Fujisan's Kyareng

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Brief Introduction to Buddhism and Kalachakra Teachings





 Center: Kalachakra deity, Viswamata [Yabyum] and the Mandala

Top from the left: 1. Yab yum, Vishwamata 2, rDo rje `jigs byed, Yamantaka 3. rGyal wa rdo rje chang, Vajradhara 4. `Khor lo bde mchog, Chakrasamvara 5. gSang wa `dus pa, Guhyasamaja.

Bottom from the left: 1. Chos rgyal, Dharmaraja 2. rNam sras, Vaisravana 3. Rig ldan rgyal po

It is a common knowledge that all beings, including the small insects, desire happiness and avoid sufferings. In the process of finding true happiness, we are often confronted with sufferings. Lord Buddha taught us to contemplate on the cause of sufferings, so that we can avoid it and uproot it, and achieve eternal happiness
, Nirvana and Buddhahood.

According to the Buddhist law of causality and interdependency, what we are right now is because of our past Karma, what we will be in our next life depends on what we do in this life. Negative karma, and deeds born out of our mental delusion are the cause of our sufferings. Therefore, our mental delusion caused by – Ignorance, attachment, pride, anger and jealousy are the main cause of our sufferings.

Lord Buddha taught us the way to overcome these delusions and achieve ultimate peace in the form of enlightenment. The practice involves cultivating the three higher trainings of self-discipline, meditative concentration, and the wisdom understanding emptiness. Buddha's teaching can be interpreted, practiced and understood from two major yanas, vehicles: Hinayana and Mahayana [Tib: thegmen and thegchen].

Hinayana, the lesser vehicle is Theravada Buddhism. Here the practitioners practice to overcome the mental delusions and gain insight into the ultimate nature of emptiness to achieve Nirvana for themselves.

Mahayana, the greater vehicle, can be further divided into – Paramitayana and Vajrayana [Tib:mDo and bsNags]. In Paramitayana, the practitioners, besides practicing what the Hinayanist practice, they cultivate Boddhicitta mind to achieve Buddhahood to help all the sentient beings.

Vajrayana or Tantrayana, is esoteric form of Buddhism. Besides the Sutra practice, it involves Tantra also. The wisdom that realizes the profound emptiness is same in Paramitayana and Vajrayana, differences lie in the methods. Vajrayana adopt methods, which involves practice of deity yoga – meditating on oneself as having an aspect of similar to that of a Form body. This practice is divided into four classes - Kirya, Carya, Yoga and Anuttara Yoga.

Kalachakra teachings belong to the highest yoga tantra class of Anuttara Yoga, where the Kalachakra deity Viswamata and the mandala is meditated upon and visualized. Buddha taught the Kalachakra tantra at Shri Dhanyakataka in South India at the behest of Suchandra, the first kalkin of mystical kingdom of Shambhala. The teachings prospered in Shambhala and came back to India and spread to Tibet only around the 10th century. From the time of Dro Lotsawa, Buton Rinchen Druppa to Tsongkappa, Kalachakra empowerment was passed on from one Tibetan master to another successively, in this way we have His Holiness the Dalai Lama, one of the lineage holders to this day to give us the teachings.

Tantras are sacred secret teachings usually taught only to a few accomplished practitioners. Kalachakra teachings, although is one of the highest yoga tantra, it is given to a vast congregation of public of all spiritual caliber. According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama,

"Certainly, not everyone who attends will have a sufficient inner basis to receive the full benefits of the initiation, but it is believed that anyone attending with a positive attitude will establish and strengthen positive karmic instincts."

It is said that the merit of participating and receiving Kalachakra teachings differs from person to person according to their level of spiritual understanding and motivation. For accomplished practitioners, this is a chance to receive the full initiation to practice the tantra, for those who have fair understanding of the practice, the teachings present a good opportunity to reconfirm and invigorate their understanding. For those who don't know much about the teachings, it provides a karmic seed to receive and practice the teachings.

In all the above cases, the most important requirement to receive the teachings is the participants' altruistic motivation to benefit the sentient beings. Therefore, the motive behind receiving the teachings should be very pure and magnanimous. As for the world peace, it is to be noted that the power and blessing from the assembly of a great multitude all driven by pure altruistic motivation is bound to influence and generate a conducive force and environment to build a peaceful world without war and violence.

It can also be said that the participations in Kalachakra teachings enables the participants to pray and to sow a karmic seed to get reborn in the mystical land of Shambhala to further their practice of the teachings.


Note: The article was written to introduce Buddhism and Kalachakra teachings to the Japanese who were planning to receive His Holiness the Dalai Lama`s 31st Kalachakra teaching in Washington DC in July 2011.
1. The Practice of Kalachakra by Glenn Mullin, Snowlion Publications, 1991
2. Kalachakra Initiations by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama.com 2011
3. The Kalachakra Initiation by D.R. Prodan, 1993

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum



Om Mani Padme Hum mantra is one of the most popular Buddhist mantras recited by the Tibetans and the Buddhists along the Himalayan belts. What is the inspiration behind this mantra and what does this mantra really signifies. It is Avalokestisvara, the Buddha of compassion, mantra to help rescue all sentient beings, including oneself from the sea of Samsara. This is a general belief and understanding.

Avaloketisvara, revered in Tibet as Chenrezig [Tib: sPyan ras gzigs], is supposed to be the patron deity of Tibet. Manikabum, an ancient text attributed to the scholarship of the 7th century King Srongtsan Gampo, has the whole myth and history about the sacred relationship.

There may be various approaches to explain the meaning of the mantra at different levels. According the Manikabum text[1], it says that the recitation of the mantra helps one not to be reborn in the six realms [Tib: 'Dro ba rigs drug]. It also helps mitigate the sufferings of the beings in the six realms[2].  

Recitation of the mantra in deep contemplation with a strong motivation to relieve the sufferings of all beings is a good spiritual practice. But in our day to day life, we can recite this mantra even while taking a walk. This will help the health of our body, speech, and mind.

I remember my mother (late) telling me one should recite Mani wherever possible. She said the recitation of the mantra will calm your mind and make you mindful. She has a beautiful Tibetan lyrical stanza, which translate to something like this. Recite Mani even when you are walking, no need to worry that you will trample it; recite Mani even when you are eating, no need to worry that you will swallow it; recite Mani even while in toilet, no need to worry that it will get dirty; recite Mani even when you are sleeping, no need to worry that it will rob your sleep; and so on[3].  

Buddhists usually accumulate the recitations with a rosary of 108 beads, one circle of rosary recitation means Trengkor chig [Tib:Phreng skor gcig].

In one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings, a young girl asked His Holiness the meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum[4]. Here is the gist of what His Holiness the Dalai Lama said:

Buddhist system tends to utilize the human intelligence in a maximum way to train and transform our mind to achieve enlightenment. Recitation of mantra is one way to achieve transformation of mind.

This Avalokisteshvara mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum has six syllables. Om usually comes first in the Hindu and Buddhist mantras.

Om has three letters, A, O, and Ma. These three letters represent body, speech and mind at two levels. The impure level is the basis of all suffering, and the pure level is the basis of enlightenment.

We practice to transform our body, speech, and mind which are at the impure level to ever pleasant pure level. Now, how do we do this? Mani means Jewel [Norbu], it represents infinite altruism and compassion. Padme means lotus representing wisdom. Hum represents the realization of combination of the altruism and wisdom.

So, Om Mani Padme Hum can be translated as a mantra to transform the impure body, speech, and mind of ours to a pure level through the practice of altruism and wisdom, [thabs dang shes-rab].

This altruism is a Boddhicitta mind to help all sentient beings, and the wisdom is the wisdom realizing the emptiness of all phenomena.

But mere recitation of prayers and mantras is not helpful; it should be complimented with a real practice. All religions carry same message of love, compassion, and tolerance. Theistic religions lay more emphasis on prayers. Buddhism is non-theistic, it emphasis is more on practice than prayers.

Buddha has said, you are your own master and savior[5]. Your future directly depends on yourself. Study and accumulation of knowledge is very important. But to use this knowledge in the best possible way, it is important to have a good motivation, i.e. Bodhicitta mind. Therefore, having a good and kind heart is very important.

One of the famous quote of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is "Kindness is my religion", and "Help other, if you cannot help, at least don't harm them".   

Here is a beautiful recitation of the mantra in musical form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-ZO7bsA2pA

[1] Manikabum scripture, p-36, Shering Parkhang. ཨོྂ་གྱིས་ལྷའི་སྐྱེ་སྒོ་གཅོད།  མས་ལྷ་མ་ཡིན་གྱི་སྐྱེ་སྒོ་གཅོད།  །ཎིས་མིའི་སྐྱེ་སྒོ་གཅོད།  མེས་ཡི་དྭགས་ཀྱི་སྐྱེ་སྒོ་གཅོད།  ཧཱུྂ་གིས་དམྱལ་བའི་སྐྱེ་སྒོ་བཅད་ནས།  འགྲོ་བ་རིགས་དྲུག་གི་གནས་སྟོངས་པར་བྱེད་པ་ཡིན།

[2] The six realms are: three upper realms of gods, demi-gods, and human, and three lower realms of hell beings, petras, and animals

[3] I am trying to get this original Tibetan stanza, if anybody knows it, please share at the comment box.

[4] Here is the video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QQKDP8SQZg

[5] བདག་ཉིད་བདག་གི་མགོན་ཡིན་གྱི།  གཞན་ལྟ་སུ་ཞིག་མགོན་དུ་གྱུར།