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For thousands of years rumors and reports have circulated that somewhere beyond Tibet, among the icy peaks and secluded valleys of Central Asia, there lies an inaccessible paradise, a place of universal wisdom and ineffable peace called Shambhala.


James Hilton wrote about it in Lost Horizon, Hollywood portrayed it in the 1960s film Shangri-La, and recent films such as Kundun, Little Buddha and Seven Years in Tibet allude to the magical Utopia.

The Sanskrit name means “place of peace, of tranquility.”


Though it’s true location has never been found, its beginnings are unknown and its existence is unproven, Shambhala is recognized and honored by at least eight major religions, and is regarded by most esoteric traditions as the true center of the planet and the world’s spiritual powerhouse. It is said to be inhabited by adepts from every race and culture who form an inner circle that secretly guides human evolution.


This remarkable kingdom reputedly exists both above and below ground, with a network of tunnels hundreds of miles long.

“Cars of strange design flash along their length,” writes Andrew Tomas, author of Shambhala, Oasis of Light, “and they are illumined by a brilliant, artificial light which affords growth to the grains and vegetables and long life without disease to the people.”

Victoria LePage writes in her superbly researched book, Shambhala:

“Modern society is in desperate need of a zone of order, a mandalic center within spiraling chaos.”

And she maintains, the quest for this center leads us directly to Shambhala, which she calls “The World Axis.” LePage, who has been studying Shambhala for nearly fifty years, says that many marvels are supposed to have been seen in this underground world: museums, libraries, stores of jewels, and technological inventions thousands of years before their time. And, according to Chinese lore, the aircraft and space vehicles of the Immortals of Shambhala journey among the stars, observing the habitats of other races and kingdoms.

It would be easy to dismiss Shambhala as pure mythical fantasy, were it not for a very credible explorer who searched for, found and returned to tell us something about his experiences in Shambhala. Nicholas Roerich, a Russian-born artist, poet, writer and distinguished member of the Theosophical Society, led an expedition across the Gobi Desert to the Atlai mountain range from 1923 to 1928, a journey which covered 15,500 miles across 35 of the world’s highest mountain passes.


As LePage puts it,

“Roerich was a man of unimpeachable credentials: a famous collaborator in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, a colleague of the impresario Diaghilev and a highly talented and respected member of the League of Nations.”

He was also influential in the FDR administration, and was the pivotal force behind placing the Great Seal of the United States on the dollar bill. Roerich may have been on a mission to return what was said to be part of the sacred “Chintamani Stone," which was itself believed to be part of a magical meteorite from a solar system in the constellation of Orion.


According to lamaist legend, a fragment of this Chintamani Stone from what is probably the star Sirius is sent wherever a spiritual mission vital to humanity is set up, and is returned when that mission is completed. Once held in the possession of the League of Nations, it was entrusted to Roerich after the organization failed. Though it is not known whether he was able to return the fragment or not, the expedition lent credibility to those who believed that Shambhala was more than a myth.

Roerich kept a diary during the trip and, while in Mongolia, noted that; “belief in the imminence of the era of Shambhala was very strong.” In his book, Heart of Asia, Roerich describes both his scientific observations and his personal spiritual quest. This blending of the scientific and the spiritual is also present in the hundreds of paintings Roerich made throughout the expedition.

“His eye captured the shapes and colors of the mountains, monasteries, rock carvings, stupas, cities and peoples of Asia,” writes Jaqueline Decter in Nicholas Roerich; “his soul understood their spirit; and his brush forged a synthesis of beauty.”

Throughout his life, Roerich strove to link all scientific and creative disciplines to advance true culture and international peace, citing the power of art and beauty to accomplish such a feat.

The Roerich Peace Pact, which obligated nations to respect museums, cathedrals, universities and libraries as they did hospitals, was established in 1935 and became part of the United Nations organizational charter.

“Today,” notes LePage, “every major Russian city has a Roerich organization that expresses his ideas for a new type of enlightened civilization based on the utopian principles of Shambhala.”

Tomas, an admirer of Roerich and a strong believer in Shambhala’s physical reality, claims that Vatican archives contain reports by Jesuit missionaries which concern importations from the emperors of China to the “Spirits of the Mountains” in the Nan Shan and Kun Lun Ranges,

“usually in times of national crisis when the Chinese rulers could not reach a decision.”

Tomas wasn’t the only one to consider Shambhala a physical reality: his conviction was shared both by a growing metaphysical school in Europe, and by Rene Guenon, a Sufi scholar and skilled student of the ancient Jewish Cabala, and a contemporary of Roerich and spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff.


His book, Le Roi du Monde (The King of the World), though written in a cryptic style that requires decoding, contains some of the most specific information available on the sacred site.

He considered Shambhala the prototypic Holy Land, of which Jerusalem, Delphi and Benares are or were simply reflections. The neo-Theosophist Alice Bailey wrote that “Shambhala is the vital centre in the planetary consciousness.”


And, interestingly enough, a belief in Shambhala’s powers is documented to have been the driving force behind the Nazi neo-occultist mystique. Numerous writers have stated that the Nazis attempted to contact the hidden center by sending emissaries to Tibet, seeking to elicit the secrets of a great “Ahrimaic” earth-force, unknown to science, that exerts power over all of material nature, which they believed had its seat in Shambhala.


But the power-base is reputed to have invincible, divine protection, and attempts by malevolent forces to penetrate its sacred boundaries are always thwarted. Indeed, even benevolent individuals who seek to enter before they have been “called” are said to meet with disaster. One must be a purified “initiate” willing to sacrifice the human ego and human comforts before she or he is considered ready to make the arduous “journey up the mountain.”

According to many esoteric traditions, the secrets of initiation are now opening to the masses, as they have in past ages. And James Redfield’s latest book, The Secret of Shambhala, In Search of the Eleventh Insight, outlines what Redfield intuits those initiations might be.


The author of best-seller The Celestine Prophecy says he wrote Shambhala to,

“capture the essence of the insight that I think is occurring to people already; I’m not trying to create the Eleventh Insight, I’m trying to describe what I think is already occurring,” he emphasizes.

                         James Redfield Tibetan                             Prayer Wheels                    Portrait of Roerich by his son Svetoslav, 1937


Like Celestine, Shambhala is an adventure meant to be a parable. The central character is again unnamed, reflecting every man’s identity. It’s Redfield himself, you and me and anyone else who cares to come along. This time, trekking to Tibet ala Brad Pitt, we build on previous insights, consciously connecting with our higher energy, breathing it in, sustaining it and extending it out to influence circumstances around us. We learn the “Four Extensions,” ways to enhance and channel our energy fields required in order to master our thoughts and emotions and be eligible for entry into Shambhala.

The First Extension improves the quality of energy we take in physically, beginning with food; maintaining higher energy is impossible if one eats meat, we are told. Indeed, the arduous adventure, fraught with traumatic occurrences in a frigid climate, is made with little more than soup and vegetables as sustenance.


Redfield, who is vegetarian, feels there is a fundamental relationship between diet, physical movement and spiritual consciousness. He is impressed with research being conducted by Robert Young (author of One Disease, One Cure) on the acid/alkaline approach to nutrition and longevity.

“The medical model of the microbe being the enemy is going to be laughed at hilariously in the coming century,” states Redfield, who elaborates:


“When we eat, metabolized foods leave a waste or ash in our bodies. If this ash is alkaline, it can be extracted from our bodies quickly with little energy. If it is acidic, it is hard for the blood and lymph systems to eliminate it, and the waste is stored in our organs and tissues as solids lower vibrational crystalline forms that create blocks or disruptions in the vibratory levels of our cells, rendering our body chemistry acidic, which signals bacterial, viral and fungal microbes that it is time to decompose the dead tissue. Not an ideal platform from which to connect with the divine energy within us, which is our next step."

We learn that we must intentionally ask to connect with the divine, and that determining our success is measured by our sense of beauty the standard Roerich espoused.


“The degree of beauty we see measures how much divine energy we are receiving within us; the higher our level of energy the more beauty we see,” writes Redfield, who says we can learn to visualize this higher level of energy flowing out from us into the world, likewise using the emotional state of love as a measure that this is occurring.


We are instructed to expect that level of energy, to believe that it will be there in all situations, and to visualize it as a “prayer-field” that goes out ahead of us.

Redfield acknowledges Dr. Larry Dossey’s pioneering work on the power of prayer to positively influence medical conditions, noting that,

“some forms of prayer assume we have no role other than to ask, while others assume that God has set up the laws of human existence so that whether the request is fulfilled or not depends in some part on the certainty of our belief that it will be done. All great prayers in the Bible are affirmations, not requests. All our expectations have a prayer effect. We are in effect praying all the time for some kind of future for ourselves and others; we just aren’t fully aware of it.”

The Second Extension begins when we set this extended prayer-field to enhance the synchronistic flow of our lives, staying in a state of conscious alertness and expectation for the next intuition or coincidence that moves our lives further along. The Third Extension involves another expectation: that our prayer-field go out and boost the level of energy in others, lifting them into their own connection with the Divine.


The Fourth Extension involves learning the importance of anchoring and maintaining the outflow of our energy, in spite of fearful or angry situations. We do this, says Redfield,

“by always maintaining a posture of detachment toward events as they occur, seeking a positive meaning in the situation and always expecting the process to save us, no matter what is happening. If we find a negative image coming to mind, we must consider whether it is an intuitive warning and, if so, take appropriate action, but we must always return to the expectation that a higher synchronicity will guide us past the problem.”

A second step in the Fourth Extension involves fully expecting that the human world can move toward the ideal modeled by Shambhala.

“Visualize people everywhere mastering technology and using it in the service of our spiritual development,” writes Redfield.


“See them focusing on the real reason we are here on this planet: to create a culture on earth that is conscious of our role in spiritual evolution and to teach that understanding to our children.”

After outlining the dangers of currently developing technological trends, Redfield states:

“I’m very optimistic: Besides my book, there have been a host of others, all talking about a new awareness that’s emerging. I think there is a lot of buzz spiritual dialogue around the world, a great interest in rediscovering the mysteries surrounding human life and about our origins. I contend that out of this dialogue is emerging the first design of a new world view that will replace the old Cartesian/Newtonian world view that still rules science, government and popular consciousness. I think things are moving towards a more positive spiritual culture on the planet, even though there are some terrible situations existing.”

The secret of Shambhala, that the angels await our invitation and directives to influence earthly situations, is our ultimate hope for bringing about the positive outcome Redfield envisions. He suggests that if we could fully embrace the idea that we are spiritual beings in a spiritual world, then food, health, technology, media and government would all move into their proper roles in the evolution and perfection of the planet.

“My new book is about the power of transpersonal creativity the way we create the situations in our lives, the way we influence others. In my view, we are connected interpersonally, but we’re not necessarily communal.”

Redfield thinks that civilization has been slowly evolving towards an ideal world, and has spent time in “intentional communities” that try to share a single vision. He comments:

“Often,these communities don’t understand that humans have a need to create an individual, personal vision in which we artistically create the future for ourselves first, then communicate that to others. Out of that comes a spontaneous evolution towards a collective vision.”

LePage notes that “High Asia has always been a collective melting pot.” Though many younger Tibetans consider Shambhala to be no more than myth, the traditional culture of Tibet is totally dedicated to the spiritual life. Yin, a Tibetan in Redfield’s book, says;

“We are arguably the most religious culture anywhere. And we have been attacked by the most atheistic government on earth. It is a perfect contrast for all the world to see. One vision or the other will prevail.”

Tomas sees only two types of people those who recognize a truth first and the ones who admit it last.

“It is the pioneers who have always advanced culture and civilization,” he says. “There are no honor rolls anywhere for those who rejected the spherical shape of the earth, the Theory of Relativity, steamships, airplanes or spaceships, but there are monuments to the creators of bold ideas.”

As yet, the thesis of a hidden community of perfect beings guiding the evolution of mankind belongs to the realm of speculation. But for LePage, such a thesis needs no outer proof: in her mind, Shambhala, and Shambhala alone, is the hidden force that has been driving the race onward towards its spiritual destiny.

“As the plant grows by heliotropism, so humanity grows by an inner compulsion towards the Light that draws it to itself. I believe Shambhala governs this spiritual tropism, drawing us soulward as though by the pull of an interior lodestone. It is our sun; under its burning lens that refracts divinity, the metamorphosis becomes possible.”