Order of Shambala
Countless conspiracy theories and fringe ideas exist about Tibetan Masters with secret knowledge who rule the world via secret underground tunnels. Those theories are mostly wrong. First of all, the Masters do not rule the world. Then again, they did influence world events in the past. They never discuss this period in their history, however. They do not control a series of underground tunnels; the tunnels are a metaphor for the dream access they have in the Periphery. Finally, calling them Tibetan Masters is something of a misnomer. They are the Order of Shambala and they do not even live in Tibet. They do not even live on Earth. The Order resides in the Realm of Shambala, which is located in the Otherworld of Hod.
Most members of the Order hail from Tibet, but the Order has Monks from all over the world. Enlightenment is not limited to Tibetans, nor is membership in the Order. Even though the group is sometimes referred to as the Monks of Shambala, the Order’s membership is not exclusively male either. There are female members of the Order who live in a Nunnery in Shambala’s otherworldly complex.
Some of the Order’s members are no longer strictly human. They are Bodhisattvas, souls who have delayed entry into Nirvana in order to help others reach Enlightenment, also known as Kerubim in the West. Unlike their brethren who serve the Heavenly Host, sometimes the Bodhisattvas end their celestial existence and reincarnate as humans to better serve mankind. The Order believes that all three of the High Incarnates are reincarnated Bodhisattvas.
According to legend, Avalokiteshvara Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, founded this group sometime during the 4th century B.C., when he created a sacred place in the Sephiroth of Hod. Avalokiteshvara lit the immortal Kalacakra flame and he established Shambala around it. Once complete, he returned to the plane of Malkuth and gathered together twenty-three wise monks whom he took to Shambala. He connected Shambala to Earth via a group of Gateways located in Tibet.
Chenrezig gathered more Enlightened Monks and taught each of them the ways of Abhidharma, which allowed the Monks to control how they reincarnated. To a certain extent anyway. When the Monks died, they reincarnated somewhere within the cultural area of Tibet, with some exceptions. The other Lamas then sought the reincarnated Monk. When found, they began training him where he had left off in his previous incarnation. The Order calls these reincarnated masters Tulkus.
The Lamas, all Buddhists, initially held great theological debates between Mahayana Buddhism and Ch’an Buddhism. The Mahayana faction believed that Enlightenment could only come through discipline after a long period of intense study and training. The Ch’an faction believed that it was possible for a person to instantly attain Enlightenment under certain circumstances. This led to a Great Debate held in Shambala around 792 A.D. The Mahayana faction won out, and the Ch’an faction left Shambala. The Ch’an teachings eventuality developed into Zen Buddhism.
After the Ch’an faction’s departure, the Monks of Shambala lived free of theological debate in their own other side of the Gateway. On the other side, Buddhism competed with the earlier Bön religion, a shamanistic faith that had been practiced by the earliest inhabitants of Tibet. Fifty years after the Great Debate in Shambala, a Bön King named Lang Darma began a campaign of religious persecution designed to eliminate Buddhism from Tibet. This movement motivated the Monks of Shambala to begin meddling in Mundane affairs. When Lang Darma died, his Yarlung Dynasty fell apart and the Tibetan Empire was no more. The country was taken over by the Chinese of the T’ang Dynasty, but that government also collapsed. For the next few centuries, Tibet and China had little contact and Central Asia became a “No Man’s Land.” Rumors abound that the Order of Shambala took a very active part in the Yarlung Dynasty’s collapse in Tibet, as well as the T’ang Dynasty’s collapse in China. Some say that the Order even resorted to violence. The Order itself claims only to have made certain that no such rulers rose up to take their place.
The Order of Shambala resumed its reclusive nature afterward, and the Mongols invaded under Genghis Khan and conquered Tibet. The country regained its independence within two centuries. The significance of the Mongol Invasion was not felt until the 15th century, when representatives from Shambala visited the Mongol ruler Altan Khan. He did not have the power of past Mongol rulers, like Genghis Khan or Qubilai Khan, but Altan Khan was the most powerful ruler of his time. He gave a Tulku named Sönam Gyatso the title of Dalai Lama. In return, the Order declared Altan Khan the “King of Dharma, Divine Purity.”
This began the period of heavy Shambalan influence in Tibet. Three Tulkus known as the High Incarnates held power positions: the Manjushri Rimpoche ruled Shambala and spent most of his time in Hod; the Dalai Lama became both the spiritual and political leader of Tibet by the 17th century; the Panchen Lama, or Great Scholar, a purely religious figure, became the second most powerful leader in Tibet. All three Old Souls controlled their reincarnations through Abhidharma, thus continuing their work for centuries.
Potula Palace was built in Lhasa to mirror the Order of Shambala’s palace in the Sephiroth of Hod. The Tibetan country developed into an earthly recreation of the Buddhist Ideal of Shambala. This isolated it from surrounding countries where Buddhism no longer dominated. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Mongols and the Manchu Chinese intervened in Tibet’s affairs whenever there was a period of instability between the end of one Dalai Lama’s Incarnation and the beginning of the next. This time was also a period of the Order of Shambala’s first contact with Western organizations. The Rosicrucians, the Templars, and the Cabal all made contact with the Order of Shambala in the 18th century.
The Manchu Dynasty finally fell in 1911, during the Chinese Revolution, and it looked liked Tibet would regain self-rule. As Sun Yat-sen and the Nationalists defeated the Manchu Government, Chinese troops were expelled. Tibet severed all ties with China and the Order of Shambala focused on creating an independent Buddhist State that would be a buffer between their sanctuary in Hod and the rest of the world.
Then power shifted in China once more and Sun Yat-sen faced Mao Zedong and the Communists. A civil war broke out in China. It seemed that whomever won the power struggle would overtake Tibet next. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who wanted to introduce some modern changes to the Order and to Tibet, began organizing an army, which brought him in conflict with the Ninth Panchen Lama and the Seventh Manjushri Lama in the 1920s. This disagreement was almost as divisive as the Mahayana/Ch’an Debate from the 8th century. The Panchen Lama left Tibet and the Manjushri Lama isolated himself in Shambala.
This would have been no more than a political squabble, except that it had the misfortune of happening during a resurgence of Morsater who had been causing ripples on Earth since the First World War and its effects were beginning to be felt by the Order of Shambala. As Mao Zedong consolidated power in the 1930s, the three High Incarnates died. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama died in 1933. A minion of Morsater came through the Sammael Gate to Shambala in 1935 and killed the Seventh Manjushri Lama. The Ninth Panchen Lama died in 1937, while still living in exile.
A Regent was appointed ruler of Tibet and a council of Tulkus began searching for the three High Incarnates’ new incarnations. During this time, Mao Zedong defeated the Nationalists and installed a powerful Communist government in Beijing. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama was enthroned at the age of five in 1940. A seven-year-old was declared the Manjushri Lama in 1943, just in time for one last powerful onslaught by Morsater in Hod. A mixed group of Gifted banished it that year, but not before Morsater had spread destruction across the Sephiroth of Hod. Shambala was not spared and the Eighth Manjushri Rimpoche was killed only thirteen days after being enthroned. The Ninth Manjushri Lama was not found until 1949, and it was not until 1951 that the Tenth Panchen Lama was enthroned. One year after the Chinese invaded Tibet.
On May 31, 1950, Tibet and China signed a treaty granting Tibet limited autonomy, but actually put that nation firmly under Beijing’s control. This did not stop various Tibetan factions from resisting Chinese rule. The Order of Shambala did not want to overtly act in the struggle because of what had happened centuries earlier with the Tibetan Yarlung Dynasty and the Chinese T’ang Dynasty. This inaction lends credibility to the theory that the Order’s earlier political interventions were much more violent than the Order presently admits.
The Chinese said they were in Tibet to free the people from their “theocratic oppressors.” When groups like the Khampu tribesmen declared that they did not want their Communist Liberators to free them, the Chinese acted more aggressively. They seized property and guns, and abused monks and nuns in the streets. A Chinese general commanding troops in the capital city of Lhasa wanted the Dalai Lama to appear before him, in hopes of capturing the Tibetan Leader. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, where he was given political asylum.
After the Dalai Lama left Tibet, the Tenth Panchen Lama was appointed acting Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region, a puppet post that the Chinese established for the Dalai Lama, in hopes that he would cooperate and lead the Tibetans into accepting the ideologies of the People’s Republic of China. When the Fourteenth Dalai Lama fled Tibet, Mao had hopes that the Tenth Panchen Lama would be more cooperative. The Panchen Lama dashed those hopes in 1962, when he presented his 70,000 Character Petition to the Chinese Government, in which he complained about the Party’s policies of mass arrests, torture, and execution, and he argued for Tibetan autonomy. The Panchen Lama followed that with a speech in 1964 declaring his outward support for the exiled Dalai Lama.
The Party imprisoned the Panchen Lama without a trial. He spent the next fourteen years incarcerated, finally being released in 1978. During those years, the Order of Shambala was surprised to find that the Communist Army was undertaking a campaign to systematically destroy every Gateway connecting Tibet to the Realm of Shambala. During the height of Tibet’s power, somewhere between thirteen and forty such Gateways existed in Tibet. Some Monks even claim that there once existed over one hundred Gateways. By 1979, only three remained.
This severely limited the Manjushri Lama’s power in Tibet and members of the Order were forced to spend more time on Malkuth if they wanted to influence Tibet’s affairs. In 1978, a week before the Chinese released the Panchen Lama from prison, Chinese soldiers ambushed and killed the Manjushri Lama and the five other Tulkus traveling with him through Tibet. The Order believes this murder gave the Chinese enough confidence to release the Panchen Lama.
The ability of the Army of the People’s Republic to find and destroy the Gateways to Hod, as well as ambush and murder the Ninth Manjushri Lama, has led to speculation that the Cabal controlled the Chinese’s actions, and it was Combine Agents who actually killed the King of Shambala. Adherents use the mysterious death of the Tenth Panchen Lama in 1989 as further proof of this theory.
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama remains in exile and continues to work to bring freedom back to Tibet. His efforts gained him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, but the People’s Republic rejected his plans for a peaceful reconciliation. The Monks discovered the Eleventh Panchen Lama in 1995, a six year-old. The Chinese Government promptly had him arrested and have tried to have a Chinese security officer’s son enthroned as the new Panchen Lama in his stead. The real Panchen Lama is currently eleven years old, the world’s youngest political prisoner. His whereabouts are unknown and even the most powerful Gifted and Enlightened in the Order of Shambala cannot find him.
This leaves the Tenth Manjushri Lama. The King of Shambala is currently in his early twenties and he is faced with the task of protecting Shambala, restoring freedom to Tibet, finding and freeing the Panchen Lama, and preventing the Minions of darkness from destroying Shambala.
The Order of Shambala believes very strongly in Reincarnation. When people die, they believe their souls travel through the Otherworlds, which the Order of Shambala calls the Bardos. Each Bardo confuses and tempts the recently dead. Some of the dead go to Geburah, either carrying on a semblance of their former existence in the Twilight World, suffering the torments of Abaddon, or wandering to one of the other Realms. Some of the dead go to the Garden of Earthly Delights, a false Paradise in Hod, and others commune with the Gods in Netzach or the Heavenly Host in Binah. These fates are not permanent, however. Each person eventually reincarnates on Earth. Many skip the Bardos completely, reincarnating on Earth without any real control over their incarnation. Karma determines a normal person’s next incarnation. Only a select few cease the endless Cycle of Death and Rebirth and enter the Sephiroth of Kether, which the Monks call Nirvana.
Only the Tulku have the ability to chose their next incarnation and decide the circumstances of their rebirth. They believe that all of the Otherworlds are illusions. It is easy to realize this about Hod, because Hod’s worlds are so malleable. The Order of Shambala believes that all the Otherworlds are malleable as well, though some are more resistant to change. Dreams are Illusions. Death is an Illusion. The Gods and the Demons are Illusions. Even the individual Self is an Illusion. Only after an individual truly realizes that he does not exist as an individual, does he have any hope of attaining Enlightenment.
The ultimate goal of the Order of Shambala is for every human being to attain Enlightenment. It is a long-term goal because it takes countless incarnations for the soul to realize the true nature of reality and be able to escape the unending Cycle of Death and Rebirth. It takes years of training to become aware of this reality. Eventually, after years of discipline and training, a person may evolve spiritually enough to ascend Nirvana upon his death. Once there, he may either proceed to his ultimate destiny, the same ultimate destiny of all mankind, or he may return to the Otherworlds as a Bodhisattva.
The Initiates form the lowest level of the Order of Shambala. There are Initiate Monks and Initiate Nuns, though women are still treated somewhat as second class citizens. The Initiates are always Gifted and they show signs of either Seer or Chi Powers. Initiates are usually recruited from religious institutions on Earth, and they are brought to one of the three remaining Gateways, where they are invited to join the Order in the Realm of Shambala.
Lamas are in charge of groups of Initiates. Lamas are always at least Gifted, though some have become Enlightened by the time they achieve this level of responsibility. They are put in charge of monasteries on Earth and they oversee the Realm of Shambala’s daily operations. Lamas are taught to control their next incarnation. A character has to be at least a Lama to know the secret of Shambala’s tunnels.
Tulkus are Lamas who have controlled their incarnation. They are always Enlightened, and they at least know the Past Life Recall Abhinja. Tulkus are in charge of locating the reincarnations of previous Lamas and helping them to remember their own past lives.
The High Incarnates are Shambala’s rulers, though some operate mostly on Earth. The Fifteenth Dalai Lama is currently living in exile, but the Order considers him to be the religious and political ruler of Tibet. He is currently around forty years old. The Eleventh Panchen Lama is the second most powerful leader in Tibet, though he is purely a religious leader. He was imprisoned by the Chinese Government as young boy. Nobody knows where he is or if he still lives. The ruler of Shambala is the Manjushri Rimpoche, the Tenth Manjushri Lama. He is currently a very old man and he spends most of his time in the Realm of Hod, trying desperately to hold the Order of Shambala together and to restore Tibet’s freedom.
Few hidden organziations are aware of the Order’s existence, though many still unknowingly support it. The Wicce, the Ghost Dancers, the Nomads, the Brotherhood of Legba, and countless Solitaire groups have large factions that support the Tibetan Freedom Movement, even though they do not realize that there is an otherworldly group trying to restore freedom in Tibet. The Order of Shambala is usually considered no more than a rumor.
The Storm Dragons and the Red Lotus both know about the Order of Shambala. Both consider the Monks of Shambala to be pale imitations of their own Associations, following watered-down and misleading versions of the original Truths revealed by the Celestial Dragon. Still, the Storm Dragons consider the Order of Shambala an ally, as both share a common enemy: the Communist Government of China.
The Society of Assassins considers the Order of Shambala to be a variation of their own Covenant. They are both secret societies that dwell in mountain lairs that connect to Realms in the Sephiroth of Hod. The Society believes that the Order was a precursor to the Assassins by the events that brought about the fall of the Yarlung and T’ang Dynasties. The Society of Assassins believes that the Monks performed some assassinations of their own, but merely lost their way afterwards, becoming soft and ineffective. The Order of Shambala denies these accusations. It tries to have as little to do with the Assassins as possible, even if the Society is trying to make the world a better place.
The Rosicrucians and the Templars believe the Order of Shambala to be a small Association with some interesting powers and abilities, but nothing more. Both also believe the Cabal is responsible for all the troubles the Order suffered in the 20th century. The Templars know the Communist Chinese destroyed a number of Gateways to Hod and do not believe that Mundane forces could have accomplished such a feat.
Skills and Abilities
Although the Order of Shambala includes members from all over the world, Tibetan is the common language spoken in the Otherworld. All members of the Order possess learn the Tibetan Language, even if this is not their native language.
As part of their training, all members of the Order learn Occult Knowledge, Philosophy (Tibetan Buddhist), and Trance. Since the Order is based in the Sephiroth of Hod, all members learn the Lucid Dreaming Skill.
The Gateways between Shambala and Earth are all located in the Himalayas, so learning the Survival (Mountains) Skill is something of a necessity.
Most Gifted members possess some combination of Chi Powers and Second Sight. Those are both seen as valid ways of working toward Enlightenment. The Order has little use for Magic and Necromancy, so it does not teach those Arts to its members.
High-ranking members learn the Abhinja powers, putting them on a more equal footing with the Seraphim and the Pagan Pantheons. Abhinja also allows the Enlightened members to become Tulkus: lamas who have control over how and when they reincarnate.
Most of the Monks of Shambala are simply that, monks who dwell in the realm of Shambala. They do not worry about material things. They spend their days working toward reaching Nirvana. Since the Chinese Invasion of Tibet, some members have worked with exiled Tibetans, acting as relief workers for refugees or political activists for the Free Tibet movement.
By reincarnating in different lands, a sizable faction of the Order has tried to spread the Order’s teachings. Reincarnating in different places has been a lot more difficult for the Tulkus to control, however. Some of the reincarnated Tulkus realize their true identity at an early age and become metaphysical prodigies. Others reach adulthood without knowing the truth of their existence and may spend years in almost any career before discovering their true nature.