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The Practice of Kalachakra
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

All teachings given by the Buddha have as their essential purpose the taming and transformation of the mind. The Buddhist view is that when we improve the quality of our mind, our wisdom, not only do we benefit ourselves in the most lasting and pervasive sense, but indirectly we also greatly benefit all other sentient beings. Training the mind is the key to achieving lasting peace and happiness.

The Buddhist path begins with cultivating the three higher trainings of self discipline, meditative concentration, and the wisdom understanding emptiness. When these three have been made firm one can take up the methods of the bodhisattva path, in which one cultivates the aspiration to achieve highest enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, and on the basis of that aspiration engages in the six perfections of generosity, self-discipline, patience, effort, meditative stabilisation and wisdom. Finally, these methods can be complemented with the tantric practices which begin with the receiving of the initiations and tantric commitments, and involve the powerful training of the generation and completion yogas. In this we can transport the mind to the state of final enlightenment.

Tantric practice is more powerful than the general sutra training for a number of reasons. One of these is that it fully integrates the factors of method and wisdom. In Buddhahood, method and wisdom, body and mind, are of one taste, the tantric path utilises this dynamic from the very beginning, and thus produces a far more rapid enlightenment. This exclusive nature of the tantric path is that it brings an important aspect of the result of practice – i.e, the integral character of Buddhahood-into the structure of our training right now. This is a feature of all four classes of tantras. In highest yoga tantra this principle is taken even further, with the practitioner utilising the most subtle levels of bodily energies and of consciousness, levels inaccessible to the untrained person.

In general, an understanding of a spiritual method is itself a blessing; but in order to enter the tantric path it is said to be necessary to first receive the blessings of the initiation from a qualified master holding an unbroken lineage of transmission. This empowers one to enter into the tantric yogas, and plants the seeds for future realisation. In most tantric traditions initiation is given to small groups of trusted students, the number often being limited to twenty-five. However, Kalachakra is an exception in this regard, and there is a tradition of giving it at large public gatherings. Certainly, not everyone who attends will have a sufficient inner basis to receive the full benefit of the initiation, but it is believed that anyone attending with a positive attitude will establish and strengthen positive karmic instincts.

Today’s world seems to be in need of a powerful medicine. And of all the teachings given by the Buddha, those of highest yoga tantra are the most powerful. These methods are said to be especially applicable to the condition in which the human community finds itself today. When the techniques of highest yoga tantra are applied on the foundations of the three higher trainings, the Bodhisattvas compassionate aspiration to highest enlightenment, and the practice of the six perfections, they have the ability to induce enlightenment within this one short lifetime. Kalachakra represents one of the most extensive of the highest yoga tantras.

(Excerpt from the foreword of ‘The Practice of Kalachakra’ by Glen Mullin, Published by Snow Lion)