Despite the fundamentally atheist nature of communist doctrine, the Soviet authorities emphasise that freedom of religion is guaranteed under the constitution -- and say that many religious minorities are flourishing in the various regions that make up the Union.
CU PULL BACK Mythical animal design on Tibetan Buddhist chorten
CU Guardian tiger statue in front of temple
GV ZOOM IN TO CU Temple building and golden Wheel of Dharma statue on temple
CU PAN INT Buddha images on altar
CU PAN Buddha images and other deities on Thangka painting
SV & CU Abbot and monks chanting puja inside temple (3 shots)
CU PAN Chanting continues over shot of picture of Buddha Sakyamuni's paranirvana and pages of Tibetan religious text being turned (2 shots)
CU Abbot chanting
SV Monks chanting and performing ritual gestures
CU Lay people praying with rosaries
SV Monks playing trumpets, drums and cymbals
GV EXT Monks leaving temple and moving towards prayer wheels
LV & CU Monk and lay people walking round prayer wheels spinning them (2 shots)
LV Old lady spinning prayer wheel followed by others (2 shots)
One lama -- Drigung Rimpoche -- who escaped from Tibet in 1975, says that a few old monks are still allowed to live in monasteries, but for the most part the people are denied all access to the scriptures and religious instruction. If they wish to continue their practice they must do so under conditions of extreme secrecy. Because the very essence of the tradition depends upon direct transmission from teacher to disciple, the lamas are now concentrating their efforts on instructing western students. If they are successful in imparting their knowledge the Vajrayana may survive, but its position at this time is precarious.
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Background: Despite the fundamentally atheist nature of communist doctrine, the Soviet authorities emphasise that freedom of religion is guaranteed under the constitution -- and say that many religious minorities are flourishing in the various regions that make up the Union. One such group is to be found in the Autonomous Republic of Buryatia -- where many people practise a form of Tibetan Buddhism.
SYNOPSIS: Also known as the Vajrayana, Tibetan Buddhism spread to all the areas surrounding Tibet, after it had been carried across the Himalayas from India in the twelfth century. This temple is close to the town of Ulan Ude, the Buryatia capital, and has recently been re-built after the previous one was destroyed by fire.
The Vajrayana is the world's only surviving oral religious tradition and makes great demands on its adherents. Monks and lay people alike spend long periods of their lives in meditation and other forms of yogis practice. It offers the possibility of complete enlightenment in one lifetime. The chanting of mantras is one method used to transcend ordinary consciousness.
The leader of the Tibetan Buddhist community in Buryatia is the Bandad Khamba Lama. He is also head of the regional Theological Board and commissioned the new temple, or dazan, and supervised its construction. The geometry -- and each tiny detail -- have profound mystical significance. Following the Chinese takeover of Tibet in the 1950s subsequent flight into exile of many lamas, the Vajrayana is now also practised in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australasia and elsewhere.
In common with every other aspect of Tibetan Buddhist practice, music is not just superficial ritual. Each group of notes and vibrations have been consciously evolved over the centuries to evoke higher levels of awareness.
Prayer wheels were a traditional feature of Buddhist temples in Tibet and they have not been overlooked at the Ivolghinsky dazan. Although here in the Soviet Union most of the lay people still involved are from the older generation, in western countries Tibetan Buddhism has achieved wide-spread popularity among the young. Some have already been recognised as incarnate lamas.