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