«Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation. By Alexander Berzin at Maitreya Institute, Maasbommel, Netherlands on 26 - 28th of April 1985 Why ...»
Another great Lama, Kalu Rinpoche-also gives Kalachakra Initiation and has given it a number of time in Europe. He follows the Kagyu Tradition of it. The Kagyu tradition of it doesn't follow Naropa's commentary on this point and so he gives it from a cloth Mandala. You shouldn't be confused, by that, it's just following a slightly different lineage and tradition. So, the seven initiations of entering like a child will be given from a powdered mandala. It is prohibited here by Naropa's commentary, that it would be given from a cloth Mandala, so it's not, or that it could be given from a body Mandala and in Kalachakra you don't have the parts of the teacher generated into parts of the building, then it couldn't be given from one, because there isn't one. Even, though, during the Initiation you will have different deities dissolving into your body, you don't have a body Mandala. It's not that the parts of the teacher are generated into deities.
Now the other initiations: the Vase, Secret, Wisdom and Fourth Initiations in Kalachakra.
The Vase Initiation which is among the higher and highest ones, is given from something which unfortunately is called, the
The Secret and the Wisdom Initiations in Kalachakra are the exact opposite of what we find in other Anuttarayoga practices.
So in other Anuttarayoga initiations the Secret one is from the relative Bodhicitta Mandala and the Wisdom is from the round symbol or Mandala of the womb; here it's the opposite way around. The Secret is given from the round symbol of the womb and the Wisdom is given from the round symbol of relative Bodhicitta, or the heart expanding to the relative.
Symmetry is stupid. The actual procedures of it are very much the same. It's just the way it's labelled.
What it says that the Initiation is being given from the powdered Mandala that doesn't mean that it's actually being given from those pieces of rock on the table. We were tailing a little bit about the teachings on voidness and the teachings on voidness are referring to how things exist by mental labelling and usually when it's put into English it says "mental labelling alone or mental labelling only". That tends to be a little bit confusing, because of where the word "only" is put. If you put the "only" by mental labelling alone or only" then that gives the connotation that it's only a mental label, everything exists in your head, and that's completely incorrect in terms of what is being explained in Buddhism. It's not saying that when things exist by mental labelling alone that doesn't mean that everything just exists in your head and that if I call the wall a door knob that makes the wall a door knob. It doesn't make it a door-knob. Or if I shut my eyes no longer exist. It's not like that.
The word "only" would go much better in the beginning of the phrase. Things can only exist in as much as they can be mentally labelled. What can you say about things? You can say that things exist as something concrete and findable. We have a bunch of flowers here and what is the bunch of flowers? Can we actually point to the bunch of flowers? The bunch flower isn't that flower or that that flower, it's not this leaf or that leaf. So we can't actually pinpoint the bunch of flowers.
What can we say about the bunch of flowers, how does it exist? The only thing that we can really say about it and here is where the word only comes in is that we have this word "bunch of flowers". This doesn't mean that the bunch of flowers is only a word. It's what the word or concept refers to on the basis of this whole conglomeration of causes and parts etc. – which is being used as the basis for labelling it. So it's almost as if you have 3 things here: the basis for labelling, the word "bunch of flowers" and what the bunch of flowers is – a sort of this nebulous, illusory -like-everything is like an illusion – what the word refers to on the basis of the basis for labelling.
So there's a bunch of flowers what is the bunch of flowers? It's not this, it's not that, it's not that. The bunch of flowers does exist of course, it does function, you can smell it etc. But all that we can say about it, the only thing is that it's what the word "bunch of flower" refers to on the basis of that.
I have a problem. What's the problem? Here's the basis, all these causes, parts, things like that. What is the problem?
What the word "problem" refers to on the basis of this whole situation. The problem itself isn't something concrete, we can actually pinpoint it with the black crayon line around it.
With the Mandala, the rock-powder on the table is the basis for labelling the Mandala. What is the actual Mandala-the world system of Kalachakra? It's the reflection of His Holiness's clear-light mind in the form of this actual 3 dimensional building, which is on the basis of the powdered rock on the table.
So what you're actually given the Initiation from is the whole 3-dimensional world system of Kalachakra, that is the reflection of His Holiness's mind and it needs something to sort of anchor it. And the anchor is the powdered Mandala. The same thing is true in terms of for example things like an inner offering.
You know, you're doing the practices and you have a little cup of tea or something on your table; it's important to have the cup of tea for the inner offering there should be some sort of anchor or basis. You're not offering this little cup of tea, that's not the point. Your visualizing and imagining this enormous thing that you're offering with all the ingredients and all the special features about it. The inner offering is what this whole concept of inner offering refers to – this incredible thing that you're imagining, on the basis of this cup of tea. You need some basis to anchor it into reality. It's important to have some physical basis. So that's what the Initiation is being given from. So when we actually go to the Initiation we should imagine that we're entering into this 3-dimensional world of Kalachakra. You should feel that you're actually doing that and that it's not just a game this is what you're entering – a very special world and you should try to see His Holiness not in his ordinary form, but to imagine that His Holiness is in the form of the deity Kalachakra. Actually, when you're a deity of a Mandala you're not just the central figure but you're the whole thing.
So in fact His Holiness is all the deities in the Mandala and the building as well. So you get a feeling that you're everything.
Now, if you think that's very strange to imagine that you're a lot of different parts and different things let's just try a very simple exercise.
46 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation Think in terms of "I am my body, my 2 arms and my 2 legs. Now try adding your fingers and your toes. It is possible to be aware of being made of many many little parts. So it's the same thing in terms of being a deity and a Mandala- you're all the different deities, you're all the different parts around you. You can be aware that you're in a room and that the room has 4 walls around you. You don't have to actually look at the walls to get the feeling that there are 4 walls around you. And how about that there's a garden, and a road outside this building? You can get a feeling for that. How about the feeling of just geography. Here we are in a place in Holland and there's Holland all around us and there's all these other countries of Europe around u as well. You can get a feeling of being in a space and this is sort of what you cultivate in terms of being inside a Mandala. That's something which is also quite helpful to sometimes be aware of where you are. Sometimes we tend to really cut off a feeling that we're actually in a house and there's the land around us and so forth and we become very narrow; sometimes it's quite refreshing to up our minds and just get a feeling of where we are on this planet or where we are in a city or in a country and that there is ground outside, a country etc.
THE ACTUAL BUILDINGNow, what does the actual building look like? We're imagining that we're entering the building – a huge Palace – His Holiness as the form of the central deity. In fact he is all the deities, but let's focus on him being the central one. We're imagining that the place around us isn't ordinary, but it is this Palace. And the people around us as well aren't in their ordinary form – imagine that everything is in a very pure form and we'll all be generated into different deities.
What does the Palace look like? The Palace is a square and it looks a little bit like a wedding cake. It's 5 stories high and each of the stories is half the size of the one underneath it. So it's becoming like a wedding cake with different layers on top that are smaller and smaller. The top of the building is 200 times our size in height. That's big.
What that means is when the Mandala measurements are given there's no absolute unit. It's in terms of what you feel comfortable of visualizing yourself as and then everything else is in proportion to that. So whatever size you're imagining yourself then 200 times that size is the height of the top of the building. So you get an idea of the proportions. That's important.
So the bottom one – the bottom storey which is on the ground floor, where we're going to enter this thing is 200 times our height long and 200 times our height wide and a 100 times our height high. So it's 200 by 200 square, and 100 high. And then each one after that is half.
When you walk into the building, the ground floor of the building is going to have first of all 4 doors: 4 big entranceways on each side. On the outside of the entrance way there's going to be a big arch. We go through the arch way and then there is like an entrance porch, on each of the four sides. Inside the building you’re going to have in the middle of the floor an enormous cube, like a big box, and this cube is going to go all the way up to the ceiling. Between the walls and this cube there is the floor and then there is a raised ledge and then goes back down to the floor again. And where all the deities are is either they're standing in the door or they're all on the ledge, that goes all the way around the cube. So the floor is in front of this ledge and also there's another piece of floor between the ledge and the cube and in that piece of floor there are stairs and the stairs go up to the top of the cube. This cube is the foundation for the next floor.
So you come in and there's a ledge in front of you with the deities standing on it: on the other side of the ledge the stairs going up this enormous cube and you get up to the top of the cube. This cube is the foundation for the next floor.
So you come in and there's a ledge in front of you with the deities standing on it on the other side of the ledge the stairs going up this enormous cube and you get up to the top of the cube which is the level with the ceiling and there's another building, exactly the same as the ground floor, except half the size. The ceiling goes over the ledge, but not all the way to the cube. If you're standing on the staircase and look up, you see the sky. There are pillars standing on the inner edge of the ledge that support the ceiling. The ceiling doesn't go beyond the pillars. The part of the floor between the ledge and the cube doesn't have a ceiling above it.
These levels are called "Body Mandala". This is again a different type of body Mandala. It's called:
You go up the stairs and you get another building. This building doesn't have arch-ways (the 4th floor). It has a veranda instead of the arch ways. The veranda has pillars on the outside and on the inside of it doesn't have any walls. There are lots of deities sitting on the veranda. This fourth floor is called the mandala of deep awareness.
Now inside the veranda in which what would be the main proper house of the 4th level is where you have an enormous large lotus on the floor – with a lot of deities standing on the petals – and in the middle of the lotus you have the main figure.
That's where you'd imagine His Holiness to be – on the 4th floor. This inside part of the fourth floor is sometimes called the great bliss mandala.
And the 5th floor is a steeple, or a pavilion on top of that inside portion where the lotus is. It's in the shape of a little pagoda.
It doesn't have a floor, but there are beams on which some people are standing. This 5th floor doesn't have a name.
You're entering into this enormous building and we're always going to stay on the ground floor and you imagine His Holiness is way up on the 4th floor. There are a lot of deities on these ledges. We can see His Holiness very clearly everything is transparent and made out of light. We're sort of down here and this is an enormous thing and His Holiness is up there. Try to get a feeling for being in a building. And remember this whole mandala is a reflection of His Holiness clear-light mind.
Some unique features of the Kalachakra.
First of all, when the initiation begins, where are we standing? You might have had some other initiations and In some other initiations the palaces are usually sitting on top of a crossed vajra which is a large cube and there are stairs going down the 4 sides and there's a sort of spokes of the vajra around it and around the stairs going up to the palace when we start the initiation. That's in other initiations, but not here in Kalachakra.
In Kalachakra you don't have this crossed vajra. So the palace is just on the flat ground, which is on top of Mount Meru (on top of a big mountain) and down below the mountain there are various elements, water and all sorts of things around us.
Basically we're just standing outside of the Eastern gateway. Let's not get confused about directions, because a lot of directions are going to be spoken about in terms of North, South, East and West.