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«Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation. By Alexander Berzin at Maitreya Institute, Maasbommel, Netherlands on 26 - 28th of April 1985 Why ...»

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The way you get eleven is like this:

• First of all you get the 7 of entering like a child with the Vajra Master one, that counts as 7. It's not counted as a separate one.

• Then we had 4 higher and 4 highest.

• So the higher Vase and the highest Vase count as 1.

• The higher Secret and the highest secret count as 1.

• The higher wisdom, the highest wisdom and the higher fourth, those 3 count as 1.

• The highest fourth counts as 1 by itself.

So, that makes eleven.

The Great Vajra Master Over-Lord one is actually a repeat of a few of the initiations that came earlier, but done in a slightly different way and so it doesn't count as a separate one.

Each empowerment will do 2 things:

a. It will purify a certain stain that we have, b. it will plant seeds for success.

This is similar to what I was describing with what a Buddha is. A Buddha is somebody who has cleared out or purified all their limitations. So purifying a stain sort of goes in that side and someone who has evolved fully and realized all their potentials. So laying a seed goes towards that side. So each initiation will work on those 2 levels.

It will plant a seed on 2 different levels:

A. In terms of a conscious experience during the initiation.

B. Actually formally laying some sort of seed of potential to ripen in the future. This will then be the causes for purifying ourselves and growing.

In general, in Anuttarayoga Tantra, with the four initiations, generally we are doing things like purifying your body, speech, mind and then all 3 together. This is in general what's going to be happening in the higher and the highest – those 4 – they also will be working to purify body, speech, mind and all 3 together, the same basic function. But in general Anuttarayoga Yoga, is the vase initiation you have the five disciple initiations and the one of the Vajra Master, and that is working in general to purify the body, but these five disciple initiation work more specifically with purifying the five aggregates.

Now in Kalachakra, the equivalent type of thing are the 7 of entering like a child. But that's not called the Vase Initiation, because you have the 4 higher and the 4 highest in which you get a Vase etc.). So although, it's similar to what's called the Vase and the other initiations, it's sort of more like a "preliminary", it's not actually called the Vase Initiation here in Kalachakra. It's just a different way of assigning names; it's going to do a similar type of function to what was done by the Vase and the other ones. The purification and the laying of seeds is going to be much much more extensive than we have in the usual Anuttarayoga Tantras. In the usual Anuttarayoga Initiations the 5 Disciple ones simply purify the 5 aggregates, one by one, and plant seeds for the 5 Buddha families, one by one, and that's it. Here you get a much much huger system which is in keeping Kalachakra being so extensive. As they say the larger the basis for purification, the more complete the whole transformation is going to be. '

–  –  –

Here, in Kalachakra, what is a special feature is that you're generated not as a couple at that point, but you're generated as a single deity – because at each stage of the initiation you're going to be generated into a different form. You're generated as a single deity and instead of getting the seal of having a partner at that point it's just the seal of having a fully developed body.

So it's like at the end of childhood, you have now a fully developed body.

After that you get the 4 higher and the 4 highest Initiations and these are analogous to the stages of going through puberty and becoming an adult. So they will purify different levels of sexual desire that you would have as you go through adolescence. You know, you have desire to hold hands with somebody and kiss and eventually as you get a little bit older your desires increase. So it will purify these stages that we go through as we go through being a teenager and becoming an adult. Also it will be analogous to the levels of spiritual development that we would go through for example in terms of being a lay-person, a novice, a fully ordained monk or nun and an analogy will also be made with those stages of development. So like that all the different initiations will sort of take us through stages of growth from being an infant all the way up to being a full adult and someone who has gone the whole way in the path.

Now there are 3 levels of extensiveness of giving the Initiation and you can give either just the seven of entering like a child this is what His Holiness did in Wisconsin for instance, in America. And that empowers you to do the practices on the generation-stage which would be the practices with your imagination and doing what is called Sadhana. Sadhana literally means a method of accomplishment or actualization. And it is a practice that you do which is sort of like, you know, there is a whole, almost like an opera, of visualization of all the different things that you go through, a huge, long opera. And the Sadhana is, basically you get like the script of the opera, and you read through this what you are supposed to be visualizing, 43 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation because it is quite long and complicated, and so you read through this and you imagine that all of this is happening as you go through it. And that is basically a Sadhana and by doing that with your imagination and doing it over and over again each day, then it builds up a very strong impression on you, and each specific part of what you are doing will act as a cause for ripening into something actually happening with the energy-systems. Now it might not be terribly obvious what they actually ripens into, that is why you need to get teachings, not only on what actually you are supposed to be visualizing, but what each thing is doing. But you should be confident beforehand that nothing in it is arbitrary and everything in it has a definite purpose, and usually quite a few levels of purpose of what is going on. So it is not just some crazy thing going on.

So the seven of entering like a child empower you to do the generation stage practices, to do the Sadhana.

Then on the middle level you receive 11 initiations. Which 11 do we receive?

We receive the 7 of entering like a child, which of course includes the Vajra Master one. Out of the higher ones we receive the higher Vase, the higher Secret, the higher Wisdom. We don't receive the higher Fourth because that was included in the same category as the 2 Wisdom Initiations, so we receive the highest Fourth. So the 1st 3 of the higher ones and the fourth of the highest. That's 11. And that's what His Holiness will be giving in Switzerland. This empowers us to do in addition to the generation stage practices, it empowers us to do all the complete stage practices as well, it empowers us to listen to and receive all the teachings on everything in Kalachakra and also to be able to explain it to others, if we understand it. So on the 3rd level, the most extensive level, everything is given. So you get the 7 of entering like a child with its Vajra Master Initiation. All 4 higher, all 4 highest and the Great Vajra Master Over-Lord Initiation as well. And the only thing that that will empower us further to do is to actually give the initiation to other people. That we won't be receiving since that it's not so relevant to any of us here.

Initiations are given from Mandalas.

MANDALA literally means a round symbol and it's a symbol in the sense that it's something from which you can take the essence of meaning. Of course it doesn't have to be round. Again symmetry is stupid. It's just a word which is talking about an entirety rather than an actual shape.

So they're many different types of symbols (round symbols). Usually, on one level it's tailing about the symbolic world of the deity. So it would be his entire world, usually it has different elements in it, a Mount Meru and a whole palace. Most of the time when we think of a Mandala we're thinking of the actual symbolic round world – the symbolic world of the deity in which every single element is symbolic. Just as we had all the different arms and faces which are symbols for (symbolizing) different things, likewise in the building of the Mandala, in the Palace, all the different architectural parts of the Palace will be symbolic of different things. You have this number of pillars which stand for this number of realizations or whatever. The different types of initiations we have: Vase, Secret, Wisdom and Fourth, are given from different types of Mandalas, different types of round symbols.

Now, a Vase Initiation in general, can be given from 4 different types of Mandalas. I'll go into this, because it raises some special features about Kalachakra and it might be a little bit confusing and it might be helpful for you for the future.

A Vase Initiation can be given from the symbolic world of a deity which is a:


It's a round symbol drawn on a cloth. Basically you have a picture of the Mandala, which is either painted on a piece of cloth or an actual photograph in modern times. You have usually a little pagoda that's built and on the bottom of the pagoda they've put down a piece of cloth or a painting of the Mandala and there it is. You should realize what these paintings are. It basically is an architectural blue-print in 2 dimensions of a building so it's a floor plan. If it's a cloth Mandala it's laid down flat. Basically it's what the floor looks like and then the walls are sliced down the corners and laid flat. Then there are various archways like the little things on top here are archways and they would actually stand up. So everything in the Mandala can be put back together again as a 3-dimensional building.


This is the 2nd type it can be given from. A Powder Mandala is a Mandala which is made exactly like this, except out of powdered coloured rocks. You know, sometimes you get with the American Indians – the Navahos – they make sandpaintings. It's like that. It's very complicated, because you can see how complicated that is. It's made out of very fine powdered rocks.

III. BODY MANDALA A Body Mandala is a Mandala which is a world system of the deities in which all the different parts of the body of the 44 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation Spiritual Master are generated into deities and into the different parts of the building. So each part of the body is generated into either the deities or parts of the building. So the four sides of the body, the front, back, the 2 sides are generated into the 4 sides of the building, using the energy systems. We would see it in our imagination, but actually the parts are generated like that for example the tongue is long and straight. So on top of the building you have a little thing that goes around the top, so the tongue is generated into that. Like that each different part of the body is generated into a different part of the building. So you get the building and each part of the body would also be generated in the form of the deities.

(In the Gelugpa and the Sakya Traditions it says that before you can receive that type of initiation-from just the body Mandala- you would need to receive an initiation beforehand from a Cloth or a Powder Mandala. The Kagyu Tradition will say: "No". There are 2 different traditions. There are examples like Vajrayogini, these things are given from a body Mandala or within Heruka – there is one Heruka practice which is given from the body Mandala).


It's basically just the Lama, generating it out of his energy systems through his concentration and there it is. You don't see it also. It's not actually generated from the parts of his body, it's just generated out of his energy systems.

So these are the 4 different kinds of mandala that the Vase Initiation can be given from.

Now, just to list the other type of Mandalas that initiations are given from:

• the Vase Initiation we just saw.

• the Secret Initiation is given from what's called the Mandala of relative Bodhicitta, which would be the round symbol of a heart expanding on the relative level so it's actually not a building but something else.

Wisdom Initiation is given from the round symbol of a womb.

Fourth Initiation is given from the round symbol of ultimate Bodhicitta or the heart that's expanding to understand the ultimate.

In KALACHAKRA things are slightly different. Here, in the root text of Kalachakra, particularly coming out of one of the commentaries by Naropa – a great Master of India - it says that the Kalachakra Initiation which here is referring to the "7 of entering like a child" should only be given from a powdered Mandala. Because we had the 4 possibilities: cloth, powder, body and concentration mandala. So he said it should only be given from a powdered Mandala, except in some rare cases where for some special disciples, who have abandoned everything and just live in caves, and who don't have the material means to get any sort of Mandala – then it can be given from a concentration Mandala. This is followed by the Gelugpas, and by some of the Sakyas (Buton mainly) and that's it. In the Kagyu Tradition and in some of the other Sakya Traditions that are mostly practiced today – they don't follow Naropa's commentary on this and they also give it from a cloth Mandala.

I explain this so you won't get confused.

His Holiness follows the tradition of his monastery, the Namgyal monastery, which follows the Gelugpa tradition – and according to that tradition following Naropa – it’s always given from a powdered Mandala - so that's why all the monks are coming over from India and why they have these elaborate rituals and ceremonies beforehand for many many days for actually constructing the powdered Mandala which we'll all be able to see at the end of the Initiation. So they make the powdered Mandala, set it up with a lot of rituals and then after the Initiation is finished then they collect back together all the powdered sand – which clearly demonstrates the impermanence to all of us – and then they make an offering of this powdered sand with another ritual into a body of fresh water. So usually it will be put into a stream or into a lake.

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