«Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation. By Alexander Berzin at Maitreya Institute, Maasbommel, Netherlands on 26 - 28th of April 1985 Why ...»
If you imagine that His Holiness is standing in the middle of Holland and we are in Germany, looking at His Holiness. So East is in front of His Holiness and in front of us. In other words His Holiness is looking out towards Germany, from Holland, so He is facing the East, the East is in front of him. And when we are looking towards His Holiness – from Germany towards Holland – what’s being called the East, His Holiness's East is in front of us. So that's the eastern gateway where we are. And when they talk about the northern gateway and the southern gateway and the western gateway, relative to Holland the North is the North Sea, the South is France and the West is England.
Some of the unique features of the Initiation are that, you know in a lot of initiations they call forth little mandalas, little palaces with lots of deities in them and then the initiation is given by these little deities and these little palaces up in the sky.
In Kalachakra it's not done like that, but rather the initiations are actually given by the deities in the actual big Palace itself So when it says that different deities will emanate replicas of themselves and they dissolve into us – it's the actual figures in the big Palace that are doing that. It's the upper-storey deities are emanating out into us, not those of the lower stories.
In the general Anuttarayoga Tantra everything takes place in the Eastern doorway. In Kalachakra it's not like that. First of all we're going to come in to the Mandala – we'll be given blindfolds in the beginning, so you imagine that you can't see everything; eventually the blindfolds are removed and we're able to see everything. We are going to be asked to circumambulate the building – to walk around it on the inside – that's all on the ground floor. Then in other initiations you always stay on the front door – in the Eastern gateway. Here, different initiations are going to be given in different gateways, so we are going to be moving around. We are going to move around and face Kalachakra. Kalachakra has 4 faces. We receive the Initiation from the different faces it means that we're facing one of the different faces and his faces are the same colours as the directions around and also it's the same colour as the colours of the sides of Mount Meru. There is a parallel as well.
We are going to be in the different doorways and generated into different forms which will basically be the same colour as the face that we're facing. So we are going to be moving around. It will always be the doorways on the ground floor.
The direction colours here where the Dhyani Buddhas are placed, is going to be different from our usual Anuttarayoga. You shouldn't get confused and just keep in mind this line about symmetry. It's not necessary that at all times and in all systems Vajrasattva for example be white – and on face and 2 arms. He is not. Here he is blue, has 3 faces and 6 arms. Or that Vajrapani always has to be blue. Here he is green, Guhyasamaja is yellow, it could be any sort of different colour and thing.
So don't grasp at it that it has always to be the same colour and in the same direction. The emphasis in the Kalachakra is always on the 6 elements – the elements of the body, with atoms, all this sort of approach. So the colours of the directions are 'basically being determined by the elements.
So that's going to be the general colour of the deities in each of these directions.
You don't get Akshobhya and Vajrasattva as deities standing separately, because they're dissolved in to the body of the main deity, but in any case, Akshobhya is green, and is on top of the mandala. He is associated with the element space. He's not actually there, but his family is green. So at different times of the Initiation we are going to be transformed into various deities and things and you'll hear the names of these different deities and don't be surprised if the colours are different.
As I was saying there are 722 deities in this Palace. His Holiness will introduce us to where they are in general. If you just have this general idea that most of them are on these ledges and in the doorways, in the veranda and on the lotus and then if we up on Mount Meru then there's a whole bunch of them down at the bottom, outside, that's enough. The deities are basically in clusters or groups.
So the main point in the Initiation is the motivation. You’re going there basically to apply it to your own lives, you have some determination to be free from you problems, you're not doing it not just for yourself, but for everybody else as well, you're doing it with some understanding of reality, of what's going on there and some basic understanding of what the tantric method is and what specifically is involved with Kalachakra that makes it such a special system. It's so special because it's so extensive. It covers all these other aspects: astrology, astronomy, the energy-systems, how to make various medicines and this type of stuff. It's also a special type of method, because, here, we're generating the body of a Buddha as a devoid form which is going to be a reflection of our clear light mind. We're going to deal with an awareness, which is a special type, called the unchanging blissful awareness, which is based on making the energy drops in our body very stable – working with them. It's a very special type of system and so when you actually receive the empowerment, what it does it link you and connects you to the lineage, so you sort of plug into this whole line that has come down from the Buddha. It gives you confidence that what you're doing is something that has been tested over time so that it's not just something crazy in your head and you have a great deal of this quality of it being alive, by actually receiving it from a great Master like His Holiness, who is the living embodiment of what we're trying to do. For an initiation certainly, it's very important that the Master who gives the initiation be a fully qualified Master. When it's His Holiness the Dalai Lama you can be extremely confident that he is certainly the most qualified of any Master that we have living in these times now. So we're very fortunate to be able to have this opportunity to receive something from His Holiness himself.
During the initiations you shouldn't view things as being ordinary, but you should view things as being pure and special in terms of the Teacher and ourselves, the place and everybody around us. One thing that comes up in the Initiation and that sometimes is a little bit difficult to relate to is they'll say that "Now having the Vase touched to the top of your head, you get a feeling of voidness and bliss". It's going to be said after each Initiation. As I was saying the Initiation purifies a certain type of stain. So we're working with purifying either the elements, or the aggregates or the energy winds, or the channels or whatever. It plants a seed in terms of both the conscious experience and an actual seed that will ripen later. The conscious 49 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation experience is this experience of voidness and bliss. It was saying, when it talks about inseparable voidness and bliss, what it means is a blissful awareness that is aware of voidness. So inseparable voidness and bliss is a blissful awareness of voidness.
In one of the commentaries that explains about this, it says you shouldn't worry about the fact that during the Initiation you most likely will not get an experience of voidness and bliss. It says that what you should do is try to at least generate a feeling of happiness. This is something that we can do. Feel happy. And in the state of feeling happy, think about reality or voidness. You know, this is devoid of whatever type of fantasized trips. I might be projecting on it. That this is all in terms of dependent arising, parts and labels, things like that and it's not something solid an concrete, existing out there. So just try to feel happy and in a happy state of mind try to see the reality of what's going on. And they say that this then will act as a seed, a conscious experience of a seed that will grow into having more and more this experience of really blissful awareness, really intensely being aware of voidness in its totality. So that's what it means when it says it's a conscious experience: you just have some sort of feeling of happiness, some sort of idea of reality. It's important to have an understanding of what's going on in the initiation and not just be there, and sort of sit there arid not have any idea.
Serkong Rinpoche had used an example for this. He has said that we shouldn't be like an owl. Once there was an owl and a person asked the owl: "Why is your head so flat". And the owl said: Because I've been hit on the top of my head with a vase during the initiation so many times, that my head is flat". Then the person asked: "Why don't you have any ears". And the owl said: "I don't have any ears because I never understood anything that was going on". So try to participate in the initiation to the best of your ability. If you feel you're willing to take on the vows and the guidelines – Bodhisattva vows – tantric vows etc. then participate as best as you can. If you feel that you're not ready then, as His Holiness says, just be a neutral observer and just watch. If you have some understanding of what's going on and some appreciation for it then you can at least get some sort of aspiration, "Well I'm not ready now, maybe, but it's worthwhile what these people are doing and maybe in the future I'll be able to get involved with this."
In that way when they say: "You can go and just get the blessing of the Initiation". "Blessing" is a type of word that is no so easy to get a feeling for what that is. The Tibetan, word that it's translating is more sort of "inspiration", that you'll find it very inspiring experience and it will make a certain impression on you. The more that you understand, the more that you have some appreciation for what's going on – the deeper an impression it will make and it can be a very positive experience.
50 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation