Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Happy Tibetan New Year

2012 will cross cultures: A Czech Tibetan Buddhist New Year's card. Image Source: Brozkeff's Mandala.

Also known as Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year festival is celebrated for 15 days, starting on the first day with drinking a kind of beer called chhaang. The holiday is celebrated in Tibet, Nepal and India and has pre-Buddhist origins. These origins reflect yet another the ancient connection between astronomy, astrology, and the way we measure time. Wiki: "The festival is said to have begun when an old woman named Belma introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. ... Later when the rudiments of astrology, based on the five elements, were introduced in Tibet, this farmer's festival became what we now call the Losar or New Year's festival." This is the year of the Male Water Dragon and the year is 2139 by the Tibetan count.

The New Year is also associated with predictions. On the occasion of the New Year, the Dalai Lama consults with the Nechung Oracle, who is the Chief State Oracle of Tibet. The Oracle has traditionally made a number of prophecies about the future. Two unrelated Tibetan prophecies for 2012 are online here. You can see them translated and discussed at Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar. The prophecies appear to talk of an alignment of stars, fire from the sky, and possible floods. But it seems that these things can refer to metaphors, or astrological signs of key players, and many of the words in the prophecies have double meanings. It's an inexact science; the blogger who translates these particular prophecies insists that they depend heavily on interpretation:
"[In] the Water-Dragon Year [which is the year 2012, the world will be] destoyed by overseas [kha chus=chu khas] [enemies], (or alternatively, by the water/flow (chus) of karmic retribution [kha]) [stemming from evil] intentions of previous aspiration (sngon mos), in global/globular (dum bu) holocaust" ...

On the other hand, given the multiple meanings of _chu kha_ and _kha chu_, it could mean simply that someone who reaches sixty years of age, or is born in 2012, gets a urinary tract infection or becomes a urologist: _kha chus_ 'saliva'+ _gzhig_ 'analyzes' means _chu khar_ 'urethra'+ _gzhig_ 'disintegrates', or rather _chu kha_'urethras'+_gzhig_' examines'.
All joking aside, that this prophecy refers to our times is made clear in this text at the middle of page 1 line3:
/bgrang bya bcu bdun them skas la/
/'dzegs na ngal gso'i gnas su bde//

'If one climbs the staircase of the seventeenth enumeration' -- ie, to the end of the seventeenth sexagenary cycle --'there is happiness at a place of relief'. If we can only get through this one...
/thun dong dug mun 'khrigs pas 'grib/

"The [time] interval (thun) is obscured by gathering [clouds] of poison darkness (dug mun)"

I.e. by afflictions of the dark age.

/mkhar nag rtsa bar drug sprul 'khyil/

"Six snakes coil at the foundation of the black castle"

mKhar nag probably means (rgya) gar/dkar and (rgya) nag, ie India and China, meaning the prophecy refers to them. (Incidentally, 'Dragon' could be shorthand for 'China' and 'Tiger' for India, etc). Six snakes means a time interval spanning six snake years. In the case of this prophecy that would mean 1977-2037 (both fire snake years) or to include the entire seventeenth sexagenary cycle that we're in now, 1977-2043.

The previous 'six snakes coiled' implies this will happen around or in the middle of ('khyil 'surrounded by) the middle of the seventeenth cycle of 60 years or rather, in the middle of six snake-years 1977-2037 inclusive. I.e., around 2007 or a couple of years later. ...
/g.yung pos ba gam ser chen 'dril/

'The Outcasts (candala=g.yung po) swarm around a great golden-domed palace (ba gam = pho drang)' meaning perhaps a temple, cathedral, mosque, executive mansion, Capitol, etc. ...

I read the above and I am left with an image of biblical-level, cataclysmic flooding, set to occur during the period ruled by a particular constellation, perhaps triggered by a meteor smashing into the ocean. A really, really big tsunami, maybe?
The above discussion on 2012 Tibetan prophecies was written in 2009. You can see extended Tibetan astrology for the year 2012 (i.e. 2139) here; an excerpt:
I feel there will be at least one extremely dramatic "world-altering" event that will influence us for many years to come. Travel and international relations will be in the forefront, whether conventionally, or as symbolized by increased use of the Internet to foster growth and change. Indeed, there will most definitely be "change," but not everyone will be happy. Conflicts of the "flare-up," or "brush fire" type are strongly indicated. Change will be rapid and unpredictable.

I can foresee issues with North Korea and Iran. I do not see how conflict in Uddiyana can be avoided. There will be violence associated with terrorism, and violence associated with repression. A military "show of force" is highly likely, and may extend to the nuclear realm.

Finance will be a constant theme throughout the year. There will likely be wide fluctuation, and high-profile bankruptcy. Markets will become volatile. You can expect China to make bold moves this year, as they begin to experience some of the challenges of their overheated economy. There will be incredible competition for natural resources and raw materials. Firms that recycle will see windfall profits, as they benefit from legislation. The environment will also make headlines several times during the year, particularly in the area of floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

There will be incredible advances and inventions in science and technology, and the possibility of a medical breakthrough.

On the downside, this year can see challenges in the entertainment industry, and a sudden jump in the divorce rate.
The start date of Losar depends on your time zone. Some places will not begin celebrating until February 22.

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