Question Sessions with H. H. the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Concerning the Kalachakra Initiation
January 22, 1985; March 25, 1985; March 26, 1986
translated by Alexander Berzin
3 Tibetan Traditions of Kalachakra
[With clarification of His Holiness' answers included within square brackets in violet.]
Berzin: As Kalachakra is found in all four Tibetan traditions and, in the West, Kalu Rinpoche has given the Kalachakra initiation several times...
His Holiness: From a cloth mandala, wasn't it?
Berzin: Yes. Then would it be helpful for promoting nonsectarianism, when giving an introduction to Kalachakra in the West, to explain some of the differences of the four traditions in terms of Kalachakra?
His Holiness: Kalachakra, however, is from the Sarma New Tradition Period; it is not a Nyingma text. [It came to Tibet after the Old Translation Period.] In any case, Ju Mipam (' Ju Mi-pham rgya-mtsho) always said that The Deep Awareness Chapter (Ye-she'i le'u) of Kalachakra comes within the sphere of dzogchen. [The nineteenth-century Nyingma master Mipham wrote The Illumination of the Vajra Sun (rDo-rje nyi-ma'i snang-ba), a commentary on all five chapters of Kalachakra.] He said that because of that, the subject matter of The Deep Awareness Chapter - inseparable method and wisdom, the inseparable two truths - is the same as the intention of dzogchen. In terms of that, there is a connection.
Berzin: In general, how many traditions of Kalachakra are there?
His Holiness: I don't know exactly, but there are two main ones. One from Ra Lotsawa (Rva Lo-rtsa-ba Chos-rab) [called the Ra lineage (Rva-lugs)] and one from Droton Lotsawa (' Bro-ston Lo-rtsa-ba dKon-mchog srung) [called the Dro lineage ('Bro-lugs)]. Then there are some other minor ones, but all are Sarma. There are no Nyingma lineages. Kalachakra is not from the Nyingma Old Translation Period, but as I said, Mipam said The Deep Awareness Chapter includes the main points of dzogchen. That is one thing.
Then, Longchen Rinpoche (Longchen Rabjampa, Klong-chen Rab-'byams-pa Dri-med 'od-zer) in Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle (Theg-mchog mdzod) explains something similar to the way things go in Kalachakra. I recall that distinctly. Also, in Kunkyen Jigmey-lingpa's (Kun-mkhyen 'Jigs-med gling-pa) Treasury of Good Qualities (Yon-tan mdzod), the presentation of the way the paths and stages go and, specifically, the way the arya bodhisattva levels of bhumi mind (sa, Skt. bhumi) are accomplished is explained in terms of the six chakras. This is similar to Kalachakra. One fills up the first half and then the second half of [the central channel between] each of the six chakras with bodhichitta drops and, applying each to one of the arya bodhisattva levels of bhumi mind, one attains the twelve bhumi minds from these twelve. This is very similar to Kalachakra.
Berzin: In other words, the stacking of drops, but without mention specifically of 21,600 drops.
His Holiness: Yes. He doesn't say this is the Kalachakra tradition, but the way of speaking is very much like Kalachakra. I wonder what dzogchen text he took as a source? It is from this that I think the way of traveling the paths and stages in Kalachakra and in dzogchen are a little similar, but not exactly corresponding.
So, at first [within the Sarma traditions], Kalachakra was made into a nondual tantra. Later, Nyingma masters have taken it and made it a widespread practice. However, Kalachakra is Sarma, not Nyingma.
Berzin: Within Sarma, what are the special characteristics of Tsongkhapa's tradition of Kalachakra? For instance, is one of the special Gelug features conferring the empowerment from a powder mandala?
His Holiness: The [Namgyal (rNam-rgyal)] monastery [His Holiness's personal monastery] follows exactly the tradition of [the Sakya master] Buton (Bu-ston Rin-chen grub). The sadhana derives from Kaydrubjey [as arranged for recitation by the Seventh Dalai Lama (rGyal-dbang bsKal-bzang rgya-mtsho).] The use of the powder mandala and way of laying it out are nothing other than Buton's tradition.
As for the way in which the figures (mtshan-ma) [ in the entourage] are arranged, in A Presentation of the Generation Stage of Glorious Kalachakra: Personal Instructions of Manjushri (dPal dus-kyi 'khor-lo'i bskyed-rim-gyi rnam-bzhag 'Jam-dpal zhal-lung) [the standard commentary on Kaydrubjey's Kalachakra sadhana, the Gelug master] Amdo Detri Jamyang-tubten-nyima (sDe-khri 'Jam-dbyangs thub-bstan nyi-ma) said that the entourage looks up at the face of the main couple and thus right and left is taken in terms of the entourages' [right and left] hands. Our monastery doesn't take it like that. Whatever direction the main deity is facing, right and left is from his point of view. This is the Buton tradition.
As for Jey Tsongkhapa's tradition, Jey Rinpoche gave only a [brief] explanation. However, if we ask what are the special features [that distinguish a general Gelug presentation of Kalachakra] as found in the extensive explanatory texts written by Kaydrub Rinpochey [Kaydrubjey] and Darchen [Gyaltsabjey (rGyal-tshab Dar-ma rin-chen)], then in general, in terms of the view, they both refuted the view of other voidness (gzhan-stong). That is one common feature [of all Gelug commentaries]. But, I wonder if there really is much difference in their way of presenting how the generation and complete stages go?
Berzin: What about the empowerment being given only from a powder mandala?
His Holiness: This, I think, is a matter of difference between Kalachakra within the corpus of general main empowerments (spyi-ka) and within the corpus of a side collection of empowerments (zur-ka). The empowerment from a cloth mandala is usually one from the latter, while from a powder mandala is for Kalachakra as a general initiation.
[Gelug transmits several collections of initiations called zur-ka. In addition to A Hundred (Empowerments) That Are a Source of Gems (Rin-'byung brgya-rtsa) and A Hundred (Empowerments Collected) by Maitripa (Mai-tri brgya-rtsa),] there is The Vajra Garland (rDo-rje 'phreng-ba, Skt. Vajramala) [collected by Abhayakaragupta] . In this, there is a Kalachakra initiation as an empowerment from a side collection. [This is the one that Kirti Tsenzhab Rinpoche, for example, confers. It is without a powder mandala, just a cloth one.] The Sakya lineage [and Kalu Rinpoche from the Shangpa Kagyu line] also confer the Kalachakra empowerment from a cloth mandala.
[As for Kalachakra as a general main empowerment,] it is like this in The Abbreviated Point Concerning the Empowerment (dBang-mdor, Skt. Sekoddesha) [the fragment from The Kalachakra Root Tantra on the initiation]. There, it says, "Having laid out the mandala, give it." This means one needs to make or lay out a powder mandala and then give the empowerment from it. This is very clear in Naropa's Commentary to "The Abbreviated Point Concerning the Empowerment" (dBang-mdor bstan-pa'i 'grel-pa, Skt. Sekoddeshatika). With this as the scriptural source, then it is said that the seven initiations of entering like a child need to be given from a powder mandala.
Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso, however, [in An Adornment for "Stainless Light" (Dri-med 'od-kyi rgyan)] said that for a disciple who has given up everything (kun-spang), it is permitted to give the Kalachakra empowerment from a cloth. This refers to disciples who are very poor and have nothing. This too is not a point that we can make into exemplifying Tsongkhapa's tradition, because this also comes from a statement in The Abbreviated Point Concerning the Empowerment. Thus, we may conclude that conferring the empowerment from a powder mandala is best, but we cannot say that it is absolutely necessary.
Berzin: What are distinguishing features in the Kagyu tradition of Kalachakra? Do they have the division of father, mother, and nondual tradition?
His Holiness: One cannot generalize about all the branches of the Kagyu tradition. Their masters have held various opinions. Some Drugpa Kagyu masters [for example, Barawa ('Ba'-ra-ba rGyal-mtshan dpal-bzang) of the Upper Drugpa line (sTod-'brug), a teacher of Tsongkhapa's teacher Lama Umapa (dBu-ma-pa)] asserted that Kalachakra is a nondual tantra. I doubt that this is true for all Kagyupas.
[Drugchen Pemakarpo (' Brug-chen Pad-ma dkar-po) of the Middle Drugpa line (Bar-'brug), for example, refutes nondual tantra as a separate category and classifies Kalachakra as a mother tantra, as did Tsongkhapa more than a century before him. Jamgon Kongtrul ('Jam-mgon Kong-sprul Blo-gros mtha'-yas), one of the main authors of the nineteenth-century nonsectarian Rimey (ri-med) movement, asserts the same as Gelug.]
Within the Sakya tradition, there are also various opinions. Some masters, such as Buton (Bu-ston Rin-chen grub) assert nondual tantra as a separate category, and some do not. Among those who assert nondual tantra, not all include Kalachakra among them, for instance Dragpa-gyeltsen (Grags-pa rgyal-mtshan). The Sakya critic of Tsongkhapa's Kalachakra views, for example,] Tagtsang Lotsawa (sTag-tshang Lotsawa Shes-rab rin-chen) [teacher of Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso, the Gelug tutor of the Second Dalai Lama Gedun-gyatso (rGyal-ba dGe-'dun rgya-mtsho), and criticized back by Kaydrubjey] has said that Kalachakra is a nondual tantra. His way of asserting the three divisions of anuttarayoga tantra is [different from his Sakya and Kagyu predecessors and is] very neat. He asserts that if an anuttarayoga tantra shows prominently the pathway mind of the secret initiation (gsang-dbang), it is father tantra; if that of the discriminating deep awareness (wisdom) initiation (shes-rab ye-shes dbang), it is mother tantra; and if that of the fourth initiation (bzhi-pa'i dbang), it is nondual. Referring to this, Bunang Jampelyang - I looked a little at the works of Bunang - said, "I explain just as this wise one said."
Give some thought to this. For instance, Guhyasamaja and all related tantras are hidden tantras (sbas-rgyud), not clear (obvious) tantras (gsal-rgyud). Kalachakra is a clear tantra since it makes prominent and shows clearly the fourth initiation. [The distinction between hidden and clear tantras comes from The Kalachakra Condensed Tantra itself.] This point sets up and makes it acceptable to consider Kalachakra a nondual tantra by Tagtsang's criteria.
For instance, Guhyasamaja [as a father tantra] explains prominently illusory body (sgyu-lus) [for which the secret initiation empowers one to practice] . Chakrasamvara [as a mother tantra] explains prominently great bliss. Moreover, it explains prominently only in terms of clear light ('od-gsal) [for which the discriminating deep awareness initiation empowers one to practice]. Guhyasamaja, however, not only explains clear light, but it also explains prominently illusory body. This probably means that it does not explain both equally and does not clearly explain the unified pair (zung-'jug, Skt. yuganaddha, unity).
Now, concerning the fourth initiation in Kalachakra, in other (anuttarayoga) tantras it says "Similar to that, so it is with the fourth." They indicate or show the fourth initiation by taking the third as an example. Therefore, they are called hidden tantras and not only because of that, but also because they explain by means of the six alternatives and four modes (mtha'-drug tshul-bzhi).
Kalachakra dispenses with explaining in terms of the six alternatives. Clearing this away, it is a clear tantra and, on top of this, it explains prominently the fourth initiation. Because of these two features, calling it a nondual tantra is easily and readily understandable.
Berzin: In the West, people who received the Kalachakra initiation from Kalu Rinpoche want to know if this and the practice of Kalachakra as given by Your Holiness are the same or not.
His Holiness: The practice is the same. If you want to say it is the same, it is the same. You could either say it is the same or not. If someone wants to make them different, make them different; if you want to make them one, they are one.
Berzin: Is the sadhana (method for actualizing oneself as the Buddha-figure) different?
His Holiness: It would seem that surely they have a different sadhana. I don't know from which text Kalu Rinpochey gives the empowerment, but his tradition is the same in studying in full the many Collected Works (Sung-bum) [of the great masters on Kalachakra] which are accepted in common [such as the works of Buton]. And wouldn't the works of Drugchen Pema-karpo also be included [in what Kalu Rinpoche's tradition accepts]? Maybe what they do, however, follows what Buton wrote. There is a little bit of difference in the words between the sadhana of Buton and that of Kaydrubjey, I believe.
Oh, there is one special feature, the difference in the generation of the deities. There were three learned Indian masters: Sadhuputra, Abhayakaragupta, and Vibhutichandra [who each wrote a slightly different Kalachakra sadhana included the Tengyur (bsTan-'gyur) collection of works by Indian authors translated into Tibetan. The Gelug tradition follows Vibhutichandra.] In Sadhuputra's way of generating, the goddesses of the dates (tshe-mo) [in the body mandala on the petals of the lotuses on the backs of the twelve animals for the twelve months] and the goddesses of feeling like doing something (' dod-ma) and feeling like not doing something (log-par 'dod-ma) [on the ledges for the offering goddesses around the speech and body mandalas] each have one face and two arms. But, in Kadrubjey's sadhana [following Vibhutichandra], some have one face and two arms, some one face and four arms, some three faces and six arms, and so forth. I wonder, however, if this really makes such a big difference.
[Other slight differences occur regarding whether the main couple stands on three or four planet-seat mandalas, whether the lotus is under or on top of the animals in the speech and body mandalas, which figures are on lotuses for the count of 156 lotuses, whether or not the protectors of the above and below directions stand on the gateways, and so on.]
Berzin: If you receive the Kalachakra initiation from one tradition, can you practice Kalachakra of another tradition?
His Holiness: Yes.
Berzin: In general, is there a special relation between the Dalai Lamas and Kalachakra?
His Holiness: Some Dalai Lamas had. For instance, the Second Dalai Lama had a special relation. He wrote A Commentary to "A Concert of Names of Manjushri" ('Jam-dpal mtshan-brjod-gyi 'grel-ba), which is an explanation of the Kalachakra tradition. The Seventh Dalai Lama also had a connection with Kalachakra. He was mainly associated with Kalachakra and Chakrasamvara. So some had and some did not. There is no significance.
Berzin: And as for the Dalai Lamas being incarnations of the Second Holder of the Castes, Kalki Pundarika (Rigs-ldan Pad-ma dkar-po)?
His Holiness: I don't know. Is that a reason? I don't know.
Berzin: So some had a special relation and some did not.
His Holiness: Yes. And if you ask do I have a karmic connection (las-'brel) with Kalachakra, I suppose that I do. From a very early age, I had a great liking for Shambhala and for the religious kings and holders of the caste.
Berzin: In the West, people say that former Dalai Lamas gave Kalachakra initiations only a limited number of times. Is that correct?
His Holiness: It wasn't like that, not with Kalachakra. For example, Khangsar Rinpoche [from whom His Holiness's Senior Tutor, Ling Rinpoche, received the Kalachakra lineage] gave the Kalachakra initiation seventeen times. How many times did Serkong Dorjechang [from whom Khangsar Rinpoche received it and who was the father of Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche, Assistant Tutor of His Holiness] give it? I don't know, but Khangsar Rinpoche gave it seventeen times. Some empowerments and subsequent permissions (rje-snang, "jenang") can only be given once in one's lifetime, some only three times. There are some like that, but Kalachakra is not one of them.
Berzin: Is there any specific reason why Your Holiness gives the Kalachakra initiation frequently?
His Holiness: No. I give it only because I have been requested. [In Rikon, Switzerland] there is a large area for the venerable members of the Namgyal Monastery and there are good facilities. So there is no trouble. Moreover, people came to me saying it would be good to give the Kalachakra initiation there, and so I waited, saw, and now I will give it. There is no special reason.
Berzin: Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso refutes many points of Kaydrubjey concerning the Kalachakra generation stage, for instance concerning the five precursors to enlightenment (mngon-byang-lnga). Does the Gelug tradition accept Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso's assertions or those of Kaydrubjey, the Seventh Dalai Lama, and Detri Rinpoche exclusively as its own tradition? Or do we need to examine each point? For instance, Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso has only three planet-seat mandalas under the main couple, rather than four.
His Holiness: This is said to be a choice. There is a choice between Kalagni and Rahu as one of the planet-seat mandalas. There is no necessity to combine them and have both. Also, the goddesses of feeling like doing something and not feeling like doing something can all be the direction colors, with one face and two arms, rather than in a variety of forms. There are a few differences.
Berzin: Also Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso has both supported and supporting mandalas in Vishvamati's lotus.
His Holiness: This won't do.
Berzin: Like this, there are quite a few differences.
His Holiness: This is because their scriptural sources are different. Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso favors Sadhuputra's generation stage ritual (bskyed-chog), while Kaydrubjey follows the Kalachakrapada tradition [transmitted by Vibhutichandra to Buton]. They don't make any difference to me. Usually, I follow the ritual of the Seventh Dalai Lama based on that of Kaydrubjey, actualize (sgrub) [the self-generation (bdag-bskyed), front-generation (mdun-bskyed), vase (bum-pa), and self-initiation (bdag-'jug)] according to that, and follow its order as it is.
Berzin: What about the differences in the crown ornaments?
His Holiness: We just leave it the way that Kaydrubjey has it.
His Holiness: Now, there is the matter of setting the boundaries between the stages in the complete stage, especially in terms of the deep awareness of the first arya bodhisattva bhumi mind. When we speak of twelve levels of bhumi minds, we take the six chakras and divide each in half, putting one bhumi mind on each half, so you get twelve levels of bhumi minds. Kaydrubjey asserts that on the absorbed concentration (ting-nge-'dzin, Skt. samadhi) branch [the sixth of the complete stage six-branch yoga (sbyor-ba yan-lag drug)], the first 1800 moments are pathway minds of ordinary beings (so-skye) [meaning applying pathway minds (sbyor-lam, path of preparation)]. Gyeltsabjey has the first 1799 as ordinary-being pathway minds and the 1800th as a seeing pathway mind (mthong-lam, path of seeing) of an arya. Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso [and Buton, Rendawa (Re-mda'-ba gZhon-nu blo-gros), and Tatsang Lotsawa] set the arya pathway minds from the first moment of the samadhi branch, and I think that seems right.
Berzin: So we have to examine each point.
His Holiness: This is the Ngareng tradition [of Tsongkhapa's Sakya teacher, Rendawa] that Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso follows, that the samadhi branch is pervasive with being arya pathway minds, and I think that is so, but I don't really know. I just say that off the top of my head as my own bias.
Nevertheless, whatever constituent energy-drops are stacked up from lower end of the central channel and bound without shifting, and whatever unchanging blissful awareness arises on the basis of these drops, one side [Gyaltsabjey and Kaydrubjey] takes these moments of unchanging blissful awareness and divides them into two categories: one that has nonconceptual straightforward cognition of voidness and one that does not. The other side [Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso, etc.] says there is no special reason to do this. To say that as soon as we generate unchanging blissful awareness, this unchanging blissful awareness has nonconceptual straightforward cognition of voidness and that this is the attainment of an arya pathway mind and thus the first level of bhumi mind starts from there, I think this is better. However, in A Grand Presentation of the Stages of Secret Mantra (sNgags-rim chen-mo), Jey Rinpoche (Tsongkhapa) explains that the samadhi branch includes a pathway mind of ordinary beings. So, this would be inconsistent with that.
However, if we want to force the issue, then, for instance concerning Guhyasamaja's five stage [complete stage, which also can be divided into the six branches with the same names as in the Kalachakra complete stage], sNgags-rim chen-mo does not speak decisively about the way of arising and appearing as unpurified and purified illusory bodies. [The unpurified illusory body is achieved while still having an applying pathway mind as an ordinary being, a purified illusory body while having a seeing pathway mind as an arya. Tsongkhapa does not explain explicitly which of the two illusory bodies is included in the samadhi branch, and thus does not speak decisively whether or not the samadhi branch includes a part while still having a pathway mind of ordinary beings. In A Summary of All the Essential Points of (Tsongkhapa's) "Lamp to Illuminate the Five Stages (of the Guhyasamaja Complete Stage)": A Sun to Illuminate the Profound Meaning (Rim-lnga gsal-sgron-gyi snying-po'i gnad kun-bsdus-pa zab-don gsal-ba'i nyi-ma), however, the First Panchen Lama (Pan-chen Blo-bzang chos-kyi rgyal-mtshan) asserts that the samadhi branch includes only the purified illusory body and thus only arya pathway minds.] Now, in terms of the samadhi branch in Kalachakra, whether or not Tsongkhapa says it is entirely with an arya pathway mind - maybe we can just leave it that there are several traditions.
Berzin: So, Gelug practitioners do not need to insist and defend Kaydrubjey or Gyaltsabjey, for example, as their own tradition of Kalachakra?
His Holiness: No, they don't need to do that. Unless the reasons set for Kaydrubjey's assertions are correct, we don't have to accept them. If another master has an equally excellent reason for a different assertion, there is no reason why Gelug practitioners have to assert exclusively as Kaydrubjey does.
Berzin: So we must analyze.
His Holiness: Yes. For instance, even on the sutra side, Kaydrubjey, in both his Great Commentary to "Pramanavarttika": An Ocean of Stages (rNam-'grel tik-chen rim-pa'i rgya-mtsho) and in his Commentary on the Seven Logic Texts: Eliminating the Darkness of the Mind (Tshad-ma bdun-'grel yid-kyi mun-sel), says that deepest truth (don-dam bden-pa, ultimate truth) for Chittamatra is clear-light reflexive awareness (rang-rig 'od-gsal). He says a nondual cognition is a deepest truth: the clarity/awareness that cognizes the apprehending mind and its apprehended object as nondual is a deepest truth. As Gelug practitioners, we cannot accept that - this we can decide for sure. [According to the Gelug Chittamatra assertions, only voidness as defined in Chittamatra is a deepest true phenomenon.]
So, my inclination is that in some places follow Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso as the main source, and in some places Kaydrubjey. Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso was extremely competent and can be established as a valid source of information. His main teacher was the Sakya master Tagtsang Lotsawa.
Berzin: In the seven initiations of entering like a child, you build up the positive force (bsod-nams, Skt. punya, merit, positive potential) of the seven bodhisattva bhumi minds. In An Ocean of Teachings on the General Meaning of Kalachakra (Dus-'khor spyi-don bstan-pa'i rgya-mtsho), Tagtsang Lotsawa says these are to be understood as the seven bhumi minds in the sutra vehicle of far-reaching attitudes (Skt. Paramitayana).
His Holiness: That seems to be so.
Berzin: But the seven initiations of a child empower you to do the generation stage and when that is completed, you have only actualized a building-up pathway mind (tshogs-lam, path of accumulation).
His Holiness: The point is that the amount of positive force built up in completing the generation stage can substitute for the amount built up when you have attained a Paramitayana eighth bhumi mind. Thus, it is speaking of the powerful ability (nus-pa, potential) that you achieve.
However, at the generation stage you haven't achieved the good qualities (yon-tan) of the first or second level bhumi minds. You are not an arya; you do not have nonconceptual straightforward cognition of voidness. Nevertheless, when you consider the amount of positive force built up, it is as Maitreya explains in Filigree of Realizations (mNgon-rtogs rgyan, Skt. Abhisamayalamkara), in the section called "intense application" (shin-tu sbyor-ba). In other words, the positive force built up with the Paramitayana impure seven bhumi minds has a powerful ability and, as a substitute, we can build up as much just on the generation stage alone.
This probably comes in Tsongkhapa's Great Exposition of the Graded Stages of Secret Mantra. In connection with Chakrasamvara and Guhyasamaja, Tsongkhapa says that the powerful ability of the positive force from completing the generation stage is the same as having attained a Paramitayana eighth level bhumi mind.
Berzin: During the initiation, at which gateway are the four higher and the four highest empowerments received?
His Holiness: At the eastern door. For the seven initiations of entering like a child it is clear that they are at the northern door, the southern door, and so on. Here, however, where it is not clear, we take the eastern door as the main one, as we are manifesting the discriminating awareness of the mind [and at the eastern doorway, we face the mind-face of the central figure].
If we look at it from another point of view, the four higher and four highest initiations are not conferred in connection with the mandala that is actualized. They do not have that as a special condition. [The vase empowerments are conferred from the mandala of the (consort's) body, the secret empowerments from the mandala of the secret place, the discriminating deep awareness empowerments from the mandala of conventional (relative, apparent) bodhichitta, and the fourth empowerment from the mandala of deepest (ultimate) bodhichitta.]
For the seven initiations of a child, you must especially erect a mandala. For the higher and highest empowerments, the tantric master recites only the mind mandala self-generation. Except for conferring these empowerments on the basis of this - except for conferring them from the visualization that is the lustrous play (rtsal) of the tantric master's body: for example, for the vase initiation, except for conferred it from the visualized powerful lady's breasts touched by the initiates' hands - they aren't conferred from the mandala (palace) itself. We usually do it [confer the seven initiations of a child and the higher and highest empowerments] at one time and so the mandala is already there. However, to confer them without the mandala palace is also all right. So there is no special connection with a mandala palace.
Berzin: But during the initiation, if the mandala palace is already there, do we imagine that we are in the eastern doorway?
His Holiness: I wonder how it is? For instance, there is no front-generation [in preparation for conferring the higher and highest empowerments]. The tantric master does the mind mandala self-generation, or if not that, then he recites a nine-deity yoga and on the basis of that confers the vase and secret initiations and so on, doesn't he? Doing like that, we don't especially need [the mandala palace]. It is probably that one doesn't visualize the mandala palace at all. It isn't necessary.
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