Buddhism and Shamanism

Buddhism and Shamanism

In Mongolia

Buddhism and Shamanism (or more specifically, Tengerism) have had a very uneasy relationship in Mongolia. Tibetan Buddhism was brought to Mongolia by a crafty ruler or “khan,” who couldn't unite the Mongolian tribes under his banner because he was not a bloodline descendant of the mighty Genghis. He made a deal with a Tibetan lama to declare him a reincarnation of Genghis's grandson Kublai, thus allowing him to seize power. In return, he recognized the lama as the “ocean teacher,” a phrase indicating supreme authority. That phrase, in Mongolian, is “Dalai Lama,” so the institution of Dalai Lama was directly connected with Mongolian power politics.

Of course, this doesn't invalidate either the spiritual validity of Mongolian Buddhism or the spiritual authority of the current Dalai Lama, who is universally respected for very good reasons. But it does illustrate how power, political machinations and less-than-pure motivations are not restricted to the history of Christianity and the West as some self-hating Westerners would like to believe.

 

In the case of Mongolia, the incoming Buddhist religion engaged in a long campaign of persecution and harassment against the indigenous shamanic religion of Tengerism. This campaign had most of the same features as Christian campaigns against Paganism, or the earlier Pagan campaigns against Christianity, including intimidation, public humiliation and even public executions. Spirituality is vitally necessary to human life, but the human tendency to try to enforce conformity and persecute those who are different is not restricted to one religion or ideology. It has reared its ugly head among Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Taoists, Pagans and Atheists alike.