As discussed on today's radio show, I am keeping my on-air promise to post the following.
Thomas Merton spent considerable time studying Eastern religions and mysticism. This article, "Can You Trust Thomas Merton?" http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8377, features this Merton quote:
Last night I dreamed I was, temporarily, back at Gethsemani [the abbey in Kentucky where Merton studied; see: http://www.monks.org]. I was dressed in a Buddhist monk's habit, but with more black and red and gold, a "Zen habit," in color more Tibetan than Zen . . . I met some women in the corridor, visitors and students of Asian religion, to whom I was explaining I was a kind of Zen monk and Gelugpa together, when I woke up. (Asian Journal, 107) [emphasis added..]
So I looked up Gelugpa, and discovered it is the religion of the Dalai Lama.
I hope you have a strong stomach, because the next part is revolting.
I went to Wikipedia and looked up Gelug, finding this image of the Buddha under leering skulls. Those skulls are most definitely not a symbol of Christ, nor of Christ-like aspirations.
This gets even more interesting and timely, because I've done a bit of research into the religion of the Dalai Lama. I discovered that even though the religion claims to be about "compassion" and "mercy," it has dark roots, and calls on dark forces to achieve those "enlightened" ends.
The religion of Gelugpa has the equivalent of a "patron saint" in the form of a female deity called Palden Lhamo. The Lamas pray to her, place her statue in their monasteries, and call on her in order to find the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama.
[T]he goddess is most popularly worshipped among the Gelugpa. She has been the protector of the Dalai Lamas since becoming the special protector of the First Dalai Lama, Je Gedhun Drub (1391-1474) after having guided him to the site of the monastery he was to found.
Palden Lhamo, the female guardian spirit of the sacred lake, Lhamo La-tso, who promised Gendun Drup the 1st Dalai Lama in one of his visions that "she would protect the reincarnation lineage of the Dalai Lamas"
Palden Lhamo is the personal protector of the Panchen Lama and of all fourteen incarnations of the Dalai Lama. She is practiced within all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and she is a fully enlightened Buddha. Propitiating her and making offerings [i.e., sacrifices] to her is extremely beneficial to overcome our spiritual and worldly obstacles.
The problem is that Palden Lhamo is a demon.
She is the only female among the traditional 'Eight Guardians of the Law' and is usually depicted as deep blue in colour and with red hair to symbolise her wrathful nature, crossing a sea of blood riding side-saddle on a white mule. The mule has an eye on its left rump where her angry husband's arrow hit it after she killed her son (who was destined, and being raised to be the one to finally put an end to Buddhism) and used his skin as a saddle blanket. She has three eyes and is often shown drinking blood from a human skull.
Palden Lhamo is the dark blue protector and only female among the Eight Guardians of the Law... her Sanskrit name Shri Devi means Great Lady, ie. Lady Goddess; She is usually depicted...crossing the sea of blood riding side-saddle on a white mule... In many monasteries her image is in a corner and is always kept covered... [emphasis added]
She killed her son and flayed him, then drank his blood using his skull for a cup and also ate his flesh. She then left the palace and using her son's skin as a saddle cloth, set off for her northern home on one of the king's finest steeds...She also wears the garland of freshly severed heads characteristic of Kali.
The important distinction is that in this instance the sea of boiling blood, the corpses, and entrails are not associated with offerings intended to appease her. Lhamo's ultimate nature is as a support and a protector of the way of compassion. [She is] the personal protector of the Dalai [Lama] and Panchen Lamas, Palden Lhamo is especially venerated by the Gelug denomination. [emphasis added]
Her mule which she rides side-saddle is led through the flames...The sun shines from her navel and her hair is adorned with a crescent moon - peacock feather jewel. Sometimes she is shaded by a peacock feather fan or parasol. Her steed is bridled and trimmed with vipers (like that of Freya, the Norse deity) from which hang a bag of diseases, a ball of magical thread and her dice. One form of mo, the Tibetan system of divination by dice, is associated with her.
Palden Lhamo, Victorious Goddess-Defender of the Mahayana, was armed by the gods themselves. Hevajra is the one who gave her the dice to determine men's lives.
Here is how she is consulted:
The High Lamas used several ways in which they can increase the chances of finding the reincarnation [of the Dalai Lama]. High Lamas often visit Lhamo La-tso, a lake in central Tibet, and watch for a sign from the lake itself. This may be either a vision or some indication of the direction in which to search, and this was how Tenzin Gyatso was found. It is said that Palden Lhamo, the female guardian spirit of the sacred lake Lhamo La-tso promised Gendun Drup, the 1st Dalai Lama, in one of his visions "that she would protect the reincarnation lineage of the Dalai Lamas." Ever since the time of Gendun Gyatso, the 2nd Dalai Lama, who formalised the system, the Regents and other monks have gone to the lake to seek guidance on choosing the next reincarnation through visions while meditating there.
The particular form of Palden Lhamo at Lhamo La-tso is Gyelmo Maksorma, "The Victorious One who Turns Back Enemies". The lake is sometimes referred to as "Pelden Lhamo Kalideva", which indicates that Palden Lhamo is an emanation of the goddess Kali, the shakti of the Hindu God Shiva.Lhamo Latso ... [is] a brilliant azure jewel set in a ring of grey mountains. The elevation and the surrounding peaks combine to give it a highly changeable climate, and the continuous passage of cloud and wind creates a constantly moving pattern on the surface of the waters. On that surface visions appear to those who seek them in the right frame of mind.
It was here that in 1935, the Regent Reting Rinpoche received a clear vision of three Tibetan letters and of a monastery with a jade-green and gold roof, and a house with turquoise roof tiles, which led to the discovery of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.
Adding yet another bizarre link to us, Palden Lhamo has an eye on her horse that grants her surveillance powers (!!):
[S]eeing [that Palden Lhamo had killed their son], the king seized his bow and with a fierce and terrible curse shot off a poisoned arrow, but the arrow only pierced the animal's rump and there it stuck fast. The queen easily neutralized the king's imprecation, and removing the deadly barb she said:
"May the wound of my mount become an eye large enough to watch over the twenty-four regions, and may I myself be the one to extirpate the lineage of the malignant kings of Lanka!"
At the very least, we can say there is more to Buddhism than meets the eye. Here's what the Bible says about participating in worship with demons:
19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
1 Corinthians 10:19-22
No, of course we are not stronger than God. And that's a good thing!