«Explanation of the Kalachakra initiation. By Alexander Berzin at Maitreya Institute, Maasbommel, Netherlands on 26 - 28th of April 1985 Why ...»
These syllables have a certain quality about them. One thing is, that, just as that self-image of, let's say, Avalokitesvara, that you have compassion and warmth, is something that keeps your mind much more focused on that feeling, likewise the mantra as well keep you mindful of the feeling that is associated with it. And then likewise the sound quality itself has a certain vibration I mean we talk about vibration – a clear vibration, a lively vibration and even in western science we talk about different types of brain-waves etc., so you're actually generating some sort of verbal vibration around you. So these mantras are very useful. Because if your mind is going to be chattering all day anyway, your might as well have it say something which is going to keep you mindful of having a certain feeling, an image about yourself and is also going to generate, rather than static and all sorts of crazy vibrations around you, to generate something which is very calm and very clear.
"Flipping" – I'm just using that as an example for how in the martial arts, for a person who is coming at you, instead of smacking him, you let him go in that energy, you flip him, but cause him to fall over himself. That's the general method that is used in the Oriental Martial Arts. So likewise you can do that in terms of yourself, in terms of your own mental energy or verbal energy. If it's already going in a certain direction, let's say, if you try to stop your mind from constantly talking and verbalizing things – for some people that might work. But for an awful lot of us we might feel very very frustrated and very difficult, to stop that energy. Rather then stop it, use it, but flip it into a constructive use of verbal energy. That's a sort of method that you're using in tantra. If the horse is running, rather then shut the horse up in a barn, ride it! Let it run, but take your control of how it's going. So this we do with our imagination, and we do with the verbal energy that we have in our minds. We do this with the process of always having some sort of self-image of ourselves and the whole process that we have of always projecting things onto other people and the environment. We are doing it anyway. It's raining outside; what are we projecting on to? "Uh, it's raining outside, horrible, how grey, how dull, how depressing" It is a simple fact: it's just raining, so what? It rains sometimes. You can project something more positive onto it as well – "Oh, isn't it good for the fields, isn't it good for the flowers?" That's about mantras.
Now, there are various different types of these figures then and it's not really correct to think of them simply as archetypes and abstract things, because some of them were actually historical figures. So you have for example TARA – who was actually some woman, who at one point said "I am going to pray to be always reborn as a woman and achieve enlightenment in the form of a woman." Some of them actually are historical figures as well as being a certain type of archetype and others are actual forms that the Buddha manifested himself in, in order to actually give a certain teaching.
Like the Buddha manifested himself in the form of this Kalachakra deity when he taught Kalachakra.
So when you think in terms of what a Buddha is actually doing. A Buddha will emanate himself or herself in forms that are going to be useful to other people. I mean, he's not doing it for his own pleasure and then the Buddha likewise isn't going to emanate himself in the form of something that doesn't exist. He is not going to emanate himself in the form of the child of a barren woman (a woman who can't have any children). I mean, obviously, he is not going to manifest himself in the form of a child of a woman who can't have any children, it doesn't exist. So he manifests in forms that do exist in terms of various images that either have some historical model or the Buddha himself manifested himself in that form, which are going to be useful for people to develop themselves and develop the qualities that this stands for. It is possible that there will be different forms of these deities which will appear in the future. Because in the past there have been new forms that have appeared.
20 Explanation of the Kalachakra Initiation These things are things that should be kept very hidden and private, these types of practices of these deities. The reason for that is that, really you're dealing with yourself, with your self-image etc., so it's something very private and if you start telling people that: "Oh I am thinking that I have 4, faces and 24 arms, they may lock you up or they start to laugh at you and make fun and that takes everything out of it, takes all the power out of it. So it's very important not to tell everybody what you are doing, but to keep it very private to yourself. At times when some of these practices have become too public and too spread out like that, so that people are making fun of it, then, at that time different images, different practices came about, either through revelation or whatever, something that had a little bit more power to it.
So it is possible, as His Holiness has said, that there will be future developments which will come, but this has to be something which is made valid, in other words it's not just somebody sitting in the bathroom, and saying, "Eureka, I have a vision of something", and there it is, a new practice. But rather it should be the vision of somebody who is a very highly realized practitioner and which can be validated by other highly realized beings. And then it is possible there will be future ones. It's not something that is absolutely fixed. The point is to have some idea of what these figures are – that they are useful in terms of a self-image and useful in terms of a system for being able to be aware of many different levels of symbolism what it all stands for this is our first point about tantra in general. It is much speedier then sutra, because you're dealing with a system of practice that is closer in analogy to the result of what you want to attain. You imagine yourself in the form of a deity, the way that a Buddha is. A Buddha can manifest in all these different forms according what's going to be useful. So we imagine now that we have the ability to manifest in all these different forms, according what's going to be useful. So we imagine now that we have an ability to manifest these different forms. To do all the things that a Buddha can do and to be in the environment that a Buddha is in, to be able to relate to people and relate to objects and enjoy things the way that a Buddha is. That is in terms of the verbal energy – mantras – and in terms of the image of ourselves as deities.
The second point is about the closer union of METHOD AND WISOM or method and awareness of reality.
In sutra, our method is that we want to have Bodhicitta – a heart that's expanding out to all others and to omniscience -the state of realizing our fullest potentials. This is what is basically going to bring us our body of a Buddha, primarily, and what is going to bring us the mind of a Buddha – although as I said, you need both for both – is our wisdom which is aimed at the ultimate reality of things. Now, except for a Buddha, you can't have the two of these together at the same time in one mind. We are thinking first of all on a method level, that our heart is expanding out to everybody and to our fullest potential and our mind is aimed at the ultimate reality. So it's only in the case of a Buddha that you can have these two absolutely together.
But look at the result. The result that we want to do is to be able to have both the body and the mind of a Buddha together, in one package. The term that's often used is that you want to have these two things be "one by nature". That's also a difficult term to relate to. Actually what it's talking about is to have two things together in one package that it always comes together. So the body and the mind of a Buddha always comes together in one package. You can't just get the mind of a Buddha without also getting the body. You can't just get the body without the mind. The two come together in one package. If the result is going to come in one package then what we want to do is practice the causes for this result, which also, if we practice the causes for two things that come in one package, we practice causes that are also in the same package, which brings us closer to the result.
In sutra, the causes are not coming together in one package. The causes for the body is a mind that's aimed at expanding to the whole relative level and the cause for the mind is aimed at the ultimate level. So that's why it says you can only have one within the context of the other or one helped by the other. In other words, we can expand our hearts out within the context of being aware of reality, but we can't really do that exactly at the same time of both – be aware of reality and expand out to everybody and the same thing the other way around. So in sutra, if method is aimed at the relative level and the wisdom is aimed at the ultimate level, in tantra you just deal with the ultimate level. By just dealing with the mind that's dealing with the ultimate level, you're able to bring method and wisdom together, more closer.
How does this works? The way that it works is that the focus or the aim of your mind in tantra is that you aim at the body of a deity and the way that you're taking that object is that you're understanding its voidness, its lack of fantasized ways of existing.
Here, what you're doing is, when you're focused on voidness – this absence of fantasized ways of existing, let's say the absence of something having a black line around, something all on its own. That is aimed at something. What exists that way? What exist that way is going to be the body of the deity that we are imagining that we are. Our mind is dealing with the voidness of that deity. So in fact we are thinking of both: method and wisdom in one package, in one mind. Our mind is aimed at the body of the deity thinking of the reality of that deity.
So we have these 2 points now, that makes tantra special.
First is that we're using a method which is closer to the result that we want to attain. So we imagine already that we're a deity, like doing a rehearsal for what we want to achieve. The second point is that the method and the wisdom is coming together in one package. So we have ourselves as the deity (as the method) because that's how we're actually going to be able to help people and that will give us the body of a Buddha and our mind is staying aware of the reality of that deity while we're doing it.
THE BASIS OF VOIDNESSThe next point is in terms of the actual basis of voidness or reality that we're dealing – what makes the deity something so special to think about?
If we were to think in terms of the voidness of my own body – our body is something which is very hard to think about without it sort of deceptively appearing to us. IN other words: I think of my body and automatically I think: "I'm fat and ugly and nobody loves me", or "my nose is to big" or whatever, you have all sorts of deceptiveness about thinking of that body. You can think of the voidness of that body and the mind that's involved with voidness is going to be thinking on a very pure level. Voidness is going to be the same, regardless of what you're thinking the voidness of. I mean it is just an absence of a fantasized way of existing and as an absence itself, it's the same. But, the basis of that absence is going to somehow affect the mind that's thinking of it. So for example of one part of my mind is dealing with the deceptive appearance of my own body and the other part of the mind is dealing with the pure reality of that, because one part of my mind is involved with something deceptive, it makes that whole mind a little unstable.
Now, by using a deity – a deity in tantra is always generated first within a state of voidness. It says: "within a state of voidness, I arise as this deity". So you're starting already with a total absence of fantasized ways of existing and within the context of reality then you generate the deities. So already you're starting to think of reality and generating the deity within the context of that reality. So the body of the deity doesn't have this deceptive aspect to it, because you're aware from the beginning that it is devoid of existing in some fantasized way. You are just sort of generating it. Because of that, when you understand the voidness of something that you already started out by generating it out of voidness then both parts of the mind are dealing with something pure. So you're understanding of the voidness is going to be something which likewise is going to be more pure. Because it's not going to be effected by one part of your mind, dealing with the deceptive appearance. That's a subtle point.
The next thing is, if we think of the voidness of our body, our body is something which changes all the time. It's fleeting.
Sometimes we feel good, sometimes we feel bad, our body is aging etc. So every time that we try to think of the voidness of our body, the actual basis of what we're thinking about is slightly different. So because it's slightly different it's hard to get a very very stable feeling of voidness, that's the same all the time. Now, by using the body of a deity - the body of a deity is something which is called a so-called "permanent phenomenon"; so-called permanent in the sense that it lasts forever: the body of a deity doesn't grow old and it doesn't feel aches and pains, it's always the same, something that lasts forever.
So if we're thinking about the voidness of that, then we can always bring up the same image and always focus on the voidness again of the same thing. Because of that, our understanding of voidness is going to become more and more stable, because we're using a non-fleeting object, that stays forever the same. So that has a great advantage – you can always think of this form of the deity and you can always bring your mind back to the voidness of that deity and so your understanding of the reality of that deity is going to be much more stable, because that basis is always the same; it's not always changing like our moods are changing.
The final point about the basis is that, if you're thinking about your own body and the voidness of your body, that's something you can only see and think about in terms of your awareness of your eyes. It is something which is very very gross.