Sacred Landscape, Mandalas and Techniques of Spiritual Development in Tibet

NOA Community Centre (Ferry Centre)
Summertown, Oxford

(click for map etc.)

Every year, thousands of Tibetans embark on pilgrimages, ranging in duration from a few days to several years, following well-established routes that take them across and beyond the plateau to celebrated shrines, monasteries, mountains, caves and lakes. The Tibetans' criss-crossing of this vast territory on foot is seen by some as a political act of re-appropriating a stolen birthright. But in spiritual terms, Tibetans believe that their land is populated by dangerous and potentially hostile entities that opposed the introduction of Buddhism until they were subdued and bound with oaths to protect the doctrine by Tantric masters, such as Padmasambhava. While Tibetan commentators see pilgrimage as one of the more basic forms of religious activity, the natural landscape is also construed as an external projection of the inner person, idealised as the three-dimensional "psycho-cosmogram" known as the mandala. This presentation will examine some of the ways in which Tibetans perceive and represent their landscape, and how some of these representations feature in the more esoteric techniques of spiritual development.

Charles Ramble is Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at the Oriental Institute of Oxford University. He has been spent 15 years in Nepal and Tibet, and has published four books corresponding to his main research interests: pilgrimage, the Bön religion, Himalayan civil religion and social history. In 2006 he was elected President of the International Association for Tibetan Studies. He is closely involved with several charitable organisations dedicated to education and cultural revitalisation in Tibetan communities in the Himalayan region.

£8.00 (Friends £3.00)