Introduction to the Kalachakra Initiation

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Bodhgaya, India (Archive #285)

This excerpt is from an introductory talk given by Lama Yeshe in Bodhgaya, India, in January 1974. The teaching was requested by Western students who had traveled to Bodhgaya to receive the Kalachakra initiation from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.

The lamas with Western Sangha and Mount Everest Centre students in Bodhgaya, 1974.

To receive such a powerful initiation we need certain qualifications, certain inner understandings. Therefore, we are strict. If we are not strict, we are empty. We are not empty. And we are not miserly with the teachings. We have no reason to be. On the one hand, we have the lamas’ experience. And on the other, we have the nature of the Mahayana teachings, which provide an individual method for each individual personality or even for each distinct element of an individual sentient being’s mind.

As you can see, there are many people here to take the initiation. But as we have observed, each one of us receives that powerful initiation individually. Don’t think that just because everybody is sitting in the one place, each person receives the same thing. No. Really. It’s so simple. Check up for yourself— you don’t need me to explain it to you.

To receive this initiation, the most important things you need are a pure motivation—the mind of bodhicitta— renunciation of samsara, and an understanding of the reality of the nature of your own mind—emptiness. These three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment are what you need.

Don’t be afraid when I talk about bodhicitta. Bodhicitta means having a pure motivation—no involvement with personal ego trips, gravitational attachment to sense objects or reputation—and a very sincere wish to reach everlasting blissful enlightenment as quickly as possible for the sake of all mother sentient beings. If you have this kind of motivation, then you have got it right. No matter what you are, black, white, yellow, red or green, it doesn’t matter. This is the most important thing of all, dear.

Then, when Lama talks about renunciation of samsara, again you are afraid. Normally people have some fear when we say “renunciation.” But you should understand clearly and exactly what renunciation is. It is not referring to anything external; instead, it means to renounce whatever makes your mind agitated. This is a good example of how we often have trouble with words. “Lama says renunciation! Lama says suffering!” But often, what you think those words mean doesn’t exist.

Renunciation doesn’t mean that I give up this place and go somewhere else. By understanding the nature of your own confused mind, by understanding and being willing to reach beyond it, to apply the right solution to your own problems, that is renunciation. That is renunciation of samsara. That’s good enough.

Renunciation of samsara does not mean to become extreme by not eating or drinking or by trying to eliminate every need completely. That doesn’t help. We renounce the mind full of superstition, and uncontrolled sensations, feelings and emotions. All of this is the source of our suffering. This is Lama’s connotation, Lama’s understanding of suffering. You may believe that your physical situation is OK. You have good health, possessions, money and so forth; you don’t have any physical problems. But if you check up there is still something wrong; there is some problem in your mind. This is Lama’s connotation of suffering. So simple, dear, so simple.

When we explain suffering, maybe we should say “schizophrenic disease” or “mental disease.” That might make more sense for Westerners’ minds rather than saying “suffering.” You should understand this well, because understanding is far more important than just belief. That is very important to emphasize. That is the reason that I stress understanding the three prerequisites of the initiation. They are of great importance for your life. This teaching, this Kalachakra initiation, is an almost impossible thing that’s about to happen. It is very important for you to take advantage of this powerful teaching.