These spiritually-inspired, politically-inclined seekers may have been "children of their time," but they wouldn't feel out of place today, when a new generation has become intoxicated with the Shambhala myth. In any age, there are utopian fanatics. Shambhala followers, unlike other Tibetan Buddhists, look forward to an enlightened society on earth. This distinguishes them from other Tibetan Buddhists, particularly Nyingmas, who study Vajrayana as a philosophy, a path to enlightenment, and don't expect to transform earthly reality or establish an "Enlightened Society."Red Shambhala is the first book in English that recounts the story of political and spiritual seekers from the West and the East, who used Tibetan Buddhist prophecies to promote their spiritual, social, and geopolitical agendas and schemes. These were people of different persuasions and backgrounds: lamas (Ja-Lama and Agvan Dorzhiev), a painter-Theosophist (Nicholas Roerich), a Bolshevik secret police cryptographer (Gleb Bokii), an occult writer with leftist leanings (Alexander Barchenko), Bolshevik diplomats and revolutionaries (Georgy Chicherin, Boris Shumatsky) along with their indigenous fellow-travelers (Elbek-Dorji Rinchino, Sergei Borisov, and Choibalsan), and the rightwing fanatic "Bloody White Baron" Roman von Ungern-Sternberg. Despite their different backgrounds and loyalties, they shared the same totalitarian temptation -- the faith in ultimate solutions. They were on the quest for what one of them (Bokii) defined as the search for the source of absolute good and absolute evil. All of them were true believers, idealists who dreamed about engineering a perfect free-of-social-vice society based on collective living and controlled by enlightened spiritual or ideological masters (an emperor, the Bolshevik Party, the Great White Brotherhood, a reincarnated deity) who would guide people on the "correct" path. Healthy skepticism and moderation, rare commodities at that time anyway, never visited the minds of the individuals I profile in this book. In this sense, they were true children of their time -- an age of extremes that gave birth to totalitarian society.
Shambhala people are -– let’s face it -– “a little” crazy. What makes them think that any of the rest of us want what they want, which is some marauding Buddhist army killing everyone they think is evil and establishing control under some “Shambhala” king? You can see their totalitarian mindset, in how they push their vision as the only possible vision for Buddhists -– and everyone else -- of the future. Are they going to listen to people who say “no” to their plan? They seem more interested in telling us that that’s just the way it’s going to be.
And what a funny coincidence between the communist ideas of Shambhala and Communism proper? Having studied the Nazis intensively for almost 20 years now, Shambhala followers remind me of Hitler’s SS: partying up a storm while they think they’re going to take over the world. Such arrogance and hubris, such secret joy in oppression. Where did they get the idea that this Shambhala idea was “Buddhist” and much less even “good”? I suspect they’ve never even questioned it for what it really is. Somehow, they just got swept up in the ecstasy of the idea that they were going to rule the world.