From an early age I felt naturally drawn to a different path. When you are a kid and you like exploring graveyards, it kinda leans that way!
I always knew reincarnation was a fact. To me, it made practical sense. I think I came in with this inner knowing as there was never a moment that I saw or remembered things differently.
Religion held my interest for a very short time as the stories belonging to a supreme invisible god or son of God just didn’t resonate, other than thinking Jesus seemed like a really good guy and pity those that followed his teachings were not so kind.
As I curiously explored different paths and beliefs I found some helpful practices here and there and then the shamanic path connected me to a deep and resonating knowing that none of the others had. I have never been a cult follower. I am more of a lone wolf. Shamanism for me, a person who was traversing other worlds in crisis, made total sense and has been my greatest navigator in dealing with issues or encounters that arise in my life. It was not viewed originally as a religion which I have shared before and neither was Buddhism. However, humans have a way of idolising so many things and putting them into a nice and neat controlled box that they can look up to.
In the last years I have been strongly pulled into researching more of Tibetan medicine and practices. I remember years back being led into non-ordinary reality to find I was smack bang in the Himalayas as a monk in a long wooden building, very high up. I can still see it now as clear as day in my mind. I was seated in my layered burgundy red robe, my head shaved but for a little covering of dark hair growing on my scalp. I was sitting in front of a long very thick slab of tan washed paper and writing with a thin brush in dark ink. The many movable doors straight in front of me were open to a spectacular view and the sky before me, clear blue as the mountain peaks jutted out all around with snow pouring off the peaks. In the sky to the right was a gleaming silver craft. I felt calm as my hand wrote across the slab of paper. I kept looking up and back to my writing and the craft simply hovered there, seemingly patient without moving away. The amber gold lights spun in a circular motion around and around the head of the craft. I knew that my job was to write what I saw as a scribe and to record these sightings. Returning from the journey I was pleased and somewhat surprised as I loathe being cold and I am complete shite at climbing up mountains.
Sometime later an astrologer was looking at my chart and told me that I had come from a very secular past and had experienced some of my most recent lives in monasteries and spent a great deal of time in isolation in one way or another. In this present life, I was to embrace my individual originality and share my knowledge in the path of service, actively and creatively.
I still need to retreat in this life as I am primarily a sensitive empathic introvert. I previously found that solace in meditative silent 10 day retreats until I was majorly tested and spirit gave me a loving kick from within to say ‘That’s enough!’.
Now when I am looking for that nourishment of solitude, it is spent in the heart of nature without the umbrella of a monastery experience. Occasionally I still get that pull to a monastic way of life and the vibration of peace those places emanate, but I know it’s in the past even though the teachings still intrigue me in the subject area of my interest. One day I would like to be of service to young girls at a monastic retreat in Nepal for a bit, but not in winter!
Tibetan Buddhism pulls on my curiosity strings. Not the religious disciple path at all, more the techniques and exercises that can assist with navigating non-ordinary reality and being the witness to your experience which is often what my path of service involves.
Before Buddhism came to Tibet, Shamanism (Bompo) was the way of life and you can still see the shamanistic flavour within the Tibetan practices of today. Standard Buddhism does not advocate the practices to include these insights.
Padmasambhava the Buddhist Master and Milarepa the Tibetan Yogi when encountering invading spirits sought to educate them by negotiation and by cajoling them. They didn’t seek to destroy them or want to harm them. Compassion has always been the primary path to release those from spiritual invasion and disturbance whether living or dead. That insight and practice has my total respect.
Tibetan Medicine, represented by the blue Buddha includes the importance of the influence on the spirit as well as the mind, emotions and body. It acknowledges entity invasion and psychic illness and how it can detrimentally influence the persons mental and physical health. To me, that kind of approach is wise and holistic. The doctors today that advertise themselves as holistic, really have no idea what that word really means. They are not looking at the person as a whole at all.
I did a study retreat on Tibetan medicine a few years back and it confirmed so much of what I instinctually know in relation to how my mind, body and spirit work together. One of my all-time favourite research books was ruined in a flood and although I let many of the past books go I felt compelled to reorder this particular one because its full of jewels, insight and knowledge that I want to refer back to when need be. It’s called
The Diamond Healing.
Tibetan Buddhist Medicine and Psychiatry
by Terry Clifford
Tibetan Buddhism does not negate that other worlds exist. I mean look at the concept of the Bardo. The dying person is moving through all matter of dimensional worlds as the monk guides them through, keeping their fearful and agitated spirit calm and chanting for them to be released in peace towards their next life. I wouldn’t mind that when I leave my body, a little help to navigate. Maybe that’s why I assist people to navigate the inner worlds in daily life. It makes total sense to me.
The reason I chose this subject today is that I read another wonderful and inspiring book years back that made a huge impact on me and my path of insight. It was about an English woman who went to Tibet and after some training lived up in a mud cave dwelling for 12 years on her own. The book is called
‘Cave in the Snow’ and her name is Tenzin Palmo.
I found through beautiful synchronicity that she is visiting here, in the city where I am residing, this weekend coming, to lead a two-day gathering to teach her understanding of mindfulness and meditation and how it can be used in daily life in the western world. I must say I am so looking forward to what I will experience and learn.
Mindfulness combined with shamanic practices and a few other techniques from other sources is my stable, deeply rooted oak tree backbone. When you are in journey space and traversing different dimensions it’s really important to be the witness to your own experience and the challenges that may arise. In this way, healthy integration becomes a deeper experience and a longer lasting sustenance.
Blessings and still learning and loving it.
(c) Odette Nightsky 2019
6 thoughts on “Tibetan Buddhism and Shamanism”
Loved this. Thank you
Glad it resonates with you Sue 🙂 Blessings Odette
Thank you for another insightful post. I’ve felt strong interest in Tibetan Buddhism over the last few days and I had been quite lost as to where to start. I will need to have a look at the books. Thank you so much for sharing.
You are most welcome Jo. Blessings Odette
Very true. The old shamanic practices become part of traditional Tibetan Buddhism and the old spirits of the element of nature became the protectors of the Dharma.
Part of that old knowledge survived and spread in the Himalayas through art, teachings, songs, poems and ancient rituals.
Thank you dear Odette for the beautiful article.
You are most welcome 🙂