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Tibetan art of divinationBy: Dorje TsetenReprint from March-April 1995 edition of
Tibetan Bulletin(No Copyright)
Although means of telling the future were employed in Tibet, before the advent of Buddhism,they are not regarded as an alien remnant outside the Buddhist framework that it is occasionallyconvenient to call upon. Rather, they are used within the sphere of Buddhist concepts,functioning in accordance with Buddhist principles such as karma. There are no references todivination in the collections of sutras, but many can be found in the tantras.
By looking into someone's future, the diviner or medium can assess the particular situation andrecommend how to respond or deal with it Remedial action, in the form of rituals, evokespositive forces and can result in a change in the person's fortune. Rituals will not change aperson's karma, and those requesting and performing a divination are aware of this. However,they can induce latent positive potential to take precedence over that which is perceived as thecause of an impending misfortune. The efficacy of a ritual involves the patron making offerings of food and money to the monks oradepts performing it. The merit acquired from this gift is used to trigger the forces of latentpositive potential in oneself or others. Thus, one is not transferring merit and stepping outside thelaws of cause and effect, but merely using merit to awaken the forces of one's own or other'sgood karma. If, for example, someone's relative is ill, or his business is deteriorating, an individual mayrequest a qualified practitioner's divination to discover what ritual would be most helpful insetting conditions right. The success of this ritual depends on the strength of one's own karma.However, if the karma or predisposition to be ill is stronger than the latent positive potential inthe sick person's continuum, the effects of the disease will not be overcome and the ritual willremain unsuccessful. Performing divination for the ill is often considered quite tedious. Khamtrul Rinpoche, a Tibetanlama, says, "If you tell a patient to take Tibetan medicine or Western medicine, and I have toconduct a divination for each question. I feel that whatever we do, it is important for us to makethe decision ourselves, because there is less cause for regret afterwards. If we are unable to dothat, or have tried, but still feel we need someone else's advice, the next step is to seek guidancethrough divination. It is said that the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese had been predicted through various means andaccordingly many rituals were performed. However, since the Tibetan people's negative karmawas too strong to be countered by rituals, they remained ineffectual.
Divination In Tibetan Society
Divination is very much a part of life in Tibet and continues to be so among the exiledcommunity. Major decisions concerning everyday life such as marriage or business agreements