«Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation. By Alexander Berzin at Maitreya Institute, Maasbommel, Netherlands on 26 - 28th of April 1985 Why ...»
You're dealing here with your heart; the formula which is usually recited, "May I reach enlightenment to be able to benefit all sentient beings", again His Holiness says: "if you look at it that way, "May I reach enlightenment" and reach your full potential to be able to help everybody, that the emphasis here in thinking in that way is on enlightenment. In other words: "I want to become a Buddha". Why? Because it's so great, so high and you know I want to get the highest. Why should I settle for second best? And then there is that little phrase that comes afterwards: "for the sake of all sentient beings", which is, well, OK. That’s secondary. And afterwards we deal with everybody else, but let's become a Buddha, because that's the greatest. His Holiness said: "That's quite wrong to think in that way, in fact it should be exactly the other way around. The main emphasis that you want is to be able to help everybody. That's your main thought and secondarily is, "Well, I really have to get it together and become a Buddha if I am really going to be able to help everybody. So what you have to do is to expand your heart out to all others and also expand your heart out to achieving your fullest potential and becoming enlightened.
That's what is going to cut through all this haziness and unawareness that we have of what's going on with people and what's going on with ourselves.
So when we go to Kalachakra it is an opportunity not only to come across a system which is going to be able to help us with our lives, with our own problems, because we have a very strong determination that we have to do something about our lives and actually improve them, but also it’s an opportunity to come across a system in which we are going to be able to reach a state where we can help everybody as well. So it's important to go with an attitude of, well, this is for everybody and I am going to be able to be more effective in my dealings with other people, then it becomes a more meaningful event.
You're going almost like a representative of your family or of whatever group you're involved with. "I'm going because I want to be a better person, because I have to deal with all these people and if I can improve myself and bring about more peace in my own mind, energies etc. then I am going to be able to be of much better influence on everybody around me".
So go with what His Holiness calls; a little bit of universal responsibility for others. Then it's also important to have some idea of reality, of what's going on, because likewise we can go to an event like this and make a big thing out of it, and you know, we have very strange results from that.
Our tendency is to always to go with a black crayon (felt tip pen) in our hand and everything we meet we put a nice black line around it and we make it into a thing: "I have gone to Kalachakra" (big black line around it, Kalachakra). "I am so great". "I was there and I have my little Kalachakra badge that I can walk around and show people and you were not at Kalachakra but I was at Kalachakra, I am so high, you're so low". We get all these disturbing attitudes and reactions, based on having made a thing out of this event that we went to. This is what we do with all the different things we meet.
Let's say you have a certain problem or hang-up in your life, let's say there's a problem in your family and again we have this black felt tip pen and we put a big line around it: "We have a problem”, we really have a problem and this problem with this black line around it almost takes on a life of it's own, from it's own side; there it is this problem, sitting there, big black ugly thing. Then we all have these things about: "Oh I am so depressed because we have a problem. Or: he or she isn't dealing very well in school because there's a problem in the family". You make a big thing out of it, rather than seeing 8 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation that the whole situation is very fluid, that there are many causes, which are influencing the situation, many different factors and people who are involved and everything is changing. And because everything is changing you don't have this big, concrete black line around the situation, making it a problem from its own side, it's just standing there.
The same thing is going to be true in terms of how we are going to approach our spiritual development. It is necessary to not put this black line around whatever problems we might ourselves have, not to put the black crayon-line around the goal that we might want to attain, which then immediately puts it off in a distance and impossible to attain: "There is enlightenment over there". You know how people get into a relationship with a partner and all of a sudden there's this thing called: "our relationship" (big black line around it) and how many hours are spent talking about "our relationship" and how you're relating to "our relationship". You don't take me and our relationship seriously enough". This is a big thing and we even talk about it as a big thing. Again that's just our mind putting a black line around it and making it into something and creating all sorts of problems because it almost takes on a life of its own out there – "our relationship".
Likewise, it's the same thing: "My spiritual quest, my spiritual journey, my meditation. Don't play the music on the record player because I am doing "my meditation” (black line around it). So if we're going to get any type of progress in these meditations and systems it's very important to have some sort of feeling for reality, otherwise we go to an initiation like this, we put a line around it: "This is a far out thing”. And you sort of sit there and go "wow". And you don't really get involved, because it's something out there. Or: "This is so high and complicated, I can't possibly understand it". Immediately we condemn ourselves to not being able to understand. We put a line around it and there it is, out there. This event is going on and we might as well be watching it on TV. It makes a big obstacle for ourselves if we don't really see how everything is interdependent and made up of a lot of different parts that are flowing and changing.
So, if we go to the initiation with these type of attitudes, of first of all taking our own life seriously and that we are going to actually go here to come upon a system that's going to help us with our personal lives – His Holiness takes each of us seriously – so we should take ourselves seriously. And our going to the initiation is something serious. If you just go as a game, that's all you're going to get, a game. If we have that type of attitude and we also have an attitude that we're going to do this is not only in terms of relating it to our own lives, because we have to deal with our own problems, but also realizing that our lives are interconnected with everybody else, that we have to deal with everybody's problems, so here's a great opportunity to get into some system that's going to be helpful for that and if we go to it with an idea of the reality what's going on and also here's a system that is to be able to teach us to see reality more quickly and more easily, then it will be much more meaningful and beneficial than just going to it for a show or just to get some blessings.
The next thing that is very very important for being able to appreciate and get more of the initiation is to have some feeling for what tantra is and what the tantric methods are, because after all this is what we're getting involved with here. We'll try to discuss "What is tantra". "What are the special features of tantra and what makes it such a quick path". Then of course we get into the discussion what a mantra is and these deities, why there are so many arms, what's going on here and does this have any practical use to my life or is it just some sort of exotic Tibetan thing that really is just too weird to take seriously. Because we'll find that in fact these things are very special and very usable and have a very down to earth type of explanation of what's going on.
If we go to the initiation with the idea that here's an opportunity to develop ourselves further so that in fact we can be of benefit for everyone around us, not just ourselves, then again it becomes a much more meaningful experience. It's like if you're a mother and you have some difficulty with yourself, some sort of physical problem, some sort of difficulty facing your life, if you're just thinking in terms of yourself then you may have a certain level of interest in terms of getting rid of the particular type of problem you have. Let's say you have a cold, a fever and if there's nobody around you then you might have a strong wish to get better, but if you have a whole group of children and your children are much demanding your help and need your help with them then your wish to get over your cold and your fever quickly is again so much stronger, because the people around you need you very much. So the same thing is true in general in terms of going to something like this initiation, if we're thinking just for ourselves to help our own problems, then we have a certain level of energy and interest in applying this through our lives, but if we think in terms of all our children and all the people around us who need our help, then the wish to apply this to ourselves is going to be much stronger.
Likewise, if we go to this Initiation with some idea of the reality involved, the reality of ourselves, the reality of what type of process we are going to use in our spiritual path and likewise it's going to make much more sense and we are going to approach it with a much more realistic attitude – remember the words of Geshe Ngawang Dargey: "Practical approach gives practical results". It is really very important that everything we do in terms of our spiritual path should be aimed at being practical and down to earth. Because only then it's really going to make sense to us also in terms of our lives with other people. If we have some idea of the reality that's involved and the reality again is one in which we tend to project all sort of fantasized ways in which we imagine things to exist (remember the big black line). It seems that things exist by themselves, 9 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation these big events and then we have all sorts of strange attitudes that we develop in terms of it. For example feeling pride that we went to Kalachakra and the other people didn't. You know, or "now we are involved in such big holy things, now we are so holy and great that this is a system of meditation that only these high lamas can do and we can't do. All these things are based on making a concrete thing, out of the process rather then thinking in terms of there are many different variables involved, many different factors, causes, likewise in our own lives we are going through different stages. There are many different ways that we can apply it, and approach the whole practice. If we have these type of attitude we get much more out of it. If we think it is something distant and strange, even though we might not have the wish to be involved with it, because we're determined to be free of our problems and even though we might have a stronger wish to apply it because we think in terms of everybody else around us, still if we think of it in terms of being a concrete, strange thing off in a distance that we can't actually relate to, again we are not going "to get terribly much benefit from it. But if we see how everything is open and it's a matter of how we apply ourselves then again it's going to be much more meaningful, because we'll see that we can actually get into it.
These are some of the general approaches we use in general, let's say in the sutra methods (Sutra means themes of practice).
The Buddha taught various themes of ways that we can work on ourselves to become better and better persons. We can work ourselves to clear our minds of all it's limitations, our body and speech as well and how we can become totally evolved and reach the highest potential that is possible.
The basic process that is used here is to have first of all what's called "Bodhicitta". Bodhicitta is an expanding heart – we want to expand our hearts out to all others and to reach enlightenment, reach our fullest potential in order to be able to help everybody. This is our general method. Then we want to develop the wisdom or awareness with which we can actually see reality. Reality is discussed in terms of "voidness" and another way of translating voidness is as "a total absence". It is an absence of fantasized ways of existing, in other words, we have many many different levels of how we might fantasize that things exist. Like if you take a spider on the wall, a spider is just an animal that is standing on the wall there and maybe waiting for some insect or flies to come along so he can eat it, he is hungry and is hanging out there on the wall. When we look at it, instead of just seeing it as a small creature that is trying to have something to eat, we project on to it a whole way of existing. We think: "This horrible thing". If it got on us, we just wouldn't know how to handle it, it becomes a very frightening object to us. What we have to see that there is an absence of that fantasized way that we imagine it to exist. It doesn't exist like that at all. So taking that as a basic simple type of example – there are many many more subtle ways in which we project all sorts of weird thing on to how in fact things exist.