The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Part II – 1. The Dalai Lama: Incarnation of the Tibetan Gods

© Victor & Victoria Trimondi







The two principal divine beings who act through the person of the Dalai Lama are the Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara (in Tibetan, Chenrezi), and the meditation Buddha, Amitabha. Spiritually, Amitabha is on a higher level (as a Buddha). He does not “lower” himself directly into the “god-king” (the Dalai Lama), but appears first in the form of Avalokiteshvara. Only Chenrezi then takes on the bodily form of the Dalai Lama.



Buddha Amitabha: The sun and light deity

The meditation Buddha, Amitabha, rules –according to a point of doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism — as regent of the current age. Even the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, was considered his earthly emanation. The sun and light are assigned to him and summer is his season. The peacock, a classic animal of the sun, adorns his throne. The red color of Amitabha’s body also signals his solar character. Likewise, his mantra, “HRIH”, is referred to as a “sun symbol”: “It possesses not just the warmth of the sun, that is, the emotional principle of kindness and of pity —  but also the brilliance, the quality of clarification, the discovery, the unmediated perception” (Govinda, 1984, p. 277). Amitabha is the Buddhist god of light par excellence and his followers thus pray to him as the “shining lord “. As the “unbounded light” he shines through the whole universe. His luminance is described in ancient texts as “a hundred thousand times greater than the radiance of gold” (Joseph Campbell, 1973, p. 315).


The opulent sun symbolism which is so closely linked to the figure of this Buddha has led several western oriented scholars to describe Buddhism in total as a solar cult. For example, the tantra researcher, Shashibhusan Dasgupta, even sees an identity between the historical Buddha (the incarnation of Amitabha), the Dharma (the Buddhist doctrine) and the Indian solar deity (Surya) (Dasgupta, 1946, p. 337). The Dharma (the teachings) are also often referred to as the “sun” in traditional Buddhist writings, since the words of Buddha “radiate like sunshine”. Sometimes even the principle of “emptiness” is identified with the sun: “Dharma is Shunya [emptiness] and Shunya has the form of a zero”, writes Dasgupta, “Therefore Dharma is of the shape of a zero; and as the sun is also of the shape of a zero, Dharma is identified with the sun. Moreover, Dharma moves in the void, and void is the sky, and the sun moves in the sky and hence the sun is Dharma” (Dasgupta, 1946, p. 337).


Amitabha and the historical Buddha are not just associated with the sun, but also with the element of “fire”. “As for the Fiery-Energy,” Ananda Coomaraswamy tells us, “ this is the element of fire present as an unseen energy in all existences, but preeminently manifested by Arhats [holy men] or the Buddha” (Coomaraswamy, 1979, p. 10).


There are a number of depictions of Gautama as a “pillar of fire” from as early as the third century B.C.E. (Coomaraswamy, 1979, p. 210). The column of fire is both a symbol for the axis of the world and for the human spine up which the Kundalini ascends. It further has a clear phallic character. A Nepalese text refers to the ADI BUDDHA as a “linga-shaped [phallic] flame” which rises from a lotus (Hazra, 1986, p. 30). This close relation of the Buddha figure to fire has induced such discriminating authors as the Indian religious studies scholar, Ananda Coomaraswamy, to see in Shakyamuni an incarnation of Agni, the Indian god of fire (Coomaraswamy, 1979, p. 65).


Yet the power of fire is not only positively valued in Indian mythology. In the hot subcontinent, destructive forces are also evoked by sun and flame. Notorious demons, not just gods, laid claim to be descended from Surya, the sun god. Hence, the Indologist, Heinrich Zimmer, recounted several traditional stories in which demonic yogis reached for divine power through the generation of inner heat. He calls this fiery yogic force tapas, which means roughly “inner blaze”.


Throne and Foot of the Buddha with sun symbols and swastikas


In contrast, Lama Govinda completely represses the destructive force of the tapas and simply declares them to be the main principle of Buddhist mysticism: “It is the all-consuming, flaming power, the inner blaze which overwhelms everything, which has filled the religious life of the people in its thrall since the awakening of Indian thought: the power of the Tapas ... Here, Tapas is the creative principle, which functions in both the material and the spiritual [domains] ... It is 'enthusiasm', in its most lowly form a straw fire fed by blind emotion, in its highest, the flame of inspiration nourished by unmediated perception. Both have the nature of fire” (Govinda, 1991, p. 188). With this citation Govinda leaves us with no doubt that Tantric Buddhism represents a universal fire cult. [1]


Already in Vedic times fire was considered to be the cause of life. The ancient Indians saw a fire ritual in the sexual act between man and woman and compared it with the rubbing together of two pieces of wood through which a flame can be kindled. The spheres assigned to the “fire Buddha”, Amitabha, are thus also those of erotic passion and sexuality. Of the sexual magic fluids, the male seed is associated with him. This makes him the predestined father of Tantric Buddhism. In his hand the “fire god” holds a lotus, by which his affinity to the symbolic world of the feminine is indicated. “The Lotus lineeage is that of Amitabha”, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama writes in a commentary upon the  Kalachakra Tantra, “practitioners of which especially should keep the pledge of restraining from, or abandoning, the bliss of emission, even though making use of a consort” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1985, p. 229).


Amitabha rules as the sovereign of the western paradise, Sukhavati. After their deaths, upright Buddhists are reborn here from out of a lotus flower. They all move through this hereafter in a golden body. Women, however, are unwelcome. If they have earned great merit during their earthly existence, then they are granted the right to change their sex and they are permitted to enter Amitabha’s land after they have been incarnated as men. [2]


Apart from this, the light Buddha is worshipped as the “lord of language”. Analytic thought and distinctions also belong to his area of responsibility. This induced Lama Govinda to make him the patron of the modern (and western) sciences. He is “differentiating”, “researching” and “investigative” (Govinda, 1984, p.123).


Let us summarize then: Buddha Amitabha possesses the character traits of a light, fire, and sun deity. His cardinal point is the West. As founding father of the Lotus family he stands in a deep symbolic connection to sexuality and through this to Tantrism.


In the light of his qualities as “fire god”, “lord of the West”, and “patron of science”, Amitabha could indeed be regarded as the regent of our modern age, then the last two hundred years of western civilization and technological development have been predominantly dominated by the element of fire: electricity, light, explosions, and the modern art of war count as part of this just as much as the greenhouse effect and worldwide desertification. The great inventions — the steam engine, dynamite, the automobile, the airplane, rockets, and finally the atomic bomb — are also the handiwork of “fire”. The fiery element rules the world as never before in history.


Committed Buddhists — headed by the Dalai Lama — describe our western civilization as decadent and unbalanced, because it is no longer fair to spiritual values. But, one could say, an elementary imbalance likewise determines the myth of the “world dominion” of Amitabha, who as the Buddha of a single (!) element ("fire”) controls our epoch. In terms of cultural history, fire and the sun can be considered the classic patriarchal symbols, whilst the moon and water represent the feminine. Hence, Amitabha is also a symbol for our global androcentric culture, which, however, can only develop its complete purity when totally freed of women in the paradise of Sukhavati.


The various masks of Avalokiteshvara

As an emanation from the right eye of his spiritual father, Amitabha, emerged his son, Avalokiteshvara, with the Tibetan name of Chenrezi. He is the “Bodhisattva” of our age, the “chief deity” of Tibet and the divine energy which functions directly behind the person of the Dalai Lama. There is no figure in the Buddhist pantheon who enjoys greater respect than he does. His name means “he who looks down kindly”. He is identified by his chief characteristic of mercy and compassion for all living creatures. This close linkage to emotional life has won him the deep reverence of the masses.


Avalokiteshvara can appear in countless forms, 108 of which are iconographically fixed. In an official prayer, he is described as a puer aeternus (an eternal boy):


Generated from ten million rays,

his body is completely white.

His head is adorned

and his locks reach down to his breast. [...]

His kindly, smiling features

are those of a sixteen year old.

(Lange, n.d., p. 172)


His best known and most original appearance shows him with eleven heads and a thousand arms. This figure arose — the myth would have it — after the Bodhisattva’s head split apart into countless fragments because he could no longer bear the misery of this world and the stupidity of the living creatures. Thereupon his “father”, Amitabha, took the remnants with him to the paradise of Sukhavati and formed ten new heads from the fragments, adding his own as the tip of the pyramid. This self-destruction out of compassion for humanity and the Bodhisattva’s subsequent resurrection makes it tempting to compare this Bodhisattva’s tale of suffering with the Passion of Christ.


In some Mahayana Buddhist texts the figure of Avalokiteshvara is exaggerated so that he becomes an arch-god, who absorbs within himself all the other gods, even the Highest Buddha (ADI BUDDHA). He also already appears in India (as later in Tibet in the form of the Dalai Lama) as Chakravartin, i.e., as a “king of all kings”, as a “ruler of the world” (Mallmann, 1948, p. 104).


His believers prostrate themselves before him as the “shining lord”. In one interesting picture from the collection of Prince Uchtomskij he is depicted within a circle of flame and with the disc of the sun. His epithet is “one whose body is the sun” (Gockel, 1992, p. 21). He sits upon a Lion Throne, or rides upon the back of a lion, or wears the fur of a lion. Thus, all the solar symbols of Amitabha and the historical Buddha are also associated with him.


Avalokiteshvara in the form of  the Death God Yama


In the face of this splendor of light it is all too easy to forget that Avalokiteshvara also has his shady side. Every Buddha and every Bodhisattva — tantric doctrine says — can appear in a peaceful and a terrible form. This is also true for the Bodhisattva of supreme compassion. Among his eleven heads can be found the terrifying head of Yama, the god of the dead. He and Avalokiteshvara form a unit. Hence, as the “king of all demons” (one of Yama’s epithets), the “light god” also reigns over the various Buddhist hells.


Yama is depicted on Tibetan thangkas as a horned demon with a crown of human skulls and an aroused penis. Usually he is dancing wildly upon a bull beneath the weight of which a woman, with whom the animal is copulating, is being crushed. Fokke Sierksma and others see in this scene an attack on a pre-Buddhist (possibly matriarchal) fertility rite (Sierksma, 1966, p. 215).


As god of the dead (Yama) and snarling monster Avalokiteshvara also holds the “wheel of life” in his claws, which is in truth a “death wheel” (a sign of rebirth) in Buddhism. Among the twelve fundamental evils etched into the rim of the wheel which make an earthly/human existence appear worthless can be found “sexual love”, “pregnancy” and “birth”.


In the world of appearances Yama represents suffering and mortality, birth and death. So much cruelty and morbidity is associated with this figure in the tantric imagination that he all but has to be seen as the shadowy brother of the Bodhisattva of mercy and love. Yet both Buddha beings prove themselves to be a paradoxical unit. It is self-evident according to the doctrines of Tantrism that the characteristics of Yama can also combine themselves with the person of the Dalai Lama (the highest incarnation of Avalokiteshvara). This has seldom been taken into consideration when meeting with the god-king from Tibet who “looks down peacefully”.


A further striking feature of the iconography of Avalokiteshvara are the feminine traits which many of his portraits display. He seems, as an enigmatic being between virgin and boy with soft features and rounded breasts, to unite both sexes within himself. As it says in a poem addressed to a painter:


Draw an Avalokiteshvara,

Like a conch, a jasmine and a moon,

Hero sitting on a white lotus seat [...]

His face is wonderfully smiling.

(Hopkins, 1987, p. 160)


Avalokiteshvara as Androgyne


Shells, jasmine, and the moon are feminine metaphors. The Bodhisattva’s epithet, Padmapani (lotus bearer), identifies him (just like Amitabha) as a member of the Lotus family and equally places him in direct connection with feminine symbolism. All over Asia the lotus is associated with the vagina. But since Chenrezi generally appears as a masculine figure with feminine traits, we must refer to him as an androgyne, a god who has absorbed the gynergy of the goddess within himself. For Robert A. Paul, he therefore assumes a “father-mother role” in Tibetan society (Paul, 1982, p. 140). The two colors in which he is graphically depicted are red and white. These correspond symbolically to the red and the white seed which are mixed with one another in the body of the tantra master.


His androgyny is most clearly recognizable in the famous mantra with which Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara) is called upon and which millions of Buddhists daily mumble to themselves: OM MANI PADME HUM. There is an extensive literature concerned with the interpretation of this utterance, from which the sexual magical ones sound the most convincing. In translation, the mantra says, “Om, jewel in the lotus, hum”. The jewel should be assigned to the masculine force and the phallus, whilst the lotus blossom is a symbol of feminine energy. The “jewel in the lotus blossom” thus corresponds to the tantric union, and, since this takes place within a male person, the principle of androgyny. The syllable OM addresses the macrocosm. HUM means “I am” and signifies the microcosm. The gist of the formula is thus: “In the union of the masculine and feminine principles I am the universe”. Anyone who knows the magic of the famous mantra “possesses control over the world” (Mallmann, 1948, p. 101). Trijang Rinpoche (1901-1981), an important teacher of the current Dalai Lama, also offers a clear and unambiguous translation “... mani indicates the vajra jewel of the father, padma the lotus of the mudra, and the letter hum [indicates] that by joining these two together, at the time of the basis, a child is born and at the time of the [tantric] path, the deities emanate” (quoted by Lopez, 1998, p. 134).


The most famous living incarnation of Avalokiteshvara is the Dalai Lama. All the energies of the Bodhisattva are concentrated in him, his androgyny as well as his solar and fiery qualities, his mildness as well as his wrath as Yama, the god of the dead. Within the Tibetan doctrine of incarnation the Dalai Lama as a person is only the human/bodily shell in which Chenrezi (Avalokiteshvara) is manifest. It is — from a tantric point of view — the visions and motives, strategies and tactics of the “mild downward-looking Bodhisattva”, which determine the politics of His Holiness and thereby the fate of Tibet.


The Fourteenth Dalai Lama as the supreme Kalachakra master

Since the Tibetan god-king acts as the supreme master of the Kalachakra Tantra, the androgynous time god (Kalachakra and Vishvamata in one person) is likewise incarnated within him. The goal of Time Tantra is the “alchemic” production of the ADI BUDDHA. We have described in detail the genesis, “art of functioning”, and the extent of the powers of the Highest Buddha in the first part of our study, with special attention to his position as Chakravartin, as “world ruler”. This global power role is not currently assumed by the Dalai Lama. In contrast — the western public sometimes refers to him as the “most powerless politician on the planet”. Thus, in precisely locating his position along the evolutionary path of the Kalachakra Tantra, we must observe that the Kundun has not yet reached the spiritual/real level of an ADI BUDDHA, but still finds himself on the way to becoming a world ruler (Chakravartin).


All the “divine” and “demonic” characteristics of Avalokiteshvara (and also ultimately of Amitabha) mentioned above are combined by the Tibetan “god-king” as the highest vajra master with the Kalachakra Tantra. According to what is known as the Rwa tradition, the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara even stands at the beginning of the Buddhist doctrine of time as the “root guru” (Newman, 1985, p. 71). Now, what do we know about the performance of the Kalachakra system by the current incarnation of the Chenrezi, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama?


Almost nothing is known in public about the eight “highest initiations” of the Time Tantra described in the first part of our study, but all the more is known about the seven lower initiations. They have been and continue to be conducted by His Holiness — frequently, publicly, on a grand scale and throughout the whole world. The ostentatious performance of a Kalachakra spectacle set in scene by the monks of the Namgyal Institute [3] in colorful robes is meanwhile an exotic sensation, which on each occasion attracts the attention of the world’s press. Thousands, in recent years hundreds of thousands, come flocking to experience and marvel at the religious spectacle.


The Kalachakra Tantra, whose aggressive and imperialist character we have been able to demonstrate in detail, is referred to by the Dalai Lama without the slightest scruple as a “vehicle for world peace”: “We believe unconditionally in its ability to reduce tensions”, the god-king has said of the Time Tantra, “The initiation is thus public, because in our opinion it is suited to bringing peace, to encouraging the peace of the spirit and hence the peace of the world as well” (Levenson, 1990, p. 304).


Interested westerners, who still block out the magic-religious thought patterns of Lamaism, are presented with the Kalachakra ritual and the associated sand mandala as a “total work of art, in which sound and color, gesture and word are linked with one another in a many-layered, significance-laden manner” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 1 February 1986). For the Dalai Lama, however, an assembly of the invoked gods actually takes place during the rite.


In the year 1953 His Holiness was initiated into the Kalachakra rites by Ling Rinpoche for the first time. To what level is unknown to us. Profoundly impressed by the beauty of the sand mandala, the young Kundun fell into a state of dizziness. Shortly afterwards he spent a month in seclusion and was internally very moved during this period. In saying the prayers the words often stuck in his throat through emotion: “In hindsight I understand this situation to have been auspicious, an omen that I would conduct the Kalachakra initiation much more often than any of my predecessors” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1993a, p. 118).


The Dalai Lama with the Kalachakra Mandala as aureole


Strangely enough, the first initiation into the Kalachakra Tantra he performed himself (in 1954) was in his own words “at the wish of a group of lay women” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1993a, p. 119). We can only speculate as to whether this euphemistic phrase is used to disguise a ganachakra with eight or ten karma mudras (real women). Yet this is to be strongly suspected, then how in the Tibet of old where women did not have the slightest say in religious matters should a “group of lay women” of all people have come to enjoy the great privilege of motivating the nineteen-year-old hierarch to his first Kalachakra ceremony? In light of the strict court ceremonial which reigned in the Potala, this was for those times completely unthinkable, and we must therefore presume that we are dealing with a tactful reformulation of a tantric ritual involving yoginis.


His Holiness celebrated two further Kalachakra initiations in Lhasa in 1956 and 1957. In 1970 the first public initiation in exile (in Dharamsala) was staged. He himself had a dream shortly before this: “When I woke up, I knew that in the future I would perform this ritual many times. I think in my previous lifetimes I had a connection with the Kalachakra teaching. It's a karmic force” (Bryant, 1992, p. 112). This dream was in fact to come true in the years which followed.


In the summer of 1981, the “iron bird year” of the Tibetan calendar, the god-king granted a public Kalachakra initiation for the first time outside of Asia. The date and the location (Wisconsin, USA) of the initiation were drawn directly from a prophecy of the Tibetan “religious founder”, Padmasambhava, who introduced Vajrayana to the Land of Snows from India in the eighth century: “When the iron bird flies and the horses roll on wheels … the Dharma will come to the land of the Red Man” (Bernbaum, 1982, p. 33). The iron birds — in the interpretation of this vision — are airplanes, the wheeled horses are automobiles, and the land of the Red Man (the American Indians) is the United States. During the ritual a falcon with a snake in its claws is supposed to have appeared in the sky. In it the participants saw the mythic bird, garuda, representing the patriarchal power which destroys the feminine in the form of a snake. [4] Do we have here the image of a tantric wish according to which the West is already supposed to fall into the clutches of Tibetan Buddhism in the near future?


Not more than 1200 people took part in the first western initiation in Wisconsin. In1983 the Kalachakra ceremony was performed in Switzerland and thus for the first time in Europe. Now there were already 6000 western participants. In the same year more than 300,000 people appeared at the initiation in Bodh Gaya (in India). This grandiose spectacle was declared by the press to be the “Buddhist event of the century” (Tibetan Review, January 1986, p. 4). Many very poor Tibetans had illegally crossed the Chinese border in order to take part in the festivities. It is certainly worth mentioning that at least fifty people died during the ritual! (Tibetan Review, January 1986, p. 6).


In 1991, in Madison Square Gardens in New York City, there was a further Kalachakra ceremony in front of 4000 participants which attracted much public attention. At the same time a sand mandala was constructed in the Museum of Asian Art which drew tens of thousands of visitors. By the beginning of 1998, the Dalai Lama could look back over 25 public initiations into the Time Tantra which he had conducted as the supreme vajra master.


List of Kalachakra Initiations given by the XIV Dalai Lama






May 1954

Norbulingka, Lhasa, Tibet



April 1956

Norbulingka, Lhasa, Tibet



March 1970

Dharamshala, India



May 1971

Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India



December 1974

Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India



September 1976

Leh, Ladakh, India



July 1981

Madison, Wisconsin, USA



April 1983

Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh, India



August 1983

Tabo, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India



July 1985

Rikon, Switzerland



December 1985

Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India



July 1988

Zanskar, Jammu & Kashmir, India



July 1989

Los Angeles, USA



December 1990

Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India



October 1991

New York, USA



August 1992

Kalpa, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, India



April 1993

Gangtok, Sikkim, India



July 1994

Jispa, Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India



December 1994

Barcelona, Spain



January 1995

Mundgod, Karnataka, India



August 1995

Ulan Bator, Mongolia



June 1996

Tabo, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India



September 1996

Sydney, Australia



December 1996

Salugara, West Bengal, India



August 1999

Bloomington, Indiana, USA



August 2000

Key Monastery, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India



January 2002

Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India



October 2002

Graz, Austria (Europe)



Januar 2003

Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India



The great significance which the Dalai Lama accords the Kalachakra Tantra and its worldwide distribution, demands that all of his political activities be interpreted in the light of the visions and intentions of the Time Tantra. The Kalachakra Tantra is a major political event. It is the magic metapolitical instrument with which the Kundun hopes to conquer the West and the rest of the world. He himself, or rather the forces and powers which operate behind him, wish(es) to become the ruler of history and time itself. [5]


Statements of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama on sexuality and sexual magic

We know almost nothing (publicly) from the Kundun about the eight highest initiations in the Kalachakra Tantra and the associated sexual magic rites. Outwardly the god-king presents a strictly asexual image. In answer to the question what he thought about sex, he replied in Playboy: “My goodness! You ask a 62-year-old monk who has been celibate his entire life a thing like that. I don’t have much to say about sex — other than that it is completely okay if two people love each other” (Playboy, German edition, March 1998, p. 46). Or he resolves the delicate topic with colloquial humor, as for example when he quotes the Indian scholar, Nagarjuna, with a three-line thought on the question of erotic love:


If one is itchy, then one scratches himself.

Better than any number of scratches

However, is when one does not itch at all.

(Dalai Lama XIV, 1993a, p. 301)


Such sayings are reminiscent of the philosophy of life of a humorous Mahayana Buddhist, but not that of a Tantric. Whether the Kundun himself conducts are has conducted sexual magic practices is a secret which is for understandable reasons not betrayed. Only through incidental remarks — the taboo topic would never be spoken about in public otherwise — can it be gauged that the Dalai Lama is completely informed about the consequences which proceed from the tantric rites.


Thus, at an event in San Francisco (in 1994) His Holiness was discussing the topics of “sexuality and Buddhism” with students. When the talk came around to the “wise fool” Drungpa Kunley, who became known through his erotic escapades, his huge male member, and through the Tibetan literature, the Kundun justified this figure’s wild sex life: in Drungpa we are dealing with a highly developed enlightened being, and his erotic activities — no matter how bizarre they may seem to an ordinary person — were always carried out for the benefit of all living beings. “He could”, the Dalai Lama said with a smile, “enjoy excrement and urine just like fine foods and wine” and then he joked of the modern Tibetan lamas that, “If you put into their mouth some urine, they will not enjoy it” (Arianna, Newsgroup 3). From this it can be logically concluded that every enlightened one must pass the tantric “taste test” and that contemporary lamas are not prepared to undergo this test.


At an academic seminar on dream research in Dharamsala the Kundun commented upon a paper with the following sentence: “Such work with dreams by which it comes to ejaculation could be important” (Dalai Lama XIV, 1996a, p. 115). Anyone who knows about the tantric seed gnosis also knows how fundamental the god-king’s interest in this topic must be. At the same meeting he chatted about orgiastic encounters as if they were a constant part of his world of experiences. A comparison of the mystic clear lights with orgasm is also self-evident for him (Dalai Lama XIV, 1996a, p. 116).


Some years later, at the „Mind and Life” conference in Dharamsala (in 1992), he spoke in great detail about tantric practices and even mentioned the offensive Vajroli method:”One training method that can be used as a standard of measurement of the level of one’s control entails inserting a straw into the genitals. In this practice the Yogi first drwas water, and later milk, upt to the straw. [Later again, we would add, the sukra from out of the vagina of his sexual partner] That cultivates the the ability to reverse the flow during intercourse (Varela, 1997, p. 172). With a somewhat insinuating smile the Dalai Lama then explained the various typologies of the mudras to the western scholars who were attending: “In tantric literature, four typs of women, or consorts (Skt. mudra) are discussed. These four types are lotus-like,  deer-like, conch-shell-like, and the elephant-like.” He then joked that: “If the classification had originated in Tibet instead of India, they would have called it yak-like. These distinctions all have primarily to do with the shape of the genitals, but they also refer to differences in terms of bodily constitution. There are no such categories for men” (Varela, 1997, p. 173).


Like all priests the Kundun’s attitude towards marriage is benevolent and paternalistic, without granting it any special spiritual significance. “At first glance married life appears full and attractive and that of the celibate as miserable. But I believe the life of a monk is more well balanced, there are less extremes, less highs and lows. I also always tell this to my young monks and nuns as consolation” (Zeitmagazin, no. 44, 22 October 1998, p. 24). It is nonetheless very important to him as reproduction for the maintenance of the Tibetan race and he is not at all happy when exiled Tibetans choose marriage partners of another race. He finds it likewise repulsive when ordained monks suddenly decide to marry. As his brother Lobsang Samten told him of his marriage plans, the Kundun shouted at him in a reference to the Chinese repression, “Even a dog doesn't copulate while it's actually being beaten” (Craig,1997, p. 260). He later excused himself for this uncontrolled outburst.


In 1997 on his journey through the USA, the Dalai Lama named oral and anal intercourse for both hetero- and homosexuals as being sexually taboo, and masturbation as well. The latter is condoned by the secret tantras when no real partner is available. Fellatio and cunnilingus are — as we have described in detail in Part 1 — even prescribed in the four highest initiations of the Kalachakra Tantra. But among common mortals both sexual practices are — according to a relevant sutra — punished after death by the destruction of the sexual organs in the Samghata hell. The Kundun declared sexual relations with a monk or a nun who has made a vow of celibacy to be especially reprehensible, naturally only when this takes place outside of the tantric rites. Likewise, the sexual act is forbidden in temples. In contrast, intercourse with a prostitute is allowed when the customer himself pays and does not receive the money from a third party.


Both male and female homosexuality are allowed — according to the Kundun — as long as no oral or anal contact is practiced. It was at least politically unwise mistake to have made this statement in San Francisco, the Mecca of the American gay movement. The sexual ban immediately led to the strongest protests. “Many Americans” have been disappointed, a statement from the homosexual scene said, since they “embraced Buddhism because they thought it was not nonjudgmental in sexual matters” (Peterson, Newsgroup 6). [6]



[1] In light of this emphasis on the solar and fiery nature which characterizes the historical Buddha, his close connection to the symbolism of snakes is puzzling, above all because snakes are associated with water and the feminine.  They are known to every student of Buddhism as nagas, and reign as kings of the springs, brooks, streams, and lakes.  In his book, The Sun and the Serpent, the Englishman, C. F. Oldham, has attempted to prove that Buddhist snake worship is a solar institution.  During his lifetime, Buddha already enjoyed widespread adoration as Maha Naga, the great serpent (Oldham, 1988, p. 179).  Since he and his tribe belonged to the “sun race”, conjectures this author, the snake gods also ought to be “solar”. Among other sources, he makes reference to an old sutra, where we can read of “The lord of the overpowering serpents belonging to Surya [the sun god]” (Oldham, 1988, p. 66).  Nonetheless, we believe Oldham’s thesis, that the Buddhist snake cult had an originally solar nature, to be a false conclusion. The close connection of heliocentric Buddhism to the sphere of the snake can therefore only be explained in that Buddha subjected the nagas so as to consolidate his supreme rule as patriarchal sun god with this victory. This is precisely the procedure which we also know from tantric practices, where the feminine, ignited by the masculine fire energy, ultimately serves the androcentric yogi. The ignited feminine element is, as we know, referred to as Kundalini, that is, fire serpent.

[2] The “pilgrimage” of the soul to the “pure land” of the light god has in Asia become — above all in China and Japan — a widely distributed religious belief and has led to the formation of various Buddhist schools.

[3] An institution especially established for the performance of the great public initiations of the Kalachakra Tantra, which is under the direct supervision of the Dalai Lama.

[4] Garuda, the bird of prey, is presented in Tibetan mythology as a powerful snake killer.  It is the fire eagle, which feeds upon the flesh of the nagas (snakes).  We know already from the Indian national epic, the Mahabharata, that it belongs to the race of the sun, and that it was a totemic figure for tribes which worshipped the sun as their highest deity.  The garuda is also the protective animal of the Dalai Lama and is mentioned in the Kalachakra Tantra.  Does it represent the fiery masculine power over the feminine snake world?  Albert Grünwedel saw it in these terms when he wrote: “We know the garuda-like, awful, high-flying bird of prey which tears girls [nagis] apart ...” (Grünwedel, 1924, vol. II, p. 68).  The author is further convinced that there is talk in the Kalachakra Tantra of a transformation of the nagas into garudas (Grünwedel, 1924, vol. II, p. 68; Kalacakra IV, p. 182). Whatever one may think of Grünwedel’s interpretation, it at any rate draws attention to the tantric mystery which can be seen to sparkle behind the garuda myth: the transformation of feminine water energy (the snake) by masculine fire (the garuda), or the absorption of the moon (the snake) by the sun (the garuda) as the culmination of the development of patriarchal power.

[5] Perhaps his role as supreme time god has something to do with the fact that the Kundun has a very special fondness for taking apart, repairing, and then reassembling modern watches?  A Swiss organization of exiled Tibetans sells clocks featuring the main symbol of the Kalachakra Tantra (the dasakaro vasi) and markets these via the Internet.  The monk Daoxuan (596-667) had already compared Buddhism to a clock. When a Buddha appears in the world — we learn from him — then the clock also functions. If the clock does not keep the time, this means that the people no longer follow the Dharma. When Shakyamuni died, “the clockwork no longer functioned” (Forte, 1988, p. 259).

[6] In this connection, a text on homosexuality recently published by one of the most intimate of His Holiness’s  western collaborators appears quite bizarre. The most recent book by Jeffrey Hopkins, currently Professor of Tibetan Studies at the University of Virginia, has the title of Sex, Orgasm and the Mind of Clear Light: The 64 Arts of Gay Male Sex (Hopkins, 1996). In reading through the text we naturally asked ourselves the question: Can the tantric exchange of energies also take place between men? Is a female wisdom consort necessary at all for the performance of the sexual magic practices or may it also be a male consort? The book does not offer an answer to this and must therefore, as Hopkins himself stresses, not be regarded as a tantric text. It is much more a matter of — as he himself puts it — a homosexual Kama Sutra, a guide to erotic amusement. Quite a number of lecherous lines are devoted to anal intercourse, which is one of  the sexual taboos for His Holiness. — One text in which homosexual tantric practices are discussed by a guru is The Dawn Horse Testament by Da Free John, the former spiritual teacher of the American evolutionary theorist, Ken Wilber. The author approves of homosexual rites to a limited degree, but strongly emphasizes that during the sexual magic act strictly one man must play the masculine role and the other should take the feminine role (Da, 1991, p. 348). One of the men is thus is used in terms of energy as a substitute woman, which only confirms the fundamentally heterosexual orientation of Tantrism.


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