Posted by: Zane Maser | January 27, 2014


When we are empty
we have the greatest capacity
for Divinity to fill us.

In the interior of our dream landscape resides a mystical place of perfect harmony and peace. Here we enter stillness beyond the mind. British author James Hilton called it “Shangri-La” in his 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. Utopia, Avalon, Xanadu, and Valhalla are other mythical names for this inner refuge, where the silken bonds of brotherhood and gentleness are revealed as the high side of our nature. Biblically, the Garden of Eden connotes another such hidden paradise of innocence, simplicity, and bliss, while in Tibetan Buddhist tradition this sacred kingdom of “Shambhala” gradually became associated with the notion of a “Pure Land.” Such a veiled realm, in Mahayana Buddhism, is known as the spiritual abode of a self-realized Buddha or Bodhisattva.1

Shangri-La represents an inner state of realization, manifesting outward as pure consciousness. It is that place in our heightened awareness beyond the crossroads, where the unknown becomes known, and Truth reigns. Duality is transcended. Presence is everywhere present. The moment is as it already is—nothing to hurry about, nothing to worry about, just one friendly moment after another. Shangri-La thus signifies an authenticity free of all outer conditioning—of the illusory labeling and judging of life, as the struggle and striving between “good” and “bad,” “more” and “less.” The reality is a sufficiency of everything, of manifested splendor. The once imposed limits of age and aging transform into perfect health sustained beyond imagination. Living from the heart, love prevails.


For those seekers who search primarily on the physical level of life, they may or may not ever find their way into the high altitude of a shimmering valley enclosed by snow-clad, protective mountains. The culmination of their upward journey to such an earthly paradise would be the Found Horizon. Through steadfast surrender of body, mind, and soul, the person glimpses the Eternal. The golden Light dawns in faithful proportion to the movement of every step toward Shangri-La.

As the story of Lost Horizon goes, five people are lifted out of a hostile dimension into a new reality. They are kidnapped, just as civil war is breaking out in China, and flown west into the rarified atmosphere of the Himalayas. Among them is Robert Conway, a British foreign diplomat who has basked in respected acclaim and material success. Their journey ends when the fuel runs out, and the airplane makes a fortunate crash landing right-side up. Stranded, a frozen grave awaits them.

But, the next day a group of locals arrive, as if by magic timing, equipped with proper clothing and supplies to lead the abducted ones to an isolated valley high in the mountainous peaks of Tibet. Through a wind-swept portal, they enter the Valley of the Blue Moon, leaving the outside world and its news behind with the nearest neighbors 500 miles away. Above the green valley, the serene presence of a lamasery is the guiding center for all who live below. Utopia found!


Shangri-La is a thriving community—a spiritual family—based on the simple tenets of kindness, patience, humility, and love. There is no uncertain future here. Comfort, security, courtesy, tranquility, beauty, and youthfulness are their constant experience. Two of the essential premises that make Shangri-La a permanently joyful realm are: living the Middle Way of moderation and the absence of every form of struggle, which eliminates all the many subtle and overt forms of lack, envy, competition, greed, and crime. This earthly paradise is the storehouse of an abundance of wealth in its endless supply of gold, the commodity the monks use to pay the porters to carry in valuables, such as paintings by the masters and treasured books, in order to protect them from the violence-crazed outer world. Above all, the riches of the mind are cared for as Higher knowledge and wisdom are sought in the silence and stillness of holy moments.

In every heroic journey we embark on, we sooner or later encounter the darkest recesses within our self. There is no escaping the fact that what we are on the interior is continually revealed on the outside in repeated patterns, no matter what our “address” is. Even in Shangri-La, Robert Conway hit the wall of his own self-doubts and inner demons who attempt to dissuade him from the growing sense of true peace that he has finally arrived at his Rightful Place—the realization of his own secret, utopian dream.

The unfolding drama reaches a crisis when his brother, George, turns sullenly bitter and volatile at being held a “prisoner” in this sanctuary of enlightened goodwill. In his riotous behavior and “doubting Thomas” energy, George signifies the clamoring voice of the ego and the overriding fears of the small self. The pure altitude is beyond his awareness and ability to adapt. George’s frantic disbelief reaches its breaking point when Robert tells him the current High Lama is in fact the Father Perrot who arrived in the valley in the early eighteenth century and built the lamasery. To his great astonishment, Robert had earlier been given the unprecedented honor of twice having a private audience with the High Lama, the final visit to be asked by the dying Father to lead the lamasery into the future according to his own inner vision.

Somewhere along the Path, all good-hearted individuals are deliberately brought to a crucial fork, where their spiritual strength is tested. To whose allegiance will loyalty be given? At the height of temptation, a poor choice is often made with terrible consequences. Robert caves into his weaker “George” side by allowing his worldly mind to chart the lower course, thereby rejecting this hidden piece of heaven and casting a shadow over the flickering light within his own heart.

Subsequently, for many, many long months of abject searching, Robert undergoes a full-scale crucifixion. He is stripped of everything but the clothes he wears and a now indomitable will to discover the portal wherethrough he can return to Shangri-La.

Complete self-surrender is the fuel that keeps his weary, malnourished body climbing higher. Every step is one of relinquishment and a dying to his old self. Solitude and a fixed purpose are his only companions. To regain his paradise, he has to return on his own volition, responding solely to the irresistible voice of his Higher Self. One day, Robert casts a hopeful glance upward to catch sight of the sacred entrance to the Valley. He crosses the bridge into resurrection. He has come back to his Self.


Shangri-La is the spiritual valley of harmony and beauty in your own consciousness. What will it take for you to recognize this dream-filled paradise when it comes to you by grace?

The Light within the Heart will carry us beyond all the fear
and turmoil of earth as we journey
up toward the Mountain Peak.
Return always to the inner power and light,
for it is the sacred flame,
the secret of Eternal Life.

Related Posts:

• The Hunchback in Each of Us

• The Timeless Trek

• The Wesak Festival of Lord Buddha

• What Value A Gold Nugget?

• Manifested Splendour

• Approach and Avoidance

• Bittersweet

• Resilience

• Shrouded in “A Dark Night”



Text © by Zane Maser, 2014. Photos gratefully used from Wikimedia Commons. All rights reserved worldwide.

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My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.

If you are interested in an astrological consultation and/or a specific question answered by a horary chart, please visit SunnyCat© Astrology.

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