Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lookin' for Lore: Shambala & Agartha

We’ve all heard of Shangri-La. The term was coined by James Hilton for his 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, where Shangri-La is described a mystical place of peace and healing. You may remember that in the 2008 film Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Rick O’Connell is healed by waters from Shangri-La.

Many scholars believe that Shangri-La is based on Shambala, a mythical kingdom in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, sought by both Eastern and Western explorers.

Early Soviet leaders became interested in Shambala, and planned various expeditions to find it, though most fell apart before anyone left Russia. The Nazis, with an enthusiasm for all things occult, were also interested in Shambala, where they hoped to find an ancient master race similar to the Nordic race, but unspoiled by Buddhism.

Photographer: Philipp Roelli (2005) released under the GFDL by creatorShambala appears in several science fiction stories of the 1930s, a clue to its inclusion in The Secret World. In Tibetan Buddhist and Indian Buddhist traditions, Shambala is a mythical kingdom hidden somewhere in Inner Asia. Early records may have referred to a real place.

Whether or not there ever was a real Shambala, the realm came to be seen as a Buddhist Eden, a fabulous kingdom whose reality is visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic. It was in this form that the Shambala myth reached the West, where it influenced non-Buddhist as well as Buddhist spiritual seekers — and, to some extent, popular culture in general.

Agartha pic obtained from HURGANDO EN LA MITOLOGIA blogDuring the late-19th century, Theosophical Society co-founder HP Blavatsky alluded to the Shambala, giving it currency for Western occult enthusiasts. Madame Blavatsky, who claimed to be in contact with a Great White Lodge of Himalayan Mystics, mentions Shambala in several places, but without giving it especially great emphasis. She also referenced Shigatse in Tibet and Luxor in Egypt as being centers of Theosophical wisdom.

According to one story in Tibetan Buddhism, Shambala is actually located inside the earth, closely related to the underground realm of Agartha, another legendary city that is said to reside in the earth's core. It is related to the belief in a hollow Earth.

The concept of a hollow Earth recurs in folklore the world over and as the premise for subterranean fiction, with such varied proponents as Dante Alighieri, Jules Verne, L. Frank Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lewis Carroll, and the Wachowskis. It is also featured in some present-day pseudoscientific and conspiracy theories.

It was theorized by 20th Century Theosophists that "ascended masters" of esoteric wisdom inhabit subterranean caves or a hollow Earth, perhaps in Antarctica, the North Pole, Tibet, Peru, or Mount Shasta in California. Interestingly, London, Seoul and Brooklyn are not mentioned as having such spiritual connections to Agartha.

TSW’s Agartha is occupied by the World Tree, which is another story.

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