Kalachakra belongs to the class of highest yoga tantra and was originally given by Shakamuni Buddha to the dharma king of Shambala, Suchandra (Dowa Zangpo). While the Buddha was on Vulture peak (tib. Chargo Phungpoe Re) teaching the Prajnaparamita sutra (the perfection of wisdom sutra), he was simultaneously emanating himself in a place in the south of India where, in the form of Kalachakra, he was giving the Kalachakra teachings. The linage was maintained in Shambala and later passed back to India and then to Tibet where it has been preserved until present day. Engaging in the practice of Kalachakra leads to one’s rebirth in Shambala where the tantras have greatly flourished and are very widespread. By putting these teachings into practice, the path is open for our full enlightenment.
It is of very great importance to cultivate a proper motivation for receiving these teachings. Not just any motivation will do. Since the Kalachakra tantra is means of attaining full enlightenment of Buddhahood within one short lifetime, the motivation to be cultivated is to listen to the teachings with the intent of reaching enlightenment ever so swiftly for the great benefit of all sentient beings. Rather than listening to the teachings as mere words check your own mind and actually cultivate this motivation.
I.] THE MEANS FOR PROGRESSING ALONG THE PATH OF KALACHAKRA.
A.THE MEANS FOR BECOMING A SUITABLE VESSEL
Training in the common path
In the progression of the practice, first of all there is motivation, the attitude. One should draw one’s clinging away from the affairs of this life and look rather to the life beyond.
Secondly, it is important to recognize that whatever pleasures or bounties arise in the entire cycle of existence are without essence and they are by [their] nature unstable.
Thirdly, if one clings to personal well- being it is not awakening mind ( Skt. Bodhichitta, Tib. Changchup kyi sem). One must turn the mind away from concern for one’s own welfare to that of other. This is something that should really be put into practice.
Fourthly, if there occurs grasping, there is not the view. Although we conceive of thing a existing inherently since they do appear [to us] or seems to exist from their own side, in fact, there is no such things a true existence. One must have a realistic view, the view of the middle way.
These versus summarize what is called the common training. It is called common because it exist in both the sutra and tantra path. Within these versus are presented the emergent mind or renunciation, the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the realistic view. These three are what is necessary in order to fully enter the tantric path. If they are missing the tantric path does not bears fruit.
B.RIPENING ONE’S MIND BY MEANS OF EMPOWERMENT (TIB. WANG)
In order to practice the Kalachakra, first of all, it is absolutely essential to receive the empowerment from a fully qualified master who bears the 20 qualities signifying such master.
The disciples must be well trained in the common path, and have both a very fine faith and enthusiasm for tantra.
For the kalachakra, there are seven empowerments which are like a growing child. One needs to receive all the seven empowerment to meditate on the stages of generation.
THE SEVEN EMPOWERMENT
1)1st empowerment –the water empowerment.
Is just like a mother having given birth immediately washes the child with water, in like fashion, the master first gives the water empowerment for cleansing the three doors, that is the body, speech and the mind of the initiates.
2)2nd empowerment –the empowerment of the headdress.
This empowerment acts or cause for the eventual attainment of the usnisa (the crown protrusion of the Buddha) when oneself becomes a Buddha. It is very fortunate to be able to receive such an empowerment.
3)3rd empowerment - the empowerment of the crown banner.
This represents the five Buddha families and is likened to putting ornaments on the child, such as earring.
4)4th empowerment - the empowerment of the vajra and bell.
The vajra and bell in this empowerment are especially related to the Buddha-mind and the Buddha-speech. Receiving this empowerment places imprints upon one’s own continuum for giving such a result.
5)5th empowerment -the empowerment of the thump vajra.
This is analogous to putting an ornament on the child thumb.
6)6th empowerment - the empowerment of the name.
This is analogous to naming the infant.
7)7th empowerment- initiation or permission.
This is analogous to the father or mother teaching the child.
Upon receiving this empowerment, it is indispensible to keep the pledge and the vow. The scriptures quote,” even if one does not engage in the meditation of tantra but keep the pledges and the vow without the occurrence of a root downfall, one certainly attains full enlightment within 16 lifetimes.”
The essential significance is that by receiving the seven empowerments, one is empowerment to practice the stage of generation. The first seven empowerments also empowers or cause one to gain the first seven bodhisattva grounds.
II] KEEPING ONE’S VOWS AND PLEDGES.
Keeping ones vows and pledges is indispensible if one is to progress along the tantric path. The ones to be especially aware of and to be on guard against are the 14 root tantric downfalls. It is extremely important to avoid a root down fall. Compared to one of the four chief monastic Percept’s of a fully ordained monk, breaking one of these tantric percepts is more than 18 times heavier than breaking the heaviest of the monastic percepts. Therefore, as the six-session guru yoga states, “The 14 root tantric down falls should be guarded against even at the cost of one’s life.”
In order to keep the pledges and percept’s or in general to keep moral discipline, one needs to recognize and guard the “four doors which lead to down fall.”
•The door of ignorance
•The door of irreverence.
•The door of carelessness
•The door of mental distortions.
His holiness the Dalai Lama, speaking on this subject in Dharmasala, says that it is quite ridiculous how many people go in a carefree way to receive a tantric empowerment and take all of the bodhisattva percept’s, as well as the major and secondary tantric pledges, everyone of which is extremely difficult to keep properly; and yet, when it is suggested that they take the vows of monastic ordination, they think,” oh no, that’s much too difficult! I wouldn’t even think of that! I’ll just take the tantric and bodhisattva percept”. The bodhisattva and tantric percept’s are actually more difficult to keep.
General root tantric downfall
1.Abusing or having contempt for one’s spiritual mentor.
2.Contemptuously disregarding the training.
If one were to say, “Oh this doesn’t matter,” and were to toss that percept out very contemptuously and without any respect, one would incur this root downfall.
3.Disparaging or speaking of the faults of Vajra brother or sister:It is good never to speak of the faults of anyone.
4.Abandoning loving kindness: The mind wishing that sentient beings may have happiness [and the causes of happiness] is loving kindness. The mind which wishes to dispel the suffering [and the causes of suffering] of sentient being is compassion.
5.Rejecting the yearning-bodhichita (Changchup gi sems) and the engaging-bodhichitta: Upon receiving the empowerment, one cultivates the aspiration to attain full enlightenment for the benefit of all creatures.
6.Abusing the dharma :Be it of the sutras or tantras. One should understand that all of these teachings are from the Buddha, and that they are all methods for attaining enlightenment.
7.Disclosing tantric secrets to those who have not been ripened.
8.Abusing the aggregates: In the tantric practice, one is purifying and transforming the five aggregates into the nature of the five types of Buddha.
10. Devoting oneself to evil friends:This refers to very evil people. Specifically, there are four cases mentioned: those who are harming the Buddha, those who are harming the body of the guru,those who wish to harm all sentient being or have general malice towards all sentient beings, and fourthly, those who wish to bring about a destruction of the dharma. These are especially referred to as ‘evil friends’
11.Not recollecting the view: One’s obligation in the tantric practice is to direct one’s mind to the view three times during the day and three times during the night.
12.Defeating the faith of other: This occurs when there is another individual who does have faith in the tantric practice and one tell this person” tantric practice not much good. If that person then loses faith, or if his/her faith in tantric practice diminishes, then one incurs the downfall.
13.Not devoting oneself to the tantric pledges.
14.Disparaging women: Women are of the nature of wisdom and to disparage them is a root downfall.
All of us, who will receive the empowerment, should try our best to keep the pledge and percept that we have taken. If down falls do occurs, we should keep in mind the three methods for purification and try to follow them.
Methods for Restoring the Degenerated, Broken Percept and Pledges:
1)The first means for such restoration is going to one spiritual mentor, one Vajra master, and receiving the empowerment once again.
2)If one is not able to receive the empowerment, the second way of restoring the pledges and percept is to engage in the initiatory retreat together with the concluding fire offering. Having done so, it is possible to take the elf initiation which purifies the down fall, the degeneration of the percept and pledges.
3)If one is not able to apply either of the above recommended method, then the third alternative is to recite, one hundred thousand times (one lakh) the purification one hundred mantra of Vajrasattava. Having done, the pledges and percepts are purified. This takes quite a while and is difficult, but it is also one of the techniques.
All of us have received the empowerment, so we should try our best to keep the pledges and percept’s that we have taken. If downfalls do occurs, we should keep in mind the three methods for purification and try to follow them.
The Twenty Five Modes of Behaviour or Disciplines.
The first five are avoiding the five non-virtuous/evils.
1)Not to kill.
2)Not to steal.
3)Not to lie.
4)Not to commit adultery.
5)Not to take alcohol.
6)No to gamble, such as with dice and playing card: This need to be avoided. If one really thinks about this and really follows the disciplines, percept and pledges of the Kalachakra, it will lend one’s life a great dignity.
7)Avoid eating meat in the three case of actual seeing, hearing or suspecting that the animal in question was killed specifically for one’ own consumption.
8)Idle gossip: Among the so called ten non-virtues, idle gossip is the least serious. Nevertheless for beginning practitioner, it is the worst because it is easy to give up so many hours, so much of one’s life, to idle gossip.
9)Mistaken commemoration of one parent: This has to do with a yearly commemoration of parent who has died by offering of blood and flesh. Such a false commemoration or wrong way of remembering one parent is to be avoided.
10)Offering animal sacrifices. This was not only a tradition in ancient time, but it exists today in Nepal and India where for example one kills an animal as a sacrifice and offers it flesh and blood, this has to be avoided.
11)Abandoning the five type of killing
•Destroying representation of the enlightened body, speech and mind. An example for mind would be Stupa; for speech the words of the Buddha, such as the Kangyur: and for the Body of the Buddha would be paintings, statues and so forth. Thus, destroying any of these constitutes a breaking of this percept.
We strongly believe that the Buddhist teachings are still present due to the kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We should all offer prayers for his long life.
When a person does not receive teachings for quite some time, the mind tends to grow rough, more barbaric. With teachings, the mind is once again cultivated for the dharma. It is like the grass in a meadow; if rain does not fall for a long time, it tends to wither.
To be able to receive these teachings, one already has a great store of merit. Furthermore, to have faith in the Buddha dharma is also indicative of already having a great store of merit from previous life times. If these merits are missing, faith simply would not arise. One should reflect upon own good fortune of having the opportunity to receive the empowerment and be able to follow this practice.
Practicing tantras one learns the means for dispelling attachment by mean of attachment. It is like the insect that is born from woods, come out of the tree and then turn and eats the wood of the tree.
As one great Tibetan lama stated, “even if one has a whole valley filled with gold, one would not be able to take even the tiniest bit with one at the point of death. “At the point of death, there is nothing apart from dharma that will be of the slightest benefit”
Now a day, there is a lot of talk about the need for world peace. Nevertheless, it is not happening. Why is it not happening? Because no matter how much people talk about it, as long as minds are still dominated by such mental distortions as attachment and anger, peace is impossibility. You can drink all the tea you like, and still anger is not abated. You can eat as much as you want, but still the anger is not abated. Anger and other mental distortion decrease through the practice of the Buddha’s teachings. Here we have the possibility to do something efficacious for the world peace by subduing these mental distortions in our own minds.
If we cultivate a very good motivation now, listen with this motivation, and then put the teaching into practice, this is extremely good. Even if we do not practice much, but simply have a good motivation while listening , very beneficial imprints (tib. Pagchak) are made upon our own mind streams so that, in near future existence, we will have propensities for gaining a very profound understanding of the dharma.
It is important to recognize and rejoice in these rare and wonderful events.