To promote the study and practice of Kalacakra
"All beings arise in time, Time continually
consumes them all,
|Volume 1, Number 4, 2000|
Group Meetings Study Schedule
The study schedule for the group meetings from February until September now looks as follows:
February 12: Kalacakra lineages – Beth Gilmore.
March 11, April 8 and May 13: Completion/perfection stage yoga. – Ed Henning.
June 10: Notes from the Void – Roy Sutherwood
July 8: Protection Wheel, part II – Andy Wistreich.
August 12: No formal presentation – meet for group sadhana practice?
September 9: Protection Wheel, part III – Andy Wistreich
It is unlikely that there will be any further changes to this schedule but if by Geshe-la’s kindness he is able to offer us teachings on the Manjusri – namasamgiti, we will of course re-schedule the programme to accommodate his teaching.
If any changes occur we will let you know as soon as we can. We would still very much like to hear ideas and suggestions from all members of the group about future topics for study and presentation.
Unless otherwise stated, our meetings, all usually on the second Saturday of each month, start at 2.00pm and finish at around 5.00pm
We are a trans-sectarian group dedicated to
Kalacakra practice. We are open to anyone who
has taken the Kalacakra initiation from a qualified lama and seriously wishes
to practise accordingly.
We use ‘The Jewelled Heart’ - A Sadhana focusing on Glorious Kalacakra by Buton Rinchen Druppa (1290-1364) for group practice at these meetings.
When the group meets at Jamyang Buddhist Centre the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) guidelines attached to FPMT centres should be respected regarding guest teachers and practice materials.
Although teachings, study and practice meetings are free and those without funds should not feel that they are expected to pay, for those that are able to afford it the standard donation is £4 or £2 for a concessionary rate.
This money covers the rent we pay to Jamyang and any surplus goes into the KPG funds. We have a designated bank account for the purpose.
We have also been collecting donations for regular production and mailing of the newsletter. Currently, there is a suggested donation of £5 per year. If you are unsure when you made your last donation, we have a record, so please check with Martin or Roy.
Sorry to repeat this request but we have still not had any responses from the reminder in the last edition of the newsletter.
Sincere apologies to Buddha Ratnasambhava and anyone misled by the omission of Ratnasambhava’s name above numbers 5 to 8 in the list of the nineteen uncommon samayas in the article in the November edition of the newsletter. This was due to a mistake when putting the list together on the word processor. Unfortunately we only became aware of this omission after we had completed the mailing.
The list should have read:
5. To give material help.
6. To give Dharma.
7. To give fearlessness (protection).
8. To give love.
Thubten Wangchuk also spotted the omission and was not only kind enough to bring the mistake to our attention but also sent us the following list of the samayas according to the Kalacakra Tantra.
The nineteen samayas of the six Buddha groups according to Kalacakra
The list that follows is as taught by the Venerable Lati Rinpoche at the Institut Vajra Yogini, France in July, 1996.
1. The four Vajra group samayas:
2. The ten Ratna group samayas:
To practice the ten types of generosity, i.e. giving
3. The two Chakra group samayas:
4. The one Padma group samaya:
5. The one Sword group samaya:
In his Presentation of the Four Great Secret Tantra Sets, Ngak-wang Pelden, a nineteenth century Mongolian gelug scholar, lists them as follows:
With respect to the pledges of the individual lineages that are explained in Kalacakra:
This material is of great interest and we are very grateful to Thubten Wangchuk for taking the time and effort to send it to us for publication in this newsletter.
If anyone has transcripts of any teachings surrounding these Kalacackra Buddha group samayas or translations of relevant commentaries please let us know.
The inadvertent omission in the November edition has certainly brought forth some positive fruit. We will try not to make a habit of this though!
More materials please!
Roy and Martin would really like to see more material for the newsletter coming in from members for future editions. Especially from those who have not yet put anything our way!
Articles about practice, personal experience, recommendations for retreat centres, scripture, commentary, literature, language, art, translations, book reviews, graphic materials- including good cartoons, poetry, poetic translations of passages of Kalacakra texts etc., and much more, would be very welcome:
"All beings arise in time,
Time continually consumes them all,
Time is the Lord who possesses the vajra,
Whose nature is that of day and night."
Tsog Offering with Guru Puja
Geshe-la has written in the January –April edition of the Jamyang Newsletter about the significance and importance of tsog offering with Guru Puja on the 10th and 25th of the Tibetan month. Geshe-la says, with typical modesty and kindness, that although he does not feel qualified to give Tantric initiations, he does feel that he must support people who have taken such initiations and are committed to their practice.
He says that the only way he feels that he can provide help at the moment is to practice Lama Chopa together on tsog offering days at Jamyang.
Geshe-la said: "I’ve heard from many great masters such as His Holinesss the Dalai Lama and his two tutors as well as many other great masters, making tsog offerings, or the tsog offering with Guru Puja is one of the main Highest Yoga Tantra practices, whatever your personal deity practice is –whether its Guhysamaja, Heruka, Yamantaka or Kalacakra. For all the schools in Tibetan Buddhism, such as Nyngmapa, Kargupa, Sagyapa and Gelugpa, the tsog offering made twice a month is taken as one of the main group practices.
I’ve also read that this is the time to come together and do the purification if we’ve broken the vows we’ve taken with Tantric initiations. Tsog offering with a Guru Puja is one of the ways to purify our negativities through breaking our vows as well as accumulating the virtues particularly connected with our root masters and personal deities."
Encouraging all those who have taken Tantric initiations to make greater efforts to join in offering tsog with a Guru Puja Geshe-la went on to say: " We are very keen to take the initiations, but because of external circumstances or internal mental states we will break our vows. Tsog offering really is the time to purify those negativities, therefore I feel you should take this practice as a serious practice."
Tsog offering with the Guru Puja is clearly important whatever tradition we follow.
Lama Chopa is particularly important for those who follow the Gelugpa tradition.
Ed is looking at some texts of Kalacakra pujas for tsog offerings. We would be happy to publish details of tsog offerings and Guru Pujas in other Tibetan traditions in future editions of the newsletter.
Practice Group Archive
Barbara Ryan has kindly taken over responsibility for the archive. The archive will be accessible from the Jamyang bookshop. Dave Benn will be able to help those who are unsure about opening times and precise whereabouts in the shop.
Barbara can be contacted on 020 8 889 8357.
We have the following new materials available in the archive:
Vesna Wallace 1995
Dissertation. UMI number 9602785. Available from UMI Dissertation Services, 300 North Zeeb Road, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-1346, USA. http://www.umi.com
A review by Andy Wistreich
Vesna Wallace’s translation of the second chapter of the Kalacakratantra and the Vimalaprabha takes the available Kalacakra literature in English to a higher level. For the first time, it seems, we are getting Kalacakra fresh from the original Sanskrit sources. Wallace’s 140 pages of commentary make little reference to existing western or Tibetan Kalacakra studies. Remarkably, it seems, she has the confidence to root herself in references to the Laghutantra of Manjusri-Yasas and the commentary on this, the Vimalaprabha by Pundarika.. These two, the first and second Kalki kings of Shambhala thus seem closer to us through this work, than in any other work in English. For the first time in reading in English, in my experience, the Shambhala wherein these two great Kalacakra scholar-practitioners lived and practised, doesn’t seem that far away.
Vesna Wallace’s commentary has been expanded, as she wrote in a recent email:
My revised dissertation turned out to be
a larger book without a translation of the
Vimalaprabha. OUP did not want to publish a translation on the basis that it is too technical. But I have expanded my introduction to a 300 page book, which I hope, will be of some benefit to you.
This book is due from OUP in spring 2000. Because it lacks the translation, you may wish to have the dissertation too. There is something powerful about reading the original tantra and commentary. Vesna is also working on the fourth and fifth chapters, and the first and third are already available as Ph.D. dissertations. Before too long perhaps the entire works will be available in English.
Once we have the texts, the challenge of understanding them and relating them to our practice begins. A pivotal chapter in Wallace’s introduction is the third chapter on the syncretism of Kalacakra. I admit I had to look up this word, to find that it means the ‘attempt to unify differing schools of thought, sects etc’ (Oxford Dictionary). Wallace points to four aspects of syncretism in Kalacakra: theory, practice, medicine and language. In terms of theory, we are looking at a system which is rooted in the Madhamika position of Nagarjuna in its tenets, but in its approach to conventional reality accepts a wide range of Buddhist and non-Buddhist systems as valid. As she says, this both enriches its science and helps to convert the non-Buddhists. As David Reigle clearly shows in Chapter Two of Kalacakra Sadhana and Social Responsibility, bringing together all the philosophical and practice traditions of Ancient India in the face of the Muslim challenge at the end of the first millennium C.E. was the purpose of Manjusri-Yasas, then king of Shambhala. Therefore there is a tolerance of diverse views on conventional understandings of consciousness (purusa) and matter (prakrti) for example, but a tight insistence on the correct understanding of emptiness.
According to the Kalacakratantra, only Madhyamikas who assert the non-duality of compassion and emptiness avoid philosophical failure. Thus, adhering to the ontological views of the Madhyamikas as the only valid ones, the Kalacakratanta refutes the tenets of all other Buddhist and non-Buddhist systems. (Wallace 1995: 48)
There are two other key chapters in the commentary, one on the mental distortions (klesas), and the other on the four bodies of the Buddha, as presented in Kalacakra. There is too much really stimulating material in these chapters to go into here, but I would like to mention one issue which struck me forcefully. This is the lack of emphasis on the achievement of the correct view of emptiness as a means to remove the mental distortions or afflictive emotions. Instead the emphasis is on purification of the winds (pranas), in order to reveal the inborn primordial wisdom. As Wallace says, this brings Kalacakra into proximity with the Ratnagotravibhaga or Uttaratantra by Maitreya in its understanding of the tathagatagharba as the basis of samsara and nirvana, and the path to enlightenment as the purification of this.
Furthermore, whilst, in the Abhidharma, karma is presented as neither mind nor matter, but a ‘non-associated compositional factor’, here in Kalacakra it is definitely a physical phenomenon, as Vesna communicated in a response to an email question:
Kalacakra's notion of karma is very similar
to the notion of karma in Jainism, in the sense that it is physical. It is stored
in the pranas, which are made from subtle atomic particles; and since pranas
always accompany a transmigrating mind even after death, karmic imprints that
are stored in pranas enter the womb at the time of conception when the transmigrating
mind enters the mother's womb, where it continues to feed on the physical matter
and perpetuates it from life to life, through pranas
that accompany consciousness. For that reason, it becomes crucial in the practice
of the Kalackara to eliminate all pranas in order to eliminate all karmic imprints.
Likewise, this is the main reason why there is such a strong emphasis on the
body in this
tantra. On the other hand, according to the Kalackara, we are perceiving the five elements--earth, or solidity, water, etc--because we are perceiving the world through the five elements constituting our trasmigratory minds, that we carry on from life to life, through pranas that accompany consciousness. For that reason, it becomes crucial in the practice of the Kalackara to eliminate all pranas in order to eliminate all karmic imprints. Likewise, this is the main reason why there is such a strong emphasis on the body in this tantra. The body is a barrier to the realisation of gnosis.
To abandon klesas we must therefore abandon the body. So, when we get into our practice, using the channels, winds and drops of this human body, we should not forget that this body is but a means. The end is consummation of our physical being, and leaving it behind. I found that Vesna Wallace’s work made this clear in a new way.
Vesna Wallace has expressed her willingness to help members of the group, and I am sure that she would enter into discussion with people on points raised in her thesis. Her email address is email@example.com. She is clearly dedicated to the revelation of the Kalacakra sources in English, and for this we owe her a lot. I am sure that her book will be very useful, and hopefully, someone will review it for the newsletter when it appears.
Kalacakra Temple Murals
Iain Sinclair recently e-mailed Andy and Ed saying that the Kalacakra temple in Dharamsala, which contains murals that are intended to be authoritative iconographic sources for several tantric traditions, is now the subject of a book by Laura Harrington and the monks of Namgyal monastery entitled "Kalachakra".
It is listed on Snow Lion’s website – http//www.snowlionpub.com – under Catalog/New Items. The murals are spectacular examples of the very best contemporary Tibetan craftsmanship and contain detailed depictions of all the deities in the Kalacakra body, speech and mind mandalas.
There is no ISBN on the site and Iain’s local bookstores have been unable to get hold of a copy so far. Snow Lion told Iain at the end of December last year that they will not have the volume in stock for at least a month. It is quite expensive at US$85 but sounds as though it could be a good resource for Kalacakra practitioners.
A couple of members of this group have seen the book – Cait Collins brought a copy back from Bloomington – it is beautifully photographed with over 290 colour plates.
Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent God
Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche bestowed the Kalacakra initiation, and, for the first time, an initiation of the King of the Nagas as well as a Tara empowerment in Amatlan de Quetzacoatl in Mexico last year. Amatlan is an unspoilt village surrounded by the mountains of the Sacred Valley of Tepoztlan in the state of Morelos, an hour and a half from Mexico City. It is a Nahuatl village and the birth place of the King of the Toltecs, the old empire that reigned in Mexico seven centuries before the Aztecs
It was here, before giving the Kalacakra initiation, that the main Priestess of the ancient Toltec tradition as well as the head of the Tlahtoani and the Medicine Lady, accompanied by village people, dancers and musicians, came to greet Rinpoche and acknowledge him as the High Reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent God.
This reincarnation of Quetzacoatl has been awaited by these people for seven centuries.
Those acknowledging Rinpoche as Quetzacoatl were representatives of the ancient Toltec lineage of Mexico from the King – Priest Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco. He was the ruler of the of the Toltecayotl, a society apparently based on a tradition that valued arts, poetry and literature and who opposed the brutal practices of the Aztecs.
Nezahualcoyotl is said not to have believed in human sacrifice, instead offering butterflies and flowers to the highest most revered god of the Toltecs, Quetzacoatl (from ‘Quetzal’: precious bird, green like jade; ‘Co’: Serpent Queen of Earth and ‘Atl’: Great Waters of the Universe). The philosophy of the Toltecayotl is said to have been known under the name of "In Xochitl in Cuicatl": Flowers (poetry) and Songs.
The Toltecs as well as the Mayas and, much later, the Aztecs are thought to have believed that the world has gone through several changes. They named these eras "Katunes", of which there were five "Suns" or cycles of earth.
One explanation of the mythology says that the Gods wanted to create the perfect creature, so they started to gather together all the substances of creation. At first they came up with human made from clay but it could not move, talk or think. Being imperfect, they were destroyed by flood.
The second attempt to create humanity was from wood. But again the resulting creatures were stupid, did not have memory and unable to worship the gods. They were destroyed by fire.
Next, giants were created. They could move and talk and had memory but they became too selfish and proud. So the monsters of the depths of the earth came to the surface and destroyed them.
Following this came monkeys. They were quite intelligent, they could move but they could not talk or remember to worship the gods, so they too were destroyed.
Finally, the gods gathered together again. They took the blood of the phallus of Quezacoatl and mixed it with the milk of the corn. From this the human being was created.
For more detail see ’Mandala’ Nov- Dec 99, pages 60 to 63.
The International Kalacakra Website
We should shortly have a colour picture of a Kalacakra tanka to illustrate the site. More pictorial and graphic material would be welcome.
Ed is still actively seeking for more ideas, help with design, practitioners to write materials, graphic materials etc. You can contact him on: Ed_Henning@zd.com with any offers of help, ideas or materials for the site.
It is our intention to publish a calendar of significant dates for Kalacakra practitioners in the next edition of the newsletter. All contributions welcome.
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