«Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation. By Alexander Berzin at Maitreya Institute, Maasbommel, Netherlands on 26 - 28th of April 1985 Why ...»
There is also a whole system of meditation which is extremely extensive. You get 722 deities in the Kalachakra World System, or Mandala, which doesn't take the record having the most deities -there are some more – in some other tantras, but it is pretty extensive. What you are doing is basically transforming and purifying all the different elements that change into the external and internal universes. For example you have 360 days in the lunar year, so you get 360 deities for each of the days and these correlate to our 360 bones in our body and 360 joints. So you get 360 deities that also will correlate to that.
In fact you even get that in terms of the parts of the body of the main figure. (Vide the picture of Kalachakra).
This deity has 24 arms, each of the arms has a hand and each of the hands has 5 fingers. Each finger has 3 joints. If you multiply that out and add it up it comes to 360 in all different colours and that as well correlates with 360 days, the 360 bones and 360 deities and now 360 parts of his fingers. In this way you get a whole system in which you are making parallels on many many different levels to start to work with the cyclic energy that we have both externally and internally.
You also get all the constellations in the heavens turned into deities, the signs of the zodiac, the planets and all these different things are laid all around you in this rather fantastic world system What we are trying to do here is almost like a mental judo or martial art. You know in martial art you have some energies going in a certain direction and if you want to deal with that energy you have to go In the same direction as that energy but flip it to your own advantage so likewise you do a similar type of thing here mentally in terms of the universe going in a certain energy of the cycles of time. Internally our body is also going through these cycles of time and what we want to do is going in a system that's similar to that, but flip it, so that in fact we're in control of that system. It deals with that type of method.
I suppose that another really incredible feature of Kalachakra Is that it's called the "clear tantra". All the other tantras are considered to be obscure or hidden because the teachings in them are presented in a very obscure way. A lot of things that we might want to be more clear are a sort of under the surface and presented in a very puzzling way, in the other tantra.
Whereas Kalachakra presents things in a very clear manner and explains what is going on so that we can understand it more clearly. For example you get things, as in the other tantras, the presentation that as you centralize your energies and the 3 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation mind gets more and more subtle; you're able to manifest the more subtle levels of mind that various appearances occur.
Appearances like things being like a mirage or smoke, white and red appearances, all these sorts of things. In the other tantras it is sort of presented and that's it.
Whereas in Kalachakra it starts actually to explain what is the nature of these appearances and where it's coming from and what actually is going on. So in that way a lot of things are presented in a very clear manner. So it is extremely helpful for all our other studies, to be able to get these explanations from Kalachakra.
Building up the correct motivation
Why do we actually want to get involved with Kalachakra? There are many different reasons that might come to our minds and if we are going because it's something which is very high and something which is so special then that really isn't a very stable type of reason for going. Because in fact we could have the same type of motivation for going to a big rock concert or any type of festival, because it's something so exciting so rare and so interesting. In fact there are many different things that we can think of in terms of why we might want to go.
As all the lamas always say: "Everybody wants to be happy and nobody wants to be unhappy or have problems". And that's very true. We can look at our lives and although we might want very much to be happy, we find very often that our lives don't seem to have much meaning to them etc. and we just have the same type of routine, each day. That is something that is very difficult to live with really, we find our lives just very boring, without any real purpose or direction in it. But we look around and if you ask yourselves, well does this really have to be the case, does everybody have some sort of meaningless life?" That is not true; we can look at some individuals as well in the past as in the present, among the great spiritual masters, who have been able to clear their minds out of all sorts of disturbing attitudes, clear all the cobwebs away and were able to see things the way they really are. They've become very clear, they have cleared out all the garbage from their heads. And they have also been able to evolve themselves so that they have realized the fullest potentials of a human being. We can see living examples of this - I suppose the most outstanding one is His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
We are very fortunate because the people who have done this, I mean the significance what a Buddha is, a Buddha is someone, who has cleared himself (herself) out of all their shortcomings and evolved themselves fully, so they have realized their fullest potentials. We are very fortunate because the people who have done this in the past have been very kind. They have left all the instructions of how actually to do it ourselves. That's very good, that makes things a great relief. We don't have to discover and figure out all these things ourselves. In fact people have gone before us, have gone on a spiritual path and have actually been able to reach success in it. They haven given us all the various preventive measures that we can take in terms of avoiding the pitfalls, avoiding the difficulties that might come up, and how to get out of our problems and how to develop ourselves as human beings. Because if you ask: "What is dharma about; what are the teachings about?" It's really about how to become a better person and how to improve ourselves.
These Buddhas who have become clear and evolved, they have taught us the ways and they have actually achieved the end of the spiritual path and there are also a lot of people who are likewise engaged in this type of spiritual journey. They offer us a kind of direction that we put in our lives. In fact we can become just like they are. They indicate to us what direction we can take, in other words a direction of working to become like them, to improve ourselves and this is something which will save us very much from having a meaningless life that goes nowhere, because no matter what type of lives we lead, we can always work on ourselves to become better people, to be able to deal with our families better, to be able to have more meaningful relationships with our friends etc. So there is this safe and sound direction we can take in our lives and that's what refuge is all about: putting a safe direction in our lives.
If we just follow a worldly direction of trying to gain more and more material things, get more books, records, televisions and cars and things like that, is something which really has no end. We never have enough and it just goes on and on and on. The way that it actually ends is that we going to have to die at some point and if our life has always been in terms of a material direction then when it comes to an end, we are going to be quite miserable, because we are going to have to leave behind all the things we have worked so hard to accumulate and that is going to cause us a lot of trouble when we have to leave.
But if, on the other hand, we've been following some sort of spiritual direction in our lives then this is something which does have an end. It is not something that goes on and on endlessly, but you are actually working for a goal, and the goal is something which is to realize our fullest potentials as human beings. It does present an actual goal which is possible to achieve and when the spiritual direction, spiritual pursuit comes to its end, it ends in a state of happiness. In other words when you've actually reached your fullest potentials then in fact you've reached the highest happiness, that we can achieve.
4 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation What we really need, as His Holiness always says, is a combination in our lives of both material and spiritual things, because after all we are human beings, we need to eat, we need to live so it is necessary to follow some material pursuit in life, but not to have that as our main focus, but to enrich also our lives with some spiritual direction as well. And to think in terms of benefiting ourselves in the future. It is possible that we can actually become clear minded and fully evolved, because we all have the factors and the causes within us that will allow us to do that. We are not just like a piece of stone or something like that. We have a mindstream and our mind is clear. No matter how sleepy we might be or no matter how depressed, excited or whatever, still our minds are things that reflect what is around us. Because it has the quality to reflect what is around us, it has the infinite possibility of opening up, and being able to reflect, and to see all of reality clearly.
There are many different factors within each of us, which will allow us to reach our fullest potentials. That's something which is really encouraging. What we have to do then is basically follow cause and effect. This is as you know the basic idea that you have in the whole Buddhist path, to follow a very reasonable type of thing. One of my teachers said: "If you follow fantasy types of method then you get fantasy types of result. If you follow realistic matters, you will get realistic results". That is really very true.
The realistic way to go about improving ourselves is to work in terms of cause and effect. That we see some result that we want to achieve and then you try to see what are the causes which will bring that about, and once we figure that out. We don't have to figure it out too much, because in fact the great masters of the past have been very kind to help us in that respect. Then we can see if we work on accumulating these causes, then we can get the results ourselves.
The main thing, I suppose, is to have a very strong determination to be free of our problems. We all have various types of problems that face us, no matter how wealthy we might be, how many friends we might have or what type of situation we live in. We find that everybody has some sort of problem or another no matter what type of level it might be and everybody's problems hurt. If you want to ever do something about your problems, first you have to have a strong feeling of disgust: "I don’t want to stay in these problems, I don't want to stay in this unsatisfactory situation. I want to develop a strong determination and to break out of it and be free". This is what the word "renunciation" means. It is a determination to be free. "Renunciation" is a bad English choice of words, because it doesn't really mean to give up everything and go live in a cave. What we are talking about is the determination to get out of your problems. If you have that type of determination then going to Kalachakra is something which can be meaningful. Because you are not going to just for entertainment or a big show, you are not going because it's something so high so that you can tell it to your friends. But if you have the strong determination to be free of your problems then you'll go there with the idea: "Here is an opportunity to actually meet with, some type of system of practice and meditation, which I can apply to my own life. I can apply in terms of using it to overcome my different problems". Kalachakra is something which is an extremely practical system.
I think a lot of people have the mistaken idea that Kalachakra is something that's so advanced and so complicated that we can't really relate to it and all we do is sort of go like, you know, get the blessing and that's it. I think that's a big mistake, that we are really short-changing ourselves and not getting the full benefit. In fact it is a very practical system and something which is accessible and can be used in our lives to help us with our different problems. So first of all we need a strong determination to be free.
Then, in order to get free, the teachings basically talk about how we have different things that cause our problems, we all have sorts of disturbing attitudes and all types of impulsive behaviour. That's really what karma is all about, it is impulsive behaviour. Sometimes, I think we all have experienced it, we have some sort of relation with our wife, husband, partner or whoever. We get into a relationship and we know if we start to really nag the other person and when we always say: "You should do this, you should do that", all these types of things, the other person really doesn't like that and the relationship gets very difficult. We know that, but yet, impulsively, you know, our partner walks in and we say: "You shouldn't have done that, you do this, you do that, you wash the dishes, do this, do that". We have no control over it. It is a sort of compulsive thing that comes up. This is really what karma is talking about.
We have built up certain habits from actions in the past and it causes impulses to come up in our mind to do various things, to act in a certain way, to speak in a certain way. It becomes very difficult because in fact we find it hard to break out of these uncontrollably recurring patterns and problems that we create for ourselves. That's what samsara is all about. It's uncontrollably recurring situations and difficulties or problems; that we're again into one sort of relationship, and that relationship doesn't go very well; we have a lot of problems. So we break up, then we go out and find another girlfriend or boyfriend and again the same problems come up. Again impulsively we say the same type of things and we feel the same type of disturbing attitudes, of either being very attached or always getting angry or feeling jealousy, these type of things.
This causes us a lot of pain and difficulty.