Review of Some Essential Points
First, I shall speak a little about what is going to take place today. We have reached the point in the empowerment at which we have entered the mandala. First, we did so with blindfolds on and now our blindfolds have been removed. We have been introduced to the entire mandala system. As I said yesterday, although we have been introduced to the 722 deities in the mandala, if we have not been able to follow where they all are, don't worry about it! Just have the feeling that they are all there. That is fine.
Also, I should probably repeat from yesterday, since a few questions again have been asked about it, that the visualizations for each step of the mandala, for each step of the empowerment, only occur during that particular step. So, please, don't try to hold all the visualizations collectively at the same time. Do what is happening at the particular point in the empowerment that is happening now, and when the next point comes, go on to the next visualization and let the previous one dissolve. If you have missed one of the stages, it doesn't matter. Don't worry!
The main empowerments that will be given today are the seven empowerments of entering as a child, the four higher empowerments, which will consist of a vase, a secret, a wisdom, and a fourth or word empowerment, and a fourth or word empowerment from the set of the highest four empowerments. All of these are purifying different stages in our lives. As I was explaining yesterday, each empowerment will purify something and plant certain seeds. What is being purified will be presented on many different levels.
The Stages in Life That Each Empowerment Purifies
The most general level of what each empowerment purifies is stages in a person's life. The seven of entering as a child purify the different phases of childhood. During the empowerment, we experience each phase in a purified manner. First is the water empowerment, and this is like washing us as newborn infants. Remember, we have been born as the spiritual children of His Holiness in order to enter this world system. Then, we receive the crown empowerment, which is likened to receiving our first haircuts as babies. Next is the ear tassel empowerment. This refers to a ribbon that hangs down from the ears, and is likened to having our ears pierced as babies. We can find the analogies for the rest of this first set of empowerments in the Kalachakra Initiation pamphlet. There is no need for me to go through all of them.
The four higher empowerments purify the different stages of desire that we develop as we go through adolescence. They are also analogous to the different stages of our spiritual growth, for instance, being householders, then novices, fully ordained monastics, and so on.
The Locations in the Mandala for Receiving the Empowerments
The first seven empowerments will be given at different sides of the mandala. As you will recall, the mandala is actually a five-storied palace. It is very large, two hundred times our size. We are always on the ground floor. We might recall from the description of the mandala yesterday, that there are deities or groups of figures on each of the floors, in each side of the building. On the floor that we are on, the deities are on a large high platform in front of us that goes round like a square ring within the story. We are standing on the floor, in a narrow corridor between the wall and this platform. Whenever we walk around the mandala, we are always in this corridor between the wall and the raised platform, as we go to each of the doorways that are in the center of the walls.
Each direction has a different color, as described the first day. We can delineate each of them in terms of the face of Kalachakra that is facing in that direction. The colors of the faces are the same as the colors of the directions. The main Kalachakra figure has one head, but four faces. If we forget what color each face is, we can just look at the very large brocade picture behind His Holiness. To help remember, we can also use the example from yesterday's example of the map of Europe. If His Holiness is standing in Switzerland, and facing east, the east is Austria. So the front, black face, which looks dark blue, but is called black, is facing Austria in the east. Then based on that, if we forget what color we are in each direction, we can figure it out by looking at the brocade picture.
We will receive two empowerments from each of the faces. Well, it is not quite that. There are seven empowerments, so it is not quite symmetrical. We receive two each from three of the faces and one from the fourth face.
We receive the first two empowerments from the body-face, that is the white face, which would be, from our perspective of the map of Europe, in the north, toward Germany. We will also be generated as white Buddha-figures for these two. All the forms we take for these seven empowerments have three faces and six arms. That will be the water and the crown empowerments.
Then we will walk clockwise to the south, so that we will be in the direction toward Italy, which is red. There we will be working with the speech-face of the Kalachakra deity, the red face. When we say we receive the empowerment from that face, it is not really from that face. It means we receive it while facing that face. For each of these sets empowerments, we are going to be generated in the form of a Buddha-figure that is the same color as the face we are facing.
The way we are generated is similar to the way it happened the first day with the inner empowerment. We are going into the mouth of the father and then, within a state of the absence of all fantasized ways of existing, we are born from the womb of the mother. Then we are generated back out. Since we enter the father through his mouth, and since he has four faces and four mouths, we enter through the mouth of the face that we are facing. It is in this sense that we receive the empowerment from or through a certain face. The second two empowerments, which we receive facing the red face, the speech-face, then, are the ear-tassel and then the vajra and bell empowerments.
Next, we will go round to the front face, which is the black face in the east toward Austria. That is the mind-face, and there, after being generated as black deities, we will receive the tamed-behavior and the name empowerments.
After that, we go round in the back to the west face, the deep awareness face, which is yellow, toward France. We will be born as yellow deities, and we will receive only one empowerment, the subsequent permission empowerment.
Following that, we will receive what is added or appended to this, namely, the mantra and the vajra-master empowerment. At that time, we will be transformed into Vajrasattvas who, in the Kalachakra system, are blue.
Procedure for the Seven Empowerments of Entering As a Child
Each of the seven empowerments also purifies some aspect of ourselves as a person, such as the different elements in our bodies and the aggregate factors of our experience (our five aggregates).
First, we dissolve their ordinary appearances and think of how they do not exist in fantasized ways. Then, they are generated as deities of the Kalachakra mandala. This relates to the fact that everything in the Kalachakra mandala has symbolism in terms of both the external and internal world of a living being. Eventually, we want to transform every aspect of ourselves completely, so that, instead of having impure appearances, all the parts of our bodies will have pure appearances as all these different deities. In this way, we become the entire symbolic world of the Kalachakra system. We will be all the deities, because all of them are different parts of our bodies, minds, elements, and so forth.
The transformation process entails quite complicated visualizations, which will involve a certain implement with which each empowerment is given, such as a vase or a crown, certain parts of our bodies, and certain groups of deities in the mandala.
We can take an example. First is the water empowerment. This is to purify the five elements of our bodies: earth, water, fire, wind, and space. In the Kalachakra mandala system, the five elements take the aspect of the five female Buddhas. With the empowerment, we plant certain seeds to purify these elements. This involves using a certain implement, in this case the water in a vase.
Now, how is this done? First, we focus on the five elements of our bodies and the water of the vase. I will not give all the details, because it is a bit much. Basically, the ordinary appearances of all of these dissolve into voidness, so there is a total absence of all strange ways that we might imagine that they exist. We then generate them in pure forms, as the five female Buddhas. Whether we can visualize them or not, is another matter. As I was saying before, basically, we need to try to have a feeling that both the elements of our bodies and the water of the vase now have pure appearances. There are slightly different traditions and opinions in the commentaries as to how exactly we visualize the female Buddhas in our bodies. That is very complicated, so just have a general feeling about it.
At this point, then, there are three groups of five female Buddhas – the actual five in the mandala, the five that were the water of the vase, and the five that were the elements of our bodies. First, the actual female Buddhas in the mandala come from where they sit around the main central couple and give the empowerment to the female Buddhas of the water in the vase. The latter set of five then transform back into the water in the vase. The five female Buddhas come once more from the mandala and touch the vase to the crowns of our heads. Nectars flow from it and give the empowerment to the five female Buddhas of our bodies. After this, each female Buddha in the mandala emanates a replica of herself and they dissolve into the female Buddhas in us. This makes everything stable.
The empowerment does two things: it purifies a factor and it plants seeds. In this case, it purifies our elements and it plants two seeds. One seed is a conscious experience, and the other is a seed to achieve the actual purified states in the future. When we imagine that we are touched on our heads with the vase and our bodies become filled with the water in it, the conscious experience is to imagine we experience inseparable voidness and bliss. I explained how to do this yesterday. We just try to generate some feeling of happiness, and in that state of happiness have some sort of thought about the absence of any fantasized reality, to whatever level we are capable of understanding it. This conscious experience not only is a seed in itself, but it plants another seed on our mental continuums as a kind of legacy for future success in the practice.
This, then, is the basic structure of each of the seven empowerments of entering as a child. Whether the empowerment concerns the elements of our bodies, our aggregates, sensory apparatus, or energy-channels, the ritual follows the same structure. Some aspect of our bodies is going to be transformed into a group of deities and the same thing will happen with an empowering implement, such as a crown, a bracelet, a thumb-ring, and so on. Then, the deities of the crown, for instance, receive the empowerment from the corresponding deities in the mandala, and, after they transform back into the crown, we receive the empowerment by imagining we are touched with it. We have a conscious experience of voidness and bliss, which both acts as a seed and plants a seed. Finally, replicas of whatever group of deities in the mandala we are dealing with will come into us and dissolve.
Again, try not to worry if you can't really visualize all these groups of deities that we are dealing with here. It is very difficult and complicated. However, if we follow this general idea of different aspects of ourselves being purified at each stage, that is quite good.
The initiation text explains that each of the empowerments plants a seed in terms of the bodhisattva stages or "bhumis" in Sanskrit. Please do not misunderstand this statement. It does not refer to our having the seed to attain that level of realization. Rather, we plant a seed to be able to achieve an equivalent amount of positive potential (merit) as is achieved on each of those stages. I just mention this for those of you who have studied the stages of the tantra path. It may be a little confusing. If you have not studied these stages, it really does not make any difference. The point is that it plants seeds for achieving a tremendous amount of positive potential.
Now let's turn to more questions. I am sorry if I won't be able to answer every question individually. I have gone through the questions that I received yesterday and tried to put them together into groups, since many were asking quite similar things. Hopefully, by addressing them in this way, I can cover most people's questions.
Many of the questions deal with the commitments of the empowerment in terms of the daily practice. Of course, the general practice is keeping the vows, the bodhisattva and tantric vows. There is no commitment for a specific Kalachakra practice. If we want to do the mantra, fine. If we wish to engage in further practices, we can do one of the Kalachakra sadhanas, but that is completely optional.
What we are specifically asked to do each day is the six-session yoga practice. If we are already doing this in connection with another highest yoga tantra empowerment, then there is no need to do anything more. There are four different lengths of this practice. The longest is in conjunction with Kalachakra, but we do not necessarily have to practice that version. Any of the other versions will do, and all six repetitions in a day need not be of the same version.
We can do these practices either six different times during the day, or three together twice a day, or all six together, or two together three times a day. It does not matter. If we are doing them several times in a row together, then for the two longest versions – let's call them the third and fourth levels – it is not necessary to repeat the entire text each time. We repeat only specific verses the second and third times.
The two shorter versions are in eight verses and one verse respectively. It is the custom to repeat the eight-verse one in full six times a day. It is usually done three times in the morning and three times at night, and it is not abbreviated when repeated the second and the third times. If, on a particular day, it becomes impossible to do the eight-verse version and we are faced with the possibility that we might not be able to keep our commitment to do this practice, then it is permissible to do the one-verse one. We have to judge for ourselves the availability of our time, but the one-verse version was never intended for daily practice. It is only for emergency use.
Some of the terminology in the eight and one-verse six-session practices and in the Kalachakra sadhana materials I have prepared is new, and it was asked to give some clarification of it. I have introduced some of this new terminology in An Anthology of Well-Spoken Advice by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, published by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, in Dharamsala, India. In this book, I have prepared a complete glossary of the new terminology together with their equivalents in the old terminology.
In this book, I also explain why I have developed this system. The basic reason is because a lot of the terminology has lost its meaning for many people. If, for instance, I said to my mother, "Why don't you take refuge," she would not know what that expression meant. It would not have any meaning for her. Also, many of the old terms have strong Christian connotations, like "virtue," "sin," and so on, which are quite inappropriate in the Buddhist context. Moreover, many of the old terms are in Sanskrit, such as Buddha, Dharma, karma, samsara, nirvana, bodhichitta, sutra, tantra, mandala, mantra, and so on. My mother does not know any of these Sanskrit words. Therefore, I tried to render every word into English.
I must apologize if there are many unfamiliar terms. Let me give the equivalents here for a few of the more important ones. "Safe direction" is to go for refuge. It means to go in the direction of working to overcome or purify ourselves of our limitations, and to grow and realize our fullest potential, the way the Buddhas have done and the community of advanced practitioners is doing. "Total purification" refers to enlightenment. To "expand our heart out" is to expand it with bodhichitta, to becoming a Buddha in order to help all. "The expanding behavior of the spiritual offspring of the triumphant ones" is the behavior of a bodhisattva. It is expanding behavior because we are expanding our hearts out to more and more people and doing more and more things to help.
"The three sets of proscriptions" are the three sets of vows. "For liberation" refers to the pratimoksha vows, "for expanding my heart" to the bodhichitta vows, since these are the guidelines we want to follow in order to expand our hearts out to everyone, and "for enigmatically protecting my mind" refers to the tantra or secret mantra vows. In the line "I'll uphold the verbal and realized measures" the word "measure" refers to the Dharma, namely the preventive measures we take to avoid suffering and problems. The "four classes of streams" are the four classes of tantra, since tantra means an everlasting continuum or stream. "To a clear evolved state" refers to the state of a Buddha in which all our limitations and obscurations have been cleared out and we have evolved fully so that all our potentials have been realized. It would be very good, if people are interested, to ask for teachings from our lamas at the different centers on the six-session practice. This would be very worthwhile.
People have also said, "What if I feel that I cannot continue this in the future and I cannot really commit myself to doing this?" This is why the one-verse version was specifically made. It is for when we really have no time, because it really does not take very long to do this version. However, if we feel that we cannot keep these commitments, then, as His Holiness said, we can be observers.
If people are interested in finding the Tibetan versions of these six-session practices, the Tibetan version of the Kalachakra one is here in this white Kalachakra Initiation pamphlet. The others are in the Lama Neljor book of daily recitations available in Dharamsala. The one-verse version appears in the small notes at the end of the eight-verse one in that text.
Some people asked for an explanation of His Holiness' statement that if people do not take the bodhisattva vows, they could just enter the mandala, but not receive the empowerment. This means that if we feel that we are not ready to take these vows, we can imagine that we have come to this world system, and although we enter the mandala palace, we are not permitted to see all its details and we do not actually receive the empowerment.
We can, of course, in this way of participating, receive the blessings. Blessings can mean, in one sense, "inspiration." As His Holiness explained, it means to transform oneself into an exalted state. If we generate a strong conventional and deepest bodhichitta at the occasion of the empowerment, namely, the strong wish to be able to help everybody and to achieve enlightenment in order to be able to do that, as well as a basic understanding of the absence of fantasized ways of existing, this inspires us and helps us attain an exalted state. Blessings do not come in some sort of magical way, from somebody with a magic wand.
His Holiness also said that if people do not take the tantric vows, then they cannot receive the vajra-master empowerment. This is referring to the empowerment given after receiving the seven of entering as a child, namely the vajra-master empowerment. This is not to be confused with the great vajra-overlord empowerment, which is after the four higher and four highest ones.
There are four classes of tantra. The first two do not have the vajra-master empowerment, or any of those that are higher than that. Only the two highest classes of tantra have the vajra- master empowerment and the taking of tantric vows. All four classes, however, have the taking of the bodhisattva vows. His Holiness was only pointing out a technical detail here, that the tantric vows become relevant only when a vajra-master initiation is taken.
The Tradition of Using a Powder Mandala
Another question concerns the tradition of giving the Kalachakra empowerment from a powder mandala. The commentary His Holiness cited about the necessity for giving the Kalachakra empowerment from a powder mandala was by Naropa and is followed by the traditions of His Holiness' monastery. The Gelug and some Sakya and Kagyu traditions follow this commentary of Naropa. However, other Kagyu and Sakya traditions follow a different commentary. Thus, when they give the Kalachakra empowerment, it is from a painted-picture mandala. This is not something strange or unusual. It is just a matter of different traditions and commentaries by different authors.
Vows for Mother Tantra
There are many questions about specific vows. I shall try to answer a few of them. People have asked about the vows for mother tantra. Some systems divide the highest class of tantra, anuttarayoga, into mother and father tantra. They draw this division in terms of the emphasis in the practice. In mother tantra, the emphasis is on clear light and wisdom. In father tantra, it is on illusory body. In such systems, Kalachakra is a mother tantra. So when it says, "I shall perform all my actions first with my left," then, since the left signifies wisdom, it is referring to doing practices that help us always to be aware of wisdom, or the understanding of voidness.
"Abandoning repulsion when tasting bodhichitta" refers to the occasion of pujas and different empowerments in which we are given different substances to taste. For instance, in anuttarayoga tantra pujas, we are given a small amount of meat and alcohol. Repulsion in tasting these would be to say, "I am a vegetarian," or "I have taken a vow not to drink alcohol and so I cannot possibly drink this."
We must realize that this is just a symbolic eating of these substances. Meat and alcohol have different levels of symbolism. For instance, in an inner offering they are symbolic of the elements and aggregates of the body. In a ritual manner, they are transformed into nectars and, when we partake of them, this symbolizes the transformation and purification process of what we would normally consider impure into something pure.
Specifically in Kalachakra, as His Holiness mentioned yesterday, the meats and nectars refer to the disturbing energy-winds in the body, known as the aggregate winds and the element winds. Tasting the transformation and purification of them is symbolic of stopping the coursing of these energy-winds in the subtle energy-channels. Repulsion would be to consider these substances on an ordinary level. When we are given various things to taste in pujas, ceremonies, or empowerments, we need to not consider them on their ordinary levels.
Other Tantric Vows
"Abandoning having no regard for the rules set down by the Buddha" refers to feeling that different things that the Buddha advised us to do are unimportant, such as to make offerings. Buddha said many different things, and whatever he said was with a definite purpose, namely to benefit others. He did not waste words. It is very common and easy, when we do not understand something, to say, "This does not have any meaning!" However, if there is something that the Buddha has said and we do not understand it, we must not disregard it. Rather, we need to make an effort to find out what it means.
The vow of "not to eat impure meat" refers to not eating the meat of an animal that we have ordered to be killed for us. It is not a vow to be a vegetarian.
The vow "not to misuse your body" is to avoid going to extremes, such as torturing ourselves with sitting on a bed of nails. Misusing or abusing our bodies can have different levels of meaning, such as taking self-destructive drugs. This too would be a misuse of our bodies.
Falling Asleep before Completing the Six-Session Practice
Someone asks, "If you are reciting the six-session practice before you go to sleep and you fall asleep while doing it without having completed the six, is it OK to do them the next morning?"
When various Lamas have been asked about this, they usually say, "Yes, try to make them up and do not just forget about it." So, we need to repeat next day the six-session practice for the number of times we have missed. Falling asleep like this will perhaps weaken the force of our saying we are going to repeat the verses every day, but we are not necessarily losing any vows.
I had mentioned yesterday the ways of applying the opponents if we have found that we have transgressed any vow or commitment. The main point is to try not to break the vow completely such that we lose our vows. For instance, we try not to feel happy about having transgressed it. We need to remember that our main concern is our ability to help others and, by transgressing the vow or commitment, we have weakened that ability. We need to feel regret, which I explained yesterday is not guilt, and decide quite strongly that we are going to try not to transgress it again. Then, we rededicate ourselves to taking a safe direction in life, which is refuge, and to expanding our hearts with bodhichitta and applying various opponent forces, like, for instance, Vajrasattva meditation.
Practicing Buddhism While Remaining a Christian
There are a number of questions, such as "Do you have to be a Buddhist to take this initiation and to keep these vows? What about Christianity? Does this mean giving up Christianity, since there are various vows not to put all your energy into reading non-Buddhist material, or becoming attached to it?"
Again, we need to go back to the term "taking a safe direction in life," or "refuge." There is no term in Tibetan that means literally "a Buddhist." The term used in Tibetan is "someone who lives within," namely someone who lives within the boundaries of taking a safe direction in life. It is always said that what differentiates a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist is whether one takes refuge. What this means is not necessarily that we have gone to a formal refuge ceremony, or have converted to Buddhism. Rather, it means going in this safe and sound, valid, positive direction in our lives of working to achieve what the Buddhas have achieved, working to clear away our limitations, and to evolve, grow, and realize our fullest potential.
As many Lamas have said, including my own teacher, Serkong Rinpoche, if we look at the teachings of love and so on in other religions, such as Christianity, then to follow them is not going outside the direction taught in Buddhism. So, when it says not to put all our energies into reading non-Buddhist material, or not to become attached to it, this is referring to putting our energies into learning something negative and destructive. However, it is not at all in contradiction with the direction of the universal, humanitarian thought that we find in all world religions.
Practicing Both Tibetan Buddhism and Other Systems of Meditation
Then people were asking, "What about if you are practicing Zen or non-Buddhist systems of meditation?"
Again, there is no problem, because Zen and other systems of meditation are likewise methods for working toward realizing our fullest potentials. However, all the great masters advise, and His Holiness very strongly stresses this as well, that we must try not to mix and adulterate practices. If we are going to have soup and a cup of coffee, we do not pour the coffee into the soup and drink both together. If we are going to do different practices, that is fine, but we need to do them in separate sessions. Whatever practice we are doing, we must do it totally within the traditions and customs of that practice itself. Otherwise, everything becomes a mess and it is unfair to the traditions.
Not Spending More Than Seven Days among Hinayanists
There is a question about the vow of "not to spend more than seven days among Hinayanists."
To understand this vow, we need to understand what is meant here by Hinayanist. "Hinayana" is a pejorative term coined in Mahayana texts to characterize an extreme point of view that we need to avoid. It does not refer to the modern Theravada school. The point of the vow is that we can be strongly influenced by the company we keep and therefore, we need to avoid negative influences when we are not yet strong enough to be immune to them.
In tantra, we are following a Mahayana or bodhisattva path. We are working to try to be able to benefit everybody and to reach enlightenment in order to be able to do so the best. The Hinayana traditions, as Buddhist traditions, of course have teachings on love and compassion. They do not, however, emphasize that the aim of working on ourselves is to achieve Buddhahood in order to be able to help others the best.
From the Hinayana point of view, there will be one thousand Buddhas during this eon and the places are already taken. No reservations are available, as it were, and therefore, there is no point in working to become a Buddha. What we can achieve on our own is becoming liberated from our own suffering and problems. This is the only feasible goal at the moment. From the Mahayana point of view, although there will be a thousand Buddhas in this world age, these are only the ones who will start universal Buddhist religions. There will be many other Buddhas in addition who do not do so. It is feasible to become one of them and therefore it is reasonable to strive for enlightenment.
The various methods followed in order to overcome our own problems and limitations in the Hinayana systems are also followed in the Mahayana. The vow is not focusing on them. The Hinayana position that the vow is talking about is the extreme position of being concerned only about oneself and working only to overcome one's own problems. People with this so-called "Hinayana" attitude have no concern for helping others or for developing themselves in order to benefit anyone else. If we spend a long time with such persons, we can easily become infected with their attitude. Of course, there can be Hinayanists who do not have this selfish attitude, and there can be so-called Mahayanists who do have this attitude. The point is not to put ourselves in a situation in which the negative, selfish influences around us are so strong that they might turn us away from our altruistic direction.
Are Buddhists Only Concerned with Others
Another question is, "Are Buddhists indifferent to their own sufferings and only concerned with the suffering of others?" The answer is no. We also follow the practices to overcome our own limitations and problems. Buddha taught both Hinayana and Mahayana, and Mahayana includes all the Hinayana methods. First, we need to develop the determination to be free of our own problems, and work to overcome them in order then to feel compassion for others and to develop the skill to help them overcome their problems.
The Need for a Guru
Someone asks: "Is it possible to take the Kalachakra initiation without a guru?"
The answer is "No." An empowerment needs to be given by a spiritual master, and, as I was explaining the first day, it is very important to make a strong connection with the teacher and the lineage. This is because it is from a living master that we can receive instruction in a living way. We cannot ask books questions, can we? Also, a teacher gives us a living example of what we are striving to achieve. Otherwise, it is easy to have a fantasized notion of what it would be like to master these methods.
If we have received the Kalachakra empowerment, completed the retreat of the full sadhana (not just a retreat based on the Kalachakra six-session yoga practice) and done the concluding fire-puja, we may take the self-initiation to renew our vows. The self-initiation is performed without the presence of our spiritual master. But, this is something completely different. The question, I think, concerned receiving the initiation for the first time.
"How about outer and inner gurus? Aren't there also inner ones?"
Yes, there are, there are many different levels of gurus. We can say on a deeper level, that the innermost guru would be the voidness and bliss of the subtlest mind. However, there is a definite need for an outer guru as well, in terms of someone to guide us and to connect us to a living tradition.
The Four Subtle Energy-Drops
There is a technical question about the symbolism of the four faces of Kalachakra that His Holiness explained in connection with the four subtle energy-drops.
We have four subtle energy-drops, one in each of four different chakras within our bodies: the crown, throat, heart, and navel chakras. Furthermore, there are four categories of energy-winds that can be associated, one with each. These energy-winds carry the various stains or obscurations of four different occasions: being awake, dreaming, deep sleep, and the fourth occasion, which is the peak occasion of bliss.
We have all sorts of strange, unusual appearances and ideas during each of these four occasions. The potentials for them are carried by these four categories of energy-winds associated with the four subtle energy-drops.
The four faces stand for these four drops. This is the level of symbolism His Holiness was explaining, but there are many different levels of symbolism as well. On the level of what we want to purify, the faces represent the impure appearances of these four occasions, which are based on the energy-winds associated with these drops. However, if we dissolve the disturbing energy-winds associated with the four drops, and we come to the clear light realization in association with each of them, then, as a reflection of this clear light mind, we can achieve the four Buddha-bodies. On a pure level, then, the four faces symbolize the four Buddha-bodies achieved in relation to the four energy-drops.
The Four Buddha-Bodies in the Kalachakra System
In the Kalachakra system, the two types of form bodies of a Buddha are reflections of the clear-light mind. They are called devoid-forms, or empty-forms. Devoid refers to their being devoid of atoms, not to their being devoid of inherent existence, although, of course, in the same way as all other phenomena, they are devoid of this fantasized way of existing.
Nirmanakaya, or a body or corpus of emanations, is a collection of devoid-forms, in the aspect of Buddha-figures. "Kaya," translated as "body" or "corpus" means a collection of items. Nirmanakaya is not just one body; it is a corpus of an infinite number of emanations.
Sambhogakaya, the other type of form body, is, literally, the body or corpus that makes full use, namely, full use of the Mahayana teachings. In the sutra system, it is an assortment of special types of enlightening body that only highly realized bodhisattvas can see. In the tantra systems, Sambhogakaya usually refers to the wide array of enlightening speech of a Buddha, since that too makes full use of the Mahayana. Kalachakra is a little bit special, because here this corpus refers to both enlightening speech and subtle physical forms.
Dharmakaya is a corpus that encompasses everything. It can be discussed in many ways. Here, as in the sutra system, it is the omniscient mind of a Buddha, which encompasses everything.
In the sutra system, as well as the other non-Kalachakra tantric systems, Svabhavakaya, or nature body, is the voidness of that omniscient mind. More technically, it is both the natural separation of that mind from inherent existence and also the separation of it from various fleeting obscurations or stains. As such, the nature body is a non-collected, or uncompounded, or unaffected phenomena. This means that the voidness of the omniscient mind of a Buddha, its absence of existing inherently, is not affected by anything. It is always the case; it is always true. Furthermore, its state of being free from all fleeting stains also cannot be affected by anything. It too is always the case.
In the Kalachakra system, the Svabhavakaya, or nature body, is sometimes also called the great bliss body. It refers to great unchanging bliss as the nature of the clear-light omniscient mind, which is Dharmakaya. This is also always going to be the case. It has continuity forever, but is something that changes from moment to moment. This is because the mind takes different objects each moment. For this reason, the Svabhavakaya in Kalachakra is an affected or compounded phenomenon.
This is the difference His Holiness was pointing out when he discussed the nature body in Kalachakra as an impermanent phenomenon, and not a permanent one as in the other systems. For those of us who are interested in technical points, this is a technical point that gives a lot to think about. If we are not concerned with technical points, we need not worry about it.
The Kalachakra Figure as a Couple
Someone asked, "Why is the Kalachakra deity in the form of a couple?"
This is to symbolize method and wisdom. Method here as the father, is an unchanging great, blissful awareness. Wisdom, as the mother, is the awareness of voidness. On another level, the mother represents the devoid-form reflection of that unchanging blissful awareness. We visualize ourselves as both this couple and everybody in the mandala. Whether we are a man or a woman, it doesn't matter. We are each both members of the couple, as well as everyone else in the Kalachakra world system and the building as well.
Vajravega – the Forceful Form of Kalachakra
There are some questions about Vajravega – Dorje Shug, in Tibetan – the forceful aspect of Kalachakra. This is the form we were visualizing ourselves in at the end of yesterday. As the forceful form of Kalachakra, he is a strong aspect who protects us. How does he protect us? It is in terms of what he symbolizes. He symbolizes a certain type of energy-wind in the body, called the "deep awareness energy-wind."
Unlike other tantra systems, Kalachakra asserts that ordinarily we do have a certain type of energy-wind that passes through the central energy-channel. This is called the deep awareness energy-wind. By bringing all the winds into the central channel, we will be able to overcome being under the control of the disturbing energies in the body. We will be able to access the subtlest consciousness of clear light and, from that, actualize the enlightening bodies of a Buddha.
Vajravega, as the protection aspect of Kalachakra, represents these energy-winds that can go into the central channel, just as the deep awareness energy-winds do. If we can gain access and control over all of them, of what he symbolizes, then obviously he will bring us the best protection, because we will achieve enlightenment.
Vajrasattva and Akshobhya in Kalachakra
Someone asked, "What is the aspect of Vajrasattva and Akshobhya in Kalachakra?"
Here, Vajrasattva is blue and Akshobhya is green, and both of them have three faces and six arms.
The Apocalyptic War of the Future
Some people were worried about an apocalyptic war in the future. There is a war that is predicted to occur about 440 years from now. At that time, the King of Shambhala, the twenty-fifth ruler of Shambhala, will come and help us overcome the forces that will try to destroy our religious and spiritual freedom.
People were worried that, if they receive this empowerment, they will be recruited into the army and will have to fight these forces. The connection with Shambhala that is made with this empowerment does not mean that we will necessarily have to fight in a war. However, after this war, the teachings of Kalachakra will flourish and there will be a new Golden Age when everything will be conducive for spiritual practice, especially of Kalachakra. We make a connection with Shambhala and Kalachakra in terms of this, so that we will also be around when all the conditions are conducive after this war for being able to follow Kalachakra. Everything will be completely peaceful. Kalachakra for world peace is very much in terms of making the connection with a time of peace and with bringing peace to the entire world, so that everything will be conducive for spiritual practice.
I want to thank you very much for all your time and attention. Let us dedicate whatever positive energy and potential we have built up here toward everybody achieving enlightenment to the benefit of all, and toward the realization of world peace. Also, let us dedicate it for the long life of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, who really is Kalachakra.