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Shambhala Mystery Tour
by Ernst von Waldenfels
Khamar Monastery is the biggest and most important Buddhist monastery in the Gobi. Furthermore, it is the only monastery in Mongolia directly connected to Shambhala.
What is Shambhala? That is a very difficult and complex question. It is a holy concept with various meanings, difficult to comprehend.
For many centuries, monks in the monasteries of Lhasa, Kumbun, Sera, and Gandan have meditated over Shambhala and tried to understand what even older sages have written about it. The first book to undisputedly mention Shambhala is the Kalatshakra (“Wheel of Time”), a Buddhist manuscript written in India in the Ninth Century.
The Kalatshakra is a holy text for Tibetan Buddhism; the Dalai Lama has many times referenced it. But Shambhala is mentioned not only in the Kalatshakra; it appears in many other Tibetan, Mongolian, and Chinese texts as well.
Very simply put, Shambhala can mean three things:
The Kalatshakra not only mentions that there will be 25 Kings of Shambhala, but also gives their names and the durations of their reigns. The Kalatshakra was written more than a thousand years ago. We are now in the time of the 22nd King of Shambhala. There will be two more and then will come Rigden Dshapo, the Last King of Shambhala, who will lead the faithful into the final battle against the enemies of Buddhism.
The mystery of Shambhala is necessary to understanding the importance of Khamar Monastery. This monastery is one of the few places on earth – and the only place in Mongolia – where our reality and the reality of Shambhala intersect.
Whether you believe in Shambhala or simply find the concept interesting, Khamar Monastery is certainly one of the most fascinating places to visit in Mongolia. Open yourself to it, and you will realize that you have come to a unique place in the world.
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photos by Julia Pakhomova and Sarah Fischer
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