan study of history is — in their own conception — always mythology as well, when we take the latter to mean the “history of the gods”.


What is true of history applies in the same degree to politics. According to tantric doctrine, a sacred ruler (such as the Dalai Lama for example) does not just command his subjects through the spoken and written word, but also conducts various internal (meditative) and external rituals so as to thus steer or at least influence his practical politics. Ritual and politics, oracular systems and political decision-making processes are united not just in the Tibet of old, but also — astonishingly indeed — still today among the Tibetans in exile. Centrally, for the Lamaist elite, “politics” means a sequence of ritual/magical activities for the fulfillment of a cosmic plan which is finally executed by the gods (of whom the Lamas are incarnations). It is for this reason that ritual life has such an important, indeed central status in a Buddhocratic state system. This is the real smithy in which the reality of this archaic society was shaped. That apparently “normal” political processes (such as the work of a “democratic” parliament or the activities of human rights commissions for instance) exist alongside, need not — as the example of the exile Tibetans demonstrates -stand in the way of the occult ritual system; rather, it could even be said to offer the necessary veil to obscure the primary processes.


The battle of the sexes and history

Let us return to Homer and his times. The Trojan War vividly demonstrates how closely the history of the ancient Greeks was linked to the battle of the sexes. A number of gender conflicts together formed the events which triggered war: The decision of Paris and the vanity of the three chief goddesses (Hera, Athena, Aphrodite), the theft and the infidelity of Helen and the sacrifice of Iphigeneia. The end of the long drawn out and terrible war is also marked by bloody sexual topics: The treacherous murder of Agamemnon by his wife Clytemnestra, her death at the hands of her son Orestes, the flight of Aeneas (from Troy) and his marriage to Dido (the Queen of Carthage), the suicide of the abandoned Dido and the founding of the Roman dynasties (through Aeneas).


The writer and researcher of myths, Robert Ranke Graves (1895-1985), in a study which has in the meantime received academic recognition, assembled a voluminous amount of material which adequately supports his hypothesis that hidden behind all (!) the Greek mythology and early history lies a battle of the sexes between matriarchal and patriarchal societal forms. This “subterranean” mythic/sexual current which barely comes to light, and which propels human history forwards from the depths of the subconscious, was also a fact for Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). In his comprehensive essay, Totem und Tabu [Totem and Taboo], he attempted to draw attention to the sexual origins of human culture.


As we shall show, this is no different for the Lamaist “writing of history”: on the basis of the sex-specific construction of the entire tantric universe (masculine, feminine, androgynous), Tibetan history also presupposes a mythologically based gender relation. Since Vajrayana essentially requires the suppression of the feminine principle by the masculine principle, of the woman by the man, the history of Tibet is analogously grounded in the repression of the feminine by the masculine. Likewise, we find “female sacrifice” carried out at the center of the tantric mysteries once more in the “myth-history” of the country.


The sacred kingdom

In many ancient societies the “sacred king” was regarded as the representative of the gods. Worldly and spiritual power were concentrated within this figure. His proximity to the gods was judged differently from culture to culture. In the old oriental community the kings exceeded the deputizing function and were themselves considered to be the deity. This gave them the right to rule with absolute power over their subjects. Their godly likeness was in no way contradicted by their mortality, then it was believed that the spirit of the god withdrew from the human body of the holy king at the hour of his death so as to then incarnate anew in the succeeding ruler. The history of the sacred kings was thus actually an “epiphany”, that is, an appearance of the deity in time.


In the European Middle Ages in contrast, the “sacred rulers” were only considered to be God’s representatives on earth, but the concept of their dual role as mortal man and divine instance still had its validity. One therefore spoke of the “two bodies of the king”, an eternal supernatural one and a transient human one.


A further characteristic of the political theology of the Middle Ages consisted in the division of the royal office which formerly encompassed both domains — so that (1) the spiritual and (2) the secular missions were conducted by two different individuals, the priest and the king, the Pope and the Emperor. Both institutions together — or in opposition to one another — decisively determined the history of Europe up until modern times.


Every criterion for the sacred kingdom is met by the Dalai Lama and his state system. His institution is not even subject to the division of powers (between priesthood and kingship) which we know from medieval Europe, but orientates itself towards the ancient/Oriental despotic states (e.g., in Egypt and Persia). Worldly and spiritual power are rolled into one. He is not the human deput’y of a Buddha being upon the Lion Throne; rather, he is — according to doctrine — this Buddha being himself. His epithet, Kundun, which is on everybody’s lips following Martin Scorsese’s film of the same name, means “the presence” or “precious presence”, i.e., the presence of a deity, or of a Buddha in human form. To translate “Kundun” as “living Buddha” is thus thoroughly justified. In Playboy, in answer to the question of the word’s meaning, His Holiness replied, “Precious presence. According to Tibetan tradition 'Kundun' is a term with which I alone can be referred to. It is taken to mean the highest level of spiritual development which a being [that is, not just a person, but also a god] can attain” (Playboy, German edition, March 1998, p. 40).


The visible presence (Kundun) of a god on the world political stage as the head of government of a “democratically elected parliament” may be difficult to conceive of in a western way of thinking. Perhaps the office can be better understood when we say that the Dalai Lama is strictly bound to his tantric philosophy, ritual procedures, and politico-religious ideology, and therefore possesses no further individual will. His body, his human existence, and hence also his humanism are for him solely the instruments of his divinity. This is most clearly expressed in a song the Seventh Dalai Lama composed and sang to himself:


Wherever you go, whatever you do,

See yourself in the form of a tantric divinity

With a phantom body that is manifest yet empty.

(Mullin, 1991, p. 61)


Nonetheless, it has become thoroughly established practice in the western press to refer to the Dalai Lama as the “god-king”. Whether or not this is meant ironically can barely be decided in many cases. “A god to lay your hands on”, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung in 1998 of the Tibetan religious leader, and at the same time the Spiegel proclaimed that, “Ultimately, he is the Dalai Lama and the most enlightened of the enlightened on this planet, that puts things in the proper light.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung November 1, 1998, p. 4; Spiegel 45/1998, p.101).


Eschatology and politics

The history of the European Middle Ages was focused upon a single cosmic event: the Second Coming of Christ. In such an eschatological world view, human history is no longer a copying of myths or a playground for divine caprice (as in the Ancient Greek belief in the gods), but rather the performance of a gigantic, messianic drama played out over millennia, which opens with a perfect creation that then constantly disintegrates because of human imperfection and sin and ends in a catastrophic downfall following a divine day of judgment. At the “end of time” the evil are destroyed in a brutal cosmic war (the apocalypse) and the good (the true Christians) are saved. A Messiah appears and leads the small flock of the chosen into an eternal realm of peace and joy. The goal is called redemption and paradise.


Eschatological accounts of history are always salvational history, that is, in the beginning there is a transgression which should be healed. A Christian refers to this transgression as original sin. Here the healing takes place through the Resurrection and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, as well as through the resurrection from the dead of the goodly which this occasions. After this, history comes to an end and the people, freed from all suffering, enter an eternal paradise in a blissful time without history. For Christians it is primarily the Apocalypse of St. John (The Book of Revelations) which provides the script for this divine theater.


From a Buddhist/tantric point of view human history — and consequently the history of Tibet — is also experienced as a “salvational history”. Its eschatology is recorded in the Kalachakra Tantra, the highest cult mystery of the Dalai Lama. The Shambhala myth linked with this tantra also prophesies (like the Apocalypse of St. John) the appearance of a warlike messiah (Rudra Chakrin) and the terrible final battle between good and evil. It is just that this time the good are Buddhists and the evil are primarily Moslems. After Rudra Chakrin’s victory the total “Shambhalization” of the planet (i.e., a global Buddhocracy) awaits humanity. This is equated with an Eden of peace and joy.


A knowledge of the Shambhala vision is necessary in order to be able to assess historical events in Tibet (including the Chinese occupation) and the politics of the Dalai Lama. Every historical and practical political event must — from a Lamaist viewpoint — be assessed in the light of the final goal formulated in the Kalachakra Tantra (the establishment of a worldwide Buddhocracy). This also applies — according to the tantric teachings — to the evolution of humankind.


Thus, in terms of principle, the Tantric Buddhist vision resembles the traditional Christian one. In both cases a realm of bliss is found at the outset which decays due to human misdeeds and subsequently experiences a catastrophic downfall. It is then re-created through the warlike (!) deeds of a messianic redeemer. But in the Buddhist view this dramatic process never ends, according to cosmic laws it must be constantly repeated. In contrast to the conceptions of Christianity, the newly established paradise has no permanency, it is subject to the curse of time like all which is transient. History for Lamaism thus takes the form of the eternal recurrence of the eternally same, the ineluctable repetition of the entire universal course of events in immensely huge cycles of time. [2]


History and mysticism

That the relationship between individuals and history may be not just an obvious, active one, but also a mystical one is something of which one hears little in contemporary western philosophy. We find such a point of view in the enigmatic statement of the German romantic, Novalis (1772-1801), for example: “The greatest secret is the person itself. The solving of this unending task is the act of world history”. [3]


In contrast, in the Renaissance such “occult” interdependencies were definitely topical. The micro/macrocosm theory, which postulated homologies between the energy body of a “divine” individual and the whole universe, was widely distributed at the time. They were also applied to history in alchemic circles.


Correspondingly, there was the idea of the Zaddik, the “just”, in the traditional Jewish Cabala and in Chassidism. The mission of the Zaddik consisted in a correct and exemplary way of life so as to produce social harmony and peace. His thoughts and deeds were so closely aligned with the national community to which he belonged that the history of his people developed in parallel to his individual fate. Hence, for example the misbehavior of a Zaddik had a negative effect upon historical process and could plunge his fellow humans into ruin.


Yet such conceptions only very vaguely outline the far more thorough-going relation of Buddhist Tantrism to history. A tantra master must — if he is to abide by his own ideas and his micro/macrocosmic logic — take literally the magical correspondences between his awareness and the external world. He must be convinced that he (as Maha Siddha, i.e., Great Sorcerer) is able to exert an influence upon the course of history through sinking in to meditation, through breathing techniques, through ritual actions, and through sexual magic practices. He must make the deities he conjures up or represents the agents of his “politics”, much more than the people who surround him.


A king initiated into the mysteries of Vajrayana thus controls not just his country and his subjects, but also even the course of the stars with the help of his mystic breathing. “The cosmos, as it reveals itself to be in the tantric conception”, Mircea Eliade writes, “is a great fabric of magic forces, and namely these forces can also be awakened and ordered in the human body through the techniques of mystic physiology” (Eliade, 85, p. 225).


A dependency of events in the world upon the sacred practices of initiated individuals may sound absurd to us, but it possesses its own logic and persuasive power. If, for example, we examine the history of Tibet from the point of view of tantric philosophy, then to our astonishment we ascertain that the Lamas have succeeded very well in formulating an internally consistent salvational and symbolic history of the Land of Snows. [4] They have even managed to tailor this to the person of the Dalai Lama from its beginnings, even though this latter institution was only established as a political power factor 900 (!) years after the Buddhization of the country (in the eighth century C.E.).


It is above all the doctrine of incarnation which offers a cogently powerful argument for the political continuity of the same power elite beyond their deaths. With it their power political mandate is ensured for all time. Bu the incarnations have likewise been backdated into the past so as to lay claim to politically significant “forefathers”. The Fifth Dalai Lama made extensive use of this procedure.


Thus, in order to present and to understand the Tibetan conception of history and the “politics” of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, we are confronted with the four ideas from an ancient world view described above:


1.      Tibet’s history and politics are determined by the Tibetan gods.

2.      Tibet’s history and politics are the expression of a mythic battle of the sexes.

3.      Tibet’s history and politics orient themselves to the eschatological plan of the Kalachakra Tantra.

4.      Tibet’s history and politics are the magical achievement of a highest tantra master (the Dalai Lama), who steers the fate of his country as a sacred king and yogi.


Even if one discards these theses on principle as fantasy, it remains necessary to proceed from them in order to adequately demonstrate and assess the self-concept of Tantric Buddhism, of the Dalai Lama, the leading exile Tibetan, and the many western Buddhists who have joined this religion in recent years. Although we in no sense share the Tibetan viewpoint, we are nonetheless convinced that the “great fabric of magic forces” (which characterizes Tantrism in the words of Mircea Eliade) can shape historical reality when many believe in it.


In the following chapters we thus depict the history of Tibet and the politics of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama as a tantric project, as the emanation of divine archetypes, and as a sequence of scenes in the dramaturgy of the Kalachakra Tantra, just as it is also seen by Lamaists. We must therefore first of all introduce the reader to the chief gods who have occupied the political stage of the Land of Snows since the Buddhization of Tibet. Then on a metaphysical level the Lamaist monastic state is considered to be the organized assembly of numerous deities, who have been appearing in human form (as various lamas) again and again for centuries. We are confronted here with a living “theocracy”, or better, “Buddhocracy”. It is the Tibetan gods to whom Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, has made his human body available and who speak and act through him. This may the reason why His Holiness, as he crossed the border into India on his flight from Tibet in 1959, yelled as loudly as he could, “Lha Gyelo — Victory to the gods!” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1993a, p. 168). With this cry he opened them the gateway to the world, especially to the West.



[1] Should a world civilization oriented to humane values wish to establish the causes of the “battle of cultures” and the current global incidence of fundamentalism, then it would be well advised to critically examine the “holy texts”, rites, mysteries, and history of the religious traditions and compare them with the requirements of a planetary, human political vision.  Such research and comparison would produce sobering results. It was precisely such painful and disillusioning realizations which motivated us to write this study of Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama, in whom we had invested great hopes.

[2] Traces of a cyclical image of history are also found in the thought of Oswald Spenglers (1880-1936), for whom every historical cultural epoch behaved like an organism which exhibited the phases of life of birth, childhood, youth, adulthood, old age, and death.  The study of history is thus for him a biography which must be written afresh for every culture.

[3] We can find a faint echo of this mystical historical speculation in the cult of the genius of the 19th. and 20th century.  In this, messiah figures and saviors are replaced by those exceptional figures whom Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) referred to as “heroes” and in whose thoughts and deeds the Zeitgeist is supposed to be focused.  In this point of view it is not just in politicians and military leaders, but also in scientists, philosophers, or artists that the essence of history can be concentrated.  For the cultural critic, Eugen Friedell (1878-1938), the spirit of a historical genius infected an entire epoch.  He becomes a “god” of his period — even if he introduces rationalism, like René Descartes or dialectical materialism like Karl Marx.

[4] In the meantime the historical facts they have distorted have been taken up by numerous “respectable” scholarly works from the West.  We shall go into the particulars of this.


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