«Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation. By Alexander Berzin at Maitreya Institute, Maasbommel, Netherlands on 26 - 28th of April 1985 Why ...»
Another way that a Buddha is able to act is in terms of stimulating everybody around him to grow. So by their presence your interest grows, your mind becomes much more clear, your heart grows much more warm and in this way they stimulate things to grow. They are also able to influence certain things to happen; they may influence you to follow a spiritual path or to become a better person. In this way they have a certain influence on you. And the 4th way is some forceful effect. Again I can think of a very clear example.
In South-India, once His Holiness the Dalai Lama was giving an initiation and I was present at that time and a very large swarm of hornets (very large bees) that give a very bad sting – hundreds of hundreds of them started to fly into the temple – you can imagine everybody in the temple became very nervous at all these bees that were coming inside and we would all get stung; His Holiness simply stopped the initiation, the ritual that he was doing. He started doing something, we couldn't tell what exactly he was doing. He sort of looked at the swarm and he started doing something inside and all of a sudden the swarm just turned around and went outside of the temple. That's something I saw with my own eyes. This is an example of how they are able to exert some forceful influence on things around them to cause danger to go away when the circumstance calls for it. So this is what we practice in tantra.
In order to actually become a Buddha, to become totally clear-minded and fully evolved, what we want to do is if we want to achieve it faster, we will follow different types of practices now that are going to be much closer to what we want to achieve. In other words we rehearse by using our imagination. The way that we rehearse is in terms of thinking that already we have the body of a Buddha and we think in terms of how the environment around us is already the way it would be when we are a Buddha, that everything will be conducive and pure and we'll also think in terms of how we will enjoy different things, how we relate to people or objects, that we'll be able to do this in a way that isn't full of confusion. We see somebody and we are not going to worry about whether they are going to like us or they don't like us, all these sort of things. But we'll be able to deal straight-forwardly with everybody and everything we need and likewise we will be able to exert an enlightening influence on everybody and everything around us, without really having to do anything consciously.
15 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation Automatically we'll have a peaceful or pacifying influence on others, we'll be very stimulating for others; we will be able to influence them in positive ways and when the situation calls for it we'll be able to also influence things in a forceful way to remove danger. If we practice now with our imagination, to be able to imagine that we can do these things then that will acts as a cause for it actually happening in reality.
You might think: "Well isn't that a lie, because I'm not really an enlightened being? We are not really able to do all these things now. So am I not using a method which is just deceiving myself?" That's not so, because here you're being very conscious about what you're doing. We were talking about the everlasting stream of the basis. (Tantra means everlasting stream) So I’ll talk about the everlasting stream of the basis, which is our own awareness and our own subtle energies, then because we can actually become enlightened, out of our subtle consciousness and our subtle energies, what we are doing is just as if we can call ourselves "I" based on where we are now, we can also think down the line in terms of our future attainments and so what we are thinking in terms of is in the future that this is something that we can attain so I am basing my feelings of this attainment now, based on what can happen in the future, which is something which really can happen based on all the factors that I have now. So it's not really a lie because I'm not really fooling myself into thinking that, "Well, really, I am already enlightened and can just go up on the roof and fly off". We realize that's not the case, but we're following this type of method consciously, because we know that in the future we can achieve this.
There's a big difference between a crazy person thinking that he is Donald Duck or Napoleon and myself thinking that I am a Buddha. What's the difference? The difference is that I know that really now I am not Napoleon or Mickey Mouse, but I can imagining myself in this form, which is certainly much better then Mickey Mouse, because I can do all sorts of things as a Buddha, but I realize that I'm only using it as a device in order to bring me to that goal more quickly. And that goal is something that definitely is possible, because I have all the factors within me – my mind-stream, my energies etc. which will allow me to achieve it. So I am thinking now that I am already there, based on what I can achieve in the future. So it's consciously using a method and not really deceiving myself. Whereas to think I am Mickey Mouse is something which is not based on any reality at all.
The next point is dealing with your self-image and in terms of your feelings, if you're in a certain mood, you can either just stay in that mood and say "Well today I feel bad and I feel very tired and depressed", and just stay there, but then you start to actually look at how we take that black crayon line and we make a black line on it and we make a thing out of it: "Today I am in a bad mood", you announce it to your family and everybody had better leave you alone and not bother you, because today "I am in a bad mood". And you almost condemn yourself into staying for the rest of the day in your bad mood. I mean you've already told everybody that you're in a bad mood so if you come out smiling then they're going to be disappointed. So you stay in your bed and feel terrible and grumpy. But if you realize that in fact what you are doing is now, even though you might feel at the moment badly, you're making that into a concrete self-image and then staying with that and not letting it just pass. So what you want to do is deal with different types of self-images which are much more positive that you can substitute at that time. "I may be feeling bad, my stomach hurts. OK that also can pass, I can feel much better". So you work with this idea of being much better rather then working with the negative image.
There are all these different deities and all of them have lots of arms and faces and this is something which a lot of western people have difficulty relating to, because they'd say that, "Well, this is some sort of Tibetan thing or Indian thing". We can't really relate to it, so, "Why don't we just throw it out the window and do something a little bit more western style".
This is really missing the point of what's involved with all these various deities because they have many different levels of purpose and meaning and symbolism for all the different parts they have.
First of all the Tibetan word for these deities is the word "Yi-dam" and a Yi-dam is a personal deity to bind our minds closely with. We shouldn't get confused by this word "God" or “Deity" and think that we are talking abut the creator God.
It's completely different.
What is being discussed is a certain type of image, being that we want to bind ourselves closely with, so that we take it like an ideal model of what we want to be. All of them have a different type of self-image that is involved with it. First of all it's really important to examine what type of self-image we have of ourselves. This is something which very often we try to hide from ourselves. If you really think, who do you think you are? What is your image of yourself? A lot of us have very negative self-images. We think for example: "I am fat and ugly and nobody loves me". Very often this self-image that we project not only onto ourselves, but we project that onto everybody around us. We assume: "Nobody loves me". You walk into a room and feel sorry for yourself and you feel that nobody is going to like you, you get very nervous and feel shy and you don't know what to say. Automatically you emanate this whole image around yourself of "In fact I'm fat and ugly and nobody loves me". Because we are involved in various types of negative self-images, likewise we create new self-images.
16 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation Let's think for a moment about what actually is my self-image. Who do I think I really am? How do I feel that I am when I go into a room? Do I think for example that I might have a self-image that I'm somebody very clumsy? I really cannot do anything, I always drop things or I can't cook a meal nicely or whatever. That might be my self-image? I may have a selfimage that I am Gods gift to this world. I'm just the most wonderful, beautiful person. Or how about that self-image of "I'm eternally young and strong"; how up-setting that is if we have that self-image and we grow old and we find that we really can't do the things that we did when we were young. We try to hide it by colouring our hair and putting on clothes that teenagers would wear, but that looks a little bit silly on an older person. Just because we have that self-image that we're young and strong. And how many of us do really feel that: "I am ugly and nobody loves me"? A very easy common selfimage.
This is really just something coming out of our imagination. To think for example "I am always clumsy and can't do anything". That's not really true. There are things I can do: "I can get up, I can walk across the room and not fall flat on my face". "I am capable of doing a lot of things". "I get up, I can get dressed". So in fact these negative self-images that we have can be very crippling and that really can bring about a lot of problems for ourselves if we really believe that we are what we think we are.
What is going on with a lot of these deities is to try to create a different, more positive, image for ourselves. Of course all these deities have on an ultimate level, their voidness, bliss and you hear all these words about what they are on an ultimate level as a reflection of an enlightened body, an enlightened mind, but on a relative level, they also represent different aspects of a fully enlightened person that we'd want to cultivate. So you have for example CHENREZIG or AVALOKITESHVARA, who is the representation of this whole feeling of compassion. Compassion – warmth – sympathy for others. A very useful self-image to cultivate, to imagine and get the feeling that: "I am a warm
person, I am somebody who has sympathy and feeling for others". If we are in a situation with people and our self-image is:
"I'm hung up, I have problems" then you are not going to help other people. But if your self-image is one of: " I'm a warm, compassionate person" and you have some self-confidence in yourself as being that kind of person then in fact you can handle a situation with other people much better.
MANJUSHRI, the self-image of clarity of mind. "I am very clear and I am able to see things correctly, the way they actually are". Also we can go into a situation in which we feel "My mind is completely scattered and can't really think". If you have to go to the bank and handle some sort of transaction or you have to do something in your work that requires you to be able to think clearly or you are in school and you have to take an examination or something like that, if you go in being very frightened and your self-image is one that thinks: "I am so nervous and I can't take this exam and I'm going to fail. My parents are going to say this to me and my friends are going to say that"; you get all caught up in this negative selfimage then in fact you are not going to do very well in the exam. But if instead you have this self-image: "Well I'm a very clear-minded person, I'm very calm and clear and I can see things with no problem, then that gives you the self-confidence to go into that examination or to do that business transaction with more clarity of mind. It's very helpful.
VAJRAPANI, the whole self-image of being competent. You have the powerful abilities to be able to do things. How often do we go into new situations in which we feel no confidence and we feel: "This is something new, I can't handle it, it's going to be so confusing", and you have no feeling of ability to do anything. But if you have this strong self-image: "I'm a competent person. I'm able to handle new and difficult situations" then again it's very helpful.
Among the more forceful deities:
YAMANTAKA, a very powerful and forceful deity and that self-image is one of: "Cut out the garbage, cut out the selfpity". Sort of BAM! Very often we just indulge ourselves with feeling sorry for ourselves or being in this mood or that kind of mood and sometimes you need something very forceful to cut through all that garbage and get yourself centred and back into a more positive frame of mind. So, to call on this self-image of Yamantaka is very useful, very practical.
TARA: Is this whole self-image of being alive, being energy. Sometimes you are in a situation in which you feel a sort of "bla", you have no energy and all the people around you as well are just a bother. But if you call on this image of Tara, the self-image of Tara is: "I'm full of energy, I'm able to give energy and life to everybody around me". It's something that helps you very much to get your energies together, to radiate your energies out to other people.
So now to deal with KALACHAKRA, Kalachakra has this whole image of being able to handle the great complexity of life. This is something which is best illustrated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Think about His Holiness and what he has to do in his life. First of all he is the head of all Buddhist traditions. He is a master of all the different meditative systems.