Explanatory Talk at the Bloomington
Kalachakra Initiation, 1999
Bloomington, Indiana, August 23, 1999
1 Deeper Points of the Empowerment Process
I was asked to speak about the Kalachakra empowerment or initiation. The context that I wasgivenwas that this is for people who are quite serious about receiving the empowerment and whomight haveread the book that I prepared for this - Taking the Kalachakra Initiation, published by Snow Lion - and who want to have acleareridea of some of the deeper points. So, I thought I would highlight some of the moreimportantpoints in taking an empowerment like this. I will speak for a little while and then we canhavesome questions afterwards.
In taking an empowerment like this, or any empowerment for that matter, it is very importanttostart with a positive motivation and maintain it throughout. In Buddhist terminology, thewordtranslated as "motivation" actually means intention or aim. This is what His Holiness hasbeenfocusing on so strongly in the preparatory teachings: the motivation or aim is bodhichitta. Wearefocusing on enlightenment, the state in which all the limitations that we might have are removed-disturbing emotions, disturbing attitudes, and all the junk - and all our potentials arefullyrealized to be able to help others. With bodhichitta, our hearts are set with the intentionandaim: "I really want to achieve this and I want to achieve this in order to help others as muchasis possible!"
There are no miracles. In Buddhism, we don't think in terms of omnipotence. We are not God.Wecan't go out and instantly take away everybody's suffering. But, we can try to reach a stateinwhich we are able to help everyone as much as is possible. Things depend not only on what wemightdo as Buddhas, but also, of course, on the beings that we are helping. They need to bereceptive;they need to work on themselves. We can try to explain reality to others, but we can'tunderstandreality for them. Everybody has to understand reality for him or her self. We need thetype ofmotivation with which we really want to work on ourselves as much as possible, because we see the difficultiesthateverybody has and we really want to be able to help them better.
We do this within the context of safe direction. This is usually translated as "refuge," butthatsounds a bit too passive. It is not, "O Buddha, save me! I take refuge in you!" as in takingrefugein a wildlife refuge park. Rather, it is an active process. We put a direction in our lives;andthat direction is a safe, sound, and positive one. That direction is indicated by theDharma.
The Dharma is the state in which all limitations, disturbing emotions, disturbingattitudes,impulsive behavior - all the craziness that our minds can produce - is gone. This isoften called"true cessation." Cessation is a big word. We don't need a big word. It is a true stopping. All our limitations, shortcomings, and confusion are stopped; they arefinishedand gone forever. The other aspect of Dharma, here, is true paths: true nonconceptualcognition ofreality, which brings about the true stoppings, and true realization of the potentialsthat we allhave. This is what we are aiming for, this the direction that we are going in: we aretrying to getrid of all the stuff that is causing problems and realize all possible good qualitiesin order tobe able to help others.
We also take safe direction from the Sangha. The Sangha refers to those who have achievedatleast some true stoppings and some true paths, whether they be monastics or laypeople. We alsotakedirection from the Buddhas, those who have actually completed this process. They haveactuallyachieved the total true stopping of all obscurations and the total sum of all truepaths.
It is very important to have this motivation as the context within which we approachtheempowerment. We are working in this safe direction, and not only that: with bodhichitta, weareaiming to become a Buddha, so we are not just going part way in this direction. We really wanttogo all the way, to be able to help others.
We need some conviction in voidness. Without an understanding of voidness, we cannotreallybelieve that it is possible to get rid of all this confusion. Voidness is very important.HisHoliness has underlined this many times. "Voidness" is easy to say. What it means is anabsence.Something is absent. We have all sorts of fantasies and projections about how things exist,and wefantasize and project all sorts of ways of existing that are impossible. There are manylevels ofimpossible ways of existing, and that is why we have all the different levels ofBuddhistphilosophical positions. Without going deeply into all these different levels, basicallywhat isabsent is an actual referent to our projections.
Let us put it very simply. It is like a child thinking that there is monster under the bed.Thechild projects this and then believes that there really is a monster there - that the projectionisreferring to reality - and it scares him or her. Likewise, we project all sorts of things -thisperson is really a terrible person; this person is an idiot; this person is so sexy andwonderful.Then we think that this way of existing corresponds to reality and we believe it. On thatbasis, weget all sorts of attachment, aversion, etc. What is absent is a monster under a bed. Thereis nomonster. There is no such thing as a monster. When we focus on voidness, we focus onthatabsence.
We've been knocking our heads against the wall for so long, imagining that the way that theworldappears to us is referring to reality, when in fact it is not. We need to have someconviction inthat, because only then is it possible to get rid of all the junk, all the disturbingemotions, thedisturbing attitudes, and the problems that come from them. It is possible to get ridof thembecause they are all based on believing that the junk that our minds project is true. Forour safedirection to be really firm, it needs to be based on this conviction in voidness, thisconvictionthat, through true paths, we can achieve true stoppings.
We don't have to understand voidness on a terribly profound level. Somebody asked thequestion,are we really prepared for this initiation. As long as we have some idea that ourprojections arenot referring to anything real and we are convinced of that, we do not really needto have the mostsophisticated understanding of all the impossible things and ways of existing thatwe areprojecting. We have that conviction in general. Then we can approach an empowerment fortantrapractice, because all of tantra is based on this conviction.
[See: Introduction to Voidness (Emptiness) and Mental Labeling.]
In dealing with an empowerment, it is very important to work with what is usually translatedas"stopping ordinary appearances and ordinary grasping." I am a translator, so I'm a little bitfussyabout translations. I think the greatest percentage of misunderstanding about Buddhism comesfromour confusion about the terminology. It gives us the incorrect impression of what we aretalkingabout here. We are not talking so much about appearances as a noun. We are talking aboutmakingappearances, as a verb. If solid appearances are truly out there, we cannot really get rid ofthem.What we can get rid of is the solid appearance-making that our minds are doing. This is whatweneed to work with here. In Kalachakra, there is a lot of discussion of subatomic particles,solet's use this as an example of solid appearance-making.
Everything is made of subatomic particles. In Buddhism, we talk about subatomic particles ofthedifferent elements: earth, water, fire, wind, and space. Each is progressively smaller thanthenext. Although things are made of subatomic particles, our minds connect the dots andmakeappearances of solid objects, "out there." Then we do what is usually translated as "grasping,"butthat is not a good translation. We apprehend such objects to exist in the way that our minds make them appear. We perceiveitand we believe that there is something solid out there and that there is some inherent qualityinit giving it a solid identity from it's own side. For example, this terrible person who istryingto get ahead of us on the road, there is something inherently wrong with him that makes himanidiot, Believing this, we then get angry. In fact, however, there is just a bunch ofsubatomicparticles, impulses from previous karmic conditioning, and a zillion other thingscontributing tobring about the basis for this appearance. What we want to do in approaching anempowerment issomehow to withdraw from this process of impure appearance-making, as it's called,and get to pureappearance-making. To do this, we need to understand what is going on a little bitmore deeply.
His Holiness is going to speak on a very deep and profound level so it is good to ease intoit.There are two aspects of our minds. One aspect makes things appear. "Appear," here, does notmeanto arise only visually - it could be a sound that you hear, a thought, or a feeling thatappears.To appear just means to arise. That's one aspect of the mind. And it is valid; we canvalidly oraccurately know such appearances that arise.
There is another aspect of the mind that is valid for understanding the deepest level: thefactthat these appearances are devoid of existing in the way that they appear, when mixedwithconfusion. Please don't get confused by the usual reference to these as "the two levels oftruth."There is no word "level" here. "Level" implies that the deepest truth - usually translatedas"ultimate" or "absolute," as if it were some transcendent thing - is a higher level.Consequently,we might have the idea that the conventional level is no good, so we want to go to thetranscendentlevel, because that is where everything is going to be peaceful and blissful and wedon't have todeal with all the problems on the conventional level.
Let's throw the word "level" out the window because it is not there in the original languages.Weare just speaking about two aspects of things that are true and correct. One is the appearance(theconventional level) and the other is the way in which things exist, with an absence ofexisting inimpossible ways. There are two aspects of the mind that are valid, one each, forcognizing each ofthese two truths about things.
The aspect of the mind that makes things appear conventionally usually does so in two waysthatit mixes together. Because of strong habituation, one side of that aspect of our minds makesthingsappear in a solid way and then we believe it. The other side of that aspect of mind makesthingsappear as dependently arising, which is how they actually exist. Things arise dependentlyonsubatomic particles and all sorts of causes and conditions.
For example, one side of the mind that makes conventional appearances projects the appearanceofa solidly and inherently existent real jerk onto the guy driving in the car behind us,wildlybeeping his horn and trying to pass us. Another side of that aspect of our minds just makes aplainappearance of him in the car behind us, on the basis of the subatomic particles of his body,and onthe basis of the facts that the road was built, the person learned how to drive, and soon.
Those two appearances get mixed together. They get mixed together so much that we are not atallaware of the appearance of the person as something that dependently arises. All we see istheappearance of solid existence that our minds project. When the aspect of our minds thatmakesconventional appearances makes things appear as solidly existent, the aspect of the mind thatisvalid for cognizing the deepest fact of how things exist cannot simultaneously see the absenceoftheir existing that way. We cannot focus on an object and both perceive it to be solidlyexistentand perceive the absence of it existing solidly. We cannot do that in the same moment,focused onthe same object. When our minds makes things appear solidly, we are not aware of theirvoidness,nor are we aware of their dependently arising appearance.
What we want to do, then, in any type of voidness practice or tantra practice, andparticularlyhere in the empowerment, is to get down to voidness. That is crucial. Getting down tovoidnessmeans we try to focus on the absence of things existing as our minds make them appear. Mymindmakes it appear as though there is a stage and there are all these people, and His Holiness issofantastic up there and I am here and I can't really follow, and it is chilly or hot or noisy,andall these sorts of things. Our minds are making these things appear out of all the massofsubatomic particles, karma, and so on. We want to withdraw from all that. We want to realizethatsuch appearances do not refer to reality. Our minds are making it appear like that and wearebuying into it. We believe it, and because we believe it, we are intimidated by what's goingon.We're getting lost, becoming uptight, and so on. We withdraw from that and focus on the absenceofthis referring to anything real.
Again, when we are focusing on that absence, we cannot also have the mind make an appearanceofthings being solid. So at that point, there is no appearance-making. If we stay on therougherlevel of mind, which is all that we capable of at this point, and we go back toappearance-making,our minds are going to make things appear solidly again. Even if we are imaginingHis Holiness asKalachakra, he is going to appear like a solid object, as if there were a personsubstantiallythere with a true identity, and so on. At that point, we cannot focus on voidness.What we want todo is to get down to the clear light level of mind. There will be a lot ofdiscussion of thisduring the empowerment.
[For a more advanced discussion, see: TheValidity and Accuracy of Cognition ofthe Two Truths in Gelug-Prasangika.]
The clear light mind is the level of mental activity that provides continuity of experiencefrommoment to moment. It is the basis or foundation that goes from lifetime to lifetime, evenintoBuddhahood. In my Kalachakra book, I use the example of a radio being on. The grosser levelsarelike the radio being on a station, the volume, static, and so on. In contrast, this clearlightactivity is the level of just the radio being on, and it goes on forever in a stream ofindividualcontinuity. Buddhism does not assert a universal mind underlying everyone'sindividualconsciousness and unconsciousness.
If we can get down to that clear light level, that is the level at which the first sideofappearance-making (making appearances of solid existence) is absent and only the second sideofappearance-making operates (making appearances of things as dependently arising phenomena). Thatisthe level at which this second side functions. If we could stay at that level, there would benoproblem focusing simultaneously with the two aspects of the mind valid for the two truths.Oneaspect of the clear-light level makes things appear as dependently arising, the other aspectofthat level focuses on the absence of solid existence, and each of the two aspects perceivesandunderstands fully what it focuses on. There is no duality - duality, here, means disharmonyordiscordance.
In tantric sadhanas, we often read, "Out of voidness, I arise as this or that." This is averymisleading translation. It is never "out of"; it is saying within the state of voidness, which can only really be on a deep level, the clearlightlevel. Within that clear light level of the understanding of voidness, the aspect ofmakingappearances of things as dependently arising objects kicks in. We arise as a Buddha-figure.(Ipersonally don't like the word "deity," because it is too theistic). We appear as aBuddha-figureand everything around us appears as a mandala. We call these "pure forms." Pure formsdo not appearas solidly existent. They appear as things that dependently arise. They are likeillusions, notsolid.
In order to get to this point, we need renunciation. This is very important. Isometimestranslate this as "the determination to be free" from suffering, problems, and theircauses, but italso has an aspect of being willing to give something up. Here, what we want to giveup is thisordinary appearance-making, because it is what causes so much trouble. We are doing it ineverymoment of our lives.
Tsongkhapa makes a big point about this. Ordinary or solid appearance-making is notsomethingthat we do only in weird moments of freaking out; it occurs every moment of ourperception. Topractice tantra, we need to be totally willing and determined to give that up. Ourminds are makingpeople around us appear like jerks, or like wonderful sexy things, or whatever. Werecognize thatthat is what causes us our problems because we believe those appearances correspond to reality, and then we get emotionallydisturbed,based on that belief. We need to be willing to renounce that, to give it up; we are notgoing toput up any longer with ordinary appearance-making.
This is very important in going to an empowerment, because if we decide beforehand that wearenot going to get upset or freak out if we get lost, or be disturbed by the air-conditioningbeingtoo strong or too weak or whatever - because the appearances of them as intimidating orordinarythings are just projections of our ordinary appearance-making - that helps us get into theactualprocedures. This suspension of ordinary appearance-making - or at least the attempt tosuspend it -is a very important component of an empowerment. We may not be able to sustain thisattitude everyday, but at least we have conviction in it - that is the important word. It is sometimes translated as"admiration,"but it doesn't mean admiration, it means conviction. We are convinced that this iswhat we wouldlike to do. Although our minds are making the empowerment appear as a hassle,intimidating, and soon, this is just a confusing appearance. We do not buy into it. With thatconviction, we haveenough renunciation. We don't have to give up God knows what; what we need to bewilling to give upis at least the belief that these solid appearances are referring to anythingreal.
Within the state of voidness, we try at least to imagine that we are staying on this clearlightlevel and that our minds are therefore giving rise to appearances of the place as adependentlyarising mandala, His Holiness as a dependently arising Kalachakra, and ourselves asdependentlyarising Buddha-figures, and so on.
Another very important part of an empowerment is taking the bodhisattva and tantric vows.This,of course, needs a reaffirmation of our bodhichitta motivation. A vow is a subtle form, asubtleshaping of the clear light mental continuum. These vows affect the clear light level becausetheycontinue all the way to enlightenment; they go on from lifetime to lifetime as a subtle shapingofour mental continuums or mind-streams. That is why it is important to try to bear in mind, oratleast feel, that with this understanding of voidness, with this absence, we are getting down totheclear light level and we are staying on that level and shaping it with these vows. As SakyaPanditasaid, without taking the vows, there is no empowerment. The vows are absolutely crucialhere.
As I said in the book, we don't need to be fanatics. Nobody can promise to uphold allthesethings perfectly. But if we know the factors needed to really lose the vows - for that shapenolonger to be there as the shape of our way of relating to life - then we may weaken that shapewhenwe cannot live up to the vows, but we won't lose it. The shape is basically this: we areworking toachieve enlightenment to be able to benefit everyone. We lose that shape if we give upbodhichitta.We lose that if we have distorted antagonistic thinking, such as: "There is no suchthing asenlightenment and trying to reach it is stupid!" We only weaken that shape unless, asexplained inthe book, all the factors are truly complete, which is quite difficult to do. We neednot beintimidated by these vows. They are basic guidelines that we want to follow in our lives.
[For the four binding factors required for losing the vows, see: RootBodhisattvaVows.]
I don't know where the word "initiation" comes from, but it's not a precise translation oftheTibetan or the Sanskrit words. It is literally an empowerment or "wang" (dbang). It empowers the seeds to grow. In Sanskrit, it is a sprinkling (abhisheka), like sprinkling water on seeds to make them grow. We are dealing withseeds,seeds of potential that are carried along with our mental continuums, specifically with theclearlight level of subtlest mental activity.
We have foundational seeds, referring to basic qualities that we all have. Any living being hasafundamental energy. There is an ability to communicate, like some sort of vibration of thatenergy.There is also a physical aspect. There is an ability to understand, to know things. Thereis acertain caring, a warm aspect, which manifests in the parental instinct to protect. Thesebasic goodqualities - aspects of our Buddha-natures - constitute and work together like a network.They arenot a collection of things, like a stamp collection.
In other words, just as we have a digestive system as part of being human, we also have anetworkof basic talents of warmth, energy, communication, the ability to understand, and so on.Thesethings have a potential, and they can be enhanced and transformed so that they function asthenetwork of enlightening qualities with which a Buddha operates. We do not need to collectmissingcomponents from outside. Our various spiritual practices strengthen the complete networkofcomponents that we already all have. But, to strengthen them most effectively, we first needtoactivate them. This is where an empowerment comes in.
We have foundational seeds, the foundational components, as part of our network ofgoodqualities. They are part of Buddha-nature. What we want to do with an empowerment is toactivatethem, so that they grow much more rapidly than they would just by our going out and doingnicethings for others. We want them to grow in a powerful way. We are able to do this intheempowerment through what is called "cleansing" - cleansing stains that prevent these seedsfromgrowing more - and through planting, with a conscious experience of understanding something,causalseeds that reinforce the foundational ones.
Ngojey-raypa (Ngo-rjes Ras-pa Zhe-sdang rdo-rje), who was one of the second generation of theDrigungKagyu lamas after the founder, said that without a conscious experience of something duringanempowerment, there is no actual empowerment. So, we need to try actually to experiencesomething.The Seventh Dalai Lama, speaking from a Gelug point of view, said that we need to havesomeexperience of a blissful awareness of voidness. Since it is very difficult for us as beginnerstohave that on any level of sophistication, he said not to worry about it. He advised initiatestotry at least to have some level of it, as best as they can.
So, we need to try to have some experience. Don't imagine that the experience is going to besomemystical thing that's coming from the side of the lama. It's something that has to come fromtheside of our own understandings, based on the ambiance or the circumstance of what is going onandwhat we are imagining is happening.
This is going to happen throughout the empowerment: we are going to be told to imagine thatweare touched with a vase or we are touched with a crown, and that we now experience "voidnessandbliss." That means a blissful understanding of voidness. It can be simply on the level of: "Iamfreaking out here that I am not able to follow, but that is not referring to anything real,thereis an absence of that. Wow! What a relief that it is not like that." Like this, we have somehappyunderstanding of this absence. That is enough.
Such conscious experience will, in a sense, reinforce our foundational seeds. These seeds areourpotentials, our talents for being able to understand reality, our innate abilities to haveblissfulhappy minds, which is another feature of our network of good qualities. The experience andthecausal seed that it plants will reinforce that network and, together with the ambiance oftheempowerment, serve as a reference point that we can refer to later, in our meditation,andstrengthen.
When, through constructive actions such as studying, meditating, and helping others, we builduppositive force and deep awareness (usually translated as "building up the collections of meritandwisdom"), we strengthen the potentials of the good qualities that we already have. Thisisessential for the whole process of the empowerment to take place. We try to have some sortofconscious experience, which will reinforce the seeds that we have as part ofBuddha-nature.Moreover, because the conscious experience is at least a vague understanding ofvoidness with avaguely blissful mind, it will also serve to cleanse some of the junk that isobscuring ourpotentials from functioning at all times.
In short, we try to get rid of this ordinary appearance-making, with some level ofunderstandingthat things do not exist in the way that we imagine them to do. Within that state ofmind, westructure our mental continuums with the bodhisattva and tantric vows and try to get someconsciousexperience of a blissful understanding of voidness at various appropriate times duringtheceremony. The latter will plant causal seeds and reinforce the foundational seeds, so that wehavesome reference point later in our meditations.
The other essential component of an empowerment is to activate the whole thing. This isreferringto another aspect of Buddha-nature, which is that our mental continuums have the abilityto beinspired. The word "inspiration" (byin-rlabs) is often translated as "blessing," which gets into a whole different typeofphilosophical and theological background, so it is a bit misleading.
We all have the ability to be inspired, to be uplifted. We can be inspired by music, bythesunset, and so on. Everybody can be inspired by something. Here, the inspiration is from theguru,from the lama. And it is the lama as a Buddha. Another great Drigung Kagyu lama,WonpoSherab-jungnay (dBon-po Shes-rab 'byung-gnas), also in the second generation after the founder, saidthatwithout really seeing the guru as a Buddha in an empowerment, we don't really get theinspiration.The seeds are there, but there is nothing to activate them.
This raises the whole complex topic of the guru as a Buddha. We are all asked to see HisHolinessas Kalachakra. It is very important to keep in mind that this statement, "the lama is aBuddha," was never intended to be taken literally. It doesn't mean that our gurus can walk throughwallsand that they know everybody's telephone number on the planet. They don't. Let's not get intoafuzzy type of trip. We need to understand what it is really referring to.
There is discussion of the outer guru and the inner guru. Tsongkhapa goes into that quite abit,as does the First Panchen Lama. The outer guru is the actual physical guru as a person, andtheinner guru is the clear light mind's understanding of voidness. The outer guru leads us totheinner guru. When we take empowerments, Tsongkhapa explained, we have "the causal empowermentthatripens." That's what we are doing here with the outer guru: he is inspiring us, providingtheambiance, giving the vows and these sorts of things. That is going to lead eventually to"thepathway empowerment that liberates." That is referring to when we actually get a clearlightunderstanding of voidness. That is what will really empower us to get rid of all the junk inourminds. It eventually leads to a "resultant empowerment," our attainment of Buddhahood,whichactually empowers us to be able to benefit others as fully as is possible. We need to thinkofseeing the guru as a Buddha, and as Kalachakra, within the context of this whole process ofbeingled to the definitive inner guru, the clear light mind understanding voidness, andactualBuddhahood.
We can ask within that context, what are we actually doing here in terms of seeing HisHolinessas a Buddha Kalachakra. For this, we need to understand mental labeling. That is the keyhere.There are three things involved with mental labeling. There is a basis for labeling, thementallabel or concept itself, and what the label or concept refers to. Let us first look atmentallabeling in terms of the mandala, and then we'll go to the guru.
We are receiving this empowerment in a mandala. A mandala is a three-dimensional building.Whatwe see in the two-dimensional powdered image is just an architect's blue print. We need a basisforlabeling. The basis is going to be this powder. Then, there is the label, which is "mandala."Butwhat actually is the mandala? The mandala is not the word "mandala"; it's not theconcept"mandala." It is what that concept or name refers to on the basis of this powder. What isthemandala? The mandala is what the word "mandala" refers to. This does not mean that you have tosaythe word "mandala, mandala, mandala" and if you stop saying it or thinking it, themandaladisappears. The word, the labeling, doesn't create anything. It is just talking about howcan wedescribe the way things exist. They exist in terms of what the words for them refer to. Thebasisis this powder. We have the concept or label "mandala" and the mandala is sort of a non-solidthingthat this word refers to. The mandala is not the basis; it's not in the basis; and it is nottheword either.
The example that I often use is a movie, like Star Wars. The basis is all the frames; the name is "Star Wars." Well, what is themovie?The movie isn't the title. The movie isn't all the frames. What is it? The movie is what thetitle"Star Wars" refers to on the basis of all these frames. What is that movie? It is some sortofillusory thing. It's not solid. We can't find it.
It's the same thing with the mandala. What allows us to really get into this wholevisualizationor imagination process is what the word mandala would refer to.
We have our visualizations of the mandala, but we need a basis for it: the powder. And thebasisneeds to be a valid basis. We are not going to label mandala on just some pile of dirt. Thebasishas to have certain qualities. Likewise, in seeing His Holiness as a Buddha, the basis forlabelingis His Holiness' qualities. It is not like seeing a dog as a Buddha just because everybodyhasBuddha-nature. We are not receiving bodhisattva vows in the presence of a dog; a dog isnotconferring the ceremony. His Holiness has incredible qualities that we can see and haveconvictionin, based on our experience with him. On that basis, we label or conceptualize "Buddha,"theenlightened state that we are striving for. That is the direction that we have in our lives.Withbodhichitta, we want to achieve that to be able to benefit everybody.
What is this concept or the name "Buddha" referring to? That Buddha, Kalachakra, appears likeanillusion - made of clear light, transparent and so on - on the basis of His Holiness' qualitiesandbody, just as the mandala appears on the basis of the powder. This aspect of His Holiness isnotactually abiding inside His Holiness, but when we think in terms of the guru as Buddha, wecanreceive inspiration from His Holiness as a Buddha. We may imagine that inspiration in the formoflights and all sorts of things, but, in any case, it's something very blissful. It'sveryuplifting. This is what will, in a sense, add energy to the seeds that we've planted; it willgivethem the energy to grow.
These components of an empowerment are very important to understand in order to gain themostfrom the experience. Otherwise, it is just an anthropological or entertainment event or itissomething that we're desperately trying to keep up with, or maybe it's magical or mysticalorsomething like that, because we don't really understand what the process is. The processofempowerment is very profound and is understandable on the basis of this: We have thissafedirection in life. We want to get rid of all the junk in our minds that is causing all ofourproblems. Particularly, we want to get rid of our mind's making things appear in solid ways thatdonot correspond to reality. And we are convinced that it is possible - it is possible to get ridofthis junk, because it cannot be validated. We are convinced in the voidness of this junk; thereisan absence of what these solid appearances would refer to. So, it is possible to get rid of it.Wewant to do that to be able to help everybody because, obviously, to be able to help everybodywehave to stop projecting all sorts of craziness on them. We want to clear our minds of this andtryto get down to the level where our minds are just making things appear the way they are:arisingdependent on a zillion different causes and circumstances, including subatomic particles andkarmaand all of that, and then try to stay within that framework, within that protected space.
His Holiness will begin by chasing away interferences and creating a protected space where wecanlet go of all our fears, worries, and hassles. Within that space, we go down to the clearlightlevel, try to have a pure appearance of ourselves, the teacher, the setting, and so on. Thenwe areopen and receptive.
We imagine that we are on that clear light level in order to have the vows actually shapethatlevel and to have the various seeds, the foundational seeds which are part of our network ofgoodqualities, reinforced by the planting of more seeds. This is done by having a consciousexperience,at whatever level we can, of a blissful understanding of voidness. We may have manyfears, lowself-esteem, and all this sort of stuff, but it is not referring to anything real, thankgoodness,and that happy feeling will plant another seed. It's a conscious experience that willreinforce thenetwork of good qualities that are there already.
We do this in the presence of His Holiness as a Buddha - not literally a "Buddha" who canwalkthrough walls, but as the external guru who will help lead us to the clear light mindunderstandingof voidness. Where do we get inspiration from? It is from conviction in His Holiness'positivequalities and appreciation of his kindness. That gives us inspiring strength. Thatinspiration,plus this planting of seeds, plus the conscious experience of the blissfulunderstanding ofvoidness - all that is the empowerment. With that, we have a reference point to goback to later onin our meditation. That reference is not some mystical experience with all sorts ofrainbows andfantastic things happening, but is some little experience of a blissful understandingof voidness,and some inspiration.
It is important not to feel "I didn't get it!" because we were expecting something fantastictohappen. Nothing fantastic will happen. His Holiness will say that. It is nothing fantastic.But,from our own sides, dependently arising from what is going on with His Holiness and theambianceand so on, if we get something, some little experience based on whatever level ofunderstanding wehave, that is something we can go back to later on and it will grow more andmore.
This is what I wanted to share with you this evening concerning the empowerment process.
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This website relies completely on donations. Its maintenance, preparation of the remaining 70% of our planned material, and further translating is costly. Although we currently have 80 volunteers, 23 essential team members require payment. Help us raise the 100,000 euros (US $150,000) required each year
to continue providing our website free of charge.
Reaching Our Goal (35%)