The Rise of The Shambhala Warriors & Living Bodhisattva


The Shambhala Warrior Prophecy:

Tibetan legend has it that the Kingdom of Shambhala rises when the world is in danger of annihilating itself through greed and corruption.

“There comes a time when all life on Earth is in danger. Barbarian powers have arisen. Although they waste their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable devastation and technologies that lay waste the world. It is now, when the future of all beings hangs by the frailest of threads, that the kingdom of Shambhala emerges.

You cannot go there, for it is not a place. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. But you cannot recognize a Shambhala warrior by sight, for there is no uniform or insignia, there are no banners. And there are no barricades from which to threaten the enemy, for the Shambhala warriors have no land of their own. Always they move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves.

Now comes the time when great courage is required of the Shambhala warriors, moral and physical courage. For they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power and dismantle the weapons. To remove these weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where the decisions are made.

The Shambhala warriors know they can do this because the weapons are manumea, mind-made. This is very important to remember. These weapons are made by the human mind. So they can be unmade by the human mind! The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers that threaten life on earth do not come from evil deities or extraterrestrial powers. They arise from our own choices and relationships. So, now, the Shambhala warriors must go into training.

“How do they train?” I asked; “They train in the use of two weapons” responded Choegyal Rinpoche.

The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary. We need this first one,” he said, lifting his right hand, “because it provides us the fuel, it moves us out to act on behalf of other beings. But by itself it can burn us out. So we need the second as well, which is insight into the dependent co-arising of all things. It lets us see that the battle is not between good people and bad people, for the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. We realize that we are interconnected, as in a web, and that each act with pure motivation affects the entire web, bringing consequences we cannot measure or even see.

“But insight alone,” Rinpoche said, “can seem too cool to keep us going. So we need as well the heat of compassion, our openness to the world’s pain. Both weapons or tools are necessary to the Shambhala warrior.”

(This version of the legend of the rise of the Shambhala Warriors comes from Choegyal Rinpoche of the Tashi Jong community in northern India, through his friend, Joanna Macy.)


The notion of a lost kingdom in the Himalayas has been spoken of in Tibetan Buddhist teachings, and first appears in the Kalachakra Tantra (Wheel of Time) teachings; one of the highest levels of Buddhist Mahayana teachings. In the Kalachakra teachings, Shambhala appears as a mystical magical conception unlike any place on earth, and rests in the shadow of a magnificent white mountain, and was first recorded in AD 966 in India. The Kalachakra tells of a land behind the Himalayas, ruled by a gracious Kings where the people live in peace and harmony, faithful to the principles of Buddhism, and the concepts of war and sorrow are unknown.

The prophecy states that each of Shambhala’s thirty two kings will rule for one hundred years. As their reigns pass, conditions in the outside world deteriorate, as men become obsessed with war, and pursuing power for the sake of materialism. Thus, a triumph will occur over spiritual life. The prophecy describes that a tyrant will emerge to oppress the earth in a reign of terror. Just when the world seems on the brink of destruction, the mists will lift to reveal the mountains of Shambhala; and the thirty second king of Shambhala, will lead a mighty army against the tyrant and his supporters. In this last great battle, they will be destroyed and peace will be restored.

The Kingdom Within:

The mythical, magical Kingdom of Shambhala once thought to be a physical city of enlightened beings, is no longer be regarded as a geographical location; but instead  serves as a metaphor for the journey towards spiritual enlightenment. At the time of tyranny, upheaval and great unrest, the Kingdom of Shambhala arises. The Kingdom comes through the Shambhala warriors, the enlightened beings who stand for bravery, courage, compassion, love, respect, and equanimity for all. The Shambhala warriors of the world will bring about peace, harmony and healing. As described in the prophecy, these warriors “have no uniform, insignia”, and may not recognize each other on the street. They are called upon to work within government, corporations, institutions, communities, and families to dismantle power, greed, hatred, racism, and inequality. The Shambhala warriors, through their own suffering and training, have learned to step into the fear; because they understand manumea- the weapons of the mind, which can be dismantled by the mind. The warriors know that these forces of destruction come from outside ourselves; from our own greed, fear, and hatred that now threatens the world. Through their individual courage and compassion, the combined actions of the Shambhala warriors will bring about peace and healing. They will do so through compassionate acts of feeling, understanding and easing the suffering of others; and through insight, in understanding our inter-connectedness, that every action creates a ripple effect and has repercussions beyond our understanding and imagination. Choegyal Rinpoche describes in the prophecy, that insight alone can be cool and detached, and it requires the heat and power of compassion to bring about actions of healing.

Living Bodhisattva

How can we become the Shambhala warriors of our time? The answer is simple, yet challenging for some: by understanding that we are inherently good human beings, all of equal value and merit. We are all the same; striving for a sense of ease, comfort, and a pain free existence. Living bodhisattva is defined as “the commitment to put others before oneself. It is a statement of willingness to give up one’s own well-being, even one’s own enlightenment, for the sake of others. And a bodhisattva is simply a person who lives in the spirit of that vow, perfecting the qualities known as the six paramitas [perfections]—generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and transcendental knowledge—in his effort to liberate beings.”

Living bodhisattva is to work for benefit of all sentient beings. To live within this spirit, we create peace, harmony, and healing. It starts with compassionate acts; of leaning into the suffering of others, understanding that we share common pains and suffering, even though we many not share similar beliefs or values. It continues with understanding and accepting our inter-connectedness, the extent of our actions, and the ripple effect of goodness (or chaos) we can create.  This vow teaches us to become selfless, to drop our self-centeredness, and to generate greater goodness, working towards the betterment of humanity.  In living bodhisattva, we acknowledge and work with manumea- the conscious mind, taking the steps to speak and generate kindness and understanding. The Shambhala warrior embodies the bodhisattva, and lives with a brave, open, and courageous heart.

References: J.Macy, Awakin BBC, Kalachakra, Collective Evolution; Lionsroar