To promote the study and practice of Kalacakra
"All beings arise in time, Time continually
consumes them all,
|Volume 1, Number 1, June 1999|
New study programme developing
At the May and June meetings the group discussed the idea of outlining a study programme for the next year or so. The priority that emerged from this was to prepare for a full retreat, whether this was going to be done either as a group or by individuals, as and when the time was appropriate.
Ed Henning very kindly agreed to give further regular presentations to the group, his work commitments permitting, throughout the next year. The topics for these are proposed to be as follows:
We thought that one session would suffice for the overview but that we would like to spend at least three sessions on the Mind Mandala sadhana and perhaps a further three on the Yogas of the Completion Stage.
We proposed that Ed’s presentations could be interspersed with presentations by other members of the group on various topics of interest to them and the group. For example, Beth offered to take up the study of the various lineages of Kalachakra within the Tibetan tradition, with a view to making a presentation to the group. Sara generously offered to be group programme co-ordinator. …..
If anyone wants to get stuck into an area of research or has something relevant from their experience that they want to bring forward and present to the group, please let us know and we will pass this on to Sara. Roy will see what he can do to provide some "notes from the Void". Nothing definitive, just some discussion points around Emptiness in the Kalachakra tradition. Andy is keen to present material on the Protection Wheel.
Ed has provided a good first shot at an initial list of topics but other ideas would be more than welcome. No one has to feel that they have to be highly qualified or in some way expert to do this.
The most important thing to have interest and enthusiasm for the task and to participate in helping us all improve our knowledge, understanding and practice. While getting a good grip on the material in an extremely complex tantra is not a bad idea, practice is what remains fundamental to the work of the group. We are all agreed that we want a practice-based rather than an academic approach to the Kalachakra teachings.
Cait has offered to present to the group from an experiential perspective on the essentials of tantra from time to time. These sessions will help to remind us, should we forget, that the emphasis ought be on practice and experience rather than on mere intellectualisation.
The study programme proper will probably start in September. It would be good to finalise and agree the broad outlines for the programme at the July 10 meeting. As agreed last time we will continue to begin every meeting with a few moments silent meditation followed by Buton Rinpoche’s The Best of Jewels sadhana.
We all seemed quite keen to arrange a couple of further one-day or weekend retreats focusing on the practice of the Deti Rinpoche Mind Mandala sadhana at sometime over the next 12 months.
The idea of seeking a suitable quiet, rural venue for these, such as Marpa House was discussed but no final decisions were taken.
How can we make our Kalachakra practice relate to the modern world?
Beth Gilmore sat and thought a fair bit following the discussion at the May meeting, sparked by an open question from Garry. Beth felt that she would like to air her views and the following is a short article from her perspective, dealing with the issues around relating our practice to the modern world:
If our environment, our appearance, our actions and enjoyment of these are all visualised as the deity’s within the blissful awareness of emptiness then we are practising Kalachakra in relation to the modern world, right here and now! However, this is much easier said than done. At times we are still left with feeling that we are Westerners in our modern world and Kalachakra is this ancient Indian meditation system way over there.
As we know Kalachakra means "Cycles of Time". Perhaps what we need to consider is that the internal and external cycles of time were not something made up by an Indian guy thousands of years ago. They’ve always been in existence no matter whether they are written down in the form of a tantra or not.
From a Western psychological viewpoint, Kalachakra is like an instruction manual of self-help therapy applying an alternative to these regular comings and goings of life at the deepest possible level. Instead of continually allowing these cycles to appear in an impure way that harms ourselves and others we use the "Kalachakra cognitive therapy" and the "Kalachakra internal aerobics" to get down to the heart of these cycles and then switch them around and replace them with pure appearances, psychological perfection.
It is difficult at times to relate to enlightenment, it seems like a completely Eastern experience, but the path to it is actually a psychological process for anyone to undertake, with the right effort and perseverance of course.
We may ask ourselves: How can I relate to all this Indian imagery? Well, I say think of it as like having a well thought out, tried and tested, dressing up box that we’ve been given for our course of treatment and then leave it at that. Then we can focus our attention on the real meaning behind the costumes and play-acting.
As the Buddha said: If you want to help a man who has been shot with an arrow, you don’t start asking him what type of arrow is this. Of what wood is it made? Such questions have no bearing on what you need to achieve. You just get in there and pull the thing out!
Alex Berzin’s questions with the Kalachakra Practice Group
Beth has completed the second part of the transcript of Alex’s questions with the Kalachakra Practice Group. A copy is attached. Further copies can be made from the master in our archives.
Dawn is now going down to Bristol to study at Bristol University with Paul Williams’ Department. She will no longer be able to look after our archive.
Would anyone interested in replacing her please contact us. In the meantime Roy will initially take the material we already have from her and establish a safe temporary home for it at Jamyang.
In the next edition of the Newsletter we will be able to publish a full list of the Kalachakra materials held by the members of the group so that we can all see what we have and have not got.
Future editions of the Newsletter
Martin and Roy have taken over the production of the newsletter from Beth. We would welcome suggestions from the group about the development of both its style and content. Articles from members of the group would be very welcome. From time to time we will attach items of interest relevant to Kalachakra and would also welcome others providing us with material
For example, over the page is information from the internet on the Kalachakra initiation being given in Bloomington, Indiana by His Holiness in August.
Is anyone planning to go to Vajrayogini in October for Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche’s Kalachakra Initiation? Roy is definitely going. He is going to try and make sure that English translation facilities are available. If other group members are thinking of going, there may be the possibility of gaining the benefits of doing this as a small group.
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