The Berzin Archives

The Buddhist Archives of Dr. Alexander Berzin

Switch to the Text Version of this page. Jump to main navigation.

Detailed Outline of the Kalachakra Empowerment

Alexander Berzin
prepared for the Mongolian translator of the Kalachakra empowerment
conferred by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, August 1995

2 Entering the Mandala

Outline of the Actual Empowerment

The actual Kalachakra empowerment is divided into two parts:

  1. entering the mandala,
  2. giving the empowerments to those who have entered.

The first part, entering the mandala, is divided into two sections:

  1. entering blindfolded,
  2. entering as someone who can see the mandala.

The first part, entering blindfolded, is divided into two parts:

  1. entering outside the curtain,
  2. entering inside the mandala palace.

Entering Blindfolded Outside the Curtain

Preliminaries

The disciples rinse their mouths with water and prostrate three times. The Guru-deity offers a torma to chase away interferers. He explains how one must not be proud if one has had a good dream or depressed if one has had an inauspicious one, but that all dreams are void of inherent existence. He then purifies any interferences from the dreams. The disciples then offer a mandala.

Rejoicing and Requesting the Vows

To generate happiness at the opportunity to achieve the highest actual attainment of enlightenment, the disciples repeat a long mantra twice in Sanskrit and once in Tibetan. The disciples then request once more the Bodhisattva vows, close bonds, and refuge, by repeating three times:

"The sole liberator from the ocean of recurring existence, which is frightful with the sea monsters of birth, aging and death, is you, O great joyous teacher of mine. O great protector, I am seeking the firm way of great enlightenment. Bestow on me the close bonds; bestow on me also bodhichitta (vows). Also bestow on me the three refuges – Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. O protector, please let me enter the supreme city of great liberation."

Receiving Ritual Garments, Blindfolds, and Flowers

The Guru-deity passes out to the chief disciples ritual lower garments, upper garments, and crown protrusions. He passes out to all the disciples red blindfold ribbons, which the disciples put on their foreheads, and a flower, which the disciples hold until later.

Tossing the Neem Stick and Taking the Sips of Water

Once more, the disciples toss the stick from the neem tree and take three sips of water for purification.

Generating the Disciples as the Vajrasattva Couple

The disciples are generated in the form of a simple Kalachakra, with one face and two arms, holding vajra and bell, with a blue body, right leg red and outstretched, left leg white and bent, and embracing a blue Vishvamati, with one face and two arms, holding a cleaver and skullcup.

The disciples visualize:

  • at their hearts, on a black Rahu disc, a black HUM,
  • at their throats, on a red sun disc, a red A:,
  • at their foreheads, on a white moon disc, a white OM.

Light from these three syllables fills their body transforming it into clear light.

Asking the Disciples Their Family-Traits

The Guru-deity asks the disciples what their family-traits are (Hinayana or Mahayana) and what they admire, by asking:

"O, who are you? What do you seek?"

The disciples answer:

"I am a fortunate one. Great bliss." (Fortunate one means they have a the Bodhisattva family-trait.)

Further Requesting and Taking the Vows

(1) The disciples further request the Bodhisattva vows by repeating:

"I go for refuge to the feet of you, O remover of the frights of recurring existence (samsara), you who are unstained by the faults of recurring existence, you who are the essence of all excellence. For me there is no other refuge from the inexhaustible frights of recurring existence. Therefore, being very compassionate, be kind to me today. Frightened by terrible recurring existence, from today I especially go for refuge to you Triumphant Buddhas, and with pure body, speech, and mind, I also (go for refuge) to your lotus feet (O Guru), you who definitely remove the frights of recurring existence."

(2) The disciples then take the Bodhisattva vows by repeating three times:

"I take refuge in the Three Gems, individually admit to all my destructive acts, rejoice in the constructive actions of all beings, and take hold with my mind the enlightenment of a Buddha."

(3) The disciples then request the tantra vows, by repeating:

"Bestowing on me the excellent irreversible empowerment of the mandala circle, O protector, please explain the principles of the mandala, the deities, the activities of a master, the close bonds of all Buddhas, and the supremely secret vows. In order to benefit all sentient beings, I shall forever act as a master."

(4) The disciples then take the tantra vows by repeating three times:

"O Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, please pay me heed. I (repeat your name) from this time forth, until arriving at the essence of enlightenment, shall generate an excellent unsurpassed heart of bodhichitta, expanding out to enlightenment, in the same way that the protectors of the three times became decisive about enlightenment. I shall firmly keep individually the three forms of ethics - the ethical trainings, the mass of positive practices, and bringing about the welfare of sentient beings. For the five-pointed vajra (family of Akshobhya), I shall uphold a vajra, bell, (mudra) seal and my Guru, with the crown of my head. For the jewel (family of Ratnasambhava), I shall be generous; for the wheel (family of Vairochana), I shall keep the close bonding practices of the supreme Buddhas. For the sword (family of Amoghasiddhi), I shall make offerings; for the bright lotus (family of Amitabha), I shall maintain restraint. So that sentient beings may be liberated, I shall, for the (Vajrasattva) family of the source of the Buddhas, generate bodhichitta. I shall liberate those not liberated (from the obstructions to omniscience). I shall release those not released (from recurring existence). I shall relieve those not relieved (in the worse rebirth states) and set sentient beings in a state of release."

(5) The Guru-deity explains the twenty-five modes of tamed behavior.

[See: The Twenty-Five Modes of Tamed Behavior.]

(6) The disciples repeat three times their acceptance of the twenty-five modes of tamed behavior:

"I shall keep forever these twenty-five modes of tamed behavior, and in this way destroy the frights of recurring existence in accordance with the word (of Buddha), the chief of all beings."

The Yoga Encompassing Everything

(1) The disciples generate conventional bodhichitta, dedicating their hearts to attaining enlightenment in order to benefit everyone. They visualize this in the form of a white moon disc lying flat at their hearts.

(2) The disciples then generate deepest bodhichitta, a mind that understands voidness. They visualize this as an upright white vajra standing on the moon disc at their hearts.

(3) The disciples repeat a mantra, while thinking that they will always keep these attitudes of mind.

(4) A replica of such a moon disc and vajra also at the Guru-deity's heart is emanated and dissolves into the moon and vajra at the disciples' hearts.

(5) The Guru-deity, holding a vajra with a flower at the disciples' hearts, repeats a mantra, making these minds firm.

Reminding to Keep the Secrecy

The Guru-deity places his vajra on the disciples' heads and reminds them to keep the secrecy, saying:

"Today, you shall be transformed and elevated by all the Buddhas. You must not speak about this supremely secret mandala of all the Buddhas to those who have not entered a mandala or to those with no faith."

Entering Blindfolded Inside the Mandala Palace

Entering, Circumambulating, and Prostrating

(1) The disciples imagine the curtain is drawn aside and they enter the mandala palace through the eastern doorway. Blindfolded, they circumambulate three times the ground-floor body mandala level, in the corridor between the wall and the ledge where the deities are, while repeating a mantra.

(2) At the eastern doorway, the disciples transform into a green Akshobhya and prostrate to the main figure three times, while repeating a mantra. A replica of Akshobhya from the mandala dissolves into the disciples.

(3) The disciples transform into a black Amoghasiddhi and prostrate to him three times, while repeating a mantra. A replica of Amoghasiddhi from the mandala dissolves into the disciples.

(4) The disciples circumambulate clockwise to the southern doorway, transform into a red Ratnasambhava and prostrate to the him three times, while repeating a mantra. A replica of Ratnasambhava from the mandala dissolves into the disciples.

(5) The disciples circumambulate clockwise to the northern doorway, transform into a white Amitabha and prostrate to the him three times, while repeating a mantra. A replica of Amitabha from the mandala dissolves into the disciples.

(6) The disciples circumambulate clockwise to the western doorway, transform into a yellow Vairochana and prostrate to the him three times, while repeating a mantra. A replica of Vairochana from the mandala dissolves into the disciples.

(7) The disciples circumambulate clockwise to the eastern doorway, and still as a yellow Vairochana prostrate to the Guru three times, while repeating a mantra.

The Giving of Promises

(1) Placing his vajra on the disciples' heads, the Guru-deity explains the benefit of keeping secrecy.

(2) Keeping his vajra on the disciples' heads, the Guru-deity explains the drawbacks to their bodies of not keeping the secrecy.

(3) Placing his vajra at the disciples' hearts, the Guru-deity explains the drawbacks to their minds of not keeping the secrecy.

(4) The Guru-deity explains both the advantages of keeping secrecy and the disadvantages of not, and the disciples' are given from the conch a sip of vajra oath-swearing water.

(5) The Guru-deity takes the disciples' hands and explains the importance of never saying bad things about their vajra masters.

Causing the Deep Awareness Beings to Descend and Reciting Words of Truth

(1) The disciples repeat three times a verse of request:

"May all the Buddhas transform and elevate me. May the glorious Kalachakra please descend into me."

(2) All appearances dissolve into voidness. Within a state of voidness, from a blue HUM the disciples arise as a blue vajra, which transforms into a full Vajravega, fierce, with a blue body, four faces, twenty-six arms, and two legs.

  • At their navels, from LAM, comes a yellow square earth mandala marked with a wheel, and on it, on a yellow Kalagni disc, is a yellow HO:.
  • At their hearts, from YAM, comes a black bow-shaped wind mandala marked with two banners, and on it, on a black Rahu disc, is a black HUM.
  • At their throats, from RAM, comes a red triangular fire mandala marked with a jewel, and on it, on a red sun disc, is a red A:.
  • At their foreheads, from VAM, comes a white round water mandala marked with a vase, and on it, on a white moon disc, is a white OM.

From these four syllables, and from the HUM at the heart of the Guru-deity, lights go out and bring back the four vajra deities (vajra body, speech, mind, and deep awareness), who dissolve into these four syllables.

(3) Below the disciples' feet, from YAM comes a black bow-shaped wind mandala. On it, from RAM, comes a red triangular fire mandala marked with RAM. On it, on the two soles of the disciples' feet are red JHAIs radiating light.

Light from the heart of the Guru-deity strikes the wind mandala, making it turbulent, which causes the fire mandala to blaze. Light from the JHAIs enters through the pores of the soles of the disciples' feet, stimulating the four syllables, which emit light that fills the disciples' entire bodies.

At the same time, from the heart of the Guru-deity light is emitted which brings back all the Buddhas in the form of Kalachakras and Vajravegas, who fill all of space and dissolve, as deep awareness beings (ye-shes sems-pa, wisdom beings) into the disciples' bodies.

(4) Saying OM A: HUM, the Guru-deity tosses flowers on the heads of the disciples.

(5) The descent of the deep awareness beings is protected and made firm with the seed-syllables of the six Buddha-families of method and wisdom. The disciples visualize:

  • at their foreheads, a white OM,
  • at their hearts, a black HUM,
  • at the crown of their heads, a green HAM,
  • at their navels, a yellow HO:,
  • at their throats a red A:,
  • at their pubic regions, a blue KSHA:.

Observing Signs

The disciples remove their blindfolds for a moment, look at the sky, and observe what color they see. The disciples put their blindfolds back on.

Circumambulating

Karmavajra, the emanated assistant of the Guru-deity, leads the disciples in circumambulating the mandala three times.

Reciting Words of Truth

The Guru-deity, in the form of Karmavajra, stands at the eastern doorway of the mandala palace and recites words of truth that may his disciples be shown the Buddha-family they have the positive potential to be connected with.

Entering as Someone Who Can See the Mandala

Offering a Flower

The disciples offer a flower to the mandala by tossing the flowers they were given earlier onto a tray, which has a mandala drawn on it and is held on top of a vase. They hold the flower in both their hands, directly over the tray, and then let it fall while reciting a mantra. Depending on the direction in which the flower falls, the disciples learn the Buddha-family they have a connection with and receive the secret name of that Buddha-family.

The flower is given back to the disciples, who place it on the top of their heads, while repeating a mantra. From the touch of the flower on the top of their heads, the disciples experience voidness and bliss.

Removing the Blindfold and Seeing the Mandala

The disciples remove their blindfolds and see the mandala clearly. The Guru-deity describes the mandala and all the figures in it.

Reciting the Words of the Close Bond

With joy at seeing the mandala, the disciples recite the words of their close bond:

"OM. I have entered the vajra mandala, great mandala. I see the yoga mandala, great mandala. I am receiving the empowerment into the hidden mandala, great mandala. SAMAYA HO: HO: HO: HO:."