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"When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the dharma will come to the land of the red faces" is a quote from ~700AD that is too good to check. It is also the title of a reasonably good documentary about Tibetan Buddhism in the US.

Google already said that the "iron bird" is actually the name of a year. What is the surrounding context of this quote?

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In the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism we interpret this saying in a different way.

We interpret the iron birds as the airplanes and the horses running on wheels as the trains or automobiles.

The prophecy was fulfilled when the XVI Karmapa visited the Sioux Indians in the seventies.

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The 16th Karmapa visited the Hopi Indians and fulfilled the prophesy however Guru Rinpoche was not only speaking about the aKarma Kagyu lineage he spoke about Tibetans...saying they would scatter like ants across the Earth. However, back to the Karma Kagyu Lineage : Yeshe Tsogyal asked Guru Rinpoche who or what could help Humanity at this time of great upheavals and degenetation. Guru Rinpoche stated that during the time of the Tibetans being spread across the Earthlike ants and the Red Robes coming to the land of the Red Men there will be one and his name will be Karmapa to help guide sentient beings through these troubled times and that the Karmapa was one of his 35 main disciples at that time.. So the Karma Kagyu lineage has a very strong connection the the USA and this is why the 16th Karmapa made his seat in the west in the USA and not Europe or other Western Countries.

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I thought it was fulfilled when china invaded Tibet, and the world took in the Tibetan people, and they brought us the glorious BuddhaDharma

  • Hello David and welcome to Buddhism.SE. We've put together some information to help you get started here. – Robin111 Jun 13 '15 at 11:23
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The "iron bird" portion can't be a reference to a year. That's ignoring the male and female system of the Tibetan lunar calendar, if the iron bird was a reference to a year it would have a male or female tag on it. Also, why do they mention the horse? The horse is also an animal in the Tibetan lunar calendar. Is that a reference to a horse year too, since it's right next to the iron bird portion? It makes far more sense in reference of modern transportation.

Everyone sees it as a clear metaphor for planes and cars from the 8th century. Not just the Kagyupa.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the Navajo Nation one time, that's also a good example of the Dharma coming to the land of the Red Man (basically the Native Americans' homeland).

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