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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Kalachakra Tantra Simplified

( I once participated in a Kalachakra initiation. Since it is a complex ritual, I hope this simplification will be beneficial to all. )

» Kalachakra, the secret tantra teaching, spread out from the snowy mystic land Shambala, the mountains forever hidden in mist.

» The sacred doctrine of the Buddha laid hidden for over 1,500 years in Shambala from where the lineage spread out.

» The initiation is given by HH 14th Dalai Lama.

With body, speech and mind
I prostrate to the masters
Inseparably one with primordial Kalachakra
The glorious wheel of time.

» To enter the adamantine nature, one has to take permission by
paying homage to the Buddhas in the ten directions;
the Dharma which is the ultimate reality; and the Sangha which is a commune of enlightened minds.

» To receive Kalachakra initiation, aspirants have to undergo a process of Preparation which involves approximately forty steps. Gradual transformation into the deities helps students to convert their ordinary consciousness to that of Buddha mind. In this “Deity Yoga,” Vajra master instructs the students to purify their motivation.

» The common teaching of the Buddha is known as Sutra and the secret teaching as Tantra. Tantra enables one to attain enlightenment within a single life. Among the tantras, Kalachakra is the highest one. To practice this, one has to generate bodhi mind which is the union of Emptiness and Compassion. This practice is to convert the whole sentient beings into the Buddha nature. The next qualification is the experience of Emptiness.

You whose compassion grants even the sphere of Great bliss
The Supreme state of the three bodies in an instant
O guru, with a jeweled body, Vajradhara
At your lotus feet I prostrate.

» In this initiation, householders take vows of Pancha Sila, the five good actions. This leads to the visualization of the five Buddhas in the five aggregates: form, feeling, perception, mental construction and consciousness.

» Vajra master accepts the offerings, proceeding to lead the aspirants in the path of tantra. Similarly, monks take vows in order to generate Bodhi mind.

» Students receive two reeds of kusha grass because the Buddha was sitting on kusha grass when he became enlightened. The longer of the two reeds is to be placed under each student’s mattress to clear the mind of obscuring thoughts while the shorter one, to be placed under the pillow, aids in the generation of clear dreams.

» Protection cord, a red thread with three knots, is tied around the upper arm to increase love that removes harmful forces.

» During the Night yoga, students recite mantras and meditate on the deity to make their initiation fruitful. This practice enables them to know about their future sadhanas and at the same time, keeps them mindful of the deity and bodhi mind.

» HH Dalai Lama takes vows of Vajra master to help the bodhi minds enter the adamantine nature through the three aspects of Kalachakra: Outer, Inner and Alternative.

» Outer Kalachakra is comprised of the six elements and the world of Mount Meru; the inner is comprised of the three realms of living beings, worlds, vital energies and the eight drops; and the alternative is the union of the two.

» Kalachakra is taught in the fourth turning of the wheel of Dharma which turns twelve times or three revolutions for each of the Four Noble Truths. Eight spokes symbolise the Eightfold Path of salvation.

O Saviours, O Venerable Gurus, together with your entourage
I present you with Oceans of Clouds of various offerings
And I offer myself as a servant to please you
Pray keep me in your service as long as space endures

» Worshipping has seven stages ------ invocation, invitation to the deity, presentation of offerings, hymns. repetition of mantras, prayers and benediction.

» General offerings are sacred cakes, rice, water, flowers, incense lamps and music. Torma offerings are made of roasted barley flour and butter. Among the offerings,
incense symbolizes morality, flower represents concentration, lamp represents insight, and perfume symbolizes the mind of enlightenment.

» In general, there are two ways of achieving enlightenment, following this path of Highest Yoga-Tantra. To accomplish enlightenment from within the old body is according to the other tantric systems. Whereas to achieve it by way of exhausting the old aggregates by skillful means, like an alchemist skillfully using elixir to change iron into gold, accords with the system of Kalachakra. The specialty of the Kalachakra Tantra lies in this.

» Whatever be the ultimate realization of the human mind
May I realise for the welfare of all that lives.

» Since only the bodhi mind is capable of entering the vajra nature, students take Boddhisattva and Tantric vows. Since they are not spiritually ready to see the Mandala before receiving initiation, the Vajra master gives the students red blindfolds.

» Ordinary body is transformed into Vajra body, ordinary speech into Vajra speech, ordinary mind into Vajra mind through the practice of mantras. The mantras have enormous power of emanation and decomposition. The mantric body is needed to practice the highermost tantras.

» Tooth stick ritual is performed to determine the student’s spiritual tasks to be accomplished. This process purifies one’s body, speech and mind.

» During the Mandala construction, water vases are empowered by the Vajra master through mantra string. Three sips of scented water are taken to remove the subtle defilements.

» The entire Kalachakra initiation comprises of fifteen separate nitiations. This initiation is generally given over twelve days. The actual ritual takes place in the final two days. Others are preparatory activities.

» The initiation commences with the nine preliminary steps of invoking the earth spirits: consecrating the vase, the conch of great victory, the action lines, vajra, bell, enhancing the disciple, placing the spiritual aspirants within the six Tatha- gata families, invoking Vajrasattva and so forth, establishing the seat and analysis of the divinity.

» The actual initiation process consists of three phases. The seven initiations called “entering like a child,” the four higher Initiations and the four higher than higher initiations.

» The students envision the Vajra master as Kalachakra in union with his consort, Visvamata. Light rays radiating from the Vajra master’s heart draw the students into his body. They imagine themselves entering to Vajra master’s mouth and going into Visvamata’s womb where they are dissolved into Emptiness and finally reborn as Kalachakra.

» The seat of the Mount Meru is in the center of the four continent system of the realm of desire.

» Water empowerment is the first of the empowerments. It is equivalent to the bathing of a new born child. This enables the students to achieve the first Boddhisattwa level known as ‘the very joyous level’ as its fruit.

» The second empowerment is the empowerment of head- dress. This process is for the elevation of the mind that is represented in the head-dress of Lamas. It is represented in the stages of stupa as well.

» The mirror shows that all dharmas are ‘dependently- originated,’ It is incanted with an Ah.

» As mentioned before, the offerings have their own symbolizations.

» Through mantras, the deity is prayed to bless the consecration that generates the bodhi mind.

» Elevating gradually, one completes the grounds of bodhi mind through childlike empowerments and the empowerments of higher level.

» Third empowerment is that of the crown banner. This represents the five Buddha families and is likened to putting ornaments on the child.

» Fourth empowerment is the empowerment of the vajra and bell.

» Fifth is that of the thumb vajra. This is analogous to putting an ornament on the child’s thumb. The ornaments do have their meanings as well. Head ornament represents mirror like knowledge, ear ring represents discriminative knowledge, necklace represents the knowledge of equality, bracelet represents Dharmadhatu and belt represents the procedure of duty.

» The Sixth empowerment is the empowerment of the name. This is analogous to naming of infant.

» Holy seals give permission to enter the higher grounds. The book of Kalachakra is handed over to the students as a guide.

» Seventh empowerment is Initiation.

All dharmas are like reflected images
Clear and pure, without turbulence
Ungraspable, inexpressible, truly arisen
From cause and action ---- Hetu and Karma

» Bow and the five arrows are given as a seal that represents entering into Emptiness.

» Empowerment of the vase, Secret empowerment, Wisdom empowerment and Word empowerment are the higher empowerments.

» Prasada, the material of oblation to the deity, when eaten purifies one’s body, speech and mind.

» The material offered to the deities convert into elixir and ambrosia. It is performed as the conclusive function of holy rituals.

» Students offer holy symbols as their gratification to Vajrasattva. May the Vajra master and the students live long.

» Viewing of the Kalachakra sand mandala, considered the final act on part of the disciples, takes place with great enthusiasm and devotion.

» Mandala literally means center and surrounding environment. It represents the threefold teachings: on cosmology, on human body and on meditation. The six concentric circles surrounding the square place of Kalachakra represents the
elements earth, water, fire, wind, space and wisdom. ‘E’ and ‘Vam’ are the condensed aphorism of Kalachakra and Visvamata respectively. In the mandala, 70 deities are of light rays of the enlightened state of mind, 116 deities are of
enlightened speech and 536 deities are of enlightened body. The 722 deities have the nature of light rays and the great bliss of the enlightened state of mind.


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