chapter  9
14 Pages

Divination, Prophecy and Oracles in Tibetan Buddhism

ByChristopher Bell

Tibetan history was written by prophecy. In the Tibetan Buddhist imaginaire, the Buddha himself foretold that when his teachings declined, the Bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteśvara, would use the Buddha’s doctrine to unite the denizens of the snowy land north of India (Kapstein 1992: 86, Sørensen 1994: 98). Likewise, practitioners of the Tibetan Bön religion – who assert that theirs is the indigenous religion of Tibet – believe that its founder, Shenrap Miwo, prophesied the advent of his teachings in Tibet ‘when the time was ripe’ (Karmay 1998: 109). In both traditions, the Tibetan landscape itself is pregnant with hidden texts and holy objects waiting to be discovered; many of them already have been by means of prophetic revelations. These items are called ‘treasures’ (Tib. gter), in reference to the precious teachings that they provide. Furthermore, many important religious leaders, famous monasteries and teaching lineages have been validated by prophecies proclaiming their inevitable appearance.