Last weekend I was invited to go to a Kalachakra initiation.
The invitation came as complete surprise as I had not intended to go. I am not a Buddhist in the sense that I follow any practices or identify myself with a certain Buddhist teaching. But for a time in my life I have been following the teachings of a Tibetan Lama, who was instrumental for my own development.
So naturally I was very pleased and gladly accepted the invitation to attend the empowerment.
The word Kalachakra means “wheel of life”. The Kalachakra Tantra is a teaching by the Buddha about our true nature and how we can harmonise ourselves with the cycle of existence. The Kalachakra teaching is very clear and direct, as it is easy to understand.
An empowerment is a ritual, entailing complex visualization, for awakening the potentials of our Buddha-natures. It empowers us to visualize ourselves as Buddha-figures – in this case, as the Buddha-figure Kalachakra.
The most important factors for awakening our potentials during the empowerment are receiving inspiration (blessings) from the tantric master and experiencing certain states of mind and insights in accordance with the ritual.
The empowerment took place in a gymnasium. Over 3oo people had come from all parts of the world to receive the initiation. There was great seriousness and devotion to be felt and so began the preparation for the ritual.
A part of it was the creation of a sand mandala which was to be destroyed at the end.
The ritual itself consisted of purification, prayer, chanting mantras and series of visualizations of Buddhas and mandalas. The goal is an opening of the chakras and eventually transformation. ( Anyone interested in the details, please follow the link to Kalachakra Initiation from the Berzin Archives)
I will not pretend that I did follow the whole process in all detail, but I was mystified from the first moment on. To sit in a room in presence of several highly realised tantric teachers, monks, as well as over 300 of their disciples, is creating a very pure and intense atmosphere that draws you in and anchors you in being.
I sat there for two days, cross-legged and in meditation. I listened to the Tibetan chanting and the bells and did not bother so much about the visualisations, but felt an intense awareness and an acute sense of presence. Then I realised the purpose of the ritual.
It is a pointer. Depending on your own need and state of development one can use the ritual as a guiding principle to lead your life. It urges us to reach a pure inner world while still living in our imperfect, earthly one, using Kalachakra as a model. For example, a pure body comes from healthy eating and not smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs. Pure speech means not gossiping or saying unkind things about others. A pure mind is trained away from angry, hateful and selfish thoughts. Once each of us purifies our body, speech and mind, we can find inner peace. When we have inner peace, at last it is possible to experience the state of bliss, or perfect happiness.
But at the center ist he process of transformation – which reminded me actually of the eucharits and how closely spiritual and/or religious rituals are connected. There is something in it for all of us – a simple person without much knowledge as well as the highly experienced adept.
But he most important learning I received was this – nobody can give you empowerment. You have to take it. Receive it. Want it. And use it.
Like with anything else – it is what you make out of it.