The People of the Tradition


   by Peter Holleran


   "There's a whole new civilization coming out, and we're in the throes of its birth. And in that agony and in that turmoil we're going to have to forge a philosophy which is going to be representative of us and not of some people who lived five thousand years ago." (1)

   Anthony Damiani expressed what millions are feeling, that we are in the midst of a great cultural and spiritual change of an unprecedented nature. In essence, unity consciousness is being infused into the earth. The old forms are no longer viable to sustain human existence, peace or harmony. In the preceding article of this two-part consideration, The People of the Book, we discussed from the most practical level up to the most esoteric, how and why the Middle Eastern faiths share common origins and teachings. We essentially made a plea for tolerance and understanding. Near the end of the article quotes from Paul Brunton (PB) suggested that humankind is and has been under the guiding hand of both a higher power and higher beings, “custodians of wisdom,” as some have called them. In this present article we will make explicit exactly what is behind the use of those terms. For this gets us into the heart of the mystery regarding the history of the human race and even more esoteric origins of the religions discussed, from various angles in an intentionally exhaustive fashion, in part one. Yet we left out one important piece of the puzzle.

   PB writes:

   "Whatever were the motives which dictated the exclusive reservation of ultimate wisdom in former centuries and the extraordinary precautions which were taken to keep it from the larger world, we must now reckon on the dominant fact that humanity lives today in a cultural environment which has changed tremendously. The old ideas have lost their weight among educated folk - except for individuals here and there - and this general decay has passed by reflex action among the masses, albeit to a lesser extant. Whether in religion or science, politics or society, economics or ethics, the story of prodigious storm which has shaken the thoughts of men to their foundations is the same. The time indeed is transitional. In this momentous period when the ethical fate of mankind is at stake because the religious sanctions of morality have broken down, it is essential that something should arise to take their place. This is the supreme and significant fact which has forced the hands of those who hold this wisdom in their possession, which has compelled them to begin this historically unique disclosure of it, and which illustrates the saying that the night is darkest just before dawn. This is the dangerous situation which broke down an age-old policy and necessitated a new one whose sublime consequences to future generations we can now but dimly visage." (2)

   Thus, it is assumed there is and has been guidance. What is that guidance, and how has it manifested? Herein we will speak no longer of the People of the Book, but the People of the Tradition, or the Secret Tradition. For they are the ones, it is suggested, based on the opinions of many researchers, who essentially gave the 'People of the Book' their books! It is, in this view, no accident that the biblical story of the Garden of Eden has its counterpart in all religions worldwide, for instance, with the same elements in each story. We perhaps gave the wrong impression in part one that the writings in the Old Testament were only a bunch of conflicting story-lines, with possible human error and manipulation by a priesthood to blame. However, where there is smoke there is usually fire. Many researchers say we must take a deeper look at those simple stories. For instance, the Pentateuch (the Books of Moses), when analysed by Caballists, breaking down the words into their numerical equivalents, reveal beyond the possibility of coincidence metaphysical and cosmological doctrines hidden within the letter of the Law. Another example is the story of “Jacob’s Ladder”, the visionary dream the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham had of celestial beings ascending and descending a ladder between the earth and the heavens; this is supposedly code for the kalachakra or kundalini tradition emanating from Central Asia, the Sun or Solar religion of light that is said to have originated there and been spread throughout the various world civilization centres. The Ten Commandments given to the Hebrews by Moses in the Torah in the form of 'Thou shalt nots' were a popularised version of what were actually a description of emanations of the Ten Sephiroths of the Tree of Life given to the Priests in the Talmud. They were not strict commandments, but descriptions of what one who was in tune with the Law of Life would not do. In Caballa (Kaballah), it is said that Abraham was initiated by the ancient priest Melchizezedek into the worship of El or Elohim, the ‘God Most High’, as opposed to the tribal deity Jehovah (“El’ being the name of the supreme deity, the nameless and ineffable one, in the Near East), thus starting a religious dynasty, in much the same way that Muhammed is said to have received revelations from the archangel Gabriel to worship ‘El’ as “Al’ - ‘Lah’, uniting the pagan Arabs who worshipped numerous tribal gods.

   It is suggested these weren’t just blind accidents, as we are led to believe, but purposeful intervention, according to spiritual laws, by masters of wisdom for the further development of humanity. In the East, similar dissemination of occult truths were made to Tibet, India, and China. In fact, there is some concensus among researchers that a physical Garden of Eden was in the Tarim Basin between Tibet, Mongolia, and China, where all of these traditions can trace their philosophical roots. The legends of Shambhala relate to this, some believing that it did not refer to one single spot, but to a far-flung, yet interconnected network of esoteric centers within the mountain ranges encircling the vastness of Inner Asia, made up of iniitiates who periodically sent out guidance for fledgling humanity. It is a great mystery in human history. If true, there is even less reason for religious conflict, which, it is hoped, is now undergoing its final undoing. However, the nature of the reality is that there is religious conflict, so we must accept that fact, realising that we are put in this imperfect place in order to awaken to the Soul’s innate perfection, while still striving to improve the situation. The reason for conflict is complex, but essentially because of the evolutionary state of the mind and heart of man, not because at the source the faiths are not of similar nature and origin.

   Let us explain further. We think this is important to consider.

   There is an ancient teaching that we left out of “The People of the Book”, feeling that the rational type of approach in that article was sufficient argument for peace and reconciliation among the diverse faiths. But it is time to disclose what many may feel is more irrational material. Yet it is necessary to complete the picture. And this concerns the (worldwide) legend of the 'kingdom of to the north', known in Tibet as Shambhala. It is of extreme importance in solving or revealing many ancient mysteries. Whether it has been an actual, as yet undiscovered (to the outside world) physical place, or a physical place with an etheric or subtle counterpart, only visible and accessible by yogic or spiritual means, or as suggested by some, a widespread but closely knit group of communities of higher beings or sages, guardians of humanity, it is considered by many traditions including Kaballic Judaism, Theosophy, Sufism, ancient European culture, Hinduism, the pre-Buddhist Bon religion, and especially Tibetan Buddhism (including the Yellow Hat sect of the Dalai Lama), that there exists such a place where the source of the wisdom-impulse behnd all of the world religions have originated from. The Dalai Lama said in public that the true Shambhala is a spiritual realm, and not a physical one, but I wonder if he felt constrained to say that in order to not appear like a fool. Moreover, he was but thirty years old when he made this statement, now at seventy-six he may have a different opinion. His exact words during the 1965 Kalachakra initiation ceremony in Bodhgaya:

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

   As such and as suggested it may be an etheric sub-plane of the earth-realm itself.

   Many Tibetans and others beginning with Pythagoras, Apollonius of Tyanna, the Knights Templar, the Jesuits, George Gurdjieff, Nicholas Roerich, and many more believe(d) in and searched for both above ground and underground secret dwellings places, attested to by lamas, where esoteric wisdom of humankind, both scientific and spiritual, has been preserved and periodically disseminated as the times required. Indeed, Philostratus recorded the journey of Apollonius beyond the trans-Himalayas in search of a region he called the "Abode of the Gods." The ancient Mahabharata and Ramayana epics of India are said to have taken place in inner Asia, and the former describes the blissful land of the sages where the warrior prince Arjuna traveleled seeking enlightenment.

   Before dismissing this all as utter nonsense, keep in mind that serious intellectuals have endured hardship in researching this legend. At the least, it may have some relevance to the history of the origin of the world's religions. A good, overall current book on the topic, not without its serious detractors, yet endorsed by yoga scholar Georg Feurstein, is Shambhala: The Fascinating Truth Behind the Myth of Shangrila, by Victoria LePage.

   Many individuals and traditions of antiquity, such as Heroditus, Pythagoras, the Hebrew priesthoods, the Egyptians, and the Hindu-Buddhist cultures believed that spiritually advanced beings originally came from the constellation of Orion, and, as an interesting side-note, that there are also sacred stones from a meterior or comet that came from Orion millenia ago, which have psychic and material powers and which have been preciously guarded until the time that they are needed. Among these stones are supposedly: the black rock in the Kaaba, the sacred shrine of Muhammedans; the stone that Jacob laid his head on the night he had a prophetic dream of Israel, and which today is said to be the coronation stone under the King's throne in Westminster Abbey, and numerous such relics, called termas in Tibet, containing coded secret teachings, that were hidden by the great Padma Sambhava, the sage who brought Buddhism to Tibet in 800 A.D., in numerous natural places, until such time that a terton would be called upon to recover these termas for the purposes of assisting in an evolutionary advance of mankind.

   “The terma tradition has been known to most races, from the ancient Egyptians to the Celts and the Aztecs, but it is from the Tibetans that we learn the most about it..According to the Ancient Ones of the Nyingmapa sect, their founder Padma Sambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyel, herself a spiritual adept, hid many such termas for future generations. Usually Yeshe Tsogyel took the master’s teachings and hid them in “diamond rocks, in mysterious lakes and unchanging boxes” in sacred valleys which were them magically closed; and, so that they could not be discovered by inappropriate people, spirits called the tetsung were set to guard them until the time of the destined terton. The texts thus hidden in rocks, streams, trees and even the sky by Padma Sambhava’s supernatural powers form the basis of many of the religious teachings and practices of the Nyingmapa sect. Among them is the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Bhardo Thodol.”

   “Moreover, the hidden valleys themselves are believed to be concealed treasures, some of which, according to Padma Sambhava’s own prophecies, he set aside as sanctuaries for Tibetan people in times of war or conquest; and these too had to be opened up by a special person, a named terton, before it could be used. “Each valley,” Berbaum reports (3) , “has a particular time when it is supposed to shelter people from turmoil outside...Although somes valleys have already fulfilled their destinies, others await the future when wars will destroy all traces of religion.”
(4)

   To thicken the plot, to borrow a favorite phrase of Sri Ramakrishna,

   “Guru Padma Sambhava is said to have created his termas with the help of the dakinis, the nature-beings who are personifications of a feminine spiritual force whose name means literally “sky-dancer” or one who moves in the sky. The dakini is also called a wisdom deity, a non-human being composed of elemental energy who normally manifests in the fairy kingdom but who, when interacting with humans, may take human form. She embodies feminie wisdom, the creative force in humans, dynamic, blissful, wise...According to Tibetan annals, it was in this manner that Padma Sambhava was able to preserve his termas for hundreds of years, hiding them as he did in the dakini language. This language, Allione tells us, consists of letters or symbols which have no set traditions, and the ability to understand them is reserved for the very few - “those who are in contact with the energy field of the dakini.” (5) Thus, Padma Sambhava’s consort, Yeshe Tsogyel, who...was credited with being the incarnation of a great dakini, was able to hide many of the Guru’s texts by putting them into a dakini cipher. This highly symbolic cipher is so condensed that many volumes of teachings could be compressed in a few letters, yet later could expand into a lengthy text: a process reminiscent, curiously enough, of the modern storage and retrieval function of the microchip. In this way a whole teaching could be condensed into a siingle symbol, so it is said, and hidden in the earth, a tree or water until the destined terton could, at the appointed time, translate the text.”

   “Besides the secret signs of the dakinis there is another half-concealed language called “the twilight language.” It deciphers termas known as “mind treasures” which are received from birds, from all kinds of light and from heavenly space, wherein letters may be seen to form which the terton can read and translate into the language of ordinary beings. Bernbaum says that many of the more secret Kalachakric teachings are couched in the twilight language. Once again, it is an actual cipher that can only be understood by a revelation granted to those in touch with the wisdom deities...Tibetans believe that it is because Shambhala, as the only Pure Land on earth, is uniquely in touch with [the] Light-world that the Masters can continue by means of termas and other such devices to intervene in history to keep truth alive.” (6)

   So the Hebrew secret encoding of metaphysical teachings in the Old Testament doesn’t seem so unusual after all.

   The Kalachakra initiation ceremony is said to have originated in Shambhala, and every Buddha is said to have gone there. Tradition holds that Lau Tzu went there also. This central Asian kingdom, north and northwest of Tibet, in the vicinity of the Tarim Basin, is supposed to be the center of the world, and the "King of the World " is said to live there or in the underground counterpart to Shambhala, the fabled city of Agartha. Gurdjieff was told that there were underground caverns in the region stretching for hundreds of miles. Famous scholars like Alexander David Neel, Nicholas Roerich, Dr. Evans Wentz, made arduous journeys in the late eighteen-early nineteenth centuries to try to locate and understand the mysterious Shambhala.

   While they were only partly successful, the legend is so strong and widespread that even Adolph Hitler, who dabbled heavily into the occult along with others in the Third Reich, sent out search parties during WWII to try and find there what they were told were secrets to the control of matter. Indeed, Shambhala is not supposed to have been a place of hidden spiritual teachings, but advanced scientific knowledge as well. The two rules imposed on these hierarchies or guardians were twofold: one, never to give out more than the people could understand and assimilate for the purposes of good, and, two, not to impose on anyone’s free will.

   Hitler was in mortal fear of 'someone', a dark force he thought, who ruled the World. For some this gave Shambhala the impression of evil forces residing there. However, the so-called “King of the World” is said to be an advanced adept or god-like being, surrounded by hundreds of lamas, bodhisattvas, devas, and so on, the sole purpose to guard the world's secret wisdom until such time as humanity was ready to receive it. The story of Shambhala is depicted on mandalas throughout Tibet, and the very first one was created in prehistoric times. Places as far afield as Glastonbury, Jerusalem, and Peru have a connection to the Shambhala story. In Christianity, the fabled kingdom of Prester John was said to be in the Gobi desert of Mongolia. The Knights Templar, founded in 1115, while seeking to extend the reach of Christiandom, almost certainly came into contact with Sufi brotherhoods in their travels, and were said to secretly believe in the unity of all races, religions, and bloodlines.

   This tradition of reclusive masters is still alive in China today. The world-reknown Qigong master, Yan Xin, in a private conversation with a source who wishes to remain anonymous, revealed that:

   "He had been called back to China from a three-year exile to the United States to treat the then close-to-death Chinese premier Deng Zhou Ping.  Both Eastern and Western medical Doctors had given up on Deng's survival and enemies of Qigong brought Dr. Yan back to China in the hopes of discrediting him and Medical Qigong.  Instead, Dr. Yan was able to keep Premier Deng alive for another year and a half, essentially living off of Dr. Yan's bio-energy (Qi). This precipitated the "legalization" of Qigong under the Chinese "Sports Authority" His chi was extremely strong. In China, before he was exiled, he had a huge following of Qigong practitioners, many millions. So he could not maintain a normal life since people from all over China would seek him out for healing wherever he went or lived. So since the age of about forty he had to live on the move. From then on he mostly worked behind the scenes, but when he would do what he called 'healing seminars', during which he would transmit strong chi to be absorbed by the crowd for spiritual healing and growth, they would have to book large stadiums and thirty-thousand people would show up. Apparently it was a  little like a faith healing scene where his chi was so strong even in crowds that large that many people would have spontaneous psychological and physical healings, shaking, crying, laughing, falling out of chairs, etc.."

   "Anyway, he told us training started when he was about six, primarily in the martial arts. He was attendant and apprentice to the last Abbot of the Shaolin Temple from six to sixteen. Gradually he got more into the internal side, renounced the martial aspect, got into advanced Qigong, Taoism and Buddhism. He said that he kept graduating to more advanced teachers, so they eventually took him up into the Kunlun mountains where his final teachers lived. He said that about two dozen masters lived there who were the heart of China's spiritual lineage going back seven thousand years. He claimed they were all of great age, mostly between three hundred and four hundred years old, though he said there was one of so much greater age that he wouldn't bother saying since it seemed too incredible. He would not speak openly about these things, especially in China where even to speak about Qigong had previously gotten him exiled. Yan Xin said that the richness and depth of Chinese spirituality was such that in this meta-lineage he had been initiated into, that even those who were eighty and had been practicing their whole lives were still considered novices, and that he at forty-something when we met him was nothing compared to these masters, whose spirituality was unfathomable. He said they would never come down out of the mountains, that was not their dharma. Instead, they worked behind the scenes inspiring the traditions they were responsible for and trained people like him to be out in the world."

   "At the time (that I met him in the early 90s) they were telling him telepathically that he was becoming run down and he should come back to the mountains to recharge. A friend of mine was at a gathering of his in Connecticut many years ago. He was traveling under the radar in the U.S. after having been exiled from China. He would tell students that he was going to surface in a particular location in a couple weeks, and that they could word of mouth set up a seminar and he would show up. At this one, one of his Chinese-American students was so excited to be attending a seminar with him, she called her family in Peking during a break to share the news of their good fortune that he was teaching them there in Connecticut, and the relative in China said "how could this be? He is here now giving us a seminar right now." I met him a couple times myself. By the accounts of those around him, he apparently did not sleep at all, nor eat anything except water. He could transmit the siddhi of not eating to others, so that many of his students were not eating also. My friend interviewed one of his students who lived in NYC who had not eaten in two years. He said "so what is that like?" She said "well, it saves me a lot of time from not having to shop for, prepare and eat for, or clean up after!" It is a practice in Qigong called piku where one learns to live on chi rather than get nutrients and prana from food. So apparently that is what a novice in their tradition is like. Interestingly, although he taught all the Qigong practices, he said that the best way to develop chi was by cultivating virtue, because the depth and quality of one's chi is inseparable from virtue, indeed, is virtue. So his deepest teachings were Taoist/Buddhist, but he did not want to speak openly about that even in the U.S., because he said the Chinese government continued to monitor him and would continue to exile him if he spoke openly about spirituality."


   Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, claimed that sages from a dying continent of Lemuria migrated to central Asia and set up Shambhala as the centre from which the religion of the (inner) Sun was to be disseminated to the world. Thus, the similarities among the religions of the People of the Book, as well as their scriptural similarities with various Buddhist and Hindu legends, is said to derive from this common spiritual source in the vast, empty, mysterious, and still much unexplored region of central Asia within the mountain ranges between Tibet and Mongolia. Aside from the Lemurian part, this was also the position of Rene Guenon:

   “Guenon calls Mt. Meru [the center of Shambhala] the Pole or the polar mountain because it is the axis around which all other spiritual centres [Arunachala, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Kailas, etc.] turn and from which they derive their initiatic knowledge. He states that Agartha was once above ground and had a different name, that of Paradesha, which in Sanskrit means “supreme country.” From Paradesha he traces the Chaldeans’ Pardes and the Judeo-Christian Paradise, and points out that Meru, the mountain of the territory of the terrestrial Paradise, therefore means the same as Pardes of the hebrew Cabala. And so for Eastern and Western traditions alike, for Hindu, Muslim and Jew, Buddhist and Christian, Meru is the original “supreme country” which “according to certain Vedic and Avestan texts,” says Guenon, “was originally sited towards the north pole, even in the literal sense of the word. Although it may change its localization according to different phases of human history, it still remains polar in a symbolic sense because essentially it represents the fixed axis around which everything revolves.” (7)

   Some say this is pure fantasy or myth, or that there were, in fact, independent wisdom centers in Asia, Egypt, and elsewhere, including North and South America.

   This hidden lore, according to LePage, teaches that there is an "Axis Mundi," a third axis in addition to the magnetic and rotational axis of the planet, which psychophysically connects it to the cosmos. This Axis is not fixed, but shifts as evolution proceeds, climates change, and the solar system is propelled through the cosmic due to the procession of the equinoxes. The Axis Mundi is the inner meaning behind the World Tree so abundant in mythology. This Axis is co-terminous with the ‘spinal axis’ inside man, and the awakened unity between the two via the Maha-Shakti of Maha-Kundalini, the primordial energy, is a main purpose behind ancient Siberian shamanism and much later, Vajrayana Buddhism.

   The purpose of the great initiates has been to awaken the microcosm of the human body and align it with the macrocosmic body. The centerpiece of the human body is the spinal channel, and the macrocosmic body of the Earth has its own axis, centered originally at the North Pole and then the subpolar regions of the land the Greeks called Hyperborea (all legends point to the "north", to the "white isle" with the "white mountain", and to the "pole star" - from Orion and once directly over the North Pole), and now for thousands of years centred in Shambhala, running through the planet and into the sky connecting it with the Heavens. This is to be understand not in a linear physical sense but in a non-dual but hierarchical psycho-physical-spiritual one. There were many levels in both microcosm and macrocosm, symbolized in many traditions by the World Tree. In the East, for instance, was the pre-Buddhist cult of the Tree of Truth, Knowledge or Awakening (i.e., the “bodhi tree”), while in the Western mysteries, centered in Kaballah, there was the Sephiroth or Tree of Life, diagramming the system of psychophysical energies in human beings and the cosmos, leading from the lowest level to the unmanifested Ein Soph. Interestingly, in all cultures except the Hebrews [excluding the teachings of Cabala], the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge planted in the Garden of Eden were the same; only the Genesis account introduced the concept of guilt in the eating of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge - guilt which still seems to be culturally ingrained. Sorry! The Tree of Life is also behind the mythology of the Christmas Tree, both because it was also called the Tree of Sacrifice (certain traditions having Jesus crucified on a tree, not a man-made cross, symbolising the death and resurrection associated with spiritual transformation) and with the bright star at the top of the tree reminiscent of the ubiquitous Pole Star seen in all traditions from Egypt to India.

   The Hebrew tale of the Garden of Eden was well-known in antiquity among the Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and other versions in India and China. They all point to the Shambhala story and theTarim Basin in Central Asia. All accounts have the same elements: the Tree in the center of the garden with magical properties, four rivers, a Divine Presence, its serpent power, the husbanding of the garden by human initiates, and the eating of the ambrosial fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

   Writing of this tree of life, Nitin Kumar states:

   "The tree of life is a common feature of salvation mythology and is said to be standing at the axis of the cosmos. It is the place where divine energies pour into the world, where humanity encounters the absolute, and becomes more fully itself. Buddha and Christ, as incarnations of god, are themselves the navel or axis of the world, the umbilical point through which the energies of eternity break into time. More than a physical point, it is a psychological state which enables us to see the world and ourselves in perfect balance. Without this psychological stability and this correct orientation, enlightenment is not possible. The tree of life grows throughout the world as the principal symbol of cosmic centering and regeneration. Continually reborn through its seed at the world axis, its root thrust down through the earth to the underworld, its trunk rises through the world, where it grasps everything in its immeasurable arms, and its crown glances heaven."

     "Indeed, the cross is a cosmic symbol, its vertical and horizontal lines spanning the universe. According to Rutherford: 'The cross of Christ on which he was extended, points, in the length of it, to heaven and earth, reconciling them together; and in the breadth of it, to former and following ages, as being equally salvation to both.' It is the heavenly ladder, the only ladder high enough to touch heaven's threshold. A beautiful thing about the cross is that its center of gravity is not at its exact center, but upwards where the stake and the crossbeam meet. In simple terms it symbolizes the tendency to remove the center of man and his faith from the earth and to "elevate" it into the spiritual sphere. 'Heaven is god's throne and earth his footstool' (Isaiah 66:1), and Christ, suspended on the cross, is the connecting link."
(7a)

   It is beyond the scope of this article, but the story of Adam’s third son, Seth, figures prominantly in many of these traditions, as a Divine being who came to earth and was the forebear of a race of great wisdom and magical skills. The Egyptian Essenes, the Gnostics of Nag Hammadi, and the Hebrew priests all taught of this.

   Many of the ancient cultures wrote of a race of ‘gods’ who came to earth from another solar system and intermingled with the ‘daughters of men’ and produced ‘demi-gods,’ who later became the priest-kings of old, and perhaps, the source of the wisdom masters of Shambhala. Whether these beings came and went and are no longer on this earth is a source of some controversy. The rise of the Chinese Communists beginning in the 1930's have driven many if not most esoteric communities out of seclusion, and the sacking of Tibet and its consequences is well-known. Many adepts may have retreated further, taken residence on the subtle planes, or interspersed among the general population.

   Pythagoras had a fascinating view on the human soul, combining both spiritual with terrestrial or cosmic origins:

   “..it emanates from an unchangeable and higher spiritual order as well as from a former material evolution, from an extinct solar system, and has inhabited many other such solar systems. A visitor on this earth for evolutionary purposes, it is humanity’s destiny to evolve beyond it, beyond the moon, beyond the orbits of the outermost planets and beyond the Sun, and so return to the true home-world lying far from this solar system in the depths of the universe.” (8)

   Jesus, according to PB, was such a being, who came to earth from not only a higher plane but from a higher planet. The occult consensus, according to John Bennett, was that the initiatic brotherhoods since the time of Zoroaster in 500 B.C. began preparing humanity for the influx of a cosmic impulse of love, to counter what had been a nadir of ego-consciousness and lust for power. (9) This view has Jesus not just as a wanderering holy man who taught spiritual principles to a few disciples, but a higher being who brought a divine wave of love-energy to earth. The descending Holy Spirit needed to enter the psychosomatic body for love to take hold in humanity, at the height of ego-consciousness at the end of the astrological Age of Aries. This was the view of Rudolph Steiner as well. However, the Christian Church basically refused the esoteric teaching, solidifying into an orthodox belief system, and the element of the Heart which Christianity represented, initially balanced by the philosophical Hermetic-Cabalistic and Gnostic teachings of Alexandria, became a short-term failure. Despite being kept alive for two thousand years through the mystics of the Church and the hidden brotherhoods in Asia, during the Piscean Age symbolized by love and self-sacrifice, mankind needed to wait for the now dawning Age of Aquarius for the infusion of the principle of Higher Mind to come in and balance the Heart teachings. For Heart without Awareness is blind, lacking vision and discrimination, just as Awareness without Heart is barren, lacking in love and energy, and therefore incomplete.

   A Sufi story tells of the teacher Muhiyuddin going around the Ka’aba in Mecca when he saw an excarnate being in the procession. Upon questioning the being confessed that his last incarnation was before Adam. “While Adam is the father of the human race,” he said, “thirty worlds preceded him.” (10)

   The so-called “axial age,” (a term first coined by philospher Karl Jaspers) from 800-600 B.C. to 200 A.D. (and as late as 600 A.D., according to some sources) was the high point in recorded history for an influx of this hidden wisdom. This is fascinating history. Victoria LePage writes:

   “The seventeenth century was the end of a major religio-cultural cycle that had begun in the centuries immediately preceeding the Christian era, when a new wave of Solar religions from Central Asia poured into Rome and Alexandria, contining the influx of esoteric teachings into the West that had begun with Zoroaster in the sixth century B.C. It was this rich new stream of Eastern wisdom, propagated by a wave of missionary initiates, that transformed Judaism from a tribal into a world religion, gave opulent new life to the learning of Egypt and Greece and brought Rome to its greatest flowering, shaping a high civilization there that would not be surpassed until the nineteenth century. Under the influence of such teachings as Persian Zirvanism, Indian Hindu-Buddhism and Chinese Taoism - all originally from Central Asia - the philosophers of Alexandria molded the foundations of the great Western scholastic tradition that would last for nearly two thousand years more and, through the Essenes, profoundly influenced the development of Christianity.”

   “...But by the sixth century C.E. the epoch of spiritual fertilization from the East was almost over, its high energies on the wane. Now barbarian peoples overran Europe, and at the same time Christianity became a powerful and intolerant state cult that persecuted any form of heterodoxy. Those movements belonging to the West’s inner spiritual tradition started their drift back towards the east, from whence they had come. The inner fraternities that had served the West for so long did not die, as is frequently assumed, but unobtrusively migrated, regrouping in the high valleys and oases of Middle Asia.”

   “Hugh Schonfield traces this massive spiritual exodus from the West which was to lead to our present secular society in his book The Essene Odyssey. The Essenes - both the Palestine sect and those known as the Egyptian Therapeuts, who had absorbed the Egyptian Solomonic and Hermetic wisdom - amalgamated with other Occidental wisdom orders and, under the spur of Jewish persecution, migrated to Iraq and from thence to Turkestan and Afghanistan, where they found refuge. Equally persecuted Gnostics, Manicheans and Nestorian Christians left Christendom behind to found communities in the tarim Basin and the Turfan Depression souht of the Tien Shan mountains. The Zoroastrian magi, displaced from Persia by the rising power of Islam, settled in Afghan monasteries, and so too did many Mandeans, the ancient followers of John the Baptist. They were joined over the centuries, according to Schonfield, by Judeo-Christian Nazarenes, the pre-Christian sect to which Jesus belonged and which was excommunicated by the Paulline Church, after which it formed centers in Afghanistan. There its members were known as the Nasar or the Nusairijah. There can be no doubt that the withdrawal of high-level initiates, the intellectual cream of their respective societies, contributed materially to Europe’s subsequent cultural impoverishment and calamitous descent into a Dark Age.”

   “...On a less conspicuous scale, the holy mountain men of China, the hsien-jen or 'immortals', were retreating during the same period into the Kunlans and the Tarim Basin to wait out the age of Confucian rationalism; the Siddhas, the Jains and other Indian yogic orders were likewise withdrawing to the Himalayas before the iconoclastic Muslim reign in India and the popular piety of Kirshna worship, and tantric Buddhism was retreating further north into Tibet
[Indeed, the great yogi-saint Marpa the translator after an arduous journey returned to Tibet with the tantric teachings of India just before the Muslim invasion].” (11)

   There was a brief respite during the Middle Ages when the Sufis brought Islamic mysticism into Europe, especially Saracen Spain, and later during the so-called “Rosicrucian Enlightenment,” but after the Spanish Inquisition and the Thirty Years’ War, ending in 1648, the brothers of the Rose Cross were said to retreat into Asia:

   “It was the beginning of a final global exodus. In the same century the company of the Sufi masters known as the Khwajagan, who taught in the foremost cities of Turkestan - in Samarkand and Balkh, Merv and Bokhara - and who had shed a brilliant light on Western culture for five hundred years, also withdrew into the hidden heart of Asia, to the foothills of the Hindu Kush; after which their beneficent influence on Christianity and Islam ceased to flow. While it lasted, the spiritual dynasty of the Khwajagan had been a bastion of religious freedom and direct mystical experience, teaching a doctrine of self-transformation through the power of divine love that was independent of any particular tradition, but which respected all religions and all spiritual ways. It was associated with the lamas of Tibet and Xinjiang and shared many of their secret tantric techniques, its teachings and practices illuminating European culture as far west as Spain.” (12)

   According to John Bennett, a follower of Gurdjieff, the Sufis were the tradition that knew the most about the initiatic lore surrounding Shambhala. Above all those schools who traced their origin to Central Asia, according to Bennett, the Sufis

   “assert that there is a perpetual hierarchy headed by the Kuth-i-Zaman or Axis of the Age who receives direct revelations of the Divine Purpose and transmits them to mankind through the Abdal or transformed ones and their followers.” (13)

   These hierarchies have been called the “Ascended Masters” by Alice Bailey, the “Guardians of the Tradition” by Idries Shah, the “perfected ones” by John Bennett, the "Ancient Ones", the "Hidden Directorate" by Sufis, the "Watchers", the "Immortals", and the "Children of Seth".

   In the terminology of PB, one might say that the Divine World Idea has used/ uses such brotherhoods to help fulfill its evolutionary purposes. Ernest Scott writes:

   “History is not the equilibrant of chance and hazard. It does not just happen. The script for the long human story was written by intelligences much greater than man’s own. Certain gains and goals for mankind - and for the biosphere of earth - must be attained within certain intervals of Earth time. These gains are essential for the balance and growth of the solar system of which Earth is a part. The solar system may itself be subject to a similar pressure in the interests of the galaxy of which it is a part.” (14)

   And now, many of the Kalachakric prophecies have been fulfilled, which predicted that the sanctuaries of these Guardians would be overrun by barbarians in the twentieth century, forcing not only a new dispensation of wisdom teachings ("when the iron bird flies, and the iron horse runs on wheels, the dharma will come to the land of the red man”, etc.) but possibly a new center for the Axis Mundi as well. Already the Sufi centres in Afghanistan have been disappearing. Tibet has been decimated, the sacred lands polluted, nuclear waste and oil wells appearing in the territories of ancient Shambhala. The masters of wisdom and the ‘King of the World’ were prophesied in the Kalachakra texts to move to a new location. Already the teachings in a never before revealed, explicit and open form have come to the West, and with the Internet, to the whole world. This is necessary, for as Damiani says:

   "What the Traditionalists don't recognize when they write about "the good old days" is that the World-Idea is changing, bringing about climactic changes...there's no turning back any more to what might have been a couple of hundred years ago." (15)

   He admits that there have been such custodians of wisdom, a hierarchy of intelligences that are guiding the earth and its historical cycle. The gist of the Shambhala message, then, is that there is and has been a more or less permanent grouping, from far back into the pre-history of the planet

   "with transcendental powers hidden within the race that represents its Higher Mind or higher Self throughout history, and that functions as the lever precipitating the species along its evolutionary path by opening significantly large numbers of people to an irradiation of higher energies." (16)

   Much of it now is coming not only from direct teaching - although there is certainly an ongoing revolution in spiritual dissemination taking place - but also in spontaneous supranormal experiences and awakenings of many, many people with no previous training or obvious spiritual background. Near-death experiences as well as the UFO phenomenon are all connected with this evolutionary movement of energy, with UFO's largely felt to be manifestations of beings living in the inner, etheric dimension of the earth. Since ancient times people have reported such things, the latter going into high gear since the Miracle of Fatima in 1917. A high lama that Roerich met while in Tibet called the UFO sighting of Roerich and his party as "the sign of Shambhala." He also told him, "The great stirring has begun! A new cosmic energy is manifesting in the world...Kalagiya, kalagiya, kalagiya. Come to Shambhala!" (17) Such incidents are said to be not of extraterrestrial origin as previously believed, but terrestrial signs emanating from the power center of Shambhala, psycho-physical or supra-physical in nature, of the etheric and psychic realms encircling our physical planet, and serving a transformative purpose. People are thus being guided both from within and without, and in a manner some have termed, "the secularization of the divine." As Dr. Kenneth Ring said in his book, The Omega Project:

   "The prophetic function is being democratized; ordinary men and women in increasing numbers are having bestowed upon them profound soul-opening experiences that carry the charge of prophetic revelation." (18)

   Which is not to say that the function of the fully realised spiritual master is obsolete - hardly, that is but wishful thinking on the part of many would-be students and teachers, although such beings remain quite rare, no doubt - but only to say that more and more people are becoming receptive to a higher vibrational level of consciousness.

   Ewart Cousins (1994) and Leonard Swidler, among others, have written of a second axial age. Their argument is that towards the end of the twentieth century humankind started to experience what Hans Kung calls a Macro-Paradigm-Shift - humanity now understands the world and human responsibility in global, not merely local terms. People understand themselves, their relationship with others differently, which in turn releases new energy and passion to work for a better world. This new self-consciousness is also open to the reality of the spiritual dimension, to the sanctity of life. The world is no longer a resource to be exploited, but one that must be preserved.

   Cousins and Swidler argue that this paradigm shift is more radical than others that have occurred in history and that its profundity compares with the shift that caused the start of the first Axial Age. Swidler argues that at the start of the third millennium, humanity is finally leaving behind the monologue that has dogged human history and is entering the 'Age of Dialogue'. In this new age, communication on a global basis is now not merely a possibility but is an absolute necessity. In short, Swidler argues that humankind is faced with two choices: dialogue or death.

   The second axial shift, then, represents the collision of earlier cultural spheres, each of which imposed their own monologues onto the world. In effect, this process has resulted in globalization - a single technology is rapidly encircling the world. The resulting globalization has forced the development of an ethical system for a unified world. Swidler argues that the move towards dialogue and away from monologue is the most important, radical shift of all and that it is unique in human history. Standing, he says, in consciousness of this new perspective, everything becomes different, and with William Shakespeare in the Tempest we should proclaim, “What a brave new world that hath such creatures in it!” (Act 4, Scene 1).

   On another level this great change can be viewed as the universal working of the World-Idea and Universal Intelligence through humanity and the entire cosmos. Shambhala itself represents real, if mysterious, ancient earth history, while also serving as a symbol of the innate aspiration of the human soul striving for a perfection that is as yet present only in its spiritual domain. Such might be mystically equated, for instance, with Satya Loka of the yogis and saints, lower down the Devachan or Sukhavati of the theosophists and Buddhists, or the heavens of the religionists. On the physical plane such perfection may seem an impossibility, although that is no reason not to work to make things better. "Thy will be done, they kingdom come, on earth, as it is is heaven." 'Incarnational spirituality' is the word of the day. 'Tantric' and non-dual visions of spirituality are gradually supplanting the dualisms of old. Golden Ages and Dark Ages have appeared in the distant past and will occur in the future, yet not just in an endless repetition, a never-ending circle, but in an ever-advancing spiral. The change will take time. Have no illusions, humans still need grace to give birth to their souls - while transforming the planet as much as their present state of evolution allows.

   A healthy scepticism is a sign of intelligence. It is good to recognise that much of the New Age teachings are but a bridge between ego-identification and true spirituality, and not really instructing one in a process leading to actual self-realisation. One must question, seek, and inquire until one awakens the ancient longing for truth within oneself. For, while there are yet traditions, you, the I Am, are the path itself.

   It doesn't seem that we need ‘termas’ anymore, there is the printing press and the internet - although there are forces trying to stop or control it. The teachings are no longer hidden or reserved for a few, although they may for a long time to come remain comparatively hidden due solely to the lack of sincere desire for truth on the part of the masses. Nor is the pressing need of the day for complex kundalini yogic techniques, practiced for years and years in solitary mountain retreats. We don’t need powers or siddhis, a rainbow body, powa initiations, mystical transports, and the like. While benefitting from their examples and sacrifices, we are not Jesus, Buddha, Milarepa or Padma Sambhava. Unless one has a special mission requiring these exotic achievements, we are more immediately concerned with the freedom from ignorance than the ability to manipulate reality. If humanity needs more scientific advances, it will be delivered, by the masters of wisdom or the Universal Intelligence or the planetary logos working through each individual soul as well as across select groups of like mind.

   However, such hidden teachers exist, and have always existed. For thoroughly entertaining, informative, and inspiring reading about many such enigmatic figures please see Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama, and In the Eleventh Hour, a biography of Swami Rama by Rajmani Tigunait.

   PB wrote that a high Lama he met in Southeast Asia who disclosed to him of the secret history of Angkor Wat also told him that these secret adepts would leave Tibet by 1939, finding it no longer hospitable for their purposes. (18a) No doubt many have left, and are now circulating in the general population, but some still remain.

   Certainly higher teachings have been introduced and are being plainly taught all over the globe. Some things remain relatively essential, but the excess baggage of traditions will gradually falli by the wayside. New technologies of spiritual awakening are necessary for our modern, less provincial, more global and intercommunicative age. Nothing is hidden anymore unless one makes it so:

   “You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants anymore, because a servant does not know his master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father. You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. What I command you is to love one another.” (19)

   Much circumspection, however, is necessary in anything that is connected with the New Age, such as the phenomenon of 'channeling' - including any messages from Shambhala. For how to know in any particular case, either in oneself or in another, if it is valid and true? Humility first and last is our shield and buckler, along with sincerity and discrimination. This is separate from the relatively practical consideration that our earth has its own psycho-physical-spiritual grid, chakra centers, ley lines, and central axis conected with the cosmos, which it is to our benefit to co-operate with for our own and the planet’s well-being. Yet not only must channelled or otherwise psychic information be viewed through the light of reason, but ones own intuitive abilities should also be understood, as well as ones indiscriminate reliance on tradition. anadi states:

   “Intuition is a combination of sensitivity and intelligence. To awaken intelligence is many times more difficult than to awaken to enlightenment. To reach enlightenment you often need one lifetime. To become truly intelligent, one Kalpa is needed! Intelligence is something very subtle and very profound. It is not just to have a clever mind...Intelligence comes more from the heart. It is the deep intuitive wisdom of the soul which enables her to understand. It is the unity of the heart, intellect and imagination. Yes, to truly understand you must have imagination.” (20)

   For true wholeness, the human dimension must also be included. This is something many teachers are coming to accept and champion: an integral view of realisation and ones unique flavour of evolution.

   Further, to fully integrate the awakened soul with its extension, the human personality, is a process that continues beyond any awakening. It is a further evolution into the divine which one must offer himself to, prayer for, even beg for. For it requires a radical purification of the subconscious mind, which cannot be done by an act of will. It is a passage through human darkness. Grace must come into play for its completion. Yet it is necesssary for anyone who is destined to teach in any fundamental capacity and be an agent for such grace. It is not the path for all as it requires much endurance and sacrifice:

   “The reservoir of the subconscious mind is filled with worldly thoughts, impulses and instincts inherited from past lives. This must be drained out completely before it can be filled with love and devotion to the Lord-Master.” - Kirpal Singh (21)

   Teachings are adapting themselves for our present age, as presciently called for in the vision of PB and Anthony Damiani. Even the Dalai Lama admits much of the Buddhist doctrines need refreshing and updating, and that even the system of Dalai Lamas may be ending. Much of the older Kalachakric teachings of the inner yoga, the subtle kundalini channel, the chakra system, etc., are being quietly complemented across the globe with direct teachings of the path of self-knowledge, faith and trust in being, and the awakening of the heart: personal, spiritual, and divine - in short, teachings that are the answer to human prayers, not superhuman intent or occult wizardry.

   anadi states:

   "We live in a very intense time...Many esoteric energies are present and evolution is accelerated on many levels. Everything is polarised. Many things are happening on many levels - individual, collective and universal. It is a good time but an intense one. Cleansing is usually connected to some suffering but it works for your ultimate benefit. You are awakening in a multidimensional way - not just to I Am. You are awakening to your intelligence, to understanding what it is you are doing here, to the clarity about the truth of this earthly dimension whereby the force of destiny has locked your sense of me... Existence will present many different elements which are necessary for your growth and awakening...To know what you truly are, you must be more free from certain idiosyncrasies imprinted in you by the collective mind. It is very amazing - the journey of the soul to the realisation of her unique perception of what is. Awakening is not only to realise a generic one state but one's uniqueness as well...Existence is checking you, taking away that which is false, removing what is not yours. Whatever is happening, trust this process and see the divine hand leading your life in the right direction." (22)

   Shambhala has always been mysterious, with access reserved, according to the Tibetans, only to those whose karma is such that they are ready to find it. Many, including recognized lamas, have reported nighttime spiritual transports, not in vision or dream, to its inner sanctuaries. Guidebooks for its location have been written for hundreds of years, but, beginning with recognizable landmarks, the nearer one gets to the actual region the vaguer and more spiritual the descriptions become. It is as though only those whose souls are aligned with truth are permitted access.

   Yet its vision has always been clear. According to LePage:

   "Nonaligned to any one faith, without a church or congregation, without fiat or encyclical, without regnal power or insignia or office, without territorial claims, without moral or military coercion, without a commercial empire or visible place of government, and with an impartial cherishing love for every race and religion on earth, it has endured successfully to the present day precisely because its authority is invisible and has never been available to attack...Shambhala is presented to us as the channel for the transformation of the axial grace and power of Heaven that falls on all religions and cultures without discrimination and which therefore does not need to proselytize or to make itself known, to pass laws or punish unbelievers."

   "The Kalachakra texts say that one day the reign of the King of Shambhala will extend over the whole earth, which will become like a garden; a new Wisdom age will dawn and humanity will make rapid spiritual progress. The enemies of Shambhala will be defeated and those barbarians who invade its sacred territory will be destroyed; yet that destruction will be their salvation. For Shambhala's high vibrations will purify them, and their souls will become pellucid as crystal, so that after death on the battlefield they will be reborn into a Pure Land or else be liberated beyond any earthly paradise into Nirvana."
(23)

   Thus will be fulfilled St. John of Patmos vision of "a new heaven and a new earth."

   Such dreams have been around for centuries. Many mysterious events, however, as well as a new consensus reality is gradually forming today, in the midst of great turmoil and suffering, all of which is both sobering and wonderful at the same time. Shambhala as a vision of unity in diversity, of human oneness, human freedom, is re-appearing in a new form.

   How does your light shine?

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1. Anthony Damiani, Living Wisdom (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, Inc., 1996), p. 55
2. Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, 20:2.8
3. Edwin Bernbaum, The Way to Shambhala (Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, 1989), p. 66
4. Victoria LePage, Shambhala (Varanasi, India: Pilgrims Publishing (first published by Quest Books in 1996), p. 44-45
5 Tsultrim Allione, Women of Wisdon (Rooutledge & Kegan Paul, Arkana ed., 1986), p. 42
6. LePage, op. cit., p. 242-244
7. Ibid, p. 64
7a. Nitin Kumar, "Buddha and Christ - Two Gods on the Path to Humanity", Nov. 2003 http://www.exoticindia.com/article/buddhaandchrist/
8. LePage,op. cit., p. 149
9. John Bennett, The Masters of Wisdom (London: Turnstone Books, 1977), p. 69
10. Scott, op. cit., p. 217
11. Ibid, p. 137-138
12. John Bennett, Gurdjieff: Making A New World (London: Turnstone Books, 1973), p. 29-50
13. Ibid, p. 25
14. Scott, op. cit., p. 250-257
15. Anthony Damiani, op. cit., p. 57
16. LePage, op. cit., p. 259
17. Nicholas Roerich, Shambhala (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1990), p. 11, 31
18. Kenneth Ring, The Omega Project (New York: William Morrow, 1992), p. 235
18a. Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1988), Volume 10, p. 201
19. John 15: 12-17, The Jerusalem Bible
20. Aziz Kristof (anadi), The Human Buddha (Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2000),, p. 359-361
21. Kirpal Singh, Spiritual Elixer, p. 165
22. Kristof, op. cit., p. 297-298
23. LePage, op. cit., p. 225-226, 268