The location of Shangri-La. Franklin Merrell-Wolff and heightened states of Consciousness.
The Spirit World lies beyond human reach, further than any spacecraft can take us, and yet it is so near. We can get clues and glimpses of its accessibility in reading books like "Hello from Heaven" or "Pathways through to Space," or from our own religious or spiritual experiences, NDEs and OBEs and dreams. But like Shangri-La or Shambhala, no-one alive has ever found it. The Dalai Lama and some other Buddhists claim that Shambhala does exist. It is a real place hidden somewhere in Northern Nepal, or North of Tibet, and other seekers have named the Gobi Desert, Central Russia and other parts of the world as its location. Sir Thomas More coined the word Utopia for such a place, literally meaning "No Place" and this is perhaps the best designation of the location of the Spirit World, an unattainable state as long as we are physically incarnated.
But each of us has inner directions to it within our heart and spirit, and so in the direst circumstances, and even at the point of death, we are never lost or alone, since like birds, turtles and fish, we know instinctively where to go to find our point of origin.
Franklin Merrell-Wolff probably best describes this inner awareness. After twenty or more years following a yoga meditation technique, and the Indian philosophy of Shankara, he reached a high level of spiritual awareness. When in this contemplative mood he writes about the awakening which is the object and purpose of all religion. He says that the awakening is both a Death and a Birth. Then Real Life for the tired person begins. But art, language and other ways of trying to describe it (as in these articles) are inadequate, and incomplete, and a person has to have personal direct experience, but even then, none of our senses, feelings, sensations, moods and thoughts have the ability to covey the glory and the joy, the freedom, and the wonderful possibilities and probabilities of living in the Spirit World. A vast knowledge is opened up, which would solve all our problems on earth, but we can’t carry back all this power and understanding through the brain and into the human situation.
He writes: “Man must Awake to Know and thus to solve his really great problems. Without Awakening there is no solution of these problems. Brother fights brother for the crumbs that have fallen from the Feast, seeing not enough for all. Yet, if but for a single moment man would look up, he would see on the Table an endless supply, a limitless abundance for all. So We [who have had a glimpse of the Spirit World] are not much concerned with vain social plans and programs, with the changes of government and economic reforms, for we know that all organizations, all institutions, all systems are sterile if they do not incarnate the Light. We use all possible means to bring that Light nearer and to arouse in men the desire for it. But We cannot do that part which each individual man must do. We urge him to turn his back upon the trivial pleasures, combined with real bondage, so that he may Know a real and enduring Joy and may live a Life that is full. The Crossing to the Promised Land has its difficulties but these are small beside the new Values that There will be Realized. Arise, men, and come into your ancient Inheritance ! All old pleasures and activities have their higher correspondences in that Beyond, but with an inconceivably greater richness of Value.”
[In earlier writing like this we have to take “man” and “men” as a generic term for all human beings or people: men, women and children alike !]
Those people who are unable or unwilling to make the effort to work on taming their egoic consciousness often look for a guru, therapist or Messiah to do it on their behalf, and in the Twentieth Century there were a number of promised Messiahs expected, who would show the way. Theosophists hoped to make Krishnamurti such a leader, but he turned down the offer. The son of Mrs Willett the medium was also predicted to become such a leading light, but nothing came of it, and Benjamin Creme never found the promised Messiah after decades of looking. Other Theosophists proclaimed that the son of the explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett was to be the next Maitreya, but father and son disappeared into the Amazon jungle looking for a lost city, never to emerge again. They were probably killed by renegade soldiers.
There are indeed many lost cities and civilizations, traces of which have been found, and myths and legends have been built up around them as have stories of Shangri-La such as James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon.” But there is a real Eden which precedes our existence on this planet, and to which we will return, and it is simpler for us just to call it the Spirit World, and leave it at that.
It is possible to locate a relatively peaceful Heaven on Earth, or a local paradise or Shangri-La, and this would differ according to each person’s preference. After looking at every country in the world, and different provinces and states, John Tobe found his Shangri-La near Victoria, on Vancouver Island, where he found no industrial pollution. For others, heaven is a contented state of mind, which can be taken everywhere, into a busy city or alone out into the countryside. Those who are as fully awakened as possible spiritually, like Franklin Merrell-Wolff himself and some enlightened mystics, carry their contentment with them, and in their presence the rest of us feel empowered and inspired by their vibrations, at least for a little while. Their touch, or “shaktipat” is electrifying. Effective spiritual healers have this heightened healing energy in their aura too. They carry a bit of heaven, or the Spirit World, around with them.
There have indeed been great masters who have shown us the way, in respect to giving us methods and disciplines to improve our mind, achieve higher states of consciousness, and lead more ethical lives. Such Masters have been the founders of our religions, and enlightened gurus like Satya Sai Baba, Paramahansa Yogananda, and Ramana Maharshi from the East and our great philosophers like Immanuel Kant in the West have led us towards enlightenment. But as to whether there really are Masters living in caves in Tibet and the Himalayas and guiding some of our mystics and mediums, I am not so sure. There are surely spirit guides providing sound guidance through our best mediums, and similar skilled teams of spirit surgeons assisting our healers. But we have not been able to locate their existence and whereabouts here on earth, neither can we say for sure whether it is true that some Scientologists have come to live with us humans from another galaxy, or that other extra-terrestrial or alien intelligences are contacting us through UFOs.
The Spirit World lies beyond any activity taking place in the physical universe, so the source of these so-called paranormal phenomena is difficult to pin down and verify. Rather than waste time in disputing and speculating, I feel it is more useful to spend our time in examining our own mind and experience, and recording the impressions of others, as we are doing here. So the articles following this one will continue to review descriptions and accounts of the Spirit World from recent and earlier publications from around the world.
For further reading about Shambhala, Shangri-La and techniques for heightening states of consciousness, the following titles are suggested : -
Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s Experience and Philosophy [containing ‘Pathways through to Space] State University of New York Press, Albany, 1984.
“Transformation in Consciousness” by Franklin Merrell-Wolff.
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995.
Ron Leonard: “The Transcendental Philosophy of Franklin Merrell-Wolff.”
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1999.
Edwin Bernbaum: “The Way to Shambhala.” Jeremy P. Taarcher, Inc.1989.
John Tobe: :”I Found Shangri-La.” The Provoker Press, St. Catharines, ON. 1970
Guggenheim and Guggenheim: “Hello from Heaven.” Bantam Books, 1995..
J.H. Brennan. “Occult Tibet.” Llewellyn Publications, 2002.
Alexandra David-Neel. “Magic and Mystery in Tibet.” Souvenir Press, London, 1967.
and many books on meditation and contemplation in the Yoga, Zen, Sufi and other traditions and from western mysticism and transpersonal psychology.
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