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Home > eBooks > Published Books > Taking the Kalachakra Initiation > 11 The Second Day of the Actual Empowerment

Taking the Kalachakra Initiation

Originally published as
Berzin, Alexander. Taking the Kalachakra Initiation.
Ithaca, Snow Lion, 1997

Reprint: Introduction to the Kalachakra Initiation.
Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2010

Order this book directly from Snow Lion Publications

Part IV: Guidelines for the Kalachakra Initiation

11 The Second Day of the Actual Empowerment

Theoretical Basis for Empowerment

In general, there are three phases of empowerment that occur along the path to enlightenment. The first – causal empowerment that brings maturation – is conferred with such procedures as the Kalachakra initiation. It purifies the grossest levels of obstacles and plants seeds that ripen in the form of successful generation and complete stage practice. In this way, it acts as a cause for the future attainment of enlightenment. The second phase of empowerment – pathway empowerment that brings liberation – occurs with the progressive mastery of the complete stage practices. Since mastery of each step of the complete stage actually eliminates and frees us from obstacles, it empowers the attainments that follow, bringing us ever closer to enlightenment. The third phase of empowerment – the resultant empowerment of being liberated – is the actual attainment of enlightenment. Enlightenment totally eliminates all obstacles preventing omniscience and empowers us to benefit others in infinite ways. Furthermore, there is empowerment from our foundation. This refers to clear light mind which empowers each of these three phases. Within Tibetan Buddhism, it is discussed most fully in the context of dzogchen, the great completeness.

Clear light mind has never been stained by any obstacles or blocks. Naturally free of them, it is only temporarily obscured by winds of karma and disturbing emotions and attitudes. In this sense, the natural purity of clear light mind empowers the removal of all fleeting stains. If obscuration were the nature of clear light mind, it could never be purified and enlightenment could never be attained. Furthermore, all qualities of a Buddha are complete in clear light mind, although they do not function when the mind is obscured. Put simply, these qualities are complete in the form of traces or potentials, known as Buddha-nature – factors that allow for enlightenment. Thus clear light mind empowers all the qualities that are attained with Buddhahood.

During the initiations on the second day, we are asked, as a participant, to feel that our mind-stream – the continuity of our clear light mind – has been purified of certain obstacles and implanted with certain seeds. We need to comprehend what this actually means in order to feel something meaningful during the ceremony. The key is understanding the interdependent relation between causal and foundational empowerment. Let us first discuss this on the level that is common to all anuttarayoga systems, including Kalachakra.

The Relation between Buddha-Nature and Empowerment for Purifying Obstacles

Each factor of our Buddha-nature, for example the deep awareness of the equality of everyone, when associated with confusion generates a component part of our ordinary experience – in this case the aggregate package of our feelings of happiness or sadness. Confused about the actual equal nature of ourselves and all others, and consequently lacking equanimity, we act with pride and miserliness. Thinking ourselves superior, we are unwilling to share. This selfishness clouds and obscures the underlying awareness of equality with which we consider ourselves and others at the same time. Lacking balance, we experience ever changing moods – the aggregate of feelings.

Purifying this aggregate with causal empowerment does not mean that it is cleansed forever of confusion or of the pride and miserliness that confusion generates. Rather, the causal empowerment brings us to the aspect of Buddha-nature that is the basis of this aggregate – our deep awareness of equality. This is represented by a Buddha-figure from the mandala – in this case, Ratnasambhava. By reaffirming that our aggregate of feelings is in the nature of Ratnasambhava, we reconfirm its nature as deep awareness of equality. The combination of causal and foundational empowerment creates the conviction that through generation and complete stage practice, and eventually pathway and resultant empowerment, we remove forever the obstacles from that deep awareness which have been causing it to remain as an aggregate of feelings associated with confusion.

Causal and Foundational Seeds

Planting a seed, with causal empowerment, for this deep awareness to function fully does not place something alien on our clear light mind-stream. Deep awareness of equality is part of everyone's Buddha-nature. It is a foundational seed which is already there. We know of its presence because it already functions to a limited extent – everyone is capable of regarding several items as equally belonging to the same category, such as several shirts in a store being equally our size. The seed that causal empowerment implants reinforces this foundational seed so that, together, they give rise to pathway and resultant deep awareness.

Causal and foundational seeds function together through one of two mechanisms. This is because there are two types of foundational seed or Buddha-nature – abiding and evolving. Both have been an integral part of the mind-stream without beginning – in the former case in the same abiding aspect, in the latter as antecedent forms that evolve – and both are factors that allow for the attainment of the various bodies of a Buddha. Abiding factors continue into Buddhahood in purified form, as Buddha-bodies. Evolving factors transform into Buddha-bodies, but are no longer present with enlightenment. Like an actual seed, they are no longer present when the fully grown plant has matured.

Although there is much debate over this point, many masters consider the five types of deep awareness to be abiding Buddha-natures. This is because they continue into Buddhahood in purified form as the five types of deep awareness of a Buddha. Implanting a causal seed begins the process of removing the stains from these five, allowing for them to function more purely. In this sense, implanting a causal seed acts as a circumstance for a foundational seed eventually to function fully.

Evolving factors include our bountiful stores of positive potential and deep awareness. With enlightenment, these transform, respectively, into our bodies with form (rupakaya) and bodies encompassing everything (dharmakaya), but are no longer present. Implanting causal seeds at an empowerment helps build up the foundational seeds of the two stores, and helps to remove certain obstacles preventing further development from happening.

An additional aspect of Buddha-nature makes the process of empowerment possible. This is the aspect of clear light mind that allows for its abiding and evolving factors to be affected by the enlightening influence of the Buddhas. Because of this aspect, the implanting of causal seeds at an empowerment affects the transformation of foundational seeds into Buddha-bodies. In the case of abiding factors, it affects them in the sense of stimulating the process of purification to occur. In the case of evolving factors, it stimulates the foundational seeds to grow.

Application to Kalachakra Empowerment

The four subtle drops presented in Kalachakra are not aspects of Buddha-nature, nor are they foundational seeds. Rather, they are gateways to aspects of clear light mind that are included in Buddha-nature and which function as foundational seeds. The body, speech, mind and deep awareness drops are the gateways for the ability of clear light mind to give rise, respectively, to gross appearances, subtle appearances and sound, nonconceptual states and blissful awareness. When the winds of karma gather around and obscure these four drops, the mind, likewise obscured with confusion about reality, gives rise to the four most commonly deceptive experiences – the experiences of the gross appearances of being awake, of the subtle appearances and sounds of dreaming, of the nonconceptual state of deep dreamless sleep, and of the bliss of orgasmic release. When all levels of fleeting obscuration are removed from the four subtle drops, the foundational seeds of clear light mind that allow for appearance-making and so forth give rise instead to the four bodies of a Buddha.

The four Buddha-bodies parallel and replace the four deceptive states. The appearances of nirmanakaya, a body of emanations, supplant the gross appearances of being awake. The subtle appearances and speech of sambhogakaya, a body of full use, replace the subtle appearances and sounds of dreams. The omniscient nonconceptual mind of jnana-dharmakaya, a body of deep awareness encompassing everything, replaces the blank nonconceptual mind of deep dreamless sleep. And the omniscient blissful awareness of svabhavakaya, a nature body, supplants the confusing bliss of orgasmic release. Kalachakra is unique in asserting that this nature body is the blissful awareness of a Buddha's omniscient mind.

Implanting causal seeds with Kalachakra empowerment begins to remove obscuration from the four subtle drops and acts as a circumstance for the foundational seeds that underlie the four to give rise to the immediate causes for the four Buddha-bodies during complete stage practice. When we attain enlightenment, we no longer have these four subtle drops. They dissolve into a rainbow along with the rest of our corporeal form and the foundational seeds that had functioned through them transform into the four Buddha-bodies. This is the mechanism, then, for purifying the four subtle drops in order to attain the four Buddha-bodies.

Experiencing Blissful Awareness of Voidness during Empowerment

Causal empowerment implants two seeds. One is a conscious experience, the other is a seed, trace or potential that this experience leaves on the mind-stream and which grows to maturity through cultivation with meditation practice. In anuttarayoga tantra, including Kalachakra, the conscious experience is always a blissful awareness of voidness. Such awareness is what actually purifies the mind-stream of confusion and obstacles, allowing for the attainment of all good qualities.

The Seventh Dalai Lama has explained that for most people, especially those with little meditation experience, it is difficult to generate a blissful awareness of voidness during an initiation. It is essential, however, to feel something constructive in order for the empowerment to occur. He therefore has recommended that we generate a feeling of happiness by whatever means we can and then direct that happy state of mind at whatever level of understanding of voidness we have. No matter how feeble a blissful awareness of voidness we generate, it is still a conscious experience that can act as a reference point for our subsequent practice. Without some active conscious experience, we are left without a trace of anything with which to work in meditation. If, however, we have such an experience during the empowerment and can easily recall it, we have an effective seed we can cultivate. Remembering the crowd, the ritual splendor, or our confusion when we got lost in the visualizations, hardly helps us make progress along the path to enlightenment.

For example, if, after tossing the flower in the mandala, we do not feel any particular joy at being crowned with a flower garland, we can recall any joyous moment we have had, such as the birth of a child or the return of a loved one. As for an accessible understanding of the voidness of inherent existence on which to focus in this state of mind, let me repeat the example I used during a series of talks delivered at the Kalachakra initiation conferred by His Holiness the present Dalai Lama in Rikon, Switzerland, in July 1985.

Generating an Understanding of Voidness

The weather was extremely hot, and someone had kindly provided me with a chilled can of club soda on the table in front of my seat. When we apprehend something, such as this can of soda, as existing with an inherent, findable identity, we believe it exists as what it is by virtue of some findable characteristic from its own side. We imagine, whether consciously or not, that there is something on the side of the soda that can be pointed to that gives it its concrete, lasting identity. We can think, "This can of soda is in front of my seat. It is mine, not yours. Don't touch it!" or, "This can is ice cold. I hate drinking anything cold. And look, it has a flip-top which I usually manage to cut my finger on. What a horrible can of soda!" In this way, we imagine the can of club soda sitting there, defiantly on the table, existing with a concrete, inherent identity as something very annoying from its own side, independently of the kind intentions of the person who brought it. Projecting, apprehending and then believing it to truly exist in the way our mind makes it appear, we become extremely upset and make ourselves miserable.

How does this can of club soda actually exist? On the deepest level, it exists devoid of being inherently nasty and disappointing. The paranoid vision of the can – that it is spitefully sitting there, trying to annoy us – is a total fantasy. It implies a fantasized and impossible way of existing which does not refer to anything real. A can of soda cannot have an intention, because it is cold, to upset our stomach. There is no such thing as an inherently annoying can of soda. If a can of soda were disappointing or annoying from its own side, it would have to be disappointing to everyone. There were many people listening to me that hot afternoon, I am sure, who would have loved to have had that soda and would not have considered it disappointing or annoying at all. Voidness, then, is a total absence of strange, impossible ways of existing that we fantasize and project onto persons, objects or situations.

It is more useful during the empowerment, however, to generate an understanding of the voidness of something more relevant to what is happening than a can of club soda. The reality of the situation of the empowerment, for instance, is not that there is some exotic event occurring on stage, and that we are completely separated and alienated from it in the audience, unable to follow what is happening. It is not like in a children's coloring book in which there are solid thick lines around the spiritual master up on the throne and ourselves down in the audience, rendering us totally unrelated entities existing on our own. Such a scene is a total fantasy and completely absent.

In fact, the situation during the empowerment is very open, and the laws of cause and effect are surely operating. The master is saying and doing various things, and we are experiencing something in response. Through this interchange, we are planting seeds that form the basis for future success in the practice. Even if we think merely of the absence of any solid thick lines around ourselves and our teacher, and focus on this in a happy state of mind – for instance, with the joy of relief that this is so – we gain empowerment for our understanding and insight to grow. Empowerment does not occur by magic, but arises dependently on our teacher's actions, our feelings in response, the implanting of causal seeds as a result of these two, our foundational seeds and the aspect of our clear light mind that allows for these seeds to be affected by an enlightening influence. Therefore, it is not necessary to have the most sophisticated experience of voidness and bliss at the initiation. However, we do need some experience on which to build.

Theoretical Basis for the Seven Empowerments of Entering Like a Child

The second day of the actual empowerment begins with the participants standing in the form of Vajravega and observers as simple Kalachakra in the black eastern entrance hall on the ground floor of the palace, as at the end of the previous day. If we are an observer, we remain in this hall for the rest of the empowerment, bearing witness to the events that follow. As a participant, we start the procedure by requesting the seven empowerments of entering like a child, and our teacher, Kalachakra, makes an offering into a fire to clear away anything inauspicious or detrimental to this. These seven empowerments are analogous to different stages of childhood and purify various aspects of body and mind. The analogy is fitting since, at the start of the preparation ceremony, we were born as the spiritual child of our teacher, Kalachakra. The water empowerment, the first of the seven, is analogous to our parents giving us our first bath; the crown empowerment, to their tying up our hair in a bun on the top of our head; the ear tassel – a ribbon that hangs from our ears – to their piercing our ears; the vajra and bell, to their making us smile and teaching us to say our first words; the tamed behavior, to their giving us our first pleasurable sensory objects to enjoy; the name, to their giving us a formal name – by Indian custom, at a ceremony approximately a year after birth; and the subsequent permission empowerment, to our parents teaching us to read.

The seven empowerments are conferred in four successive sets to purify the stains of the four subtle drops and plant seeds to attain vajra body, speech, mind and deep awareness. These are equivalent to the four Buddha-bodies, although the four higher and highest empowerments plant the actual causal seeds that ripen into these bodies. The first three sets consist of two empowerments each, while the last contains only one. Each set is conferred from the face of our teacher, Kalachakra, that corresponds to the color of the appropriate drop. This means that for each set we circumambulate to the side of the mandala corresponding in color to that face and receive an inner empowerment – as in the preparation ceremony – passing through the mouth of that face. We then sit in the entrance hall of that side of the palace in the form of the appropriate couple, the male figures of which are the same colors as the side in which we sit and are named Vajra Body, Vajra Speech, Vajra Mind and Vajra Deep Awareness, respectively. Thus, we receive the first two empowerments from the white body face in the north; the second two from the red speech face in the south; the next two from the black mind face in the east; and the last one from the yellow deep awareness face in the west. We pass from one side of the mandala to the next by walking clockwise through the same corridor as we did when offering prostration to the male Buddhas the day before. As a couple, we always embrace a partner who is the color of the opposite side of the palace from our immediate location – black goes with yellow, and white with red. These pairings symbolically harmonize the elements that normally destroy each other – wind blows away earth, while earthen walls block wind; water douses fire, while fire boils away water.

Each of these seven empowerments also purifies an aspect of our ordinary body or mind which is associated with the obscuration of the four drops. The first two empowerments purify the five elements and five aggregates, respectively. When the winds of karma gather at the body drop and we are involved with the atoms of our bodily elements and the aggregate factors of our experience, our clear light mind gives rise to the appearances of being awake. This prevents it from giving rise to a vajra body devoid of atoms. The second two empowerments purify, respectively, the ten energy-winds and right and left energy-channels. When the winds of karma gather at the speech drop and the ten energy-winds course through our right and left channels, we experience the appearances of dreams. This prevents these winds from entering the central channel, dissolving at the center of the six chakras, and reinforcing the vibration of our subtlest sound so that it becomes vajra speech.

The next two empowerments purify, respectively, the six cognitive sensors and their objects and the six functional parts of the body and their activities. When the winds of karma gather at the mind drop, temporarily withdrawing from cognitive and functional activities, we experience the appearances of deep dreamless sleep. This prevents them from withdrawing even further and dissolving at the center of the six chakras in the central energy-channel so that our clear light mind gives rise to vajra mind. The last of the seven empowerments of entering like a child purifies the deep awareness aggregate and consciousness element. When the winds of karma gather at the deep awareness drop, this aggregate and element give rise to the bliss of orgasmic release, while our clear light mind gives rise to the appearances of this peak experience. This prevents our realization of vajra deep awareness – the blissful awareness devoid of any such release or end.

Furthermore, each of these seven empowerments plants causal seeds to transform the specific factor purified – for example, the five bodily elements or aggregates – into Buddha-figures from the mandala. We need to understand clearly what this means in the context of Kalachakra. When our four subtle drops are stained with the winds of karma and our clear light mind is temporarily associated with confusion, this subtlest level of our mind gives rise to internal cycles of ordinary elements, aggregates and so forth, which further our suffering in samsara. When we cleanse our drops of these stains and replace confusion with blissful awareness of voidness, our clear light mind gives rise, instead, to alternative cycles of Buddha-figures to benefit others. This occurs because clear light mind continuously gives rise to appearances. This feature is one of the aspects of Buddha-nature.

This transformation begins when we receive the Kalachakra initiation. During causal empowerment, at the circumstance of feeling the physical sensation of being touched with a ritual implement – water from a vase, a crown and so forth – we gain a conscious experience of a blissful awareness of voidness, on whatever level we can manage it. This experience plants causal seeds to manifest, later through pathway and resultant empowerment, our clear light mind and to generate it as an unchanging blissful deep awareness of voidness. That future attainment activates clear light mind's appearance-making function, as a foundational seed, so that it gives rise to actual Buddha-figures rather than ordinary bodily elements, aggregates and so on. In this way, each of the seven empowerments plants seeds for being able to build up a vast amount of positive potential for this future attainment. In the initiation ritual our teacher, Kalachakra, explains that with each progressive empowerment we build up as much potential as bodhisattvas do as they progressively develop the bhumi, or levels of mind, after clear light realization of voidness.

The Common Structure of the Seven Empowerments

The procedure for each of these empowerments is complicated. The visualizations are extremely complex and difficult to execute unless we are well trained. The seven empowerments, however, share a common structure. Having an overview of this structure is helpful for being able to follow the initiation. Each empowerment involves a ritual implement, certain features of our body or mind, and a group of figures in the mandala. Let us use the example of the first of the seven, the water empowerment. It involves the water in a vase, our five bodily elements and the five female Buddhas.

First we withdraw our mind from making the water and our bodily elements appear in an ordinary fashion. This is done by focusing on their voidness – their total absence of impossible, fantasized ways of existing. We then generate an appearance of them in a pure form, as the five female Buddhas, each embracing a male partner. It is not so important to be able to visualize all the details. What is most important is to remove any confused, disturbing feelings we might have about how the water or our elements exist – such as the water being inherently foul-tasting due to chlorine, or our body being inherently too heavy, regardless of how much weight we lose. We generate the feeling, instead, that the water and our bodily elements are pure containers – as represented by the female Buddhas – for holding the ability to confer blissful awareness of voidness when they come in contact with each other. To enhance this feeling, our teacher, Kalachakra, dissolves deep awareness beings into the water and our elements as female Buddhas, as he did with ourselves as Vajravega during the first day of the actual empowerment.

At this point, there are three groups of five female Buddhas – the actual five in the mandala, the five that were the water of the vase and the five that were the elements of our body. First, the actual ones in the mandala come from their seats and give empowerment to the female Buddhas of the water of the vase. The latter then transform back into water, fully empowered to confer blissful awareness of voidness by the sensation of its touch. The five female Buddhas come once again from the mandala and touch the vase to the crown of our heads. We experience blissful awareness of voidness, while nectars flow from the vase, conferring empowerment to the five female Buddhas of our body. Our teacher, Kalachakra, then dabs water from a conch shell on five spots of our body and gives us a sip to drink. This acts as a circumstance for enhancing our blissful awareness of voidness even further. Finally, the female Buddhas in the mandala emanate a replica of themselves, which merges with the female Buddhas of our body, stabilizing our experience.

This basic structure repeats for all seven empowerments of entering like a child. Buton gives the same procedures as the Seventh Dalai Lama, except that he makes no mention of partners in conjunction with the female Buddhas of the water or our body. Kongtrul follows Buton on this point concerning the figures of the water, and does not mention at all the elements of our body transforming into female Buddhas at the start of the procedure. In his version, the female Buddhas of the water only have deep awareness beings dissolved into them, and there is no mention of their receiving empowerment or transforming back into the water of the vase. Specially invited empowering figures, with no mention of the female Buddhas from the mandala, touch the vase to our head and dab the five spots of our body. Only with the experience of blissful awareness of voidness is there mention of our elements transforming into the five female Buddhas, and there is no mention of their partners. Specially invited Buddhas and bodhisattvas, in the form of the five female Buddhas without partners – and without replicas emanated by the female Buddhas from the mandala – dissolve into the female Buddhas of our body. When we receive a Kalachakra initiation conferred according to either Buton or Kongtrul's text, we can either visualize only as much as the author explicitly describes, or fill in the details that are left unspoken.

If all these visualizations are too difficult to imagine, it is best to simply generate a happy state of mind and focus it on whatever understanding of voidness we have. If we feel frustrated at not being able to keep up with all the steps that are happening and we apprehend the whole process as being inherently too complicated and impossible to follow, we lose the opportunity to implant causal seeds for our future practice. Therefore, it is extremely important to focus on the essence of the empowerment process – gaining a conscious experience of blissful awareness of voidness, and feeling, with confidence, that we now have a reference point for further cultivation in future meditation. If we are attending as an interested observer, it is helpful to stay mindful of our foundational seeds and draw inspiration, from witnessing the ceremony, that future spiritual development is definitely possible. If we focus on how there is nothing magical or strange about initiations and the tantric path, and feel happy at that, we have already added a few bricks to this foundation.

Final Appended Procedures

There are several additional steps appended to the last of the seven empowerments of entering like a child – the subsequent permission empowerment. This empowerment, although sharing the same name, is not the same as the subsequent permission ceremony that is sometimes appended as an additional day after the entire empowerment. Here, after the procedures common to the previous six empowerments, our teacher, Kalachakra, places a wheel of Dharma in front of our seat, a text in our lap and gives us a conch shell and bell to hold in our right and left hands respectively. We repeat a verse reaffirming our commitment to training with method and wisdom, the essence of the Dharma, in order to help others fully. We then transform from a yellow Vajra Deep Awareness with a black partner into a full blue Kalachakra with a yellow partner and receive the three main Kalachakra mantras, repeating each three times. Neither Buton nor Kongtrul mentions this transformation. Finally we are given, one by one, eye medicine, a mirror, and a set of bow and arrows, which plant seeds for gaining, respectively, conceptual understanding of voidness, subsequent realization of everything to be like an illusion, and nonconceptual straightforward perception of voidness during total absorption.

The next step appended to the subsequent permission empowerment is the vajra master initiation. This should not be confused with the great vajra master empowerment, which is the final set of initiations conferred after the highest four empowerments when the Kalachakra initiation is given in its fullest form. The vajra master initiation confers close bonds for body, speech and mind. For this, the empowering implements are a vajra and bell. We and the vajra transform into blue Vajrasattvas, and the bell transforms into a blue Prajnaparamita. None have partners. The teacher, Kalachakra, dissolves deep awareness beings into all three of us. The five female Buddhas give empowerment to the Vajrasattva and Prajnaparamita which were the vajra and bell, and they transform back into these ritual implements. We are then given the vajra and bell to hold as the close bonds for our mind and speech, respectively. Keeping a vajra symbolizes closely bonding our mind to blissful deep awareness of voidness, while keeping a bell represents closely bonding our speech to always teaching this realization of voidness. Regarding our body, in the form of Vajrasattva, as the appearance to which blissful deep awareness of voidness naturally gives rise, we closely bond our body to this appearance. Experiencing blissful awareness of voidness while mindful of these three close bonds empowers us to actualize them in the future.

Buton has the bell transformed into a yellow Vishvamata – for whom blue Prajnaparamita is a common substitute, as we saw in the preparation ceremony – and makes no mention of our transformation into Vajrasattva until we receive the close bond for our body. At that point, we arise as a couple, embracing a Vishvamata, and not as a single figure. Kongtrul abbreviates the vajra master empowerment and does not mention any transformation of the vajra, bell or ourselves. Furthermore, he outlines receiving close bonds for only mind and speech, and not for body.

Of the initiations discussed so far, the vajra master empowerment is the one that specifically requires commitment to the tantric vows and closely bonding practices. Of the nineteen closely bonding practices common to all anuttarayoga systems, maintaining the close bonds of mind and body, established with this empowerment, constitute the first three of the four practices that create bonds with the family trait of Akshobhya – deep awareness of the sphere of reality. It is therefore fitting that the Kalachakra ritual includes the vajra master empowerment within the subsequent permission initiation to purify the deep awareness drop. Our teacher, Kalachakra, appropriately concludes this seventh empowerment of entering like a child by explaining the uncommon practices, unique to the Kalachakra system, that create close bonds with the six Buddha-families.

Finally, our teacher, Kalachakra explains that the entire set of seven initiations empowers us for generation stage practice, and then mentions, for future astrological reference, the exact time and date of the empowerment. Explaining the fourteen Kalachakra root tantric vows, he outlines the procedure for restoring them if we lose them completely. This method is to repeat 36,000 times the mantra of the principal male figure of the Buddha-family with which we have the closest link, as indicated by the flower tossed into the mandala on the day before. We then need to retake the seven empowerments of entering like a child. This can be done either at an initiation conferred by a tantric master, or, if we have completed a Kalachakra retreat during which we recite hundreds of thousands of mantras, at a self-initiation ceremony we conduct ourselves. We repeat three times our agreement to follow this procedure and then offer a mandala in thanksgiving to conclude the Kalachakra initiation.

Concluding Remarks

If we have received the Kalachakra empowerment from the Gelug tradition, as a practitioner we begin a daily program of six-session yoga to nurture the causal seeds implanted and to reinforce the purifications received. If we have received the empowerment from another tradition, we simply keep our vows and follow our closely bonding practices to accomplish the same. In either case, we give life to this ongoing process by repeatedly focusing each day and night on blissful awareness of voidness. This is most important, especially when we are feeling stressed or caught in the heat of a disturbing emotion. By returning to our clear light basis and then recomposing ourselves as a Kalachakra, we maintain a steady course in our life toward enlightenment and fully benefiting others.

If we attend a Kalachakra initiation as an observer, it is important not to forget our experience. Although we have taken no formal commitment for daily practice, if we follow the example of the people of Shambhala who united in the Kalachakra mandala to form one caste, we receive lasting benefit. Thus it is extremely helpful to make a commitment to world peace and harmony through following purely the ethical teachings of the religion or creed to which we subscribe. With such a commitment, Kalachakra initiation has a profoundly positive effect on everyone.