Licht einer stillen Welt: Das Geheimnis klösterlichen Lebens (German Edition)

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Many of his activities may be compared with those of his contemporary Leonardo da Vinci. In this report we exclude his life-story, his aspect as a gTer-ton, his reincarnations, his spiritual traditions, his Tantric and medicinal practices, his mahasiddha- powers and legendary aspects, and concentrate on four of his activities that we investigated in the Himalayas: The expedition took place from August till October The members came from different national backgrounds: The route of the expedition, as far as the results given here are concerned, was as follows.

In this brief report comments are offered on only five of the works of Thang-stong rGyal-po that we encountered: Pal Ri-boche as an example of architecture: We would not have discovered what we did, without the prelimary work of Stearns, his thesis on Thang-stong rGyal-po's life and his translation of the biography Lo-chen Gyur-med bde-chen under the title King of the Emply Plain The spelling Yu-na follows local pronunciation. The bridge is located in the upper sKyid-chu-valley, north of LHa-sa, south of Bri-khung til. The historic iron chains span about 30 meters, but contemporary steel cables stabilize the bridge today.

The neighbouring former monastery of Yu-na was completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Relics, such as carved wooden pillars, beams and stone reliefs, are embedded today in the foundations on both sides of the stream. Round boulders with central holes for the suspension of the chains with an iron bolt at either side seem to be original or are indistinguishable from traditional designs. On two of the iron links we found incisions. The roughness of the inscriptions are probably more a sign of the difficult process of producing them during the red glowing phase of the hammering rather than a sign of age.

Technically, the inscription could only have been accomplished by use of a long chisel, which gave enough distance to protect the hands from the heat. The pointing of the chisel and the configuration of the syllables must have been difficult. Therefore the characters are simple and read: The other incision we found supports this, saying: The first dog-water-year would be the time when he was only about twenty years old, the next one is the assumed date, and the last one some time after his death.

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Both inscriptions give us reason to take the date as correct since Thang-stong rGyal-po did not start bridge-building until he was 69 years old. Not surprisingly, his biography mentions his activity in this area of the upper sKyid-chu right at that time. Thang-stong rGyal-po's main seat. Here several thousands of monks lived and Thang-stong rGyal-po's followers stayed until its destruction. It bridges the river gTsang-po, here in the upper part not wider than meters, in two steps, a longer and shorter suspending part, as it is usual with Thang-stong rGyal-po's bridges, starting on a pile of river stones, originally found there or piled up, as Thang-stong rGyal-po did at rTse-thang and other places, mentioned in his biography.

Yakhide and leatherstrings, which are fastened to the links of the chain at either side, hang down and loop under wooden planks and logs, which function as foot paths. The chains serve as handrails as well, though they reach the height of one's hips. According to the biography, the bridge was build in ; and as we anticipated, it looks its years. The foundations of the bridge at the river side are crowned by ma-ni chu-skor, and enormous trunks of old willow trees are used within the stone masonry work.

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The iron links themselves are of the expected and known type that I have examined in Bhutan. They are one foot long, oblong shaped, more like squeezed ellipses, covered by a bronze-like smooth brownish to reddish patina, with a particular diagonal solding seam of arsenic-containing iron. Therefore the seams, usually the weakest part, are of additional strength and free of any rust, as the chains are entirely free of iron-mould, probably as a result of the rather unclean composition of the blacksmithed iron. The perfect condition of the bridge, which is an object of private daily worship and religious service by the inhabitants of the village, finds its explanation, no doubt, in one of the prophecies known in the region: Buddism will flourish in Tibet as long as this holy bridge stays.

Thus the bridge has been defended and taken care of down through the centuries. The documentation we took are the first photographs, films and videotapes ever. There is no other visual record of the bridge, apart from a sketch made more than forty years ago by Peter Aufschnaiter, passing by the village on his escape, not daring to enter it. The bridge can be seen at the very left of his drawing next to the stupa of Ri-bo-che. The mchod-rten is definitely of Thang-stong rGyal-po's hand, the construction pro-cess is described in detail in the biography.

It is a seven-story-high hierarchical structure, if we count the structurally visual elements from the outside. Seen from the interior, we may add another storey inside the double-storeyed bum-pa and a threedimensional mandala like the three sku-bum of rGyal-rtse, rGyang this one Thangstong rGyal-po is said to have helped building , and Jo-nang. The building was erected between and with the active support of the rNam-ring ruler who provided labourers and materials.

There was also several resistance by the workers, several assassination attempts, thefts and some collapses of walls. Wonderful stories concerning building techniques, spiritual teachings connected with the labour, and legends of the wild and crazy life of the Mahasiddha are told. After the mchod-rten's completion even the Emperor of China sent loads of presents to its consecration. In this context we should also mention the most important and most innovational architecture of Thang-stong rGyal-po in Bhutan, the IZlum-brtsegs IHa-khang in the sPagro-valley, showing some of the same inside features as the Ri-bo-che sku-bum.

To the best of my knowledge, the construction of a mchod-rten as a temple did not occur before the time of Thang-stong rGyal-po. Within the very small and narrow chapels of the two storeys above the basement, used for processional circumambulation, we observed and documented frescoes, luckily preserved in their lower parts. The rubble that fell from the massive wood, mud and slate roves, when they had been destroyed by the Red Guards, protected the murals from decay.

The frescoes are of great interest and, we believe, of Thang-stong rGyal-po's own hand, or commissioned by him. They were probably, at least in part, iconographically initiated and supervised by him. All the paintings of the second storey, for example, are mandala -compostions, a rarity in Tibet, and a significant attribute of centres for higher level-Tantric practices. The style of the painting is not uniform; floral design in earthy colors and free-flowing, differ from heavily dark outlined figures of the same colour in material and character.

Some of them have a transparent coating and the colours look different in brightness because of the slight gloss. We did not have enough time to examine them in the three days of our visit, which were filled with documentation work.

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They have to be urgently researched before they vanish under new frescoes, for 'restoration' work has already started. I may say here that we believe from our experience as artists and researchers that the frescoes may date from as early as the 15th century. The artist's or artists' 'hand' is very personal, even quite daring within the given framework of the iconographic regulations. It is a way of unpretentious, direct representation of the necessary features of the figures, which proves the strong personality ies of the artist s , a characteristic which can be attributed to Thang-stong rGyal-po himself.

We may only say there is a certain relationship to Ngor-Evam, as far as the mandala-char acter is concerned. We found the ritual of breaking of the stone pho-bar rdo-gcog attributed to Thangstong-rGyal-po, in the lonely and politically forbidden Indian border-valley Pin of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. This ritual, which was believed lost forever after having been first observed by Tibetologists over fifty years ago, was recorded in full with 16 mm film, video, photography and audio equipment.

We agree with Stein that this bon -related ritual is link between the story-telling and lecturing activities of the wandering ma-ni-pa , which I observed in Bhutan, and the Tibetan performances of A-lche-IHa-mo. With actors of Ri-bo-che. Thang-stong rGyal-po founded a school of such fame that according to witnesses they usually enacted the first drama among the various troupes at the Nor-bu glingkha -yoghurt-festivals.

The abbreviated historical background of the three hour-long ritual can be given as follows. By request of Tsong-kha-pa, so the story goes. Thang-stong rGyal-po is asked to come to IHa-sa to help cure a severe epidemic. He arrives, miraculously flying on a white eagle, and finds the cause of the disaster to be either the demon dBang-rgyal, or Hala rTa-brgyad or Drang-srong chen-po gzha-bDud Rahula with the sea-snake chu-srin inside a stone at the threshold of the Jo-khang door. He initiates and then performs the ceremony on the market-place. The stages of the ritual are: Thang-stong rGyal-po is not able to have the demon react at all.

So he announces he will break the boulder and force the demon to appear in open light. The threats have no effect, so Thang-stong rGyal-po must do what he threatens. The rock, which requires two men to lift, is placed on the chest of the third actor, lying in trance on his back on the floor. The tone of the ritual is somewhat interrupted in the introductory scenes by a historical 'lecture' that begins humorously and ends with a deadly fight.

The lecture sheds light on the unexplained relation between the 'King of the North' byang mi-rgod rGyal-po and the dharmaraja Chos-rGyal Nor-bzang, a story which could stem from the legend of Thang-stong rGyal-po building a mchod-rten at the northern border to prevent Mongolian infiltration. Surprisingly, we found a Nor-bzang theme depicted in the nearby Tabo monastery on the tsug IHa-Khang- wall.

But this, and its possible relation to the ritual, still has to be examined closely. Before the ritual takes place a travelling altar mchod-bcams, in this case with two Thang-stong rGyal-po statues, is set up and A-Iche IHa-mo -performances, the initial.

When we showed our bu-chen- people from Sagnam the text Roerich had written down about 60 years ago with the help of the lo-tsa-ba chen-po, the lo-chen leader and main magician of the troupe of married lamas, they could hardly back their tears. This was their grandfather's and great grandfather's text, used over the generations and even now given further for the initiation of the leader's eldest son. This we take as a proof of having found the same lineage of pho-bar rdo-gcog- performers. Neither in Bhutan nor in Tibet could I find them or other bu-chen.

Our knowledge of the other diverse professional activities of Thang-stong rGyal-po and of his life story, which for reasons of space cannot be illustrated here, enables us now to give an exact picture of his works and life. A privately financed archive has been established in Berlin in order to collect and popularize information on this Tibetan genius.

We took some eighty hours of video documentation, three hours of 16 mm film and three thousand slides in the course of the expedition, but we are still looking for more photos, audio- and videotapes, films, literary sources and quotes, ritual and profane objects connected with his Tantric practices, etc. An illustrated book and videofilm portrait is in preparation; and a film in eight parts has been planned.

The first part, entitled 'The Demon in the Rock' and depicting the search for and discovery of the 'breaking of the stone' ritual, has already been cut. Please help us trace additional materials by sending your information to: Thang-stong rGyal-po Archiv Berlin, Prof. Schweisseisen-Kettenbrucke aus dem Jahrhundert in Bhutan Himalaya mit arsenreicher Feuerschweissung.

A Study of Visionary Buddhism in Tibet. University of California Press. Tibetan Kampa Industrial Society, P. Kangra, Himachal Pradesh; India, Prince Peter of Greece and Denmark The Ceremony of Breaking the Stone. Folk , 4, Himalayan Research Institute, 2, 4, University of Washington Press. Unpublished translation of Gyur-med bde-chen.

Travelling freely within the country and making drawings, I started to trace the life and works of Thang-stong rGyal-po, the genius Mahasiddha, whose name is known within the Tibetan Himalayas, but who remains virtually unknown among western scholars, except for his accomplishments as builder of iron bridges.

Thang-stong rGyal-po was a Mahisiddha of renaissance character, who in the course of his lifelong travels also engaged in teaching, building, constructing, performing, painting, composing, healing, etc. His methods of perceiving, acting and reflecting within the world were strategically openminded, interdisciplinary, intermediary, social and 'crazy' grub-thob smyon-pa because he was in the first instance a sensuous and pragmatic person, an actual bridge builder as well as a symbolic one, bridging gaps in Tibetan society, such as the one between the 'classes'.

He practiced as a blacksmith, thus adhering to a 'lower' class, and at the same time acted as a philosopher, teacher and reincarnated emanation thugs-sprul of Guru Padmasambhava. By trespassing from one 'profession' upon another, he could showed up common prejudices about differences between sentient beings. In addition to his unrivaled contribution to Tibetan architecture zlum-brtsegs IHa-khang at sPa-gro, Bhutan ; he was also a poet, bridge and ferry builder, composer, sculptor, painter, engineer, physican, blacksmith, philosopher, the founder and promoter of the A-Iche-IHamo drama theatre and the originator of the seemingly lost ritual of Breaking the Stone pho-bar rdo-gcog.

In this report we exclude his life-story, his aspect as a gTer-gon , his reincarnations, his spiritual traditions, his tantric and medicinal practices, his mahisiddha -powers and legendary aspects and concentrate on four of his activities that we investigated in the Himalayas: Pal Ri-bo - che as an example of architecture; 4. We would not have discovered what we did, without the prelimary work of Stearns, his thesis on Thang-stong rGyal-po's life and his translation of the biography Lo-chen 'Gyur-med bde-chen under the title The bridge is located in the upper sKyid-chu - valley north of LHa-sa south of 'Bri-khung til.

Round boulders with central holes for the suspension of the chains with an iron bolt at either side seem to be original or are indistinquishable from traditional designs. Technically the inscription could only have been accomplished by use of a long chisel, which gave enough distance to protect the hands from the heat. The pointing of the chisel and the configuration oft he syllables must have been difficult. Within his life the first dog-water-year would be the time, when he was only about twenty years old, the next one is the assumed date and the last one some time after his death.

Both inscriptions give us reason to trust in the date , since Thang-stong rGyal-po did not start bridge-building until he was 69 years old. Not surprisingly his biography mentions his activity in this area of the upper sKyid-chu right during that time. Ri-bo-che monastery, called gCung-or Pal Ri-bo-che, not to be mixed up with Ri-bo-che in do-Khams, was, in addition to Chu-bo-ri, Thang-stong rGyal-po's main seat.

According to the biography the bridge was built in ; and as we anticipated, it looks its years. The foundations of the bridge at the river side are crowned by ma-ni chu-skor and enormous trunks of old willow trees are used within the stone masonry work. The iron links themselves are the expected and known type that I have examined in Bhutan. The perfect condition of the bridge which is an object of private daily worship and religious service by the inhabitants of the village finds its explanation, no doubt, in one of the prophecies known in the region: Buddhism will flourish in Tibet as long as this holy bridge stays.

There is no other visual record of the bridge, apart from a sketch made by Peter Aufschnaiter more than forty years ago, passing by the village on his escape, not daring to enter it. The mchod-rten is definitely of Thang-stong rGyal-po's hand, the construction process is described in detail in the biography. Seen from the interior, we may add another storey inside the double-storeyed bum-pa and a three-dimensional mandala like the three s ku-bum of rGyal-rtse, rGyang this one Thang-stong rGyal-po is said to have helped building , and Jo-nang.

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There was also severe resistance by the workers, several assassination attempts, thefts and some collapses of walls. Wonderful stories concerning building techniques, spiritual teachings connected with the labour, and legends of the wild and crazy life of the Mahisiddha are told. In this context it should not be neglected to mention the most important and most innovational architecture of Thang-stong rGyal-po in Bhutan, the lZlum-brtsegs lHa-khang in the sPagro-valley, showing some of the same inside features as the Ri-bo-che sku - bum.

Within the very small and narrow chapels of the two storeys above the basement, used for professional circumambulation we observed and documented frescoes, luckily preserved in their lower parts. The rubble that fell from the massive wood, mud and slate rooves, when they had been destroyed by the Red Guards, protected the murals from decay. They were probably at least, in part, iconographically initiated and supervised by him. All the paintings of the second storey, for example, are mandala -compostions, a rarity in Tibet, and a significant attribute of centres for higher level-tantric practices.

The style of the paintings varies between floral design in earthy colors and free-flowing, heavily dark outlined figures of the same colour in material and character. I may say here, that we believe from our experience as artists and researchers that the frescoes may date from as early as the 15th century.

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Incomparable to other 'schools', we may only say, there is a certain relationship to Ngor-Evam, as far as the mandala -character is concerned. We found the Thang-stong rGyal-po attributed ritual 'breaking of the stone' pho-bar rdo-gcog in the lonely and politically forbidden Indian border-valley Pin of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.

This ritual, which was believed lost forever after having been first observed by tibetologists over fifty years ago, was recorded in full with 16 mm film, video, photography and audio equipment. We agree with Stein that this bon -related ritual is a link between the story-telling and lecturing activities of the wandering ma-ni-pa, which I observed in Bhutan, and the Tibetan performances of A-Iche-IHa-mo. With actors of Ri-bo-che, Thang-stong rGyal-po founded a school of such fame, that according to witnesses they usually enacted the first drama among the various troupes at the Nor-bu gling -kha-'yoghurt'-festivals.

By request of Tsong-kha-pa, so the story goes, Thang-stong rGyal-po is asked to come to lHa-sa to help cure a severe epidemic. He arrives, miraculously flying on a white eagle, and finds the cause of the disaster to be either the demon dBang-rgyal, or Hala rTa-brgyad or Drang - srong chen-po gzha-bDud Rahula with the sea-snake chu-srin inside a stone at the threshold of the J o-khang door.

The threats have no effect so Thang-stong rGyal-po must do what he threatens. The rock, which requires two men to lift, is placed on the chest of third actor, lying in trance on his back on the floor. If the stone breaks by the first stroke of another riverstone, the omen is dharmakaya , by the second, nirmanakaya, etc. The lecture sheds light on the unexplained relation between the 'King of the North' byang mi-rgod rGyal-po and the dharmaraja Chos-rGyal Norbzang, a story which could stem from the legend of Thang-stong rGyal-po building a mchod-rten at the northern border to prevent Mongolian infiltration.

Surprisingly we found a Norbzang theme depicted in the nearby Tabo monaster on the tsug IHa-Khang -wall. Before the ritual takes place a travelling altar mchod-bcams with, in this case, two Thang-stong rGyal-po statues, is set up and A-Iche IHa-mo -performances, the initial prayer is sung to Thang-stong rGyal-po, asking him to purify the site, space and situation. When we showed our bu-chen -people from Sagnam the text Roerich had written down about 60 years ago with the help of the lo-tsa-ba chen-po, the lo-chen leader and main magician of the troupe of married lamas, they could hardly hold back their tears.

Neither in Bhutan nor in Tibet could I find them or other bu - chen. Our knowledge of the other diverse professional activities of Thang-stong rGyal-po and of his life story, which for reasons of space cannot be illustrated here, enable us now to give an exact picture of his works and life. A privately financed archive has been established in Berlin in order to collect and diffuse information on this Tibetan genius.

We took some eighty hours of video documentation, three hours of 16 mm film and three thousand slides in the course of the expedition, but we are still looking for more photos, audio- and videotapes, films, literary sources and quotes, ritual and profane objects connected with his tantric practices, etc. Tibetan Kampa lndustrial Society. Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, lndia, F olk, 4, Journal of Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute, 2, 4, Unpublished translation of 'Gyur-med bde-chen.

Ri-bo-che lcags-zam plate 2 Ri-bo-che monastery the name is usually prefixed with the expression gCung or dPal - not to be confused with Ri-bo-che in mDo-khams - was TG's main seat after Chu-bo-ri. The mchod-rten of Ri-bo-che plate 3 This mchod-rten is definitely by TG's hand. The frescoes of Ri-bo-che plates Within the very small and narrow chapels of the two storeys above the basement which is used for processional circumbulation , we observed and documented frescoes, luckily preserved in their lower sections.

The Ritual Pho-bar rdo-gcog plates In the remote and politically forbidden Indian border valley of Pin, in Spiti Himachal Pradesh , we discovered the Pho-bar rdo-gcog ritual, and recorded it in full with 16 mm film, video, photographs and sound equipment. The ritual Pho-bar rdo-gcog We found the ritual of breaking of the stone pho-bar rdo-gcog attributed to Thangstong-rGyal-po, in the lonely and politically forbidden Indian border-valley Pin of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.