To promote the study and practice of Kalacakra
"All beings arise in time, Time continually
consumes them all,
|Volume 1, Number 5, 2000|
Revised Group Meetings Study Schedule Ed Henning has an unforeseen family commitment and will not be able to complete
the third and final part of his presentation of the completion/perfection stage
yogas on May 13. Could anyone who would like to take the opportunity to present something to
the group contact our programme co-ordinator, Sara, on 0181 881 8500. As soon as possible the details of the revised schedule, including the new
date for Ed's Part III on the completion/perfection stage yogas, will be circulated
as soon as possible. The study schedule for the group meetings from April until
September now looks as follows: April 8: Completion/perfection stage yoga. Part II –
Ed Henning. May 13: Yet to be decided. We will circulate details
of this session as soon as possible. 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
Geshe-la has not yet indicated whether he will be able to offer
teachings on the Manjusri - namasamgiti between now and September.
Revised Group Meetings Study Schedule
Ed Henning has an unforeseen family commitment and will not be able to complete the third and final part of his presentation of the completion/perfection stage yogas on May 13.
Could anyone who would like to take the opportunity to present something to the group contact our programme co-ordinator, Sara, on 0181 881 8500.
As soon as possible the details of the revised schedule, including the new date for Ed's Part III on the completion/perfection stage yogas, will be circulated as soon as possible.
The study schedule for the group meetings from April until September now looks as follows:
April 8: Completion/perfection stage yoga. Part II – Ed Henning.
May 13: Yet to be decided. We will circulate details of this session as soon as possible.
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
Geshe-la has not yet indicated whether he will be able to offer teachings on the Manjusri - namasamgiti between now and September.
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
If any further 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.
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.
The nineteen uncommon samayas of the six Buddha groups according to Kalacakra
In the February edition of the newsletter we asked if anyone knew of any relevant commentaries on the uncommon samayas according to Kalacakra. The Ven.Thubten Wangchuk has called our attention to a short but very interesting one by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in: 'The Kalachakra Tantra, Rite of Initiation', Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama. Translated, edited and introduced by Jeffrey Hopkins. Wisdom Publications; 1985 edition; pp. 228-30.
For ease of reference, we have decided to re-print the commentary here:
"Then, with respect to the pledges of the five Buddha lineages:
For the five-pointed vajra [lineage of Akshobhya] I will maintain vajra, bell, seal and lama with the crown of my head.
Literally, the text reads, "the desirous vajra" ('dod pa'I rdo rje); however, "desire" here is a term for "five", the connection being that there are five attributes of the Desire Realm - pleasant visible forms, sounds, odors, tastes, and tangible objects. The lineage of the five pointed vajra is that of Akshobhya, and the pledges that correspond to this lineage are to keep (1) the vajra, which symbolizes the exalted wisdom of great bliss, (2) the bell, which symbolizes the wisdom realizng emptiness, and (3) the great seal, which here refers to a divine body - the appearance of the apprehension factor of such bliss and wisdom realizing emptiness as a deity. You are saying that you will always keep these, without forgetting them, and not only those, but will also maintain (4) proper reliance, with the crown of your head, of the lama who teaches the modes of those three.
For the jewel [lineage of Ratnasambhava] I will give gifts; for the wheel [lineage of Vairochana] I will keep the pledges of the supreme Conquerors.
The uncommon pledges to be kept by a practitioner of the jewel lineage, that of Ratnasambhava, are to train always in the ten aspects of giving - giving to others wealth such as precious substances, iron, copper, cattle, horses, elephants, and so forth as well as one's mate and children, one's own flesh, etc.
The Wheel lineage is that of Vairochana. A practitioner of this lineage is especially to maintain the pledges of the supreme Conquerors, the Five Ones Gone Thus - that is to say, to use the five fleshes and the five ambrosias, which have the nature of the five male and female Ones Gone Thus, and to take care of the body and the sense powers. Vairochana is the factor of purification of the form aggregate, and the five fleshes and five ambrosias are used as a means of enhancing the body, which is the basis of bliss. Similarly, asceticism that makes the body deteriorate is to be avoided.
For the sword [lineage of Amoghasiddhi] I will make offerings; for the bright lotus [ lineage of Amitaba] I will maintain restraint.
For the sword lineage of Amoghasiddhi, the uncommon or emphasized pledges are to make offerings - external, internal, secret, and of suchness - to high objects such as gurus, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and so forth. The lotus lineage is that of Amitaba, practitioners of which especially should keep the pledge of restraining from, or abandoning, the bliss of emission, even though making use of a consort, and thereby maintain pure behaviour.
So that sentient beings may be liberated, I will, for the [Vajrasattva] lineage of the progenitor of Conquerors, generate enlightenment.
The lineage of the progenitor of Conquerors is that of Vajrasattva - also called Vajradhara - the lineage of the one-pointed vajra. A practitioner of this lineage puts particular emphasis on generating enlightenment. That is to say: Unsurpassed enlightenment is a state of the full perfection or development of the capacity of the most subtle wind and mind. As a means for accomplishing this, the most subtle mind that we naturally have is to be generated into the path as an undifferentiable entity of method and wisdom, of compassion and the wisdom realizing emptiness, the feat of the great seal. Since highest enlightenment is to be achieved in this way, one who has the lineage of Vajrasattva puts emphasis on generating the very subtle consciousness itself into an entity of path - undifferentiable method and wisdom - as a technique for attaining such enlightenment.
What is the purpose of keeping these pledges? It is for the sake of (1) liberating from the obstructions to omniscience those beings who, even though they are free from the obstructions from cyclic existence, are not free from the obstructions to omniscience, (2) liberating those who, never mind obstuctions to omniscience, are not free from the obstructions to liberation, (3) relieving those who, never mind the obstuctions to omniscience or the obstructions to liberation, are under the influence of afflictive emotions such that they are in a state of deprivation from happiness in bad transmigrations as hell-beings, hungry ghosts or animals.
In brief you should think, "I am taking these vows in order to set each and every sentient being in the non-abiding nirvana of Buddhahood. Taking the lama and the deities of the mandala as witnesses, I will train in the path of Highest Yoga Mantra in order to bring help and happiness to all sentient beings, and to do that I am taking the Mantra vows."
I will liberate those not liberated [from the obstructions to omniscience].
I will release those not released [from cyclic existence].
I will relieve those unrelieved [ in bad transmigrations].
And set sentient beings in nirvana.
In brief, mantra vows are kept in order to be able to set all sentient beings in the non-abiding nirvana of Buddhahood.
These vows and pledges are for those who intend to enter the mandala and receive initiation and who feel that they can keep the pledges and vows. With the third repetition, as before, think strongly and with enthusiasm that you are gaining the Mantra vows, and with the end of the last line, "And set sentient beings in nirvana," think that the pure Mantra vows have been generated in your continuum."
We are grateful to Wisdom Publications for allowing us to reproduce this passage for study purposes and request that their copyright be respected in any further reproduction.
Kalacakra Tsog Offering
The Ven.Thubten Wangchuk also kindly indicated a method for those following the Gelukpa tradition to perform a Kalacakra Tsog offering. He writes:
"Concerning the tsok, it can be performed on the basis of the Six-session Guru-yoga in connection with Kalachakra composed by H.E. Ling Rinpoche, using the tsok section of
In this case it takes place just after the four stanzas of praises to the self-generation ( in Hopkins' translation, "…Endowed with all good deeds." ), and before the dissolution ("The shaktis, as well as their seats,…).
Although the tsok is usually performed on the 10th day of the waxing and waning moon, it is recommended for a Kalachakra practitioner to do it on the special Kalachakra day, i.e. the full moon day, each month if possible, but especially of the third month.
One inserts the following verse:
TING-DZIN NGAk-D'ANG CHAK-GYA J'IN-LAP-PAi //
ZAK-ME DU-TSIi TS'Ok-CHO GYA-TS'O DI //
DU-KYI K'OR-LOi LHA-TS'Ok NYE-CH'IR BUL //
OM AH HUM!
DO-GUi PAL-LA ROL-PA TSIM-DZA-NA //
E-MA-HO! MI-GYUR DE-CH'EN NGO-Dr'UP TSAL-TU SOL "
The Ven.Thubten Wangchuk says that he does it as the third stanza of the offering part of the tsok meditation, after the stanzas of offering to the Gurus and the deities in general, but he is not completely sure that this is right. He wonders whether it might actually come as the second stanza. He asked us to check with Geshe-la. Geshe-la has confirmed the correctness of the above as a way of performing the tsog, but is unable to offer guidance as to whether it comes after the second or third stanza.
The Tibetan for the two 'changed' lines is as follows:
-"dus kyi 'khor lo'i lha tshogs mnyes phyir 'bul", which is translated as: "I offer to please the assembly of Kalacakra deities.",
-"e ma ho mi 'gyur bde chen dngos grub stsal du gsol", which is translated as: "E-Ma-Ho! Please bestow the siddhi of the immutable great bliss."
Kalacakra: Textual and Ritual Perspectives
Jensine Andresen (1997)
UMI Number: 9733170
Available from UMI, 300 North Zeeb Road, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Andresen’s thesis is based around her ‘preliminary translation’ of Chapter Three of the Kalacakratantra together with its commentary the Vimalaprabha, which is the chapter on the initiation. In this respect, it picks up where Vesna Wallace’s thesis based around the second chapter leaves off. In most other respects however, this is a very different type of work. I cannot comment on the accuracy of the translation, but since she herself describes it as ‘preliminary’ she acknowledges that in future her work will be refined. The third chapter is highly technical and is almost entirely focused on the ritual. However, as the book on the initiation by the Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins shows, even a study of the initiation can elucidate important understanding of the structure of the practice of the tantra, since it is here that the seeds are sown for all the realisations through all the yogas. The layout of the translation is useful, since it contains the Sanskrit then Tibetan then English, with the commentary added in brackets, and like Vesna Wallace, Jensine Andresen also includes references to Buton’s commentary.
As she tells us in her abstract at the beginning, Andresen adopts a multi-disciplinary critical approach to Kalacakra as a cultural phenomenon, looking at ‘the social, psychological, economic and political factors that have propelled this tradition forward.’ Like David Reigle in Kalacakra Sadhana and Social Responsibility, she works across the canvass of history, looking at Shambhala, Tibet, and the West as comparable contexts within which Kalacakra has achieved social significance and meaning. True to her post-modernist methodology, her chapters arise as apparently disconnected fragments in her quest to engage with multiple readings of her central ‘text’, the initiation itself. She successfully deconstructs the concept of the initiation as a ‘text’ offering us as alternatives, the initiation as a video, as a spectacle, as a political vehicle, and in the process examines the notion of ritual as a social phenomenon. She helps us to see Kalacakra in a series of settings, as an instrument of power. Her critical stance inevitably renders her somewhat an outsider to this power, so practitioners may find themselves at odds with her perspective, since they are harnessing this power for the inner purpose of spiritual development, whilst Andresen seems mostly to look at Kalacakra as a social phenomenon. However, she cannot help being drawn into it, and has herself taken the initiation and has attended like the rest of us. We can sympathise with her orientation of one foot in the western academic tradition, and one foot in the Buddhist practice tradition. However, it makes for a serious tension in the whole work, which comes to a head in her final chapter, ‘Coffee-shop Mandalas’. Here, western academic balance is sacrificed to a feeling of panic at the commodification of Tibetan Buddhism, through its encounter with capitalist culture.
I feel that the issues raised by Jensine Andresen are most relevant to our project of introducing this rich, diverse and powerful tradition to the west. We might read her concerns as a series of warnings. She warns against the development of the Kalacakra Initiation as an exotic spectacle. She warns against the tradition whereby the Kalacakra initiation is an instrument of powerful men in patriarchal cultures. She warns of how the internet and capitalist culture may have a destructive effect on the Kalacakra tradition. Although she does not say as much, for me, her whole thesis is a warning against losing touch with Kalacakra as a practice tradition, and of course this danger applies to the whole of Buddhism. The wherewithal to remedy this lies completely in our hands. I guess that Jensine Andresen’s thesis is evidence of the fear of losing the plot which can beset us unless we root our entire project in personal practice and pure motivation.
Andy is concerned not to give the impression that his reviews are in any way definitive. To this end, we would like to encourage others not to be shy of reviewing the same things that have been reviewed in the newsletter before if they have a different view of them.
Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche invitation for 2002
Both Geshe-la and Alison think that it would be wonderful to host teachings by Rinpoche in 2002 and are happy to make it a joint invitation.
Our view so far is that we should request that Rinpoche impart to us retreat instructions with regard to the six yogas according to Kalacakra.
We think that this would be the best way to cover the two things that we all want - retreat instructions and completion stage teachings. We do not really want further protracted discussion to hold up the invitation but please let Beth know quickly if there are any strong objections to this proposed request.
Alison had a meeting with Geshe-la last Thursday ( 30 March ) where they could talk about Rinpoche's visit.
Geshe-la suggested that we ask Rinpoche for a minimum of a month, so that he has time to rest between events. August 2002 is a very good time for Jamyang because it does not interupt the regular programme. The other time that would be good (if Rinpoche's Austrian dates change ) is April 2002.
Geshe-la would like to ask Rinpoche to give preliminary teachings for a minimum of three evenings, preferably on the pre-requisites for tantric practice, or otherwise on patience and compassion. We understand that at this stage Geshe-la is thinking about subjects rather than about any particular texts and would probably like to discuss the matter with Rinpoche. Geshe-la is happy with all our suggestions for the rest of the programme.
Alison and Geshe-la are in agreement that it would be most practical to organise events jointly. To this end we could set up a Planning Group of interested people who will then take responsibility for a really well designed leaflet - the month would attract international attention - and setting up the booking procedures. Jamyang is well set up to handle the enquiries and bookings (phone, email, fax, credit card facilities, etc.) and it would not really be sensible to split the process in two. Alison is prepared to commit the Jamyang office to give the event all the support they can as they see this as a really major event for the Centre. Many thanks to Geshe-la and Alison for their enthusiasm, support, love and prayers. All seems to augur well for a very successful visit from Rinpoche.
We can discuss this further on Saturday so that Beth can take matters forward as soon as possible.
His Holiness invitation for 2004
Steve is progressing our efforts to organise an invitation to His Holiness to give the Kalacakra initiation in the UK during 2004. We are seeking the backing of all the relevant Buddhist and Tibetan community groups. Geshe-la has been consulted for his advice on the way we should approach this, particularly with regard to the Tibetan community groups resident here. Cait Collins and Paul Seto, wearing his Network of Buddhist Organisations hat, have also made a valuable contributions in respect of handling the approaches. ( Cait has recently returned from a Kalacakra initiation in Sikkim - wonder if she would like to write something about it for a future edition of the newsletter!)
Michael Muller, an old friend and student of Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche from Germany, attended our last meeting and told us about the group responsible for His Holiness giving the Kalachakra initiation in Austria in 2002. A good connection has been made through which we can not only consider making a contribution as practitioners to the Austrian initiation but also learn valuable lessons from their experience.
Snail mail versus e-mail!
Would you like to receive future editions of the newsletter by post or by e-mail, or both? We are trying to compile a complete up to date mail/e-mail list. Let us know your preferences and give us your latest e-mail and postal addresses. A majority electing for e-mail would cut down our mailing costs and time considerably.
kayavakcitta parinishpanna mandala
Iain Sinclair has sent us an image of a work in progress from the Kalacakra iconography project he has been working on, not yet necessarily for publication. It is more for evaluation by fellow practitioners before it is finally finished.
The image shows the outlines and colours of the Kalacakra body, speech and mind mandala. So far it is not yet complete, but Iain thought he would make what exists now available for comment.
This rendition of the mandala is based on directions given in the Kalacakra Tantra and the Vimalaprabha, with details fleshed out from other sources. The original artwork is computer- based, so it can be generated at any resolution. At the moment, the elemental circles and the towers at the gates are still yet to be made up. Iain will be leaving out non-essential features as he is aiming to put together a basic reference for meditation, etc.
The proportions of the superstructure and the deities are slightly different to those in the 'standard' sand mandala used for initiation. Iain has derived some of the proportions by assuming that all deities, except those on the outer skirting and in the gnosis mandala, are of uniform size throughout all mandalas. This is desirable for meditation purposes - you have to 'see' them.
Although it is not stated anywhere in the texts, Iain says that this is a common assumption in Buddhist tantras.
Other details come from standard references such as Buddhaguhya's Dharmamandala-sutra. The proportions are practically identical with those in a number of published thangkas, eg. Leidy & Thurman (1997).
Iain has thrown this out now, hoping for some feedback. The next version should add all the bijas (syllables) in English as well as the towers and elemental circles.
We cannot reproduce the full colour image here but a 'black and white' copy is attached to give those interested some idea. If you have an interest and would like to provide Iain with some feedback from a practitioner's perspective then we could e-mail you with a JPEG Image version of the work so far.
In the February edition of the newsletter we said that it was our intention to publish a calendar of significant dates for Kalacakra practitioners. We have so far not had any contributions from readers and time has been tight for us as producers, so we will have to defer this offering for a future edition. Any help in taking this project forward would be gratefully received.
The International Kalacakra Website
The newsletter should shortly be available on the site and we should shortly have a colour picture of a Kalacakra thangka 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.
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:
Roy Sutherwood on e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Kerrigan on 0181-881 8500
Mailing address: c/o Jamyang Buddhist Centre, 43 Renfrew Road, London, SE11 4NA
International Kalacakra Network website
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