Alexander Berzin: Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation – 2

kalachakraBuilding up the correct motivation

Why do we actually want to get involved with Kalachakra? There are many different reasons that might come to our minds and if we are going because it’s something which is very high and something which is so special then that really isn’t a very stable type of reason for going. Because in fact we could have the same type of motivation for going to a big rock concert or any type of festival, because it’s something so exciting so rare and so interesting. In fact there are many different things that we can think of in terms of why we might want to go.

As all the lamas always say: “Everybody wants to be happy and nobody wants to be unhappy or have problems”. And that’s very true. We can look at our lives and although we might want very much to be happy, we find very often that our lives don’t seem to have much meaning to them etc. and we just have the same type of routine, each day. That is something that is very difficult to live with really, we find our lives just very boring, without any real purpose or direction in it. But we look around and if you ask yourselves, well does this really have to be the case, does everybody have some sort of meaningless life?” That is not true; we can look at some individuals as well in the past as in the present, among the great spiritual masters, who have been able to clear their minds out of all sorts of disturbing attitudes, clear all the cobwebs away and were able to see things the way they really are. They’ve become very clear, they have cleared out all the garbage from their heads. And they have also been able to evolve themselves so that they have realized the fullest potentials of a human being. We can see living examples of this – I suppose the most outstanding one is His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

We are very fortunate because the people who have done this, I mean the significance what a Buddha is, a Buddha is someone, who has cleared himself (herself) out of all their shortcomings and evolved themselves fully, so they have realized their fullest potentials. We are very fortunate because the people who have done this in the past have been very kind. They have left all the instructions of how actually to do it ourselves. That’s very good, that makes things a great relief. We don’t have to discover and figure out all these things ourselves. In fact people have gone before us, have gone on a spiritual path and have actually been able to reach success in it. They haven given us all the various preventive measures that we can take in terms of avoiding the pitfalls, avoiding the difficulties that might come up, and how to get out of our problems and how to develop ourselves as human beings. Because if you ask: “What is dharma about; what are the teachings about?” It’s really about how to become a better person and how to improve ourselves.

These Buddhas who have become clear and evolved, they have taught us the ways and they have actually achieved the end of the spiritual path and there are also a lot of people who are likewise engaged in this type of spiritual journey. They offer us a kind of direction that we put in our lives. In fact we can become just like they are. They indicate to us what direction we can take, in other words a direction of working to become like them, to improve ourselves and this is something which will save us very much from having a meaningless life that goes nowhere, because no matter what type of lives we lead, we can always work on ourselves to become better people, to be able to deal with our families better, to be able to have more meaningful relationships with our friends etc. So there is this safe and sound direction we can take in our lives and that’s what refuge is all about: putting a safe direction in our lives.

If we just follow a worldly direction of trying to gain more and more material things, get more books, records, televisions and cars and things like that, is something which really has no end. We never have enough and it just goes on and on and on. The way that it actually ends is that we going to have to die at some point and if our life has always been in terms of a material direction then when it comes to an end, we are going to be quite miserable, because we are going to have to leave behind all the things we have worked so hard to accumulate and that is going to cause us a lot of trouble when we have to leave.

But if, on the other hand, we’ve been following some sort of spiritual direction in our lives then this is something which does have an end. It is not something that goes on and on endlessly, but you are actually working for a goal, and the goal is something which is to realize our fullest potentials as human beings. It does present an actual goal which is possible to achieve and when the spiritual direction, spiritual pursuit comes to its end, it ends in a state of happiness. In other words when you’ve actually reached your fullest potentials then in fact you’ve reached the highest happiness, that we can achieve.

What we really need, as His Holiness always says, is a combination in our lives of both material and spiritual things, because after all we are human beings, we need to eat, we need to live so it is necessary to follow some material pursuit in life, but not to have that as our main focus, but to enrich also our lives with some spiritual direction as well. And to think in terms of benefiting ourselves in the future. It is possible that we can actually become clear minded and fully evolved, because we all have the factors and the causes within us that will allow us to do that. We are not just like a piece of stone or something like that. We have a mindstream and our mind is clear. No matter how sleepy we might be or no matter how depressed, excited or whatever, still our minds are things that reflect what is around us. Because it has the quality to reflect what is around us, it has the infinite possibility of opening up, and being able to reflect, and to see all of reality clearly. There are many different factors within each of us, which will allow us to reach our fullest potentials. That’s something which is really encouraging. What we have to do then is basically follow cause and effect. This is as you know the basic idea that you have in the whole Buddhist path, to follow a very reasonable type of thing. One of my teachers said: “If you follow fantasy types of method then you get fantasy types of result. If you follow realistic matters, you will get realistic results”. That is really very true.

The realistic way to go about improving ourselves is to work in terms of cause and effect. That we see some result that we want to achieve and then you try to see what are the causes which will bring that about, and once we figure that out. We don’t have to figure it out too much, because in fact the great masters of the past have been very kind to help us in that respect. Then we can see if we work on accumulating these causes, then we can get the results ourselves.

The main thing, I suppose, is to have a very strong determination to be free of our problems. We all have various types of problems that face us, no matter how wealthy we might be, how many friends we might have or what type of situation we live in. We find that everybody has some sort of problem or another no matter what type of level it might be and everybody’s problems hurt. If you want to ever do something about your problems, first you have to have a strong feeling of disgust: “I don’t want to stay in these problems, I don’t want to stay in this unsatisfactory situation. I want to develop a strong determination and to break out of it and be free”. This is what the word “renunciation” means. It is a determination to be free. “Renunciation” is a bad English choice of words, because it doesn’t really mean to give up everything and go live in a cave. What we are talking about is the determination to get out of your problems. If you have that type of determination then going to Kalachakra is something which can be meaningful. Because you are not going to just for entertainment or a big show, you are not going because it’s something so high so that you can tell it to your friends. But if you have the strong determination to be free of your problems then you’ll go there with the idea: “Here is an opportunity to actually meet with, some type of system of practice and meditation, which I can apply to my own life. I can apply in terms of using it to overcome my different problems”. Kalachakra is something which is an extremely practical system.

I think a lot of people have the mistaken idea that Kalachakra is something that’s so advanced and so complicated that we can’t really relate to it and all we do is sort of go like, you know, get the blessing and that’s it. I think that’s a big mistake, that we are really short-changing ourselves and not getting the full benefit. In fact it is a very practical system and something which is accessible and can be used in our lives to help us with our different problems. So first of all we need a strong determination to be free.

Then, in order to get free, the teachings basically talk about how we have different things that cause our problems, we all have sorts of disturbing attitudes and all types of impulsive behaviour. That’s really what karma is all about, it is impulsive behaviour. Sometimes, I think we all have experienced it, we have some sort of relation with our wife, husband, partner or whoever. We get into a relationship and we know if we start to really nag the other person and when we always say: “You should do this, you should do that”, all these types of things, the other person really doesn’t like that and the relationship gets very difficult. We know that, but yet, impulsively, you know, our partner walks in and we say: “You shouldn’t have done that, you do this, you do that, you wash the dishes, do this, do that”. We have no control over it. It is a sort of compulsive thing that comes up. This is really what karma is talking about.

We have built up certain habits from actions in the past and it causes impulses to come up in our mind to do various things, to act in a certain way, to speak in a certain way. It becomes very difficult because in fact we find it hard to break out of these uncontrollably recurring patterns and problems that we create for ourselves. That’s what samsara is all about. It’s uncontrollably recurring situations and difficulties or problems; that we’re again into one sort of relationship, and that relationship doesn’t go very well; we have a lot of problems. So we break up, then we go out and find another girlfriend or boyfriend and again the same problems come up. Again impulsively we say the same type of things and we feel the same type of disturbing attitudes, of either being very attached or always getting angry or feeling jealousy, these type of things. This causes us a lot of pain and difficulty.

What we have to do is to have a strong determination to get out of these problems. And the way to do that is basically described in terms of having some sort of ethical self-control in which we, on a gross level, try to have certain guide-lines for how we going to behave and act with people and with ourselves and also we try to gain some concentration so that we can see reality. Because a lot of our difficulties come about because we don’t see very clearly what’s going on. We don’t see that the other person is just a human being, just like we are. The other person wants to be happy just like we do and doesn’t want to have difficulties, just as we do. We don’t really see that reality of the other person. Instead we imagine that this person is going to save us from all our problems. We put an awful lot of unreasonable demands on other people, that the other person is going to be so perfect that they can help us in every way. That really is quite unreasonable to put on somebody else. When you do that you’re not dealing with the reality of the other person, but you are dealing with the projection that you want the other person to be. When you do that, then you really get into a lot of trouble. So it is important to be able to see the reality of what’s going on, the reality of other people and not only to just see it but to be able to concentrate and stay with it and in order to do that you need to have some sort of self-control so that you can be in control of what’s going on in your mind and in your life.

These are called the 3 higher trainings. That’s the basic way that is followed in Buddhism, to try to deal with our problems and try to get out of them so that we can develop and realize our fullest potentials. All these problems are really limiting us. We become what is called a limited being. It is usually translated as “sentient being”. That also is a difficult word to deal with, unless you look it up in the dictionary, but then also it doesn’t mean much. Basically it’s talking about beings like ourselves, who are limited, whose mind and body are limited and because of our limitations we are not able to deal effectively with our own lives, let alone with other people’s lives. In terms of dealing with our own problems if our attitude is just to handle our own problems and to hell with everybody else, they don’t really matter, that’s something which is also very unrealistic.

I think that here in the West we’re starting to really realize that about how interdependent we all are. That the problems that we face in life, let’s say environment, pollution, things like that, that’s nobody’s personal problem. That’s everybody’s problem. We have to deal with it on a universal level. We can’t just think in terms of getting an oxygen mask for ourselves, and it doesn’t matter what everybody else does with pollution. That doesn’t really solve it. Others are infinite, we are only one person. So in fact it is important to deal with all the social problems and things that come up, and to develop some sort of feeling for other people.

The way that this is done in Buddhism, basically 2 methods are discussed.

1 Recognizing how kind everybody has been to us. In fact everybody has been our mother. You know we have always talked about how we’ve had infinite lives in the past and in each lifetime we’ve had a mother, just as we have a mother in this lifetime, so everybody has been my mother and as my mother, everybody has been kind to me, so it’s really important to try to pay back that kindness and help everybody.

His Holiness point out – it is very interesting – that using this type of method to expand our hearts to others has a danger in it. He says the danger in it is that you’re dealing with “my” mother and the whole idea of “she” was kind to “me”. I am going to help her, this person, because s/he is “my” mother. Somehow we can have the danger of reinforcing the whole idea of “me” and “mine”. I’m going to help because you are “my” mother and you’ve been kind to “me”. Although it can be a very helpful way of expanding our hearts out to others, it is specially useful in terms of let’s say if you have a close relative, who dies and very soon after that an insect comes and insists on being with you, I experienced that in India very often for example you can have a bee that comes into the house and no matter what you do that bee won’t leave and then you start to think: “Maybe that’s my uncle, who just died or something like that, maybe there is a reason that he wants to be in the house and wants to be near me. If you think in terms of; “If I was reborn as a bee and here I was and here was my nephew, my wife or whatever, how could I try to communicate? All I could do would be buzz around them and say: “Hey, here I am”. The response was just to scream and try to chase me out of the room or to swat me with the newspaper that would be not very welcome.

Although this is a very useful type of way of training your mind to try to recognize everybody as having been your mother or some sort of close relative or friend in a past life, His Holiness says it does have this danger of being very self-cantered in terms of how you’re looking at other people.

2. The other way of expanding your heart out is: to change your viewpoint in terms of self and others and to put yourself from the point of view of others and instead of always thinking only about yourself, to thing about other people in the same way. His Holiness says that this has a great advantage to it, because thinking in this way of how everybody is equal and how we can change our viewpoint and see things from other people’s point of view and work for others just as we’ve worked for ourselves gives us a whole feeling of how everybody is interdependent. Because it’s dealing with how everybody is interdependent, a dependent arising, that in fact as a bonus we get a little bit more insight into reality by training our minds in this way. His Holiness points out these very useful type of things in terms of these different trainings, which you don’t come across many other people pointing out.

Question: Can you please repeat this last point?

The last one is if you are training yourself to expand your heart in terms of exchanging your viewpoint for yourself and others and equalizing your attitude towards self and others, in other words if you try to expand your heart to thinking, “Well, everybody in this room is just like me and everybody in this room is a person, their lives are very serious to them, just as my life is serious to me, whatever problems you might be facing are very serious to you, just as my problems are serious to me. If I can look at my own problems and want to work with them just because they hurt me then likewise I can have the same type of feeling for your problems because likewise they hurt and problems really don’t have any owner to them. This is something that Shantideva points out. He uses the example of the hand and the foot. If your foot has a splinter or a thorn in it, if your hand were to say: “Well sorry foot, tough luck, that’s your problem and you deal with it, because I am up here and I am doing fine”. That wouldn’t be very good, the foot wouldn’t appreciate it. Because we are interrelated it is very proper that the hand deals with the problem of the foot. If you are working with this way of expanding your heart then it has a very good advantage to it, because not only does it help you to expand your heart, but it also helps you see reality. Because the reality is not that we all are interdependent like the hand and the foot. Problems must be eliminated, not because they’re my problems or they are your problems, but problems should be eliminated simply because they hurt.

In order to actually develop this type of expanding our heart we have to develop some type of love and compassion for other people and love is basically the idea of caring for others. You really care that they’ll be happy, you have feeling for them. Compassion is more like a sort of sympathetic heart.

We were talking about this determination to be free from our problems and now we are dealing with compassion and sympathetic heart. They are very similar because both of them are dealing with problems and both of them are the strong wish for the problem to end. But the first one, the determination to be free, is thinking about your own problems and you want yourself to get out of these problems and compassion or sympathy is exactly the same feeling but aimed at other people’s problems: looking at other people and having the strong wish that they get out of their problems as well.

That’s why it says that, in order to really have a feeling for other people and to develop compassion and sympathy, we have to think first of all in terms of our own problems ourselves. I think what it really comes down to is taking things seriously. You are not able to take other people’s problems seriously if we don’t take our own problems seriously. And really I would add that probably the same thing is true with “love”, caring for others. I mean it’s going to be difficult to have love and care for others, and take their wish to be happy and their right to be happy serious, if we don’t take our own right to be happy serious.

I think this is a problem that a lot of us face in the west. Very often, we have the inheritance from original sin or whatever, that we are not really worthy to be happy, we don’t deserve to be happy. This is something which can be a real problem. It is very important to see that it really is true that we really do deserve to be happy, that we have a right to be happy and we should take our right as something which is very serious, this is something based on the fact that we all have the qualities within us which will allow us to become fully developed beings, that we all have the potentials and abilities to do like anybody else and to become totally clear-minded and to evolve fully. Since we all have these, we do have the right, we do have the things within us which will allow us to be happy it is something also which is very much reinforced by our spiritual masters and teachers. I had the privilege to be very close to a number of great masters and my main teacher Serkong Rinpoche had a quality about him which always really moved me very much. This was the quality of taking everybody really very serious. No matter who came to him, no matter whether he was speaking to the Pope, or he was speaking to just, some ordinary, very very disturbed type of a person who didn’t even know how to ask the type of question about what was bothering him, Rinpoche took them all equally seriously. No matter of what type of outrageous thing this person might ask for, he took it serious, and tried to help him, in whatever way. Once we were in a place in America going for a walk in the middle of a town and there was a drunk man and this drunk man came – he saw Rinpoche in the distance – and said; “Oh, you are a lama. I have heard about lamas”. We were all very upset about this man coming over, but Rinpoche took him very seriously and spoke to him in a way that was very very kind; he was able to relate to him as a human being. This is, after all, what His Holiness always points out in terms of the human approach to World Peace. The way that we are going to be able to bring about peace is if the leaders and if everybody relates to each other as human beings and this is in terms of taking everybody serious. We can only take other people serious if we take ourselves serious. So if we see for example that our lama, our spiritual master takes us seriously – I could see this is the effect of how Rinpoche was, that because he took the other person serious, even though they themselves might not have taken themselves seriously, it got them to think: “Oh, if he is taking me serious, maybe there’s something worthy in me that deserves to be taken seriously”. That’s a very precious gift, that our spiritual masters give to us. In fact a very precious gift that we can give to other people. No matter who the person might be, how disturbed they might be, if we toss them away like a piece of rag, there is no way that we are going to be able to relate to them. But if we respect them and take them seriously, then the doors start to be open. So in terms of being able to develop caring love for others and compassion and sympathy for others, if we first take our own problems seriously and take our own right to be happy seriously, not in a selfish way – after all we are human beings – then we’ll be able to have the same type of serious concern for other people. Then, if we say, how can we actually help other people?” First we have to take some resolve that we are going to do something about other people’s problems and situation. If we see somebody drowning in a lake and if you just stand on the side and say: “What a shame”, that’s not going to help the other person. You have to jump in there and do something.

Likewise the same is true in terms of any type of dealing with other people’s problems. The only way to do something effective is, if we ourselves have overcome our limitations and have evolved fully so that we really know what to do. How often have we come upon a situation in which somebody is very very disturbed and he comes to us for help and we really don’t know what to say. Not only we don’t know what to say, but we immediately get very frightened and in fact we get very turned off and all we want is that person to go away as quick as possible, so that we don’t have to handle them or don’t have to deal with this problem that this other person is suffering from. So it’s important to get over our limitations and to learn all the skilful means so that we actually can help other people in the most effective. So this is what is involved with what is actually “Bodhicitta”, to expand our hearts out. You have this term in Tibetan “Sang. Gya”; Gya is to expand, to grow.

You’re dealing here with your heart; the formula which is usually recited, “May I reach enlightenment to be able to benefit all sentient beings”, again His Holiness says: “if you look at it that way, “May I reach enlightenment” and reach your full potential to be able to help everybody, that the emphasis here in thinking in that way is on enlightenment. In other words: “I want to become a Buddha”. Why? Because it’s so great, so high and you know I want to get the highest. Why should I settle for second best? And then there is that little phrase that comes afterwards: “for the sake of all sentient beings”, which is, well, OK. That’s secondary. And afterwards we deal with everybody else, but let’s become a Buddha, because that’s the greatest. His Holiness said: “That’s quite wrong to think in that way, in fact it should be exactly the other way around. The main emphasis that you want is to be able to help everybody. That’s your main thought and secondarily is, “Well, I really have to get it together and become a Buddha if I am really going to be able to help everybody. So what you have to do is to expand your heart out to all others and also expand your heart out to achieving your fullest potential and becoming enlightened. To do that, you have to actually get in there and work on your attitudes and get involved with people and try to develop what is called “the far-reaching attitudes or perfections or paramitas”, which are very far-reaching in the sense that they’ll bring you to evolve more and more. So try to develop a giving attitude; you try to become someone with ethical self-control, someone who has a great deal of tolerance; someone who has a great deal of positive enthusiasm, so that you can have the energy to work for positive things; someone who also has mental constancy; constancy of mind is something which is very important. It’s not a matter of just concentration, but also not going up and down on a roller-coaster – now you’re happy, now sad, all these type of things, but to be constant and to have a certain type of discriminating awareness of reality. That’s what is going to cut through all this haziness and unawareness that we have of what’s going on with people and what’s going on with ourselves.

So when we go to Kalachakra it is an opportunity not only to come across a system which is going to be able to help us with our lives, with our own problems, because we have a very strong determination that we have to do something about our lives and actually improve them, but also it’s an opportunity to come across a system in which we are going to be able to reach a state where we can help everybody as well. So it’s important to go with an attitude of, well, this is for everybody and I am going to be able to be more effective in my dealings with other people, then it becomes a more meaningful event. You’re going almost like a representative of your family or of whatever group you’re involved with. “I’m going because I want to be a better person, because I have to deal with all these people and if I can improve myself and bring about more peace in my own mind, energies etc. then I am going to be able to be of much better influence on everybody around me”. So go with what His Holiness calls; a little bit of universal responsibility for others. Then it’s also important to have some idea of reality, of what’s going on, because likewise we can go to an event like this and make a big thing out of it, and you know, we have very strange results from that.

Our tendency is to always to go with a black crayon (felt tip pen) in our hand and everything we meet we put a nice black line around it and we make it into a thing: “I have gone to Kalachakra” (big black line around it, Kalachakra). “I am so great”. “I was there and I have my little Kalachakra badge that I can walk around and show people and you were not at Kalachakra but I was at Kalachakra, I am so high, you’re so low”. We get all these disturbing attitudes and reactions, based on having made a thing out of this event that we went to. This is what we do with all the different things we meet.

Let’s say you have a certain problem or hang-up in your life, let’s say there’s a problem in your family and again we have this black felt tip pen and we put a big line around it: “We have a problem”, we really have a problem and this problem with this black line around it almost takes on a life of it’s own, from it’s own side; there it is this problem, sitting there, big black ugly thing. Then we all have these things about: “Oh I am so depressed because we have a problem. Or: he or she isn’t dealing very well in school because there’s a problem in the family”. You make a big thing out of it, rather than seeing that the whole situation is very fluid, that there are many causes, which are influencing the situation, many different factors and people who are involved and everything is changing. And because everything is changing you don’t have this big, concrete black line around the situation, making it a problem from its own side, it’s just standing there.

The same thing is going to be true in terms of how we are going to approach our spiritual development. It is necessary to not put this black line around whatever problems we might ourselves have, not to put the black crayon-line around the goal that we might want to attain, which then immediately puts it off in a distance and impossible to attain: “There is enlightenment over there”. You know how people get into a relationship with a partner and all of a sudden there’s this thing called: “our relationship” (big black line around it) and how many hours are spent talking about “our relationship and how you’re relating to “our relationship”. You don’t take me and our relationship seriously enough”. This is a big thing and we even talk about it as a big thing. Again that’s just our mind putting a black line around it and making it into something and creating all sorts of problems because it almost takes on a life of its own out there – “our relationship”.

Likewise, it’s the same thing: “My spiritual quest, my spiritual journey, my meditation. Don’t play the music on the record player because I am doing “my meditation” (black line around it). So if we’re going to get any type of progress in these meditations and systems it’s very important to have some sort of feeling for reality, otherwise we go to an initiation like this, we put a line around it: “This is a far out thing”. And you sort of sit there and go “wow”. And you don’t really get involved, because it’s something out there. Or: “This is so high and complicated, I can’t possibly understand it”. Immediately we condemn ourselves to not being able to understand. We put a line around it and there it is, out there. This event is going on and we might as well be watching it on TV. It makes a big obstacle for ourselves if we don’t really see how everything is interdependent and made up of a lot of different parts that are flowing and changing.

So, if we go to the initiation with these type of attitudes, of first of all taking our own life seriously and that we are going to actually go here to come upon a system that’s going to help us with our personal lives – His Holiness takes each of us seriously – so we should take ourselves seriously. And our going to the initiation is something serious. If you just go as a game, that’s all you’re going to get, a game. If we have that type of attitude and we also have an attitude that we’re going to do this is not only in terms of relating it to our own lives, because we have to deal with our own problems, but also realizing that our lives are interconnected with everybody else, that we have to deal with everybody’s problems, so here’s a great opportunity to get into some system that’s going to be helpful for that and if we go to it with an idea of the reality what’s going on and also here’s a system that is to be able to teach us to see reality more quickly and more easily, then it will be much more meaningful and beneficial than just going to it for a show or just to get some blessings.

The next thing that is very very important for being able to appreciate and get more of the initiation is to have some feeling for what tantra is and what the tantric methods are, because after all this is what we’re getting involved with here. We’ll try to discuss “What is tantra”. “What are the special features of tantra and what makes it such a quick path”. Then of course we get into the discussion what a mantra is and these deities, why there are so many arms, what’s going on here and does this have any practical use to my life or is it just some sort of exotic Tibetan thing that really is just too weird to take seriously. Because we’ll find that in fact these things are very special and very usable and have a very down to earth type of explanation of what’s going on.

If we go to the initiation with the idea that here’s an opportunity to develop ourselves further so that in fact we can be of benefit for everyone around us, not just ourselves, then again it becomes a much more meaningful experience. It’s like if you’re a mother and you have some difficulty with yourself, some sort of physical problem, some sort of difficulty facing your life, if you’re just thinking in terms of yourself then you may have a certain level of interest in terms of getting rid of the particular type of problem you have. Let’s say you have a cold, a fever and if there’s nobody around you then you might have a strong wish to get better, but if you have a whole group of children and your children are much demanding your help and need your help with them then your wish to get over your cold and your fever quickly is again so much stronger, because the people around you need you very much. So the same thing is true in general in terms of going to something like this initiation, if we’re thinking just for ourselves to help our own problems, then we have a certain level of energy and interest in applying this through our lives, but if we think in terms of all our children and all the people around us who need our help, then the wish to apply this to ourselves is going to be much stronger.

Likewise, if we go to this Initiation with some idea of the reality involved, the reality of ourselves, the reality of what type of process we are going to use in our spiritual path and likewise it’s going to make much more sense and we are going to approach it with a much more realistic attitude – remember the words of Geshe Ngawang Dargey: “Practical approach gives practical results”. It is really very important that everything we do in terms of our spiritual path should be aimed at being practical and down to earth. Because only then it’s really going to make sense to us also in terms of our lives with other people. If we have some idea of the reality that’s involved and the reality again is one in which we tend to project all sort of fantasized ways in which we imagine things to exist (remember the big black line). It seems that things exist by themselves, these big events and then we have all sorts of strange attitudes that we develop in terms of it. For example feeling pride that we went to Kalachakra and the other people didn’t. You know, or “now we are involved in such big holy things, now we are so holy and great that this is a system of meditation that only these high lamas can do and we can’t do. All these things are based on making a concrete thing, out of the process rather then thinking in terms of there are many different variables involved, many different factors, causes, likewise in our own lives we are going through different stages. There are many different ways that we can apply it, and approach the whole practice. If we have these type of attitude we get much more out of it. If we think it is something distant and strange, even though we might not have the wish to be involved with it, because we’re determined to be free of our problems and even though we might have a stronger wish to apply it because we think in terms of everybody else around us, still if we think of it in terms of being a concrete, strange thing off in a distance that we can’t actually relate to, again we are not going “to get terribly much benefit from it. But if we see how everything is open and it’s a matter of how we apply ourselves then again it’s going to be much more meaningful, because well see that we can actually get into it.

These are some of the general approaches we use in general, let’s say in the sutra methods (Sutra means themes of practice). The Buddha taught various themes of ways that we can work on ourselves to become better and better persons. We can work ourselves to clear our minds of all it’s limitations, our body and speech as well and how we can become totally evolved and reach the highest potential that is possible.

The basic process that is used here is to have first of all what’s called “Bodhicitta”. Bodhicitta is an expanding heart – we want to expand our hearts out to all others and to reach enlightenment, reach our fullest potential in order to be able to help everybody. This is our general method. Then we want to develop the wisdom or awareness with which we can actually see reality. Reality is discussed in terms of “voidness” and another way of translating voidness is as “a total absence”. It is an absence of fantasized ways of existing, in other words, we have many many different levels of how we might fantasize that things exist. Like if you take a spider on the wall, a spider is just an animal that is standing on the wall there and maybe waiting for some insect or flies to come along so he can eat it, he is hungry and is hanging out there on the wall. When we look at it, instead of just seeing it as a small creature that is trying to have something to eat, we project on to it a whole way of existing. We think: “This horrible thing”. If it got on us, we just wouldn’t know how to handle it, it becomes a very frightening object to us. What we have to see that there is an absence of that fantasized way that we imagine it to exist. It doesn’t exist like that at all. So taking that as a basic simple type of example – there are many many more subtle ways in which we project all sorts of weird thing on to how in fact things exist.

The general idea of the process that we follow in the sutra is that we want to see reality and that’s within the context of our hearts expanding out to others and to reaching enlightenment and likewise that we want to expand our hearts out within the context of seeing reality. That is what it means when it is said that you have the method held by wisdom and wisdom held by method. That means that your wisdom or awareness of reality is within the context of an expanding heart and that is within the context of seeing reality. If you can see reality with the force of this very strong feeling of heart then it becomes much more strong and can cut through all the limitations that we have. (Chew this over in your mind so that you can digest it).

So the basic idea here is what we’re going to do is have both method and wisdom, both should be joined together and the way that they are joined together is that one is in the context of the other. So that we want to see reality, but you can see reality in many different ways. If you see reality within the context of your heart expanding out to others and with your heart expanding out to reaching your fullest potential, then that’s what is called wisdom being held by method. So you see reality within the context of your heart expanding out. Likewise you could have your heart expanding out to others and to enlightenment without any idea of what reality is. But if you really want to be able to help others you have to see reality also. In the context of seeing reality then you expand your heart out to others: method held by wisdom. So you really want to have both, both your heart expanding out and seeing reality and each one is within the context of each other. When we are doing this it’s going to take quite a long time, to be able to cut through all our limitations and in fact it’s described in terms of taking 3 countless eons; countless is a word that means 10 raised to the 60th power, so there are 60 zeros after it, a very big number. There’s an English word that comes close to that which is called “zillion”; 3 zillion eons is a very large number. We really can’t count it up. It’s going to take 3 zillion eons to reach enlightenment by following this type of method.

Why is that so? First of all, it is quite difficult to see through to reality, and see the actual way in which things exist. But when we’re able to see it non-conceptually and straight-forwardly, in other words not just relying on some image that we might have of reality, but actually see it straight-forwardly, without relying on any logic and line of reasoning, but see it, when you’re able to do that, then that cuts off the intellectual disturbing attitude, the disturbing attitudes based on some ideology. OK. What does that mean?

Let’s say that we have this idea that, we have this in America very strongly, the idea of “me first”. This “me first” attitude comes up all the time in terms of “I have to get the best job”, “I have to get the best type of partner”, “wear the best clothes” etc. This is something which is supported by a whole ideology and propaganda of the television, radio, all the bill-boards etc. which always are saying, “you have to get out there and be first”. This is the whole philosophy behind this type of western way of being. If you see the actual reality of this thing, the actual reality is that we’re all equal and everybody has the same right to be happy, everybody has the same right to get rid of their problems. Likewise everybody has the same right to be first in the line, to have the best seat and everybody has the same right to the type of livelihood. If we can see that reality straight-forwardly that will convince us that the whole ideology behind “me first” is something which really is not true, that it’s based on some fantasized way in which we could imagine that we exist that we’re better then everybody else and so we have to get out there first. That’s not easy to do. It takes zillions of eons to see that straight-forwardly that this idea of “me first” that comes up, supported by the propaganda and the media is no longer going to effect you. There are a lot of different examples, but I think this “me first” is something that we can relate to easily here in the west. Think how much the TV tells you “me first”. Not only the TV but our whole society tells us that I have to be first. That really isn’t based on what reality is, because why am I different from everybody else; the TV is talking after all to many millions of people, it is not talking just to me. So the message “me first” must be true for everybody. It makes sense that “I” is one person that should be first and that everybody else that’s listening to the TV Is not going to be first. So in fact the whole thing is based on a fantasy, just to convince me to buy more soap. Isn’t that quite silly? So if I really could keep my mind firm on this reality then I wouldn’t always go out there and try to be first. This is very difficult, the propaganda is very subtle. It plays on my emotions, it says that I’m not going to get a girlfriend if I don’t use the right deodorant. That touches me very hard. So it’s going to take a long time to get over my insecurity that this TV plays on, in order to get me realize that it is not necessary for me to be first on line in the super market to buy my deodorant each morning. So, that’s our first zillion eons, to get rid of that.

Now even though we might intellectually know that there is no reason for me to be first as opposed to everybody else because everybody has an equal right to whatever, still there is this automatically arising attitudes that come up. Automatically when you enter a room with seats, you go to the first one. Automatically I push and get in the train first. There maybe could be 500 seats on the train and there are 30 people outside, yet everybody pushes to get into the train first. If you come to that crowd and see everybody pushing then it’s very hard not to also have the fear arising in you that you’re not going to get a seat. So again you go into the crowd and push. Intellectually you might realize that and think “That’s silly, there are 500 seats, there are only 30 people pushing onto the train; obviously there is going to be a seat left for me”, but automatically we’re drawn to go in there and push also. To overcome this automatically arising will take another zillion eons. This disturbing attitude instinctively comes up, even though we know that it doesn’t make any sense.

Even though we get rid of that we still are going to have a certain tendency in our minds to make things appear in a way that doesn’t accord with reality. This is called “dual appearances”. Dual isn’t terribly a good word either, because the connotation of it is “discordant”, it doesn’t accord with what actually is reality. Our minds make things appear like that, from the various propensities and tendencies we have. This is the 3rd zillions of eons to get rid of that, this tendency of our mind to make things appear in a way in which it’s not actually existing.

The process of seeing reality and getting rid of our limitations is something that’s going to take quite a long time. It’s going to take a long time, because not only do we have to see reality, but it has to really sink in deep, then we first see reality straight-forwardly it’s going to get rid of the disturbing attitudes that come up based on propaganda, ideology and all these things like TV. But still, we’re automatically going to have certain disturbing attitudes that come up. So it will take another long period of time to get rid of that. But still our mind is going to make things appear in a way that isn’t actually real. In other words we see a group of people and we think: “I am not able to get on the train”. Even though it actually doesn’t disturb us, still it looks like that when we walk in. We’re not actually seeing the reality. If we could see the reality of it, we would see instantly, “Here’s a train, here’s 30 people trying to get on. There’s lots of seats, there’s no problem”.

Three zillion eons is an awfully long time and if our children are going to need our help, to see reality and help them with that, because if you think about all the different types of fears that our children might have, and now it is really important to be able to comfort them from their fears and to explain to them that it is really not based on anything. We can’t just say when our child is crying, “Well, wait three zillion eons, and I’ll help you”. “I’m frightened as well”. That’s not going to do.

So we need something, which is much faster. There are three things which are said to be very powerful in this world:

A Medicine;

B Machines:

C Mantras – hidden measures to protect our mind.

Medicine, it is quite obvious how powerful that is, that a small pill can cure us of a big sickness. Machines are very powerful, they can take us to the moon. But these hidden measures that we can apply to protect our minds and help us, these are something which are much more powerful. Serkong Rinpoche used to tell a very amusing story about the power of “OM MANI PADME HUNG”. He used to say that there was once a monk who had a mother and the mother was very negative about doing any type of practice or saying anything like “OM MANI PADME HUNG”. The monk told his mother to practice this mantra and the mother would never do it and really resent it what her son was telling her. The son said well I am going to tie a little bell into your dress and every time that you hear the bell ring, you have to say “OM MANI PADME HUNG”. The mother was very upset about that, but her son forced her to promise that she would do that and so the mother agreed. Whenever she would walk around the house, she would walk very gently, so that she wouldn’t make the bell ring and she wouldn’t have to say “OM MANI PADME HUNG”. If she would bump into anything or forget and the bell would ring then she would usually say something: “God damn it, OM MANI PADME HUNG”. This mother eventually died and she was born in one of the lower realms. You know one of these typical things that you hear about, being in a big caldron and being boiled. Somebody with a big stick mixing the caldron that the mother was in. Once this person was mixing this big caldron and the stick banged against the side of the caldron and made a ringing sound and you could hear from inside the pot: “God damn it, OM MANI PADME HUNG” when the bell rang and as a result of this she was able to get out of this hellish situation. It just illustrates how these hidden measures is something that can be very powerful, even if we are in a hellish type of situation.

So, that gets us into the whole subject of what is tantra? What’s going on with these hidden measures that we want to use to protect our mind?

The word “Tantra” means an everlasting stream, the stream of continuity. There are different levels of what this is referring to, this everlasting stream. We have the everlasting stream of the basis that we are working with, which is the everlasting stream of our mind stream, of our subtlest consciousness and awareness. Then there is the everlasting stream of the path, of all these different deity practices that we can do. Likewise there is the everlasting stream of the result that we want to attain, which is the everlasting stream of the different bodies of a Buddha.

Question: Could you please repeat this?

There is the everlasting stream of the basis, which is our mind-stream. There is the everlasting stream of the path that we want to follow, which would be the path of the various deity practices, that forms an everlasting stream of practice. There is an everlasting stream of the result of what we want to attain and that’s the everlasting stream of having the different bodies of a Buddha. So the word “Tantra” refers to these 3 different levels and also refers to the different texts and books that talk about them.

What we want to do in tantra is basically follow an everlasting stream of practice, which is going to purify or work with the everlasting stream of our mind-stream, the basis that we have to work with, in order to actually achieve the everlasting stream of the result. So we have an everlasting stream of practice that we use to work with our everlasting stream of the basis we are dealing with, in order to achieve the everlasting stream of the result. That is basically what tantra is talking about and why it’s called tantra and everlasting stream. The main feature of tantra is that’s going to be much faster, for achieving our fullest potentials.

We have 4 different classes of tantra, of different types of practices that we can do in tantra:

1 The first level is called KRYA or ritual practice. In terms of what the emphasis is here, the emphasis is mostly on our external behaviour. We have the external rituals and things that we can do. There are also internal methods and although we have both of them, the main emphasis here is on ritual practices. For example there is a lot of ritual in terms of your diet – a great emphasis on being vegetarian and on ritual cleanliness; all sorts of practices of washing ourselves and setting up things in a very clean manner and this is a little bit similar to what you find in some of the Hindu practices of the Brahmins, of a great emphasis on cleanliness. Because if you want to have your mind be cleaned of all its different disturbing attitudes then it helps very much to have things around you also clean and orderly. There are a lot of practices involved with that, like the practice of the four armed Chenrezig, Manjushri and a lot of these deities that are the most familiar to us.

2 The second class of tantra is called CARYA or behavioural deity practice. “Behavioural” is dealing with an equal emphasis on both external behaviour and also internal methods. Examples of practices are Vairocana and Vajrapani. So the first puts the main emphasis on the external and the second puts an equal emphasis on the external and the internal.

3 The third class is called “YOGA TANTRA”. “Yoga” is a word that actually means: to integrate the real thing. So it is integrated deity practice and here your main emphasis is on the internal methods. Examples of practice: samvid (tib: kun. rig) used for practices to help people in the bardo.

4 Then the fourth class of tantra is called ANUTTARAYOGA”, which means peerlessly integrated practices; integrated practices that has nothing higher than that. Here it puts the emphasis on even more special internal methods – Examples of practices are: Kalachakra, Yamantaka, Vajrayogini, Heruka.

So these are the 4 classes of tantra. Now, it’s not necessary to actually go through and practice all 4 classes of tantra. It’s not set up in that way, although the different classes become more and more sophisticated, still you would practice whichever level seems to be most appropriate for you.

It is said that tantra is faster then the sutra methods. How is it faster?

Well, the first 3 classes are faster in the sense that what they can do is give us a very long lifetime, and having a very long lifetime then, within that lifetime, we can achieve enlightenment through the practices. So it’s faster then the sutra methods; because it gives us practices to increase our lifespan so that within the context of that we can work to achieve enlightenment.

But the 4th class – ANUTTARAYOGA – is much faster than that because it has these special methods. It says that we can achieve enlightenment within this very lifetime, our usual type of lifetime, and we can even achieve it within a period of 3 years and 3 phases of the moon. A phase of the moon is 2 weeks for the moon to grow full. I mentioned earlier that Kalachakra is a clear tantra, because it explains things as to why you have all these various teachings in tantra. You know very often we hear about 3 year retreats and that you can be enlightened in 3 years, which is actually 3 years and 3 phases of the moon. Kalachakra explains why it’s no magical number, these 3 years. Actually it has to do with the cycles of the breath. There is a specific number of breaths you’re dealing with, and that add up to the period of 3 years and 3 phases of the moon.

So, how is it actually possible to achieve enlightenment more quickly and realize our fullest potential and see reality more quickly with these different types of tantra? This is something that is very important to have some feeling for when you go to the initiation, because the initiation is to get into tantric practice and even though you might want to achieve enlightenment quickly and even though you might want to be able to help everybody, if you don’t have some understanding of the method that is being introduced in this initiation then there is no strong feeling for it and you won’t have any strong desire to get involved in the practice. But if you have some idea of what tantra is about then it becomes much more relevant. So I want to discuss this in terms of 3 different levels.

First Ill talk about tantra in general, and then I’ll talk specifically about the highest class of tantra – Anuttarayoga – and what makes that even more special than the other classes of tantra and then I’ll talk about Kalachakra itself and what makes that even more special than the other forms of Anuttarayoga. So in this way we will have more of an appreciation for what we are actually getting into.

There are different point I want to discuss and basically 4 points.

1 These practices are faster in terms of analogies. There are various analogies that are made and because of these analogies it’s faster.

2 You have method and wisdom in sutra. Here we’ll talk about how you get method and wisdom closer and closer together.

3 Voidness or reality. Voidness is something which we can talk about, the voidness or the absence of fantasized ways of existing in terms of lots of different objects; you can talk about how this room lacks some sort of fantasized way of existing, or how the people within it lack a fantasized way of existing etc. So the 3rd point I’ll talk about is the difference in terms of the object, the basis of the voidness. We are going to deal with more and more special bases for voidness.

4 In terms of the consciousness with which we understand voidness. Here we are also going to get some special features.

It is because of these things that tantra is a much more quick path and a much more effective path for seeing reality, because we are dealing with methods that are going to have special analogies, we are going to deal with method and wisdom coming much closer, we are going to deal with a special consciousness for understanding the voidness. That’s the basic structure we’re going to follow.

We want to achieve both the body and the mind of a Buddha. It doesn’t do any good to have the body of a Buddha and the mind of a dog or to have the mind of a Buddha and the body of a worm. We need to have the two together in order to be able to help all people, all beings. Usually the way to describe the causes for achieving the body and the mind of a Buddha in terms of the 2 collections: in other words we want to build up a lot of positive potentials and we also want to build up a lot of insight or deep awareness. We are going to need both these things: positive potential and deep awareness in order to achieve both the mind and the body of a Buddha. We need both for both. In order to achieve the body, the main thing is going to be the positive potential we built up and that’s going to be helped by deep awareness.

In order to achieve the mind of a Buddha it’s the same thing, just the other way around: the main thing that brings about the mind of a Buddha is building up more and more deep awareness, but it has to be helped by some positive potential that’s going to actually bring it about. So the positive potential is the main cause for the body and is helped by deep awareness and the deep awareness is the main cause for the mind, helped by the positive potential.

The practices in terms of what builds up a positive potential and what builds up the deep awareness are going to be a little bit like the result, but not so close. So for example you know in the body of a Buddha they talk about how a Buddha has all these 32 signs and these signs are indications of what practices the Buddha did in order to become enlightened.

For example a Buddha has a very long tongue; the long tongue indicates that when this person who became a Buddha, was practicing and developing himself (herself) that he or she took care of everybody else, the way that a mother-animal takes care of her babies by always licking them and to show that he or she cared for everybody like a mother-animal licking her young, he has a very long tongue. So like that, every feature of the body of a Buddha indicates certain things and certain practices that he or she followed. You know, they talk about how they have the impression of a wheel on their hands and feet and this is to indicate how they always went out to meet their spiritual teacher, and escort them with wheels to show them respect. So you’re practicing the causes to bring about a result and the causes are a little bit like the result, but not so close.

But what you’re doing in tantra is dealing with causes that are going to be much much closer to the result that you want to achieve. That’s why it’s called the Resultant Vehicle, because you’re dealing now with things which are much closer to what you want to achieve. It’s like if you want to put on a show, let’s say a drama, then you rehearse and by rehearsing and doing it over and over again beforehand then you’re able actually to act in that way, without any problems.

What you’re actually doing in tantra is like rehearsing and practicing now to do things like you’ll be able to do when you actually become fully evolved and realize your fullest potential as a Buddha. That’s an important point! What we want to do in order to achieve the body of a Buddha, we imagine now that we already have the body of a Buddha: we’re starting to harness and work with the forces of our imagination; imagination is something which is a very very powerful thing that all of us have and one of the big things that tantra does is to start to use your imagination and harness all these powers.

So we imagine now that we actually have the body of an enlightened being and the body of an enlightened being comes fromwe can generate it out of our energy system – when you become enlightened it’s going to be moulded out of our energy system and so now we just imagine that we are like that and by imagining that we are like that then it acts as a strong cause, much closer to the result for actually being able to achieve the body of a Buddha.

The next thing that we imagine is that the environment and everything around us is likewise pure like the environment of a Buddha. In order for it to come about that everything is most conducive in the world then we imagine everything around us to be most conducive and helpful. That’s something which is on a simple level. If you’re riding on a crowded bus or a train you can look at it in two ways: it can appear to you as a big crowd, very noisy, terrible and you don’t like it and you get very upset or you can view it as: “Look at all these people. They are human beings like me. Here is a good opportunity to think about the reality of other people”. So you look at everybody in a very pure way rather then looking at them as just a threat or something which is there just to annoy you. What we try do in tantra is not only view our own bodies as the body of a Buddha, but also view everything around us, the environment, as something which is pure.

The 3rd thing that we rehearse now is in terms of being able to enjoy things the way that a Buddha enjoys things and the way a Buddha enjoy things is without any confusion involved. Whereas the way that we enjoy things or experience things is with a lot of confusion.

Now again we have a word in English that’s used to translate this which is not the best choice of word, is the word “contaminated”. That has a terrible connotation or feeling in English and it doesn’t mean “contaminated” really; what it means is associated with confusion. In other words, let’s say, there are some flowers and the way an ordinary person might enjoy them would be completely filled with confusion; the flowers are here and the person might think: “Oh those flowers, I am allergic to flowers, they are going to make me sneeze”. Instead of being able to enjoy the flowers the person is very worried and upset that he is going to sneeze because of them. Or there is a glass of water here, again the way I experience it is very confused. I’m wondering: “Oh I wanted it to be hot and now it’s cold and I wonder if this glass is clean”. Different confusing things come up to spoil the way that we enjoy things. One of the best examples is our stereo record player or tape recorder. We can have the most beautiful music and quality coming across but all of a sudden our neighbour gets a better and more expensive machine and immediately we’re upset about the quality of our own machine, and we can’t really enjoy it any more because our mind is completely filled with confusion that “Well maybe there is 1.2% distortion in this machine and that won’t do because my neighbour has 1.1% distortion on his machine” and everything becomes very upsetting. Now a Buddha doesn’t experience things in this way of being confused. A Buddha is able to enjoy things without any confusion, because a Buddha can see the actual reality of all things, all the time.

So we imagine in tantra that we’re able to enjoy things in a manner which is completely unconfused. That’s why you have in tantra for example all these offerings that are made and you imagine that you’re enjoying them without any confusion. In other words you have offerings of water, flowers, incense and you’re not worried about the incense going to make you sneeze; you have light, butter lamps and you don’t worry about it causing your eyes to squint or whatever, but you’re able to enjoy things in a very pure way, the way a Buddha enjoys it – you practice and you rehearse, enjoying things in that way. So we think in terms of ourselves having a pure body; we think of our environment around us as being pure; our body isn’t something that hurts while we sit or whatever, but a pure body. A pure environment, a pure way of enjoying things.

The 4th thing is a pure way of acting and influencing others. A Buddha is able to help others in a way that really doesn’t require any effort. They always say that a Buddha spontaneously accomplishes everything. You shouldn’t be misled by the word “spontaneous” which often has the connotation that you do anything that comes into your head. So spontaneously you feel like throwing off all your clothes and going and running outside and screaming. (That’s not the way a Buddha acts spontaneously.) “Spontaneously” is that a Buddha doesn’t really have to do anything conscious on his or her part in order to be able to be a very strong positive influence on everybody. We can see this in terms of the great lamas – in particular His Holiness the Dalai Lama, just their very presence and their way of being and acting itself acts as a very very strong positive influence on us.

So there are different ways that you can be a positive influence on others. One way is to be able to pacify and quiet things around you. I remember once in Bodhgaya, in India which is where the Buddha became enlightened – a place where you have many many beggars – and beggars can sometimes be very difficult to deal with, because there are so many of them and they are always pushing at you to give things to them, there are maybe a 100 of them like that all around you and there is that one lama called Ra Tu Rinpoche, who I saw once in Bodhgaya, who has the ability to quiet things around him; he is called the baby-lama, because very often people bring their babies to him, if their babies are always crying all the time and very upset, because he has this amazing influence over everything around him to just quiet and pacify things. So I remember, in Bodhgaya, there were all these beggars and he just walked very calmly to this crowd of beggars and he had them line up and he counted off 1-10 and gave the 10th person a rupee note and said: “You divide this with 10 people behind you. If anybody else should try to do this with these beggars, the beggars will just claw over him. But this lama has such calmness about him, such presence about him, that he was actually able to calm everything around him. So this is a way that the Buddha acts. He doesn’t really have to do anything, but just his general presence is able to calm and quiet things down.

Another way that a Buddha is able to act is in terms of stimulating everybody around him to grow. So by their presence your interest grows, your mind becomes much more clear, your heart grows much more warm and in this way they stimulate things to grow. They are also able to influence certain things to happen; they may influence you to follow a spiritual path or to become a better person. In this way they have a certain influence on you. And the 4th way is some forceful effect. Again I can think of a very clear example.

In South-India, once His Holiness the Dalai Lama was giving an initiation and I was present at that time and a very large swarm of hornets (very large bees) that give a very bad sting – hundreds of hundreds of them started to fly into the temple – you can imagine everybody in the temple became very nervous at all these bees that were coming inside and we would all get stung; His Holiness simply stopped the initiation, the ritual that he was doing. He started doing something, we couldn’t tell what exactly he was doing. He sort of looked at the swarm and he started doing something inside and all of a sudden the swarm just turned around and went outside of the temple. That’s something I saw with my own eyes. This is an example of how they are able to exert some forceful influence on things around them to cause danger to go away when the circumstance calls for it. So this is what we practice in tantra.

In order to actually become a Buddha, to become totally clear-minded and fully evolved, what we want to do is if we want to achieve it faster, we will follow different types of practices now that are going to be much closer to what we want to achieve. In other words we rehearse by using our imagination. The way that we rehearse is in terms of thinking that already we have the body of a Buddha and we think in terms of how the environment around us is already the way it would be when we are a Buddha, that everything will be conducive and pure and we’ll also think in terms of how we will enjoy different things, how we relate to people or objects, that we’ll be able to do this in a way that isn’t full of confusion. We see somebody and we are not going to worry about whether they are going to like us or they don’t like us, all these sort of things. But we’ll be able to deal straight-forwardly with everybody and everything we need and likewise we will be able to exert an enlightening influence on everybody and everything around us, without really having to do anything consciously. Automatically we’ll have a peaceful or pacifying influence on others, we’ll be very stimulating for others; we will be able to influence them in positive ways and when the situation calls for it we’ll be able to also influence things in a forceful way to remove danger. If we practice now with our imagination, to be able to imagine that we can do these things then that will acts as a cause for it actually happening in reality.

You might think: “Well isn’t that a lie, because I’m not really an enlightened being? We are not really able to do all these things now. So am I not using a method which is just deceiving myself?” That’s not so, because here you’re being very conscious about what you’re doing. We were talking about the everlasting stream of the basis. (Tantra means everlasting stream) So I’ll talk about the everlasting stream of the basis, which is our own awareness and our own subtle energies, then because we can actually become enlightened, out of our subtle consciousness and our subtle energies, what we are doing is just as if we can call ourselves “I” based on where we are now, we can also think down the line in terms of our future attainments and so what we are thinking in terms of is in the future that this is something that we can attain so I am basing my feelings of this attainment now, based on what can happen in the future, which is something which really can happen based on all the factors that I have now. So it’s not really a lie because Im not really fooling myself into thinking that, “Well, really, I am already enlightened and can just go up on the roof and fly off”. We realize that’s not the case, but we’re following this type of method consciously, because we know that in the future we can achieve this.

There’s a big difference between a crazy person thinking that he is Donald Duck or Napoleon and myself thinking that I am a Buddha. What’s the difference? The difference is that I know that really now I am not Napoleon or Mickey Mouse, but I can imagining myself in this form, which is certainly much better then Mickey Mouse, because I can do all sorts of things as a Buddha, but I realize that I’m only using it as a device in order to bring me to that goal more quickly. And that goal is something that definitely is possible, because I have all the factors within me – my mind-stream, my energies etc. which will allow me to achieve it. So I am thinking now that I am already there, based on what I can achieve in the future. So it’s consciously using a method and not really deceiving myself. Whereas to think I am Mickey Mouse is something which is not based on any reality at all.

The next point is dealing with your self-image and in terms of your feelings, if you’re in a certain mood, you can either just stay in that mood and say “Well today I feel bad and I feel very tired and depressed”, and just stay there, but then you start to actually look at how we take that black crayon line and we make a black line on it and we make a thing out of it: “Today I am in a bad mood”, you announce it to your family and everybody had better leave you alone and not bother you, because today “I am in a bad mood”. And you almost condemn yourself into staying for the rest of the day in your bad mood. I mean you’ve already told everybody that you’re in a bad mood so if you come out smiling then they’re going to be disappointed. So you stay in your bed and feel terrible and grumpy. But if you realize that in fact what you are doing is now, even though you might feel at the moment badly, you’re making that into a concrete self-image and then staying with that and not letting it just pass. So what you want to do is deal with different types of self-images which are much more positive that you can substitute at that time. “I may be feeling bad, my stomach hurts. OK that also can pass, I can feel much better”. So you work with this idea of being much better rather then working with the negative image.