2 – Introduction to Kalachakra by Jhado Rinpoche
Bodhgaya, January 2002
The speciality of Kalachakra tantra
The third outline was showing how the Vajrayana path is more supreme and superior to the Sutrayana path and the fourth outline was showing how the highest yoga tantra is more supreme than the three lower tantras. And here we come to the fifth outline, which is explaining about the speciality of the Kalachakra tantra.
In the path of secret mantra there’s this practice of Kalachakra, which is extremely profound, extremely well known through all the world. When we try to achieve enlightenment, we try to cultivate the path to buddhahood. One’s main focus is not cultivating the body that one has inherited from one’s parents, but one is focusing on cultivating the mind, because the mind itself is clear in nature, it’s not in the nature of one’s delusions. The delusions are superficial in the mind and therefore one can purify one’s mind and achieve the primordial wisdom of omniscience, and this primordial wisdom of omniscience is the holy mind of the Buddha. One can accomplish that, so one needs to purify one’s mind to achieve that. In this way by purifying one’s mind one achieves the holy mind of the Buddha. But then you wonder how does one go by accomplishing the holy body of the Buddha.
If one explains it from the viewpoint of general tantras, the physical body that one has inherited from his parents is what we call one’s own body, but it seems impossible to transform it into the actual physical body of the Buddha. One tries to activate the extremely subtle wind and mind within one’s body and to use that to meditate on emptiness and to purify it of all obscuration and to arise in the physical form of Vajrasattva or Vajradhara, or in other words – in the divine form of the Deity. What is actually accomplishing is extremely subtle body and mind, which is separate from one’s own physical aggregates that one inherited from his parents. One’s subtle wind and mind and meditating on emptiness, that becomes the holy mind and it arises into the physical form, which becomes the holy form or holy body, and this holy body and mind becomes a single indivisible phenomenon, of one entity and it becomes what we call the holy body and mind of the Buddha.
If one explains this from the view point of Kalachakra, not only does one meditate on emptiness through activating the subtle wind and mind, one also cultivates the process of the exhaustion of one’s own aggregates. One exhausts the particles of one’s own aggregates and achieves the state of the empty form of the Buddha. In the Kalachakra tantra there is no mention of the separate accomplishment of a subtle body inseparable from the subtle mind, which is separate from one’s own physical aggregates. But rather it teaches a path of exhausting one’s current physical aggregates to transmute them into what we call the body of empty form of the Buddha.
When we talk in terms of Kalachakra or the wheel of time, in accordance with Rinpoche´s introduction that we heard, there were five outlines – showing the difference between a Buddhist and a non-Buddhist path as well as the differences between the sutra and tantra path and so forth, so we have gone through the five major outlines of these topics.
When we talk in terms of the Kalachakra tantra, the actual direct translation of the word Kalachakra is the cycle of time, kala means time and chakra means cycle. When we explain the Kalachakra it has to be explained from the viewpoint of the base, the path and the result, from these three aspects.
In accordance with such a method of explanation, at the level of the base one has this physical form which has arisen from the three karmic delusions: attachment, aversion and ignorance, as well as from the various karmic afflictive emotions. This form that is in the ordinary aspect is the cause of the suffering of oneself and all sentient beings. These physical constituents, the tantric channels, energy winds and the substances within them, this is the base of the Kalachakra; this is the foundation of our cultivation.
When we talk about the path, the level of how to practice – in order to remove the sufferings of oneself and others, one cultivates the immutable great bliss (immutable in the sense that it is unchangeable throughout the tree times, the past, the present and the future) which is mentioned in the Kalachakra tantra and is referring to the mind of clear light. The immutable great bliss itself is the extremely subtle mind of clear light, which meditates on emptiness. To employ this extremely subtle state of mind to meditate on emptiness with the corresponding visualisations, one gradually exhausts one’s own physical aggregates. This is happening in the gradual manner, it’s not like a one time thing, it is through cultivation and practice.
Initially the empty body and empty form may be very vague phenomena, but gradually by cultivation over time one can gradually exhaust these physical aggregates to achieve the final result of empty form. Through meditating one gradually causes the body of empty form to materialise to come to existence. One appears in the aspect of five Dhyani Buddhas, as it mentions in the Kalachakra tantra the different peaceful and wrathful divinities within the mandala. Through the cultivation of the mind of clear light, we eventually arise into the form of these different deities, different divinities related to the Kalachakra deity. This is how we cause the empty form, which corresponds to the holy body of the Buddha.
The empty form which has arisen from the mind of clear light and the mind of clear itself becomes the cause for achieving the holy mind of the Buddha and one achieves the indivisible holy mind and body of the Buddha. This brings us to the resultant stage in which one achieves the body of empty form, which is simultaneous to the mind of immutable supreme bliss, which appears in the form of different divinities of the mandala, and is in the nature of great bliss and clear light.
This is how we explain the path of Kalachakra, in the sense of the bases, the path that to be cultivated and the result of the cultivation, or achieving the resultant attainment. In Kalachakra the emphasis is on the need to exhaust our physical aggregates, and to transmute them into the body of empty form of the Buddha. Here we are explaining the base, the path and the result and this is a general introduction to the practice of Kalachakra.
In the Kalachakra tantra the supreme immutable bliss is considered to be the holy mind of the Buddha and the result of that or the exhaustion of the physical aggregates into the body of empty form, is seen as the result of holy body, which is indivisible from the holy mind. But in terms of explanation in the other highest yoga tantras, one talks about employing the extremely subtle wind and mind to arise in the extremely subtle form, which is the holy body of the Buddha and the mind simultaneously cognising emptiness, that mind is the holy mind of the Buddha. This is the fundamental difference between Kalachakra and the general highest yoga tantras.
This speciality of teaching about the manner of accomplishing the body of union (the union of holy body and mind) is explicitly taught in the Kalachakra tantra and implicitly taught in the other tantras. Therefore the other tantras such as Guhyasamaja and so forth, are called implicit tantras or hidden tantras, because they implicitly teach about the manner of accomplishing the body of union. But the Kalachakra tantra teaches this explicitly, in a very clear manner, and therefore it is called the explicit tantra or the very clear tantra.
In today’s talk we have gone through the five major outlines, firstly understanding what are the main differences between a Buddhist path and a non-Buddhist path. In the second outline focusing on the special characteristics of the Mahayana tradition and in the third outline firstly on the specialities of the tantric path and in the fourth outline within the tantric path the specialities of the highest yoga tantra and than in the fifth point, within the highest yoga tantra, the uncommon specialities of Kalachakra. Within these five major outlines we have given very brief explanations in the manner of covering these five outlines, to be able to provide to everybody a very general understanding of the Buddhist path.
In tomorrow’s class we will go into the details of the different processes of the initiation ritual, such as the eleven empowerments as well as of Kalachakra related to the base, related to the path and related to the result – the explanation of tantra in relation to these three aspects: the base, the path and the result.
The Kalachakra empowerment
In general in tantric rituals there are two divisions within the initiation rituals, what we call in Tibetan wang and jenang. Wang is translated as an empowerment ceremony and jenang is what we call subsequent permission, this is the literal translation of the two Tibetan terms.
Wang itself has the connotation of empowerment, in the sense of empowering oneself to perform specific deity yogas and one is empowered to visualise oneself as the deity and to cultivate the yoga related to that particular deity. It also entails empowering oneself to meditate on the yogas of the lower tantras, such as the non-duality or profundity and clarity. It is also empowering oneself to meditate on the generation and completion stages of highest yoga tantras. In general when one receives the empowerment, one is qualified to perform certain meditations related to the deity. So it would be good to know what are the differences between wang and jenang, such as what rituals it involves receiving the empowerment and receiving a subsequent permission.
If one asks the question: “Is there any difference between a wang and a jenang, is there any difference between an empowerments and a subsequent permission?” There are two separate forms of rituals, even those that are generally called initiations. The purpose of the jenang or subsequent permission is causing the blessings of the deity to enter within the mind stream of the body, speech and mind of the disciple. Therefore the jenang or the subsequent permission is conferred on the basis of the different jenangs related to the holy body, holy speech and holy mind of that particular deity. Generally the subsequent permission has to follow an empowerment ceremony in order for the blessings of the deity to enter swiftly through the three doors of the disciple, which means that one should first receive an empowerment or wang before receiving a jenang or a subsequent permission.
What happens when one receives a jenang or a subsequent permission without first having received an empowerment, a wang? For example there might be a situation where a public long life initiation or jenang have been conducted, as in this case a White Tara long life initiation is conferred at the end of the teachings. In this case, when the person attended this long life initiation without having first received a wang prior to this event, than one is not counted as having actually received the jenang. One is not considered qualified to receive the jenang in the first place, because in the process of the jenang or the subsequent permission initiation one needs to visualise oneself as the deity, one needs to generate one’s appearance and nature into the form of the deity and than one receives the related initiation rituals corresponding to this deity. In this case, since one has not received an empowerment or wang prior to that, one is not qualified to generate oneself in the form of the deity. Therefore Lamas usually advise before such long life empowerments, for those who have not received a wang or a great empowerment, you should visualise the deity on top of your head, you should not generate yourself in a form of a deity, because you are not qualified, you are not allowed to do so.
So you should visualise the deity on top of your head and from there receive the flow of nectars corresponding to the initiations of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind. In this process you receive the mere blessing of the deity, you are not counted is actually having received the initiation of that particular deity.
The great empowerment is generally conferred on a disciple on the basis of a mandala. The mandala can be of different varieties, it can be a colour powder or sand mandala, it can be a painted cloth mandala, it can be a mandala of meditative concentration, which is like an emanation from the meditative concentration powers of the Lama, and the empowerment can also be conferred on the basis of a body mandala. These four forms of mandalas can be used to confer the great empowerments.
Especially in relation to the great empowerment of Kalachakra, there are two different lineages of conferring this empowerment. One is the general version of the Kalachakra empowerment, general in the sense that this particular lineage of empowerment rituals follows the style of general tantras, like the four empowerments and so forth. It follows the exact pattern or style, which is common to the other highest yoga tantra deities and because of this it is called the general lineage of conferring the Kalachakra empowerment.
There is also the uncommon, unique lineage of conferring Kalachakra empowerments, which has eleven empowerments. It is unique in the sense that the style of conferring empowerments and the rituals involved and so forth are very different from the general highest yoga tantra empowerments. It consists of eleven forms of empowerments, so it is called the uncommon or unique Kalachakra lineage.
If we talk about the general lineage of conferring the Kalachakra empowerments, one can refer to sources such as the Vajramalatantras or the collection of tantras, which can be found in the Sakya lineage. Here the empowerment of this particular form of Kalachakra is conferred on the basis of the cloth painted mandala, on the basis of which the four empowerments are bestowed or conferred upon the disciples. The four empowerments are mainly the vase empowerment, the secret empowerment, the wisdom empowerment and the word empowerment. So these four major empowerments are common to all highest yoga tantra deities.
The empowerments of the other lineage, which is the uncommon or unique lineage of conferring the Kalachakra empowerments, this lineage has been in accordance with the writings and instructions of the great pandita Naropa. In this uncommon lineage it is absolutely compulsory to rely on a sand mandala or a coloured powder mandala to bestow the empowerments, without which the rituals of the initiation cannot be performed.
The empowerment that everybody will be receiving this time, in a couple of days, it follows in accordance to the second, the uncommon lineage in accordance with the instructions of pandita Naropa.
Why is the sand mandala or the coloured powder mandala so highly praised within this particular lineage? The reason is that when we make the sand mandala or the coloured powder mandala, the more expensive, the larger manadala, the more extensive amount of the colours being used, and the grains of sand being used, the benefactors or the sponsors accumulate more extensive merits, the two accumulations are being extensively accumulated. In this case it is of great benefit to the benefactors, because in the process of making traditional sand mandalas various precious minerals and substances are being used such as gold, silver, coral, turquoise and so forth. This involves a great expense because of the valuable substances being offered to make this mandala, than the sponsors, benefactors and disciples in general accumulate more merit. And also because of the tedious process of forming the mandala day by day, there is a lot of merit accumulated in this process, hence in this particular tradition, the sand mandala is the best and only way of conferring this initiation.
That’s one reason, and the second reason is that for example in the other tantras the empowerments are conferred on a cloth painted mandala, which is just merely painted by an artist or a thangka painter, and there are usually colours related to the five Dhyani Buddhas, or the five families of Buddhas. In Kalachakra, in this particular lineage, it is conferred on the basis of a sand mandala, in which case there are not only five Dhyani Buddhas but there are six Dhyani Buddhas, six families of Buddhas. And here there are six different colours, which represent the primordial wisdoms related to these six families of Buddhas, and the six colours are then consecrated through the ritual and than the mandala is being gradually placed up in the ritualistic manner, not just like a mere painting, not just like mere artwork, but done in a very spiritual and consecrated manner. In this whole process even the materials that are being used to build the mandala, the sand grains and so forth, are being blessed, consecrated intensively in this entire process.
In terms of the times to confer the empowerments, according to the great commentaries related to Kalachakra it says, that the empowerment should best be conferred on the full moon of the third Tibetan month, on the 15th, which is the full moon day of the third Tibetan month. That is the best time. If not, than on the 15th, which is a full moon day, of any of the remaining eleven Tibetan months. And if not, than on any auspicious occasions if there is a suitable disciple, an extremely qualified practitioner, who is a worthy vessel for such precious teachings.
Why is the 15th, the full moon day of the third Tibetan month considered to be the most ideal and auspicious occasion or time to confer such an event of empowerment? The reason being that when the Buddha Shakyamuni had been teaching the Prajnaparamita or the Perfection of Wisdom sutras on Rajagriha, simultaneously the Buddha was emanating in the form of Kalachakra, at the stupa in South India. At this particular stupa the Buddha had emanated the form of Kalachakra along with the entire mandala, or celestial residence. On the basis of that the Buddha had conferred the entire Kalachakra empowerments upon the king of Shambala, Dawa Zangpo, who had received the empowerment along with other minor rulers of the Shambala kingdom and along with many other disciples. They received the empowerment at that particular date, on the 15th of the third Tibetan month. Due to this auspicious beginning, hence every 15th of the third Tibetan month is considered the best time to confer the Kalachakra empowerment.
After the Dharma king Dawa Zangpo had received the Kalachakra empowerment as well as the entire instructions on practice, related to this particular deity from the Buddha himself, this king together with others returned back to the kingdom of Shambala where after subsequent generations, 600 years later, one of the Kulika kings called Manjushrikirti conferred the Kalachakra empowerment to 35 million brahmins, or sages. The primary person being the sage Meyshinda, which is loosely translated as Sun Charriot. And also this empowerment fell on the same date, the 15th of the third Tibetan month and this is the second reason why such a day is considered auspicious for the Kalachakra empowerments.
Related to this event it is also mentioned that initially, when the Buddha had conferred the Kalachakra empowerments together with its corresponding contents of this tantra to the Dharma king Dawa Zangpo, that was a very extensive tantra scripture of a couple hundred thousand verses. Six hundred years later this particular Kulika king Manjushrikirti is mentioned here, because he was the one who condensed the meanings of the extensive tantra verses into a condensed form.
This particular king Manjushrikriti, when he composed the Condensed Tantra of Kalachakra, he was composing it in a manner of what we call the five chapters. After him, his disciple, again another Kulika king called Kundarika, or Pema Karpo composed the commentary to this Condensed Tantra and this commentary is what we know nowadays as the Stainless Light, which is in three volumes and it is a commentary to the Condensed Tantra. So up to the present age, for those people who are seriously interested in the Kalachakra tantra, firstly they receive the empowerment related to this particular lineage and after having received the empowerments they then receive the teachings corresponding to the Kalachakra and these teachings are based on these two texts. The first is the Condensed Tantra of Kalachakra and the second is the great commentary called the Stainless Light.
Before these commentaries appeared, there were various wrong understandings, misconceptions, that the Kalachakra empowerment could not be conferred more than once a year or twice a year. This particular great commentary called the Stainless Light cleared away all these misconceptions, stating that it is best if one can confer it on the 15th of the third month, if not on the 15th of any of the remaining eleven months. If there is a suitable disciple appearing, than one can perform the consecration and empowerments on the 15th of the other months as well.
In general we say there are 11 or 16 empowerments related to Kalachakra. So these ways of conferring, where it is said that there are 11 or 16, do not contradict each other, rather they are different ways of explaining the contents of these initiations or empowerments. If it is explained extensively there are 16 empowerments and if it is explained in the condensed manner than there are 11 empowerments.
The first seven of these empowerments are what we call the empowerments similar to the entry of a child, and following that we have four more, if there are 11 empowerments. The other four are the vase empowerment, the secret empowerment, the wisdom empowerment and the word empowerment, like the four empowerments in other tantras. So we have these four after the seven empowerments, which makes eleven empowerments.
If you explain the Kalachakra empowerments related to the 16 empowerments, firstly we have the seven empowerments similar to the entry of a child, after that we have four high empowerments, which are the vase, secret, wisdom and word empowerments, and then there are four higher empowerments which are similar in name to the four high empowerments – the vase, secret, wisdom and word empowerment and the last one is what we call the great vajra master empowerment. All together there are 16 empowerments.
How does one condense the 16 empowerments to 11? Firstly, we leave the seven empowerments similar to the entry of the child alone. Then we combine the four high and higher empowerments in a particular way. Firstly one combines the high and the higher vase empowerments together into one empowerment, then one combines the secret empowerments together again in one empowerment, then one combines the two sets of the wisdom empowerment again into one empowerment. But in regards to the last one, the word empowerment, the high word empowerment is then absorbed into the third empowerment, which is the wisdom empowerment and the higher word empowerment is than left alone as the individual word empowerment.
So there are four empowerments after the seven empowerments. And the last one, which is the great vajra master empowerment, it is said that the entire process of these seven empowerments plus the four empowerments is equivalent to the great vajra master empowerment, therefore the great vajra master empowerment is not separately listed, so hence you have these eleven empowerments in this manner.
Why do we need to receive the Kalachakra empowerment in these eleven separate rituals? The reason being that by receiving the first seven empowerments similar to the entry of a child one purifies the stains and obscurations related to the seven grounds or stages on the path. The obscurations have been purified and imprints or potentials have been placed on our mind streams so that we may achieve such accomplishments in the future.
When one talks about purification of the different grounds, different levels in the stages of the path, this can be traced back to the two branches of the Buddhist teachings, the lineage and teachings of the profound view and the extensive deeds. For example this can be traced back to the two subjects of the Perfection of Wisdom and the Madhyamika, the middle way, which are the two subjects mainly studied by the monks of the three great monasteries (Sera, Ganden, Drepung). The monks of these monasteries take these two subjects as the main focus of their studies. Within the Perfection of Wisdom it talks about different stages of the path and it goes on to the different bodhisattva grounds, it explains in detail at what stage what obscurations have been purified and abandoned, and what attainments have been achieved. If one has studied the Perfection of Wisdom before, then one will be able to understand these different grounds and related accomplishments and abandonments.
If one has not done so, even though one may have very strong renunciation and strong compassion within one’s mind stream, but when tantric treatises are being expounded and one hears about the different grounds to be purified, and one achieves different realizations on different grounds, than one may become very confused, because one does not have the prior education related to this area. It is very important to study the grounds and paths, related to the bodhisattva´s training.
Why do we need to receive empowerments? As one can see here, different empowerments purify different obscurations related to different grounds and paths. One can see that the empowerment, the core essence of tantric practices, is to aid us in generating realizations of the lam rim, the graduated path to enlightenment. So one must combine one’s tantric practice with the lam rim, this is very clearly stated here.
Other than combining one’s practice of lam rim and tantra, why is there the particular need to receive an empowerment? The reason is that the general progress along the path of Kalachakra has portions that are similar to the sutra path. The sutra path talks about the two branches, the accumulation of method and wisdom, or the lineages of profound view and extensive deeds. These two should be accomplished together. Other than talking about performing the accumulation of method and wisdom, in the sutra path it does not mention the practices of psychic channels, energy winds, the bodhicitta substances and it does not talk about striking the vital points of the vajra body to activate the subtle wind and mind.
All these are being taught in Kalachakra, where the main terminology being expounded is yugananda, a Sanskrit word meaning non-duality or union, which refers to the inseparability of the holy body and holy mind of the Buddha, in the sense that the holy body is the mind and the holy mind is the body. In this case such a state of accomplishment, the holy body of union, has been expounded in Kalachakra. In order to understand the progress in this portion of the path one needs to receive an empowerment of Kalachakra, otherwise one is not allowed to cultivate such a portion of the path.
No matter what great empowerments we receive, one always starts receiving the empowerment firstly with the practice of refuge. Refuge is being granted to the disciples from the vajra master, and following that the disciples take the bodhicitta or bodhisattva vows and if it is a yoga tantra or highest yoga tantra empowerment, then the disciple also has to take the tantric vows. Following that there’s the ritualistic generation of the two types of bodhicitta minds, the conventional bodhicitta and the ultimate bodhicitta, which we then respectively visualize as a white flat moon disc at one’s heart and as an upright standing white five pronged vajra on top of that moon disc. One imagines these two types of bodhicitta minds arising in these physical aspects in one’s heart and then through the blessing of the vajra master stabilising them and also making the pledge to not be separated from these two types of bodhicitta minds up to the point of enlightenment. Hence it is shown here, that these two bodhicitta minds, the conventional bodhicitta as well as the ultimate bodhicitta (emptiness), are extremely important here, these two are the foundation of all tantric practices.
As mentioned before, the Kalachakra has the uncommon path of training in the sense that certain parts of the Kalachakra are similar to the sutra path and on top of that the Kalachakra has uncommon practices as well. In the sutra path it mentions two objects of abandonments, what we call the obscurations of delusions and the obscuration to omniscience. These two forms of obscurations are the objects to be abandoned in the sutrayana path and these two objects are also acknowledged as objects of abandonment in Kalachakra, not in the sense that the Kalachakra does not need to abandon these two obscurations but it does something else on its own trip. It’s not that, the Kalachakra is also abandoning these two obscurations, but on top of that Kalachakra has got uncommon ways of abandoning these two obscurations.
As mentioned yesterday, we talked about the inseparability of the holy body and mind, which is explained in all general tantras. In other tantras it talks about the arisal of one’s most subtle wind and mind, which is focusing on emptiness in the form of an alternative body, the body of the deity arising within one’s own physical aggregates, which one has inherited from one’s parents. So the subtle wind and mind arises in the form of the deity at one’s heart and that is called the non-duality of the holy body and mind, in the sense that mind is body and body is mind.
In Kalachakra it speaks of another way of accomplishing the non-duality of body and mind, not in the sense of arising a separate body, another body separate from one’s own physical aggregates. But rather it talks about this state of accomplishment of what we call the empty form, or devoid form. Here empty does not refer to emptiness, this empty, devoid form is not an ultimate term, it is related to the conventional truth. Empty refers to empty or devoid of solid, physical material, it refers to devoid or empty of that. This form of the body is achieved through the tantric meditations, where the practitioner actually gradually exhausts or transmutes all physical aggregates, to transform them into this new body, into what we call the body of empty form or devoid form. This process is achieved through the abandonment of the two obscurations, similar to sutra, but done on the basis of the four creative drops, or the four bindus, situated at different points of our body.
There is a creative drop at the chakra, the energy centre at the level of our forehead, and this creative drop is related to the time of awakening, when we are awake. The second creative drop is situated at our throat chakra, and in the center of that is the creative drop, which is related to the time when we are dreaming. The third creative drop is situated at our heart chakra, and it is related to the time of deep sleep. The fourth creative drop is situated at our navel chakra and it is related to bliss in sexual union.
By focusing on and purifying the drop situated in the forehead chakra, which is related to the state of awakening, one achieves what we call the vajra holy body, and by focusing on and purifying the creative drop situated in the throat chakra, then one achieves the vajra holy speech of the Buddha, and by focusing on the drop at the heart chakra which is related to the deep sleep, one purifies the obscurations and achieves the vajra holy mind of the deity. Generally in the other tantras it only talks about the vajra holy body, speech and mind, the three holy doors of the deity.
In the Kalachakra there are four entities mentioned, there is also the primordial wisdom of the supreme immutable bliss. In general this term, the immutable great bliss is mentioned also in other tantras like Guhyasamaja tantra. But the primordial wisdom of the supreme immutable great bliss is what is achieved by purifying the creative drop situated in the navel chakra, which is related to the bliss in sexual union. When this has been purified, one achieves the vajra primordial wisdom. So on top of the varja holy body, speech and mind there is the fourth entity, the vajra primordial wisdom. The four vajras are the resultant attainment of the Kalachakra practice.
Due to this reason when one approaches the Kalachakra mandala, one can see the four directions of the mandala – the eastern, southern, western and northern doors. One can see four different colours, the eastern door is black in colour, the southern door is red in colour, the western door is yellow in colour and the northern one is white in colour. These four colours correspond to the four vajras. The white northern door is representing the vajra holy body of Kalachakra, the southern door is red in colour, representing the vajra holy speech of Kalachakra, the eastern black door represents the vajra holy mind of Kalachakra and the western door which is yellow in colour is representing the vajra primordial wisdom of Kalachakra. These four vajras are the results attained through the purification of the four creative drops located in four chakras in our bodies, as mentioned before.
When one receives the actual Kalachakra empowerment, firstly one receives the seven empowerments similar to the entry of a child. Even though one is physically seated on one’s cushion at the event site, one visualises going forth to the different doors or directions of the mandala. One visualises the entire mandala in front of oneself, the four doors, with the principal deity inside as well as the entire entourage of the mandala deities surrounding the indivisible lord and lady in the mandala. Then one visualises oneself being led by the emanation of the vajra master towards the different directions to receive the particular empowerments.
Firstly one is being led to the northern white door, which is related to the vajra holy body and there one receives the first two of the seven empowerments, than one is being led to the southern red door related to the vajra holy speech and there one receives the third and the fourth empowerments. After this one is being led to the black eastern door related to the vajra holy mind, where one receives the fifth and the sixth empowerments and then one is being led to the western yellow door, where one receives the seventh empowerment. So each of the four directions corresponds to the one of the four creative drops being purified into the attainments of the four vajras, one has been empowered on the basis of this.
Because of this special relation of these different directions and colours, the different empowerments are conferred in different directions. All this is being performed on the basis of visualisations, even though you are still physically sitting on your cushion at the site of the event. This process that purifies the obscurations related to the four creative drops in these different empowerments, it also plants imprints, the potentials to achieve the four bodies in the future.
First of the seven empowerments is called the water empowerment, which is similar to washing the child. The objects of purification are the five elements or the five aggregates.
Generally, in Kalachakra we have six aggregates and six elements, the sixth aggregate being the aggregate of consciousness and the sixth element also the elements of consciousness. Here we set them aside separately, so we talk about the five aggregates – form, feeling, discrimination, compositional factors and consciousness, the sixth is the aggregate of primordial wisdom.
The five aggregates and the five elements are being purified here. The reason why the water empowerment is being conferred is because when the child is born from the mother’s womb, the child’s birth is defined as the entry of his five aggregates and five elements into the world. When the child is born, the mother first washes it with water and so forth. The water empowerment is being compared to the washing of the child and it plants the imprints to achieve the holy body of the Buddha in the future. Here the explanation is given in terms of the base, path and result.
The first two empowerments are related to the vajra holy body, the first is the water empowerment and the second one is the crown empowerment. Then we move on to second part, the empowerments received at the southern door and here we have another two empowerments, which are called the empowerment of the ear tassel and the empowerment of the vajra and bell. This are empowerments related to speech, the purification of speech, the reason being that when the child has been born the energy winds are entirely dispersed all over the body. The body itself has 72.000 psychic channels and at that time the winds disperse all over the child’s limbs, they are all in the psychic channels, so the child starts to be able to talk and laugh and so forth. So the psychic winds are related to one’s speech, the ability to speak. The empowerments of the ear tassel and the vajra and bell are the symbolic of the purification of ones own psychic channels and energy winds. These are the basis of purification along the path that one practices, and then one will also achieve the final result of the vajra holy speech of Kalachakra.
The fifth and sixth empowerments are conferred in front of the eastern black door, which is related to the vajra holy mind. The empowerment is conferred in relation to the enjoyment of our pleasurable sense objects. As the child begins to use his senses to play and to enjoy the different pleasurable sensory objects, in a similar manner the contacts of one’s senses with the external objects: seeing, hearing, tasting and so forth, all these are related to the factor of the mind. The mind is the primary factor in experiencing and using the different consciousnesses, going out through different sense doors to contact with different external objects and then experiencing these different objects. The current problems for us ordinary beings are due to our karma and delusions, such forms of enjoyments are contaminated and these two empowerments attempt to purify our experiences, purify our sense doors, as well as the objects they perceive.
In this process the child learns how to use his hands to grasp objects and how to use his legs to walk in a specific direction. These are related to the energy winds and the mind. Here, one is trying to purify all these imprints of ordinariness through these empowerments, so ultimately that leads to the results of accomplishing the activities of the enlightened ones, as well as accomplishing the vajra holy mind of Kalachakra.
The seventh empowerment is being conferred through the disciple being led to the western yellow door, corresponding to the vajra primordial wisdom. As we can sometimes see in documentaries, while the child is in the womb, he cannot move his limbs and so forth. This shows that the limbs gradually spread out with the psychic channels. Firstly after the formation of the central channel and the formation of the two left and right channels, than the limbs are gradually formed around and the child is able to perform different actions. The seventh empowerment is conferred on the basis of understanding that when the child has been born from the mother’s womb, the first breath is the breath of primordial wisdom or the energy wind of the primordial wisdom.
As mentioned before, we have six aggregates and six elements, the sixth aggregate is the aggregate of primordial wisdom and the sixth element is the element of consciousness. Here, these two have been purified in the seventh empowerment, which plants the imprint for one to achieve the primordial wisdom of the supreme immutable great bliss in the future. When we are talking about immutable or unchangeable (immutable and unchangeable are the same word in Tibetan), the connotation is that the primordial wind with our practice will abide forever within the central channel and it will not move its location to other regions or other channels or other parts of the physical body. The primordial wisdom of immutable great bliss is a particular unique terminology related to Kalachakra.
While receiving this empowerment, you create a cause to achieve the primordial wisdom of the Buddhas in the future. Here again this process has been presented through three-fold classification of the base, path and result.
When we receive the different empowerments, there are usually different ritual substances that are handed out, such as the distribution of water to be drought, vase to be placed on top of your head, different rings, tassels and crowns to be worn and so on. In whatever case it is not sufficient to just contact with these different empowerment substances, just to think “Oh, I received the blessing, that’s enough”. This is not sufficient to constitute a perfect empowerment, because such ways of receiving blessings are found even in non-Buddhist traditions, to receive the host and things like this. In this case in the Buddhist empowerments while you contact with substances such as drinking the ritual water and putting on a crown and so forth, there is a particular obscuration to be purified and there are particular imprints of the result implanted on your mind stream. At that time you should bring to mind these two aspects. For example if one drinks the ritual water, the first thing that one should experience is that the water fills one’s body and pervades the entirety of one’s being, giving rise to the experience of great bliss combined with wisdom.
This blissful wisdom mind that meditates on the nature of emptiness gives rise to the understanding of emptiness. This meditation of great bliss combined with emptiness is generated in your mind stream and this becomes the actual potion of the initiation.
When one receives empowerments, for example the water initiation, there is always a coresponding obscuration that has been purified and corresponding imprints as a result that has been planted. The vajra master usually tells us at the end of the particular empowerment that one should always focus at that point and think: I have purified such an obscuration and left the special imprint on the mind stream to achieve such a result in the future, to achieve such form of Buddha.
By the purification of the five elements of one’s body, within the Kalachakra system, one accomplishes the imprints to transform these five elements into the five ladies or consorts of Kalachakra in the future. By the purification of the five aggregates one plants the imprints to transform these aggregates into the five Dhyani Buddhas in the future. The purification of the ten types of energy winds in our bodies plants the imprints to transform these energy winds into the ten Shaktis of the Kalachakra system in the future. The purification of the left and right channels in our body leaves the imprints to achieve the principal deity of the mandala in the future. The purification of the six sense organs and six sense objects creates the causes to achieve the six male in female bodhisattvas in the future. The purification of the six action powers, like the ability to use ones legs and arms, causes us to achieve the six wrathful male and female deities in the future.
When one is receiving the empowerment one should be very clear of the object of the purification and of the purified result.
In a Kalachakra mandala you can see three concentric circles, this are the mandalas of holy body, holy speech and holy mind. This is the relationship between these different objects of purification and the purified results within the mandala of the holy mind.
Due to this reason the seven empowerments similar to the entry of a child are being conferred to empower the practitioner to practice the generation stage, in which the disciples are empowered to visualise him- or herself in the form of the deity Kalachakra, as well as to create the divine form of the deity Kalachakra, as well as to attain the divine pride of being this particular deity.
The remaining empowerments are being conferred in relation to the completion stage. The remaining four empowerments are related to different stages of the completion stage. There’s one stage of what we call the accomplishment of the form body of Kalachakra, the second stage is the accomplishment of the truth body of dharmakaya of Kalachakra and the third stage is related to the union of the holy body and mind.
Due to this reason, there is a particular significance why within the Kalachakra mandala there is a moon at the northeastern direction of the mandala and a sun at the southwestern corner of the mandala. These two are symbols of the particular system of completion stage practice unique to Kalachakra.
How the rupakaya, the form body of Kalachakra is being accomplished? Firstly by dissolving the winds into the central channel of the practitioner, then simultaneously a portion of the material body is being transmuted or exhausted, and a portion of the form body has been accomplished. As mentioned before, accomplishing the empty form is done on the basis of exhausting the particles of the physical or material body day by day.
The vase empowerment empowers the disciples to meditate on the generation stage. And the last three empowerments are related to the completion stage. Of the last three, the first one has been mentioned before, the empowerment that is related to the accomplishment of the rupakaya of the form body and this is done with the secret empowerment, which is the first of the completion stage empowerments. Than following that is the accomplishment of the truth body of the dharmakaya. This empowerment empowers the disciples to achieve the dharmakaya, which is accomplished while one’s winds have entered into the central channel, this gives raise to the supreme immutable great bliss, which meditates, it takes emptiness as its object of focus. Than this bliss becomes the primordial wisdom of immutable great bliss and this becomes the cause to achieve the dharmakaya of Kalachakra, so this is related to the third empowerment, the wisdom empowerment.
These two previous empowerments related to the two stages of the completion stage respectively refer to the separate accomplishments of the body and mind. Firstly the rupakaya, the body of Kalachakra and then dharmakaya, the mind of Kalachakra. These two stages of completion stage are accomplishing the body and mind of Kalachakra separately, and then we come to the third or the last empowerment, which is the word empowerment, and it refers to the union of holy body and mind. This fourth empowerment is related to the state where the practitioner gradually exhausts or transmutes the physical aggregates through meditation. This process cannot happen in an instant, like to burn up your aggregates straight away, but it happens gradually through meditation.
In the Kalachakra tantra it is explained that there are twelve grounds of the bodhisattva path, twelve grounds to the stage of Kalachakra enlightenment. These twelve grounds are divided into twelve segments of the central channel, and within each segment there are 1.800 minor portions.
As mentioned before, with each entry of the winds into central channel, a portion of the physical body has been transmuted and a portion of the form body has been accomplished. If one does so, with every 1.800 of these special practices, you exhaust that much of the physical body, as well as accomplishing that much of the empty form, you arrive to each of these twelve different stages. So if you go on like this, than finally there are 12 times 1.800, that is 21.600 portions of the physical body, that constitutes the entirety of the physical body. These 21.600 portions of the physical body are being exhausted or transmuted, to achieve finally the body of empty form and to achieve the union of the state of Vajradhara.
As mentioned before, the exhaustion of these 1.800 portions day by day is done on the basis of what we call the gradual process of piling up the different white and red creative drops within the body. What happens is that the practitioner through causing the winds to enter the central channel causes the red creative drops to pile from upwards down – the first drop goes up to the pile, and the others are gradually piling downwards. The practitioner then causes the white drops to pile from the bottom up, the first white drop piles on the bottom of the central channel, and the rest all the way up to the top. This process of piling is like 1.800 of these drops in every segment, all together there are 21.600 of these drops in the entirety of the channel. In order to signify this process of the red drops piling down and the white drops piling up, in the Kalachakra mandala in the northeastern direction there is a moon, and there is a sun in the southwestern direction. These two symbolize the piling up of the drops within the central channel through this process of the completion stage.
In empowerments of the other tantric deities usually the disciple has to wear a crown pinnacle, which is usually dark blue or black in colour, but in Kalachakra the crown pinnacle is always red in colour. This symbolizes the red drops piling from the top to the bottom which is also why Kalachakra’s hair is red in colour.
It is said in historical references that the Kulika king Manjushrikirti, while conferring empowerments to the disciples, he had worn a crown pinnacle woven from the mane of the lion and this might be another historical reference why such a tradition is being observed.
This concludes the section of the Kalachakra empowerment, in extremely brief form.
Rinpoche would like to continue by mentioning, why His Holiness has the particular fondness for giving the Kalachakra empowerment so often, and why people just love to come to the Kalachakra empowerments. There must be a particular reason, which Rinpoche is sure we would all like to know.
One reason is because, as mentioned before, the Kulika king Pema Karpo, Pundarika, was the one who composed the great commentary on Kalachakra tantra “Stainless Light”.
Pundarika, or Pema Karpo was seen as an emanation of Chenrezig and His Holiness
is seen as the embodiment of Chenrezig, His Holiness is also seen as the embodiment of Pundarika, Pema Karpo himself. Hence because of such a relationship, there’s generally this great fondness to receive the Kalachakra empowerments, specifically from His Holiness.
Another particular reason why there’s this great fondness to receive the Kalachakra empowerment from His Holiness is also the linage of this empowerment ritual. One can see that the the Kulika king Pema Karpo was the first person, who has composed the commentary as well as the empowerment rites, and he handed down this lineage all the way to Tibet and up till now you can see in the history of Tibet, that one of the few most active people in preserving the Kalachakra lineage is the succession of the Dalai Lamas. The Dalai Lamas have always been extremely active in preserving the Kalachakra lineage.
Q: Why is the Kalachakra called the neutral tantra?
A: For example, if one reads the writings of Lama Tsong Khapa, who did a very extensive research into the scriptures Indian pandits and into the historical writings of the lineage masters. Lama Tsong Khapa has said that in the highest yoga tantras in the ancient times there has always been the classification into the categories of father tantras, the categories of mother tantras and the category of non-dual tantras.
For example, in terms of the category of father tantra, one can see that the Yamantaka, Guhyasamaja and so forth, they are classified under the category of father tantra, other deities such as Heruka and Hevajra and so forth, are classified as mother tantras. So Lama Tsong Khapa explains after much research, why there is this classification into father tantras, mother tantras and non-dual tantras. The reason being the dependence upon what is the main topic, the main subject that has been expounded within the particular tantra. For example, in the father tantras the main thing that has been expounded is the way of achieving the holy body of the Buddha. While the mother tantras expound mainly the methods of achieving the holy mind of the Buddha. And the non-dual tantras explain how to achieve both the holy body and the holy mind inseparably.
When we talk in terms of the non-dual tantras it is explained upon the inseparability of the conventional and the ultimate method. The conventional refers to the method aspect of the path of achieving the holy body of the Buddha and the ultimate refers to the wisdom aspect of the path of the manner of achieving the holy mind of the Buddha. By showing the methods of accomplishing these two inseparably is what we call the non-dual tantras. Lama Tsong Khapa says that in general all highest yoga tantras should be categorised under non-dual tantras, because all highest yoga tantras basically teach methods of achieving the holy body as well as the holy mind of the Buddha. Therefore all highest yoga tantras such as Yamanthaka, Guhyasamaja, all these are non-dual tantras and Kalachakra is also a non-dual tantra, Heruka is also a non-dual tantra. Lama Tsong Khapa does not say that Kalachakra is a non-dual tantra and the rest are not, simply because all tantras basically teach how to achieve the holy body and mind inseparably.
In Kalachakra one can see mainly emphasizing of what we call the supreme immutable great bliss, which is another reference to the mind of clear light. Since it is emphasizing the mind of clear light Lama Tsong Khapa has classified the Kalachakra tantra as a mother tantra, due to the contents of the main subject that has been expounded in this tantra.
Q: What is the difference between the beings in formless realms, who also don’t have a body like us in the desire realm, and the final result of Kalachakra, the body of empty form?
A: There is a possibility of bodhisattvas abiding in the formless realms, that meditate on the mind of bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment, as well as bodhisattvas who are meditating on emptiness and bodhicitta, but there can never be a case of somebody in the formless realm who is able to activate the extremely subtle wind and mind and use that to meditate on emptiness and to arise in the physical form of the deity, divine form of the Buddha.
This is virtually impossible because such accomplishments can only be done on the basis of this physical body, which is unique to human beings of this world. If one reads in the scriptures about bodhisattvas who have been born in the pure realms or other realms outside our continent or our universe, one can see that these bodhisattvas even make prayers to be born in this world of ours, simply to poses the physical form identical to ours. From this viewpoint one can see that this physical body of ours is such an incredible potential, bodhisattvas of such higher training actually pray to be born to have a physical body like we do and to be able to utilize this body to activate extremely subtle wind and mind in order to meditate on emptiness and to arise in the extremely subtle physical form of the Buddha. Therefore one can see that this body is extremely precious, it has an immense potential, and one should never waste this body.
Q: Why is the Kalachakra particularly related to world peace?
Generally all the Buddha´s teachings are related to world peace. If you look at the other practices, for example the practices of Heruka, Yamantka and so forth, there is nothing like in Kalachakra in the sense of the relation to the external cosmos – different planets, different stars and constellations and also the direct relation to our inner energy channels, our energy winds and creative drops.
For example, if you look at the mandala of Kalachakra, in the outer of the three concentric mandalas (the mandalas of holy body, holy speech and holy mind), the mandala of the holy body, there are 360 deities. Every deity corresponds to a particular day, there are 30 deities similar to 30 days within one month, so for twelve months there are 360 days. So, a particular deity is related to the particular day or a star constellation.
Within the speech mandala we have deities placed in different locations, significant of the different energy channels, psychic channels and energy winds as well as the movements of the various energy winds and creative drops. Again, this is like a reflection of our inner physical constitution.
In the mind mandala there are deities – different shaktis and so forth, who represent the different aggregates, elements and so forth. Hence, all these are very extensively linked to all living beings, to each individual, as well as to the external cosmos and the entire environment, completely reflected within the mandala in its pure aspect. The practice of Kalachakra focuses mainly on purifying these different ordinary aspects of these different contents to transmute them into divine aspects. This process of purifying with the practice of Kalachakra also blesses the external environment.
So this is very clear, because our general problems in this world, they are either due to elements or they are due to inner conflicts of the beings, such as mental unrest and so forth. Kalachakra is dealing with all external and internal elements, subduing them through its special practice, and this is the reason why the Kalachakra is especially renown for its contribution to the world peace.
In the Tibetan science of astrology the astrologists are able to predict the times of lunar and solar eclipses, also to the extent of the eclipse, how much is being covered. Usually they are quite accurate, and this is because the Tibetan astrology has based its calculations on the Kalachakra tantra, where it tells about the movement of the different stars, planets and entire constellations. Rinpoche believes that due to this accuracy of the Kalachakra tantra, there is certainly great potential and power and ability to purify the individual as well as the environment, to create world peace, based on the power and the accuracy of the astrological calculations. http://kalachakranet.org/teachings/