The Process of the 33rd Kalachakra Empowerment Begins

July 4th 2014

Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India, 3 July 2014 - A day and a night of light but steady rain had lowered the temperature and laid the dust as His Holiness the Dalai Lama stepped out of his residence at Shiwatsel on his way to the pavilion from where he would give the Kalachakra Empowerment for the 33rd time. This also marks the 60th year since he first offered it at the Norbulingka in Lhasa. His Holiness walked briskly, surrounded by his entourage of officials and bodyguard, but regularly responding to the greetings of well-wishers who lined the road.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with Namgyal Monastery monks and Ladakhi and visiting lamas, beginning the process of the Kalachakra Empowerment in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 3, 2014. Photo/Manuel Bauer
Having taken his seat facing the canopied table on which the Kalachakra sand mandala will be constructed over the coming days and behind which hung a large appliqué thangka of the Kalachakra deity, the prayers began. Flanked on the one side by monks of Namgyal Monastery, who are adept in the practice of Kalachakra and its rituals, and on the other by local Ladakhi and visiting lamas, His Holiness first recited Je Tsongkhapa’s ‘In Praise of Dependent Arising’. Next the assembly recited the Kalachakra Six-session Guru Yoga before embarking on recitations from the Kalachakra Tantra itself.

The inauguration of the process of the empowerment complete, His Holiness came out to the front of the pavilion and saluted the audience. Taking his seat on the throne, he addressed them:

“Today we’ll begin the preliminary teachings. The purpose of the Dharma is to protect us from suffering. We are beset by problems and if we look for their source, we find they arise because of our selfishness, because we tend to pursue our own interests at the expense of others. Our various religious traditions exist to help us reduce these problems. They all teach ways to overcome suffering through cultivating love and compassion, tolerance, patience and contentment. The Sanskrit term Dharma conveys a sense of that which protects us, which helps us overcome suffering.”


His Holiness the Dalai Lama acknowledging the crowd before his short teaching on the first day of the Kalachakra Empowerment in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 3, 2014. Photo/Manuel Bauer
He went on to say that while there are said to be 1 billion non-believers in the world, there are 6 billion who have some religious faith. All our religions help to overcome suffering. There are theistic religions like Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism who place their faith in a creator god and there are non-theistic traditions like some of the Samkhyas, Jainism and Buddhism that rely on the idea of causality. In Buddhism it is taught that if you do wrong you will reap negative consequences. You need to avoid harming others. In the teaching of the Buddha, the view is explained as dependent arising, while the recommended conduct is non-violence, which entails helping not harming others. We practise non-violence because we want to be happy.

His Holiness explained that during the preliminary procedure he was conducting, the Vajra Master takes the disciples under his care for the duration of the empowerment. A ritual cake was offered to potential interfering forces to induce them not to hinder the empowerment. After that the Vajra Master visualised creating a vajra fence around the place where the empowerment will occur to protect it. There were lines of verse that he asked the disciples to repeat related to overcoming the negative karma we and others have created in the past. He advised the disciples from now on to help others and not harm them. Ganden Tri Rinpoche, on behalf of the disciples, threw a neem stick onto the mandala tray to indicate if there were further obstacles to dispel.

His Holiness remarked that in both the Pali and Sanskrit traditions of Buddhism the misconception of ‘I’ or self and the grasping it entails are regarded as a fiendish mind. We have a sense of a self that is the controller of our body and mind, but really it is just something designated on the basis of the five aggregates, much as a cart is designated on the basis of its parts.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama giving a short teaching on the first day of the Kalachakra Empowerment in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 3, 2014. Photo/Manuel Bauer
His Holiness clarified that he and the monks of Namgyal Monastery would continue the preparatory prayers and rituals for the next two days and that the preliminary teachings would take place 6-8th July in the morning. On 9th July, after lunch, the Namgyal monks will perform the Offering Dance. Local people, and anyone else who wishes to join in, are welcome to offer their own offering dances on that occasion too. The preliminary empowerment related to the Kalachakra will take place 10th July, while the actual empowerment will be given 11th and 12th July. On 13th July there will be a Longevity Empowerment for the disciples and an offering will be made for the Long Life of His Holiness.

In the days leading up to and during the empowerment, His Holiness said the key thing is to cultivate a warm heart. The best way to do this is, like Bodhisattvas who focus on the welfare of others, to cultivate a good heart, the awakening mind, of bodhichitta. He said it is helpful to recite the simple verse:

To Buddha, Dharma and Supreme Community
Until enlightenment I turn for refuge.
By the merit of my giving and so forth
May I attain enlightenment for the good of all beings.

In addition he said it is helpful to cultivate an awareness of emptiness, because understanding emptiness is the path to overcoming disturbing emotions. We can do this by reciting a couple of verses from Chapter 24 of Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Wisdom.”

What arises dependently
Is said to be empty.
That, being a dependent designation,
Is itself the middle way.

Since there is nothing
Which is not dependent,
There is nothing
Which is not empty.

Whatever transformation takes place in relation to the empowerment will be within ourselves. Just as we take medicine to overcome sickness, we need to do practice to overcome our negative emotions.

His Holiness also mentioned that if there people attending these teachings who belong to traditions other than Buddhism, they can focus on cultivating a good heart. It’s through inner transformation that we fulfil the purpose of attending the Kalachakra Empowerment.


Local residents waiting for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to arrive to inaugurate the new Tibetan Community Hall, funded by the Dalai Lama Trust in Choglamsar near Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 3, 2014. Photo/Manuel Bauer
From the teaching ground His Holiness drove into the Tibetan Settlement at Choglamsar where, in the presence of the Leh DC, the Superintendent of Police, Minister for Urban Development, Rigzin Jora and the local Tibetan Representative, he inaugurated a new Tibetan Community Hall. This has been constructed with the financial support of The Dalai Lama Trust. Inside the hall he commented on some of the photographs on the wall. Of a photograph of himself with Pandit Nehru he noted that then he wore brocade robes, something he has given up since becoming a refugee. Of a photograph of his mother he remarked that she was incredibly kind and sowed the seeds of compassion in his own heart.

Going on to the Choglamsar TCV School, he took time to greet and comfort the wheelchair-bound and infirm who lined the path. Before a large audience of students and teachers he presented an award in gratitude to Ama Jetsun Pema and Gyen Lobsang Tenzin for their long dedication to the welfare and development of the TCV Schools.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama presenting an award in gratitude to Gyen Lobsang Tenzin for his long dedication to the welfare and development of the TCV Schools at Choglamsar TCV School near Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 3, 2014.
Photo/Manuel Bauer

In his words of advice His Holiness pointed out that archaeological evidence suggests there were people in Tibet up to 30,000 years ago, making Tibetans a very ancient race. He said there are suggestions that a form of Shang-Shung script existed prior to the Emperor Songtsen Gampo, but during his reign a form of written Tibetan was created expressly for the purpose of translating Buddhist literature into the language of the Land of Snows. Today, the Nalanda tradition is preserved in Tibetan and Tibetan remains the most comprehensive language for expressing this tradition, whether you think of it as Buddhist philosophy or Buddhist science.

Greeting the large number of Tibetans who had gathered before him, especially those who had come from Chang Thang, he said:

“The Tibetan people have faced and overcome many adversities in their history. Rest assured that this time too we will ultimately surmount the troubles we face. The young children here are the seeds of the future. The past can’t be changed, but the future is ours to shape if we make the effort. The Tibetan community in exile, despite many setbacks, has achieved considerable progress and development, largely due to the inspiration afforded us by our 6 million brothers and sisters in Tibet.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at Choglamsar TCV School near Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 3, 2014. Photo/Manuel Bauer
“In our homeland the Tibetan people resist Chinese oppression and the suppression of our language, religion and culture and the desecration of the natural environment. Like them we are still struggling to assert our heritage. Tibetans should not lose hope or relax their spirit; we should be diligent and focussed on the challenges we face.

“By and large Tibetans in exile are good, honest people and our neighbours regard us with affection. This is the purpose of life, to be a good, transparent, warm-hearted person. We all need friends and honesty, trust and warm-heartedness are the way to win friends. We are disciples of Avalokiteshvara and we recite the Mani mantra, but we should also put into practice what it means. Like the refuge and bodhichitta prayer, reciting it is good, but we should also reflect on its meaning. We are born Buddhist and we believe in the law of karma, that the good we do now will help us in the future. That’s all I have to say.”

As His Holiness announced, Preliminary Teachings for the Kalachakra Empowerment focussing on Nagarjuna’s texts, ‘Precious Garland’ and ‘Letter to a Friend’ will begin on 6th July.
 

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