Showing posts with label Tradition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tradition. Show all posts

Understanding Sacred Groves

Inadequate knowledge, understanding and awareness of sacred groves is thought to be the major cause for interpretation of many unnoticed, naturally preserved, deep-seated and concealed sacred sites and forests formed within the thickets of the Himalayan mountains and forests as sacred groves, resulting in an invalid classification and incorrigible documentation of the priceless virgin and natural ecosystems. 

This misinformed understanding generates a seemingly surplus number of sacred groves, and thus creates an unsustainable future for both the natural groves and the ancient sites embedded within thick forests. 

The major criteria for distinguishing sacred groves from sacred sites are considered here, along with a more rationalized description encapsulating typological parameters of sacred groves.

The recent mix of criteria given by various scholars in designating sacred groves seems to be based on an understanding that sacred groves consist of remnants of pristine forest or cultural artefact embedded in a densely forested site near some place of worship, bearing any historic anecdote of the grove, with a shrine created for the deity in a dedicated place regarded as geniu.

Such concerns reveal a lack of familiarity with the standard typological characteristics of sacred groves, leading to the misinterpretation of sacred or religious areas as sacred groves. To reinforce their typology and underpin the semantic demarcation between the two closely related concepts sacred groves and sacred sites, it is therefore essential to develop a rationalized definition of sacred groves with specific, coherent, and concrete parameters. 

The word sacred, according to the typological criteria of sacred groves, implies certain extraordinary qualities that elicit feelings of strength, wonder, awe, transcendence, harmony, and healing. 


~Trees are the first temple of gods and embody existence and the sacred continuity of metaphysical, cosmic, and physical universes.~ 


Based on people's religious attitudes toward trees, they may be considered holy, blessed, or sacred. Ficus religiosa Lev., also known as peepal, and Ficus benghalensis L., also known as bargad, are examples of holy trees.

A blessed tree is an abode of angels or a god who guards it, and it is worshipped because of the religious devotion of those who worship it with the intention of pleasing the deity inside, such as the Kalpvraksh. Sacred trees are those that are exposed to realistic manifestations of reverence, adoration, and deep veneration in order to honor a god or to appease a devil, demon, or other ghostly creature, offer protection for ghosts, warn current generations of ancestors, or defend a sanctified location from willful harm and exploitation.

When sacred trees are related to significant religious or historical events, they take on a symbolic status that allows them to manifest the events and serve as a conduit between man and deity. The related gods and spirits hold the word holy in high regard, as shown by their fear and awe. Sacred groves are ecosystems that only include sacred trees in specific areas, are owned solely by the local clan responsible for their creation, protection, and oversight, and have special values exclusive to their own community and faith, with limited human intervention. As a result, it arose from the urge of the locals to live in peace with the spirits identified with natural forests.

The typology of sacred groves is determined by a variety of factors related to tree cover that are described differently by different staff. These meanings, on the other hand, were ecological, originating from a botanical ideal or culmination, rather than dependent on local knowledge. Other scholars have offered a more detailed description, which is more broadly accepted, as segments of landscape containing trees and other aspects of life as well as geographical features that are delimited and preserved by human activities in the belief that maintaining such a patch of vegetation in a reasonably undisturbed state is important for expressing one's connection to the divine or to nature.

Scared groves and religious sites have different characteristics. Sacred woods in general  have the fundamental elements including  — 

  • The holy trees are natural elements. 
  • Deities, ghosts, holy spirits, or ghostly, strange people living in the forest are all supernatural elements. 
  • Human rituals involving trees to appease supernatural or demonic figures. Botanical criteria: high biodiversity and climax vegetation. 
  • The deities or demons are created in the absence of nature and are unique to each clan. Anthropomorphic shapes are a new artefact that is uncommon. 
  • The idol is inextricably linked to the grove's trees. 
  • Sacred trees take priority over gods and other objects in terms of religion.

Clan-specific religious practices are often unnatural and unholy. The endogamous clan oversees all ceremonies. Even for prayers and praise, it is impenetrable to ordinary citizens. Inside the sacred environment, strict caution is maintained against joining, cutting, splitting, plucking, or even touching plant specimens. Picking plant droppings is also forbidden. Normal, primary, evergreen forests are represented by the tree types. Both trees and the life forms that they support are revered. Because of the related values and taboos tied to holy trees, the authoritative clan protects plants to avoid harming the god, who will retaliate by taking revenge on the whole group.

Human features such as holy monuments, mosques, shrines, and their architectural significance, as well as divine entities such as spirits that dwell in a shrine and bless humans, make up sacred sites. Rituals performed by humans in honor of temple gods. Anthropogenic conditions include the development of a road through a natural forest that supports biodiversity. The gods aren't apart from nature. They are the anthropomorphic manifestations of universal gods, demons, or prophets. The worship of devils and angels is prohibited. It's possible that the idol has nothing to do with trees. Idol worship takes precedence; trees and forests may be worshipped or not.

Religious rituals are based on the pilgrim-deity relationship and are carried out using systematic procedures. Pilgrims and ordinary people who frequent shrines on sacred grounds, either personally or by priests, conduct rituals. Is a pilgrimage hotspot where people come from all over the world to pray and worship. Only the shrine, temple, and idol inside are protected from damage. There is no vigilance or taboo surrounding the shrine's plants. Natural components of surrounding forest tree types may not be primary in nature. Only a monument, a sanctuary, a synagogue, a tomb, a mosque, or a memorial park as well as the gods that are worshipped are called holy. Plants may be conserved unwittingly if the holy site is deep inside a forest beyond the reach of human settlements and often avoids intrusion due to its proximity to a religious monument. Here are the seven main elements that characterize the typological characteristics of sacred groves. A divine power's abode.

The deities or demons worshipped inside are abstracted from nature and believed to pervade whole groves as indistinct beings such as tree spirits — 

  • Vanadevatas or Vanadevis; 
  • Abstract strange creatures and evil spirits — atmas, bhutas, pretas, jinnas; 
  • Or animal deities and tribal totems — serpent or naga, panther and tiger, often represented by vacant spots, crude stones, and termite mounds.

In most instances, there is also some natural foliage. Sacred groves are multispecies, multi-tier virgin forest or a set of trees, climax primary vegetation with keystone species and rich floral diversity, a repository of unique genetic variants and remnants of species specific to the particular geographical region that may have succumbed to threats and perished from the denuded surroundings, and a repository of specific genetic variants and remnants of species specific to the particular geographical region that may have succumbed to threats and perished from the denuded surroundings. Both visually and geographically, they are well described.

As opposed to the peripheral buffer region, sacred groves stand out as separate, visually varied areas of initial forest, not blending with the enveloping tampered landscape and providing a rich representation of sacred trees inside. They also have a distinct water body. Sacred groves are often associated with historical, cultural, or religious concerns. Local people bind inherent divine perceptions, memories, and beliefs to the sacred trees and the whole grove for which they are enshrined in the natural world, as depicted by the embraced cultural traditions. e Taboos associated with it. For religious purposes, any tree in the grove is considered sacred.

Plucking a small part of a plant specimen, as well as cleaning up dead wood and fallen leaves, is often frowned upon, and the whole field is kept under the watchful eye of the local custodian. The holy groves are impenetrable to even the tiniest human intrusion within their confines, for fear of upsetting the gods and spirits and attracting vengeance. Defense from intrusion and communal sanctity. The whole area is guarded, and the god is propitiated on a regular basis to ensure benevolence or to ward off the spiritual forces' malevolence. 

The sanctity is dependent on the endogamous group's beliefs, and ritual rituals are peculiar to the clan, often strange and odd, and often involve animal sacrifices and blood offerings. The people who perform these ceremonies and pray to the gods and spirits on behalf of the whole group are often identified. They are usually elderly priests or priestesses. Universal principles often found here are those that are not limited to a particular faith or geographical region.

Deities, angels, and other divine figures, as well as dark spirits, are not bound by any deity and are unaffected by religious duties. Both values are self-created based solely on tribal clan principles. The authoritative community is responsible for safeguarding these values and ensuring that cultural practices are carried out over centuries. The present study and observation specify a geographically complex patch of natural, primary forested enclosure of sacred trees and related life-forms as a rationalized term containing all characteristics of sacred groves based on these parameters. The endogamous clan reveres these for their mystical associations with sacred or ominous attributes. These may also be a frightening mythological anecdote, ascribed to a god, devil, or ghost with a deep connection to the woods, and passed on over the centuries to maintain these convictions.

Sacred places or sites are specific, discrete, narrowly delineated locations on Federal land that have been designated as sacred by a tribe, or an individual determined to be an appropriately authoritative representative of the religion, because of their established religious significance to, or ceremonial use by, the religion; provided, however, that the tribe or appropriately authoritative representative of the religion has informed the federal government. They are active centers of daily worship and religious rites with symbolic and physical elements that link man and divinity, as well as seeing a centripetal migration of pilgrims for worship and prayer. 

Many holy sites in India's Himalayas attract devotees who come to practice religious rites and ceremonies daily. Vaishno Devi, Amarnath, Chandika Devi, Badrinath, and Kedarnath in the Himalayas, Rameshwaram, Mahabalipuram, Bodh Gaya, and Sarnath in other parts of India, and the Buddha Lumbini in Nepal are among the most well-known sites, all of which have historical significance linked to Hindu mythology.

The revered deity of holy sites is always a god or goddess, an angel, or a prophet, whose idol, some type, or symbolic item is enshrined in the temple monument with religious sentiments. Devils, devils, and other supernatural beings are never revered in this location. It's possible that the shrine gods had nothing to do with trees and forests. Because of their position in small pockets of hilly and mountainous areas often engulfed and overshadowed by unapproachable, remote forest thickets, many sacred temple forests in India are closely maintained and contribute greatly to sustaining the landscape with natural floral and faunal abundance.

These hidden sites are often left deserted, unexplored, and overlooked in their remote areas outside of human cities, and the trees in the proximity of such holy sites are also preserved in the same way as the sacred groves. Many holy sites have primary foliage and provide a haven for endangered tree species, such as the sweet osmanthus or Osmanthus fragrans tree in Pithoragarh's Chandak temple in the Kumaon Himalayas. 

Misinterpretation of holy sites such as sacred groves is facilitated by the degree of vegetational protection and proximity to religious shrines.

To prevent problems resulting from such classifications, a thorough examination of the typological requirements, as well as a close examination of the distinguishing characteristics of sacred groves and sacred sites, is recommended as a criterion for designating such enshrined forested patches as sacred groves. 

Sacred groves and sacred sites are closely related concepts that are distinguished by subtle yet discernible characteristics. Both sites, which are thought to be inextricably connected to trees and woodland, are dedicated to divine forces.

Many of these holy or religious sites are tucked away in thick, dark woodland, where human intrusion and intervention are minimal. The nearby forests provide a haven for significant, often virgin flora, including unusual plant species that may have gone unnoticed or overlooked in these inaccessible areas. The merits of sacred sites are so closely linked to sacred groves that unless these sites are meticulously investigated and scrutinized in-depth for detailed behavioral strategies adopted by local clans and their religious tie-ups that aid in the protection of trees in and around religious sites, they risk being misinterpreted as sacred groves, opening the door to debatable notions.

As a result, it is proposed that when designating sacred groves, the typological standards must be strictly adhered to to distinguish them from sacred sites. When a sacred grove or sacred site has been identified, it must be reported and duly registered with the appropriate government department for further development and sustainable use.


Psychic Traditions of Tibet

 


We look at the relationship between meditation achievement and psychic consciousness in the early stages of study with Tibetan meditation practitioners in India. We would list many various practices momentarily rather than provide an in-depth account of each of them since this is a summary to provide a taste of the culture's psychic rituals. Since there is a scarcity of literature on Tibet's psychic rituals, much of what follows is focused on interviews with a variety of individuals. Psychic practitioners are well-known in Tibetan culture, but there has been no scientific investigation into their methods. Psi is widely used in Tibetan traditions, with three major places that claim to have ancient origins. Extrasensory vision, precognition, and psychokinesis are also examples of parapsychological features of the subconscious. The oracles, which include god possession, are the oldest Tibetan traditions. The mahasiddhis and a Tibetan deity named Palden Lhamo are sometimes used in Mo divination.

The attainment of psychic abilities through Buddhist meditation practice, and a belief in deliberately selected reincarnation, culminating in tulkus that are classified using a number of psychic practices, are two fields of more recent beliefs that are mainly related to monastic societies and stem directly from Buddhism.



Tibetan traditions are a unique blend of original shamanic Bon beliefs, Buddhism, which arrived in Tibet approximately 1,300 years ago, and Indian Buddhist tantric traditions, which arrived in Tibet approximately 1,000 years ago. Tibetan tradition's psychic elements date largely from the pre-Buddhist shamanic era, but they are not inherently anti-Buddhist and have since been thoroughly introduced by monks into their rituals. There are several various forms of Buddhism, but Tibetan Buddhism is known for including and developing psychic powers.

Per culture has its own point of view on the universe. Exploring a particular world will also allow us to view our own beliefs and ideas in a new way. Beliefs are an integral part of one's emotional makeup, which is influenced to a large extent by the society in which one is raised. We are always unaware of our belief structures until they are pointed out to us or until we go to an entirely new community where people have very different views.

Most Tibetans consider the psychic as a normal part of life. The use of astrology by Tibetans is an example of divination's importance in daily life. Their calendars list over a dozen different characteristics of each day, such as whether it is a good day to start a company, get married, have a funeral, or even throw a party!



Tibetans have a culture of oracles, also known as kuten, which means "medium." The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government consult the Nechung Oracle, who is recognized as the state oracle, after entering trance and being possessed by a god. The deity then talks through the medium, offering guidance and prophecy, which is used to make decisions by people at all levels of society.

The Dalai Lama holds the oracle in high regard, as shown by the following quote: It has been customary for the Dalai Lama and the government to meet Nechung during the New Year festivities for hundreds of years. In addition, he can be contacted at other occasions if either party has a particular question. For readers of the twenty-first century, this can seem far-fetched. But we do so for the simple reason that time has shown that the oracle's response was right on any of the few times when we have posed questions to him. Surprisingly, the oracle's responses to questions are not ambiguous.

There are a lot of oracles out there. Many monasteries, as well as the more traditional village lay oracles, may have their own resident oracle, who is sometimes a monk. In a series of private interviews, Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche revealed the following details about oracles. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche was recommended because he was an expert on Tibetan Buddhism's tantric facets. We are thankful and fortunate to have had the opportunity to share time with him—a profoundly holy man.



A successful prophecy is dependent on two factors: the medium's capacity and the participants' confidence. He thought trust was necessary and compared this interaction between the medium and the sitter to using a crutch if you have a bad leg—you need both to walk effectively. Many of the people we've talked with have emphasized the importance of religion. For example, the head of the Nyingma sect, Penor Rinpoche, said that the diviner must have complete faith in the deity, and the questioner must have complete faith in the diviner, when it comes to divination.

As a result, the sitter must have full confidence in the medium's skills, and since there are both good and bad mediums, one must verify their effectiveness over time to build trust in them. He believed that it was necessary and try and see whether the oracle's divination would be accurate. Buddhists, he said, are like scientists in that they double-check everything. He clarified that if you have a precognition, you will improve the certainty of your intuition by telling a lot of people what they think of it, and that you can do so.

He advised making ratings for anything, such as a 3- or 6-month prophecy, checking the individual who gave it: are they trustworthy? What are their ways of expressing themselves? What are their credentials? What is education? What is the way they dress? Should they have good communication skills? What is their track record? In a related vein, he claims that we would scrutinize all. He used the comparison where someone may look joyful or unhappy, but it's all in their head. He was adamant that our senses can be deceiving, and that our senses are faulty when we're ill.

The Tibetan tantric teaching that an oracle becomes possessed by a god because of the wind energy in their channels was also stated by Kirti Tsenshabe Rinpoche. The channels are analogous to the nadis of the Yogic tantric tradition, and the wind energy is conceived similarly to prana. He believes that certain people will see into the future because of past-life karma linked to their wind energy. This was echoed by several other people we talked with.

The art of Mo divination is much more general than oracles. At least one lama who performs Mo divination can be found in almost every monastery. There are also a lot of lay villagers who "do the Mo." According to an article in the Tibetan magazine ‘Cho Yang, the object of divination is to examine a person's life condition to provide advice about how to answer or cope with it. Remedial behavior, such as rituals, evokes constructive energies that may lead to a shift in a person's karma. When a person performs a divination, he or she is dependent on the power bestowed upon him by a deity.

This strength may have been gained through a past-life bond with the lord and strengthened through retreats that included reciting a mantra a million times, comparing himself with the deity with strong focus, and the generation of spiritual pride. The purpose for performing divination must be genuine, and the primary goal should be to assist human beings.

This quotation exemplifies the Tibetan practice of combining shamanic and Buddhist practices. Relation with a god is considered an integral part of the psychic act, as it is in the beliefs about the oracle, and the Buddhist teachings of karma and altruistic motivation are stated.

Eleven separate divination methods are mentioned in the Cho Yang journal paper. Doughball divination is only used by high lamas to assist in the discovery of a significant reincarnation, so it is seldom used. Potential candidates' names are drawn on paper and then rolled into a dough ball. Each candidate's name is placed in an equal-sized ball, with special care taken to ensure that each ball is similar. These balls are set in a sealed bowl in front of a holy stone, such as a temple idol, and monks stay in the temple for three days, reciting prayers day and night.

The cover is withdrawn on the fourth day, and a high lama rolls the doughballs around in the bowl before one comes out. That's the ball with the response inside.

This procedure was repeated three times in the case of the new Panchen Lama, who was imprisoned by the Chinese, and each time the same name came up. Dice and Mala divination are the most common types of divination. In Mala divination, the individual carries the mala, which is a string of prayer beads, with the fingers of each hand randomly picking a bead.



The intervening beads are then counted out three at a time before only one, two, or three remain, revealing the divination's result. Dice would be tossed in a similar way, with the diviner breathing on the dice before casting.

In most cases, three dice are used. The guidance in the first two types of divination is provided by books that explain what the various results represent. Odd numbers, for example, are considered lucky when rolling the dice, whereas even numbers are considered unlucky. The best result with the mala is three beads. Unlike doughball, dice, and mala divination, which rely on a "random" occurrence providing a significant association with the person's query or synchronicity, direct clairvoyance is used in the next most common method of divination.

Dorje or Lhamo Yudronma, a guardian god, is known for using mirror divination. The mirror is mounted ceremonially, and ceremonies are done, as with previous Mo types. The diviner sees the deity's manifestations, reflections in writings, and letters. When we went to see Amathaba, a lovely old Tibetan lady who lives in one of the Tibetan settlements in south India, she saw a misty dawn scene that eventually cleared, and she viewed it as an initial challenge that would be resolved. To help resolve the challenges, she suggested asking the local nuns to say special prayers and hang prayer flags. This is a natural occurrence.



She claims it was a gift she was born with and that it ran in her blood, with her becoming the seventh person to inherit it. In her scenario, three mirrors are stacked vertically in a tub of rice. She sees the deities associated with the divination in two of them, and the actual reading in the front mirror. She is well-liked in the city, and many people seek her advice. You peer at the thumbnail and blow on it to receive the image of thumb nail divination. When the Mo is performed using a mirror or a thumbnail, the diviner is more likely to see specific symbolic visions, which are then translated considering the querent's dilemma.

Also in this category come precognitive or clairvoyant dreams.

These, like most Tibetan methods, are associated with a certain god. As in mirror divination, various objects are linked to different objects. We were told about a local woman who sought the advice of a lama, who advised her to have a dream about her dilemma. That night, the lama even recorded their own dream. The lama then compared the two visions and made assumptions, which turned out to be true. Although Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche agrees that prophecies will manifest as visions in dreams, he believes this is less credible because not all dreams are prophecy, and one can never be certain whether a dream is correctly prophetic.

The querent is usually the one who does the next set of activities. Until 1959, about 80% of Tibetans were semi-nomadic in some way. As a result, their procedures are much easier than previous approaches, and the knowledge needed is mainly whether it is advantageous to perform a particular operation. Nomads are fond of bootstrap divination. The belts, which are made up of wide strips of webbing tape, are folded into squares and then yanked apart. If they separate quickly, it's a good sign; if they tangle, it's called unfortunate. This method of divination has been described to me by several people, and it appears to be quite common in Tibet.

Tibetans also notice omens such as seeing certain birds, hearing certain songs, or hearing people utter auspicious things, all of which are good. There are a variety of derogatory indicators as well, such as monkey talk or, more surprisingly, watching a black cat cross your way before embarking on a trip. It's odd that a black cat has such a mystique in both Britain and Tibet! Divination may also be done by looking at the fires in a ceremonial fire or watching a butter lamp.

In this event, the fire god is invoked, and then the blaze is seen. Various kinds of fire have varying meanings. Apart from the value of faith, which is often discussed in interviews with diviners, another aspect that is considered utterly vital is praying to Buddha or a protector deity, most usually Palden Lhamo, who is Tibet's and divination's main protector deity.

Palden Lhamo is usually concerned with dice and mala divination. Many of the diviners we talked with insisted that they are not psychic; rather, they are the conduit for the god, who guides the roll of the dice, or whatever form they use, by them. They don't believe themselves to be doing anything more than facilitating communication between the querent and the deity. According to Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, if your supplication to the lord is fine, then you will have a good Mo. In addition, having a positive relationship with the god improves your abilities.



He also claims that those who have a strong belief in Buddhism are stronger at doing the Mo, and that their ability improves over time. It's also critical that the diviner's "steam" channels have been cleansed. Before being found fit to perform Mo divination, one Rinpoche we spoke with had gone through three months of purification rituals, including singing deity-specific mantras, prostrations, and pujas. Divination varies from the most basic "positive or poor luck" omens to finely specialized clairvoyant talents, and from rituals that anybody may do to those that are usually practiced only by monks, as this list of various types of practices shows.

This part of Tibetan psychic tradition is the one that has the most in common with Buddhist teachings. The shamatha discipline of one-pointed emphasis and the vipassana discipline of contemplative insight are the two meditation disciplines of Buddhism. The development of shamatha calm-abiding, or mental quiescence, is regarded as a necessary first step. Many traditional Mahayana and modern Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, as well as Yogic teachings, connect meditation attainment to the creation of psychic forces.

Since Buddhist clairvoyancy requires what we term miraculous forces, it seems that this "clairvoyancy" is more like what we might call omniscience in the West, rather than the clairvoyance we study in parapsychology. Traditional Buddhist scriptures speak of the six super knowledges gained by concentration perfection and make it clear that practicing concentration meditation leads to both enlightenment and psychic consciousness, and that one cannot exist without the other. In interviews with various monks, it was repeatedly emphasized that only a small number of individuals achieve samadhi and clairvoyant powers, and that clairvoyance is only 80 percent accurate.

Only absolute enlightenment leads to omniscience. Not everyone who meditates will achieve samadhi, and not everyone who meditates will develop psychic abilities. To put it another way, there is a genius for enlightenment, a genius for yoga, and a genius for psychic consciousness. While we can all learn something, not everyone is gifted. Just a few people are gifted with genius.

A new study conducted at a yoga ashram and with Tibetan Buddhist monks found that those who had practiced meditation for longer periods of time, tested by an image examination for precognition and clairvoyance, did appear to have more accurate psychic knowledge. However, since this study is still in its early stages, the teachings can only be considered "suggestively verified" at this time. The yoga studies have been published, while the first Buddhist thesis was discussed at a conference and sent to a journal but has yet to be published.

Many cultures seem to have certain apprehensions about psychic phenomena. In most civilizations, we hear accounts about paranormal powers being used for derogatory ends, and Tibetan culture, in an obvious contradiction, is no exception. Tibetan culture, as previously said, is still very similar to its shamanic origins. Shamanic civilizations embrace psychic phenomena as a natural fact of life. The wonder and terror that accompany psychic phenomena are very visible in shamanic societies.



Demons, and the apprehension of them, seem to be widespread in Tibet. Disease, for example, is often believed to be caused by a bad spirit among Tibetans. Someone became sick after a tree in the garden was chopped down, according to legend, and this was linked to the tree's spirit. This is a traditional shamanic notion. Sickness is often linked to a sorcerer who, at someone's invitation, sends an evil spirit, or curse.

This isn't to suggest that shamans only use their psychic powers for worse, but it is to say that they have been used in this manner often enough for people to grow a mistrust of them. Milarepa's legends, in which he is said to have killed many people at a distance, exemplify the fear of "evil" sorcery and the illusion that people would commit such atrocities. People talking about the individual "mikha- suk" also created a belief in illness.

In Western culture, this is referred to as the "evil eye," and it refers to damage caused by undue acclaim for some sort of achievement or accomplishment, such as possessing a particularly attractive item or a freshly constructed house that has become the talk of the town. This is thought to be especially dangerous for very young children, who need special care.

There is also the apprehension of a spirit known as a "disa," which means "smell-eater," which is a captured spirit that runs after food and is said to be pleased by the sheer smell of the food put for it. There is a perception that a spirit may inhabit a living person or a dead person, and that the spirit is always trapped inside an object that once belonged to that person. An amulet is a necklace worn around one's neck to ward off evil or damage. It's always used to keep you safe from damage you don't know about. A "ga'u," a kind of amulet, is a small silver casket that holds relics, images of holy people, and other objects. Tibetans sometimes wear a ga'u under their coat.

And, of course, the classic case of a guy using a charm to seduce a young person! We found it fascinating that in our interviews with Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, he repeatedly emphasized the role of Buddhism in building a moral sphere in which psychic powers could be used. In several respects, Buddhism is being firmly developed to morally “move on” from some of the issues that arise in shamanic cultures.

One concern is that when discussing psychic phenomena, you can draw a spirit, which may or may not be helpful. There is a belief, for example, that when you are possessed by a demon, such as the oracles, you stop evolving at the level of the spirit who owns you—or you simply stop developing. Tibetans believe that all ghosts have the potential to hurt us. Many legends exist of a kind of ghost known as "hungry ghosts," as well as others that would draw you to your death. When doing Mo divination, Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche advised being wary of ghostly obstacles.

They, or other creatures, have the power to hinder and hurt us. He believes that prayer to the guardian god at the start of the divination, good karma, and merit provide us with protection. He further claims that personal growth can be divided into two paths: going into the unconscious and going for super-consciousness. Psi powers, such as oracular trance, dreams, or hypnosis, are usually associated with the former, while spiritual growth is associated with the latter. Spirit communication, as practiced by mediums, is inextricably linked to the unconscious nature of consciousness.

For Tibetans, this is a complicated and paradoxical topic since, as Buddhists, high lamas perform Mo divination on the behalf of people who come to them for various purposes. They also do tulku identity divination. There are also several oracles, some of which are formal state oracles. As a result, psi is practiced all over the world. The need for defense, as well as the existence of unethical practitioners, is recognized, but there is no prohibition on practicing. Tibetans, according to our translators, are very pleased with this obvious inconsistency.

The fear of unethical psi use is a very visible surface fear; the fear of pride is a more nuanced fear. It is considered impolite in the Indian subcontinent and among Tibetans to pay some particular attention to psi. Psychic powers are believed to have a negative impact on one's spiritual development. It is emphasized that having achieved Enlightenment, one is no longer troubled psychologically by the acquisition of psychic abilities, while psychic abilities are very tricky by unenlightened individuals, and are synonymous with deceit, glamour, and vanity.

His Holiness is a saint. In his book Freedom in Exile, the Dalai Lama shares a need for Western science to experiment. When we met with Geshe Samten, the director of the Sarnath Institute, he told me that, while Tibet has a long history of psychic ability, even those who have a reputation for psychic knowledge will doubt their abilities. He claims that claiming to be psychic or “showing off” your ability is frowned upon.

There must be a real reason for practicing paranormal abilities. Even claiming to have completed a certain stage of meditation is seen as a roadblock on the way to enlightenment. Humility is thought to be necessary for spiritual growth. The Dalai Lama, for example, has stated several times that he is a plain monk who is not clairvoyant.

Since these are hidden teachings, Tibetans have a history of not speaking about them. The Dalai Lama, for example, writes about Herbert Benson's work with Tum-mo meditators: We agreed to let him go ahead, despite our reservations, because we believe in the importance of modern science. We were aware that many Tibetans were opposed to the proposal. They believed that since the activities in question are based on hidden teachings, they should be kept secret.

Tibetan monks and nuns who use methods that are believed to be linked to the creation of psychic knowledge swear not to talk about their activity or disclose their skills. Practitioners first take their vows, after which they prepare and exercise. This avoidance of recognizing one's psychic powers, which are thought to manifest at one stage of spiritual maturity on the way, is a tacit awareness of psi and its expression from which we could benefit.

Another part of the psychic's apprehension is the realization that authority corrupts, and that attractive psychic powers are seen as extremely strong. It is true that such psychic faculties capable of a worldly use, such as the Dibba-cakkhu or clairvoyance, Dibba- sota or clairaudience, Mano-Maya-Kaya or projection of the'astral body' and other paranormal forces, are established in the course of Buddhist meditation, according to Francis Story in an introduction to a book on early Buddhist Pali Canon. The Buddha and the Arhats had those abilities, which they used when necessary to help the ignorant who requested "signs and wonders."

However, the Buddha mostly despised their use, choosing to disseminate the Dhamma through the "miracle of teaching" and the self-propagating force of reality. They can become attachment-forming faculties in those that are not yet completely emancipated from earthly illusion, and as such must be defended against and conquered in the fight for Nibbanna. According to Buddhism, anybody who engages in concentration activities to gain supernormal powers or Iddhi is doing so with the wrong intention and putting himself in grave danger. If any authority corrupts, supernormal power has the potential to corrupt much further. This is a very real fear, and we're confident that most people will recall instances of this aspect of human life.

Not claiming to have powers you don't have is one of the Buddhist precepts. As previously mentioned, in our conversations with Kirti Rinpoche, he often mentioned confirming that the practitioner is not a charlatan, for example while discussing oracles. He also said that it is important to examine the psychic practitioner's appearances: "Don't be fooled by appearances; look at what is actually being taught." He emphasized the importance of examining the essence rather than the appearance. He used the metaphor of a poem to caution people against being fooled by pretty words. What is it about psychic powers that fascinates us so much?

Why do we revere those who have them too easily? This is the source of both the phony psi and the ego glorification that people feel while displaying psychic abilities.

This is just the start, a glimpsing of a vast and complicated society and its common ideas about the psychic world. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is promoting scientific research into this subject, which we find fascinating. And he's doing so while well mindful of the challenges.

The peril in linking divine conviction to some empirical theory. This isn't to suggest that we believe the oracle and monks' ability to withstand nights spent outside in subzero temperatures are proof of supernatural abilities. Many who argue that Tibetan approval of these phenomena demonstrates our backwardness and barbarism will find me disagreeable. This is not an empirical attitude, except from the most detailed scientific standpoint.

However, just because a theory is agreed does not mean that anything associated with it is right. When coping with subjects about which we have no knowledge, extreme caution must always be exercised. This is where science can help, of course. After all, we just think something enigmatic because we don't get it. We also created methods to do things that science cannot yet fully understand by mental conditioning. This, then, is the foundation of Tibetan Buddhism's alleged "magic and mystery."

Ignorance is a significant roadblock. The aim of the empirical method is “truth.” Is it possible to avoid falling into the pitfalls that accompany the creation and use of psychic abilities if one has a thorough understanding of the psi process? I believe it does, and I believe this is one of the most compelling explanations for conducting parapsychological research in Tibetan culture.