«Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation. By Alexander Berzin at Maitreya Institute, Maasbommel, Netherlands on 26 - 28th of April 1985 Why ...»
Answering to the question. Is there a difference between the different Buddha essence for example Kalachakra's body is made up differently? Different people have different energy systems – we all are different. And because we have different energy systems, some method of practice is going to be more conductive for us. So, although you might have some people that say that Kalachakra is the highest, that can be a little bit misleading. Although it's one of the most sophisticated systems, it doesn't mean that you can't attain enlightenment with any of the other systems. His Holiness says when it actually becomes time to put all our energy, all our efforts into becoming enlightened, at that time you should have already 32 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation had some experience with a lot of different meditation systems and based on your own experience and based on the close guidance of the Spiritual Master you can decide: "Well, what really is the system that I'm going to put all my efforts into what really is in tune with my particular energy system". What you do then is you'll choose which will be the completion stage practice that's going to actually achieve the body of a Buddha.
Both an illusory body and a devoid form can be the cause for the body of a Buddha. The devoid form is generated out of the clear light mind itself, as its reflection; the illusory body is generated out of the subtlest energy accompanying the mind, to generate a devoid form, one stays in the clear light. The devoid form is a reflection of the clear eyes mind. In order to take an illusory body, one has to arise from the clear light state, in what corresponds to the bardo state.
So once you've seen what is going to be the final method that you're going to use, then you put all your efforts into the generation stage, in other words the stage of using your imagination etc. that will ripen into that. Before that, it's very helpful if you have the capacity to get introduced to all the various different types of systems. Don't mix them into a big stew! But at least have some sort of feeling for all the different possibilities so that then, when it comes time to seeing what suits you best, you have some more realistic idea. Also if you want to become omniscient and you want to be able to help everybody. well, everybody is different and everybody is going to have a different type of meditation practice and system which will be best suited for them. So it's very helpful to know all these things.
Whether you achieve enlightenment through Kalachakra or through some of the other Tantras or Dzogchen or any of these methods, the result is going to be the same.
By receiving the Kalachakra Initiation now, it opens up the possibility that may be this is the one that will suit you. Also the fact that it deals with all the things in astronomy, astrology and the making of medicines and all the other things it is a clear Tantra so it explains what is obscure in the other tantras. That is also a great benefit? Because now you can get into all these things, which otherwise would be difficult to study. There is another aspect here in Kalachakra which is not only the devoid form, but there's also what's called "unchanging bliss" unchanging blissful awareness. Again you're going to hear this in the initiation, so you might as well have some idea of what it is.
And here, in terms of getting a blissful awareness within your body it's done in terms of certain energy drops within the body and these energy drops – you have various types of methods of yoga or what ever for working with these energy drops in the body and moving them. Based on moving them you get the ordinary blissful awareness in the other tantras of the Anuttarayoga Tantra – the highest Tantra. Here in Kalachakra, it's based on getting these energy drops not only to move, but then to stabilize them. The blissful awareness is generated in terms of these energy drops, made stabilized, so that they don't move anymore. Therefore it's called "unchanging blissful awareness" because the basis for them, these energy drops are no longer changing, you've got them into a definite, stable, situation within the body, the subtle body and so, therefore this blissful awareness is more stable.
Question: What are drops?
Answer :The word "drop" is not a very easy term to have some feeling for. Maybe if you think of it as just a tiny spark.
When it says sesame seed, it's just talking about the size, which is just one factor. But I think of drops in the sense of a spark, an essence of the energy.
These are the things that are quite special in Kalachakra. We are dealing with as a method.
• the unchanging blissful awareness, that we're going to use as the awareness of voidness – used as our wisdom;
• also we're generating a devoid form which is the reflection of our clear light mind.
So they're always going to talk about "void form" and "unchanging bliss", those are the usual ways that they translate it.
So you have some idea of what it is. This unchanging bliss is a more special bliss, because it's based on stabilizing the energy -the sparks or drops of energy in the body and the devoid form is a special type of form, because it's something which is just a reflection of the clear light mind. As a basis for voidness – remember we were giving the analysis of 3 points as a basis for voidness – this devoid form is something that's really special, because in general, bodies of deities were useful, we could just generate them out of our imagination at any time. And they always stay the same.
In general Anuttarayoga – we can always generate it out of our subtlest energy and it would always be available to us and 33 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation here it becomes even more special, because we can always have it as a reflection of our clear light mind, which underlies every moment. So it becomes special in that way. And the blissful awareness as the consciousness which understands voidness the unchanging blissful awareness – is more special, because its basis – these drops of energy – is more stable.
So if we have some sort of general idea of what makes Kalachakra so special then as I was saying, going to the Initiation is something that's going to be much more meaningful to us, because here is a system that may be it's going to be the system that we'll use for actually becoming enlightened, maybe it won't be. That's not really so much the point: we don't know now whether or not it's going to suit us, so we might as well, if we have the opportunity, become involved with it, get a little bit a taste of it, because then we know what all the different possibilities are. And then we see further down the line what actually is going to suit us. It's not true that the same thing has to suit everybody. We shouldn't feel it's too high too difficult to do, just because for example it has 722 deities. There is no reason to have to start it on that complicated level.
I have asked His Holiness: "Is it helpful to, let's say, practice a simpler deity beforehand. Like to do Vajrayogini or Yamantaka, because they're only one deity AND THEN SLOWLY WORK OUR WAY UP TO KALACHAKRA". His Holiness said: "No, that's not so, because Kalachakra has many different levels of practice. You can start practicing it in terms of just being a simple deity with one face, two arms, no partner, and then work on from there to increase your capacity. So in fact it presents a completely graded path of graded practices that as you feel that you have the time and you feel that you have the capacity, you could grow with it".
So these things will be available after the Initiation and there are graded practices that I've been preparing and will be available through Geshe Wangchen in London. So it's something that you can get into; it's not just something so complicated and difficult that, "forget it".
If we have some idea that this Kalachakra practice is something that is possible to get involved with, because you don't have to do it on the most sophisticated level, but you can start it whatever level you're at and if you have some idea of what makes it so special, the it really becomes a great opportunity to get involved with the practice. The whole approach in Buddhism is: here is what we want to achieve: we want enlightened; we want to totally clear out all the garbage in our minds, all our limitations; we want to evolve to the highest state possible.
How is that going to come about?
It's not going to come about out of the sky. We have to actually build up the causes which will bring it about – everything follows from cause and effect. So in this sense it's a very scientific and practical type of approach.
So what are the actual causes for being able to achieve a state of enlightenment? It's the complete stage practices, in other words, when we have every thing complete that we can actually work with the subtle energy system, we can work with the subtle consciousness and mind etc. Out of that we'll actually be able to make our state of enlightenment. Where does that come from, the ability to do that? The ability to do that comes from the generation stage practices which is using your imagination and harnessing all the forces of your imagination, because by doing it in your imagination then you can get into contact with the subtle energy systems; you can get into building up the habits that will allow, let's say, like we were talking about: you have to have the flash of a light bulb in order to then get the reflection of the blue dot. So likewise you have to build up this impression on your mind, of the deity for actually your clear mind to reflect in that form; it's not going to do that by itself.
Now, how we're going to actually build up the cause for being able to do these practices with our imagination? It's by receiving the initiation, because the initiation is what basically cleans the ground out and plants the seeds, plants the seeds for success.
There are 3 different types ceremonies that are done for planting seeds which will enable us to have success in our practice.
These are known as A Initiation or empowerment (Tib. WANG).
B Subsequent permission (Tib. JE-NANG ), C Gathering together the MANTRA (Tib. NGAK. DU).
What's the difference? Sometimes it's not so obvious what the difference is or what's going on there. An empowerment or initiation, "empowerment" is actually closer to the Tibetan word, because the word means "power", it gives you the power to do something and what it does, it empowers you to visualize yourself as a deity, basically. We're talking in general. So 34 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation you might ask: "What about in sutra methods are there any of these deities going on?" Yes, there are deity practices in sutra.
For example to learn how to concentrate on that form of the Buddha. There are other practices which are done for purification, for example Vajrasattva in which you visualize a figure on top of your head – a deity.
But if you're going actually to visualize yourself as a deity then you require an initiation or empowerment.
Now the subsequent permission – the way that Serkong Rinpoche used to describe it – is that the initiation is like getting a sword and the subsequent permission (Je Nang) is sharpening the sword. So in fact the Je Nang is something which is more advanced than the initiation. Most people in the West think it's the opposite way around. They think that the permission is something little and the initiation is something great. Whereas in fact it's the exact opposite way around. Because when you take one of these Je Nang (permissions) then you have to be able to visualize yourself as a deity. If you haven't received an initiation before, you can't visualize yourself as a deity. So all you can imagine is that you're getting the blessings or the inspiration or there's the deity in front of you, but you can't actually do the whole thing in terms of visualizing yourself as the deity. But once you've received an initiation then you can visualize yourself as the deity and it sharpens it. Makes to see it's much more sharp for the body, speech, mind and all three together.
The way it works is that you don't have to have the initiation for every single deity you get the permission for. If you have an initiation – like we talked about the 4, classes of Tantra – if you have a full initiation for let's say any deity in the 1st class of Tantra (Ritual or Kriya), then you can receive the permission of any other deity within that class. So the most usual initiation in the 1st class of Tantra is the full initiation of Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara) in the aspect of 11 heads and 1000 arms. That's the most commonly given one, in fact the major one that's given in that class. Once you've received that, you can receive any permission for any deity in that entire class. Because now you have the power to visualize yourself as a deity, in that class.
If you've received an initiation of any deity in one of the higher classes, let's say in Anuttarayoga Tantra, then it's good for all 4 classes, all the classes below it as well. So that's why in the beginning, let's say, sometimes you get like Lama Zopa gave in Bodhgaya last year, this collection of the 100 initiations and a lot of that have these permissions with it and in the beginning they give the Yamantaka Initiation. The reason is that you need an initiation first in the highest class and that serves as the basis for getting anything after that. As I said, the permission is a sharpening of the sword and making the seeds more clear for body, speech and mind, once you actually have the power to visualize yourself as the deity, and then, the gathering of the mantra makes the power of the mantra even more firm. The way you can tell what you are receiving, if it's not clear to you what you're receiving, is that an initiation is always given from a Mandala. A mandala basically is a round symbol it doesn't have to be round of course, but it's a symbol of the world-system of the deity. So usually you have a little pagoda-set-up and inside it will be a picture of the palace of the deity or it could be many other different forms but at least there's some sort of Mandala there.