«Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation. By Alexander Berzin at Maitreya Institute, Maasbommel, Netherlands on 26 - 28th of April 1985 Why ...»
Let's take some examples. When we die the consciousness gets more and more subtle until we finally get to what's called the clear light of death. In other words we get all these more rough types of consciousness: our eyes, ears; we're no longer able to see or hear, because obviously we don't have a body and we're no longer able to have all sorts of conceptual ideas and things because likewise that is something which is more gross and our minds get more and more subtle, so we just get bare clarity and awareness of mind. This state of the clear light of death is something which is very similar to what we're going to get at the time of enlightenment, what the mind of a Buddha is. Because the mind of a Buddha is likewise something which is very subtle. It doesn't have these gross rough things around it and because it's so subtle, it's able to reflect absolutely everything.
So what we want to do is to follow some type of method which is while we are alive, through various practices, to be able to focus on the clear light, in other words to get to the subtlest level of consciousness, because that's something which is similar to what we want to purify, which is the clear light of death and it's going to be similar to what we want to achieve.
We want to be able to get the clear light awareness of a Buddha. So we follow a method, in other words, if what we have to work with is already similar to what we want to achieve, in other words getting to that subtlest mind, is similar to what we want to achieve which is to get to the subtlest mind completely expanded – so it sees everything, a method for doing that is to try to get to the subtlest mind now, through our meditations. So by getting to the subtlest mind already in our meditations, it’s similar, both down and up. It's similar to what we want to purify, which is getting to that subtlest mind at death, and similar to what we want to achieve which is to get that subtlest mind as a Buddha, omniscient with everything.
This is similar also for example to the whole process of what happens when we fall asleep. When you fall asleep it's similar to what happens when you die: the consciousness gets more and more subtle, you leave behind the rough consciousnesses, you are no longer able to hear, no longer able to see, those things aren't working and the mind is getting more and more subtle. You can see as you fall asleep that you don't hear or see things anymore, but your mind is still racing with maybe some ideas. But eventually the mind gets more subtle and the ideas and the thinking stops and you just fall into deep sleep.
So that's very similar to what happens when you die, and very similar to what happens as you get to the more and more subtle levels of consciousness. Then when you go into the in-between period – the bardo period – that's very similar to what happens when you dream. All sorts of visions and things appear to you, but they're not something which is like our external reality. Then when you're reborn, it's something very similar to waking up again. So there is an analogy on several different levels, of what we're working with. We're working with this analogy of when we die – bardo and rebirth. But also it is the same as when we fall asleep, dream and wake up.
25 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation So likewise, if we want to achieve the different bodies of a Buddha, for example the physical body, then what we're working with, the analogy is, let's say when you go into the bardo, then you get a sort of subtle body and when you wake up you get a gross body. When you fall asleep, then first you dream, you have subtle bodies and subtle images and when you wake up then you're back in your gross bodies.
When you want to become a Buddha, you can appear in subtle bodies, which are called SAMBHOGAKAYA – bodies of full use – that only highly realized beings can see. Then you also want to appear in more gross bodies, called NIRMANAKAYA – emanation bodies – that more people can see.
On the resultant level of what we're dealing with is we want to achieve a body of a Buddha. So out of the clear light, the omniscient mind of a Buddha, you could also manifest in a subtle body, which is called Sambhogakaya, a body of full use, that only the highly realized beings can see, not everybody can see, and then also you manifest in more gross bodies, called Nirmanakaya – the tulkus – these emanations that more people can see. This thing is very parallel. We want to do is use a method of generating a deity, which is going to be similar to the way in which our death process happens, our sleeping process happens and the enlightened process happens.
So we were talking about how we want to do deity yoga, and arise as a deity.
If you first go into voidness, or clear light – as you remember we were talking about generating the deity out of voidness.
Well, how do you get to voidness? You can get to it in a process that's similar to get into the clear light of death and is similar to the result what we want to achieve – to get into the clear light of an omniscient Buddha. We go to a meditation practice, which is similar to some of the things that happen as we fall asleep or similar to what happens when we die, in order to get a method to get to the mind of a Buddha Likewise we generate this deity within the state of voidness. You can generate it just sort of: "There it is, there's the deity out of voidness". But you can also generate it, here in Anuttarayoga Tantra, in the same manner, in which you would arise in the Bardo or you would arise in dreams, which will be the same way in which you will arise out of the mind of a Buddha into the body of a Buddha that’s both subtle on a gross level.
Before we were talking about how the whole process is similar to the result. So, it's similar to the result in the sense that we imagine now that we're a deity and we think of the voidness of that deity. There are many ways that you can do this. This is a sort of general presentation. But you can do this in a way that's going to be similar to what happens ordinarily anyway.
Before we were talking about a mental judo, that you want to use the energy, the direction that we're going into anyway in order to flip it into a more beneficial way. Ordinarily we go through the process of our mind getting more subtle, either we die or fall asleep and then ourselves arising, first in a subtle form and then in a gross form; like a dream and then we wake up, or we go into the bardo and then we're reborn and that's going to be in fact exactly how it is going to work when you're enlightened. So this is a special feature of Anuttarayoga Tantra.
There are 4 methods to get rid of problems that are described:
A You can apply an opponent force. For example if you are very attached to somebody then the opponent to that, when you think "Oh, this person is so beautiful", then you imagine what that person would look like if you took off the first layer of skin over their bodies. Then they wouldn't be so pretty, would they? Or you imagine that what they would look like, let's say, they're a very young person, and you imagine that actually this is an eight year old person, wearing a mask of a twenty year old person. Actually that's just an appearance and you try to imagine what this person will look like when they're eighty. To help get over this infatuated view that you have.
B To try to think in the opposite way. If you think "I'm fat and ugly and nobody loves me" and you think that that's really the way that you are, then to think in terms of "Well I am devoid of that, that really isn't the case". That's the opposite way of thinking.
C To try to change negative things into positive things. Let's say you want to go on a trip and it doesn't work out and you're not able to go, there's trouble with your car, then you could become very upset and unhappy about that, but also you could change it into a positive circumstance and think: "Oh I'm fortunate that this happened, if it happened on the road while we were driving then I might have gotten into an accident and got killed. So the fact that my car wouldn't start now is very good, I should be happy about it, because I've been saved from something that could have gone wrong while we were driving". If you think in that way, it makes it much easier to handle the situation, because in fact you're not going to be able to go on your trip anyway. You might as well be able to deal with that situation, without getting too upset. So you transform negative circumstances into positive circumstances.
D But the 4th way, which is the way that we dealing with here, is to flip the situation and flip it in the sense that if we are going to be naturally going through the process of dying and taking the bardo and then being reborn, then let's go with that energy and try to flip it so that instead of it happening in an uncontrollable way, we rehearse it happening.
We rehearse what happens when we die for example so that we are not thrown by it and we can use that energy the way that the mind naturally will go to a more subtle state and then appear in subtle forms and then in gross forms.
26 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation We can use it to actually become a Buddha, to use that as the method for becoming a Buddha, because that's how it happens anyway.
In Anuttarayoga Tantra we have 2 stages of practice:
1 The completion stage – sometimes it's called "completing", but it doesn't really complete anything; it means "complete" in the sense that now you have everything complete and you can actually do these things, you can actually manifest your subtlest consciousness, you can actually manifest the body of a deity out of your energy system.
2 The generation state, in which you generate in your imagination. In your imagination you imagine that your mind gets more and more subtle, in your imagination you imagine that within the state of clear light voidness you arise as a deity, similar to what happens when you take rebirth or what happens when you wake up. By doing it in your imagination then that will eventually ripen into being able to actually do it with your energy system and being able to actually do it with your energy system will then ripen into being able to actually do it completely as a Buddha.
The analogies are not only using a method which is analogous to the result of what we want to achieve (upwards) but it's also analogous downward with the basis of what we're working with.
Now we are getting into dealing much more with all the different aspects of our life. We are dealing with some of the most fundamental elements that everybody experiences, even an animal. And even animals are going to die and be reborn, and even animals are going to sleep and wake up. So, we're dealing really with some of the basic fundamental elements of our lives, and bring even to the path, by working with it.
What about the point of getting method and wisdom together in one package? We were talking in general tantra that we get it into one package in terms of thinking in our imagination that we have the body of a deity – we start off with our imagination; later we're actually going to generate it. But we think in terms of: in our imagination we have the body of a deity and then we think of the reality of that deity, so we get the two together in one package. But we're doing this with rough levels of consciousness.
In the Anuttarayoga Tantra, what we are doing here is dealing with the subtlest level of consciousness and the subtlest level of consciousness always has with it the subtlest energies that we have. Sometimes called "energy wind" or "breath" – the subtlest energy.
When we talk about consciousness or mind, we tend to think of it as a noun. Because we think of it as a noun, we tend to think of it as a thing: "My consciousness, my awareness, it becomes almost something physical. So the distinction between body and mind doesn't become so clear to us. Because "body" is something that we have and a "mind" is also a thing that we have; our "awareness" is also a thing that we have. But actually what is being discussed here, because they make quite a difference between body and mind in terms of describing what's involved, is more like a verb and it's a verb in the sense that it's talking about a function. The function is to be aware of things, to be clear about things, both in a transitive and an intransitive sense. So it's to make things clear and to be clear. It's to make things become aware and to be aware. It's like a function that we do. And this is what we have on a very very subtle level: that just this basically making things clear and aware - this function. And that has as part of it a certain energy. So we have both the energy that sort of involves it with objects and this whole function of making things clear.
So this is what we are dealing with when we are talking about the subtlest mind and the subtlest energies. The subtlest energy is like a horse and the awareness, the subtlest mind is like the rider on top of the horse. The horse takes it to the objects or whatever and the rider on the horse is the one that is aware of things. You can see that actually it is talking about two different aspects of the same thing: that there's an energy that goes out and it has this function of making things aware.
These two come together in one package, don't they?
Now, what we're doing here in Anuttarayoga Tantra is that not only are we taking or imagining ourselves as a deity and thinking of the voidness of that deity (so that comes in one package), but what we're using is this subtlest awareness, your consciousness and its wind, its energy, which comes together in one package. So we have this subtlest energy and consciousness in one package. One part of it, the awareness aspect, we are going to use as the awareness of voidness; the energy aspect of it is what we're going to generate into the body of the deity. The deity is generated out of the energy, so in fact, our method and wisdom here, the body of a deity and the awareness of the voidness of that deity are even closer in one package, because it's not just sort of on a rough level: just the body of a deity and thinking of the voidness of that deity, but in fact what we are doing is generating the body of the deity out of our subtlest energy and the subtlest awareness which is already in the same package as that, is going to be the awareness that is used for understanding its voidness or reality.