By Khenpo Sodargye Rinpoche

Prophesy, indeed, is not something that can be easily envisioned and understood by common folks. There are some emphatically real prophesies in Buddhism, and in the secular world, as well.

In 1993, I was on my way from Guangzhou to Chengdu. A young man, Mr. Yang, asked me many questions on the flight. One of his questions was: “I don’t particularly believe in prophesies. Would you, the Tibetan Lama, please offer some specific examples to illustrate this issue.” I, then, briefly told him some of the following real stories.

For example, in the ancient sutras such as Lankavatara Sutra, Mahamegha Sutra, Mahā-bherī-hāraka-parivarta-sūtra, and the Root Tantra of Manjushri, Buddha had predicted that after he entered parinirvana, Bodhisattva Nagarjuna would be in charge of the holy teaching of Tathagata. In particular, it is stipulated, in Lankavatara Sutra, that after Buddha’s parinirvana, Nagarjuna would be born in southern India. He would carry forward the propagation of Buddhadharma, attain the realization of the first stage of Bodhisattvahood, and would take rebirth in the Land of Great Bliss.

Similarly, Buddha made predictions for Bodhisattva Asariga, in the Root Tantra of Manjushri, that Bhikhu Asariga would appear nine hundred years after my parinirvana. Asariga would be highly proficient in scriptures, and very good at distinguishing ultimate meaning and provisional meaning. Likewise, the names, titles, and the respective activities of many accomplished masters such as Vasubandhu, Shantideva, Je Tsongkapa, and His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok, have all been foretold in this sutra. I shall not elaborate any further here, for they have all been detailed in various biographies.

There is another story about the famous King Ashok in Indian history: At the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, a group of little kids were making warehouses and crops with mud for fun. One of them saw Buddha approaching and was overjoyed. He made offerings to Buddha with his own “crops”. Buddha then made a prediction, about the boy’s future, to Ananda: “Because of his merit, one hundred years after I enter parinirvana, this child will be reborn as a king. His name is Ashok… He will revitalize the Three Jewels, make vast offerings, disseminate my sariras, and construct eighty-four thousand stupas all over Jambudvipa for me. ” All these could be found in sutras such as the Great Compassion Lotus Sutra (the Tibetan edition).

Buddha also predicted in the Sutra requested by the Immaculate Light Goddess that Buddhism would thrive in Tibet, the Land of Snows, in the future. People in this place would be tamed and guided by Lord Avalokitesvara. Padmasambhava has also made very clear and precise predictions about the mahasiddhi Sakya Pandita in Tibet. He predicted that the name of Sakya Pandita’s father was “Jamdpal”, and mother “Sgrolma”, and his birthplace “Sakya” and so forth. Moreover, the reincarnated lamas of Karmapa’s great patriarchs have always been certified through unequivocal prophesies.

Such prophesies not only exist in Buddhism; some commonly recognized predictions have also turned out absolutely true in the world today. For example, Nostradamus from southern France was bestowed with a pair of eyes with wisdom since he was very young. In 1530, he predicted some future events spanning over more than two thousand years to 3790 AD! And here, we have not even entered into the year 2000. There are 1200 items in his predictions, and many of them are about historical events that took place later. For example, he predicted that Paris, the capital of France, would be conquered by German forces; Hitler would definitely commit suicide after he exhausted himself. He predicted with complete accuracy, four hundred years earlier, the suicide of German’s great dictator Hitler, that shocked the world. If you don’t believe it, go and read his book The Prophecies – (Les Propheties) of Nostradamus which is still printed today, then you would know if you should equate prophesy superstition.

If you still fail to recognize these historically justified prophesies in Buddhism and elsewhere, perhaps you should be in the same camp with the fools, I refuse to chat with you anymore. I would rather look into the South China Sea and sing loudly the Song of the Three Jewels in order to sow some kind seeds of Buddhadharma in you. But if you are willing to listen with respect and praise, with your hands joined, I shall offer some additional realistic examples:

A great prophet Richard Shawn, in the US, predicted in 1965 that the USSR would lead the US, one step ahead, in their space contest. The Soviets would at least send something to the Moon first. On the other hand, he warned of the risk of the expansion of Japan self-defense forces. Also, a Canadian Arlia born in 1932 predicted his own time of death precisely, although he only lived to the age of 18.

It is also reported in the Documented Reincarnation in the Age of Science that there are people who have foreknowledge of their entire life. For instance, a Hungarian named Banna could foretell what he would experience in life since he was a child. At the age of 8, he told his classmate that he would definitely become the tenured deputy minister of the Defense Department of Hungary in the future. He also detailed in his diary all the major events in his life – such as his wife, how long he would live, the place of his death, etc. All these predictions had come true afterwards, and they are completely accurate. Although whatever he encountered in his life was written in his diary, he always acted according to the external environment and his own thoughts at the time, instead of forcing himself to follow certain course of action. Other people’s diaries are based on past events, whereas Banna’s diary wrote about what would happen to him in the future with total precision. Many scientists probably could not explain the underlying logic of things like this.

It looked like Mr. Yang had generated faith in this matter. I was going to quote the numerous prophesies regarding the future, made by tulkus and tertons in the Tibetan Buddhism, but time flew and we were about to land. I would just have to wait until the next time, or the next life, to tell him in greater detail.

As we were parting, Mr.Yang said to me very politely, “Thank you very much! You have cleared up the doubts that have been hanging over me for a long time.”

I replied with my palms joined, “Amitabha!”