Kālacakra empowerment and teachings, London, UK 26-30 September 2018 by Jonang Khentrul Rinpoche

From 26th – 30th September 2018, Jonang lama, Khentrul Rinpoché will be travelling to London, United Kingdom to give a series of teachings including the Sublime Realm of Shambhala and the Greatness of the Vajra Yogas of Kalachakra. This will be followed by the Kālacakra Seven Empowerments of a Growing Child and practice instructions for the uncommon preliminaries of Kālacakra Tantra.

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The program for Rinpoché’s visit to London will be as follows:

The Buddhist Society.
58 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1PH
tel: 020 7834 5858 email: info@thebuddhistsociety.org

  • The Greatness of the Vajra Yogas of Kalachakra
    26 September, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

The Study Society
151 Talgarth Rd, Hammersmith, London W14 9DA, UK
+44 20 8748 9338

  • Demystifying the Sublime Realm of Shambhala
    27 September, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Kālacakra Empowerment  (Seven Empowerments of a Growing Child)
    29 September, 9:00 AM – 12:00PM and 2:00 PM – 5:00PM
    30 September, 9:00 AM – 12:00PM and 2:00 PM – 5:00PM 

If you would like to contact the organisers, please use the following:

Anika Mothersdale: +44-7999-512582,  anikamothersdale@gmail.com
Jacob Mortimer: +44-7523 384858,  jacobmortimer@aol.com

For more detailed information about the upcoming program, please visit: http://www.rimebuddhism.co.uk/

Here is a recent photo of Khentrul Rinpoche in the USA with the Kalacakra scholar and translator, Vesna Wallace at the Los Angeles Kālacakra Initiation.  A filmmaker who was also at the empowerment was able to capture Rinpoche and Vesna sitting down in conversation to discuss Kālacakra. The video interview will be made available to Rinpoche’s students through his website in the coming months. I will post it here once it is available.

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Vesna Wallace (C) with Khentrul Rinpoche in the USA

 

 

 

NEW: Video teaching by HE Garchen Rinpoche on Kalacakra and the forthcoming Kalacakra empowerment on 6-7th October, Portugal

Today the Instituto Changchub posted a new video of HE Garchen Rinpoche speaking about the forthcoming concise Kalacakra empowerment in Porto, Portugal on 6th and 7th October. This will be the first time the Kalacakra empowerment has been given in Portugal.

Rinpoche gives a profound and concise teaching on Kalacakra, practise and the empowerment itself. He also speaks about how he has received the empowerment many times including from HH 14th Dalai Lama. Highly recommended viewing!

The story of Dolpopa’s ‘Mount Meru’: HE Jigme Dorjee Rinpoche visits the Great Jonang Stupa, Tibet, September 2018

Alas, although my fortune is very modest,

ཀྱེ་མ་བདག་གི་སྐལ་བ་རབ་དམན་ཡང།

A discovery like this makes me think it is excellent fortune.

འདི་འདྲ་སྙེད་པས་སྐལ་བ་བཟང་སྙམ་བྱེད།

Is this discovery by a lazy fool due to the blessing of the Kalki emperor?

ལེ་ལོ་ཅན་གྱི་བླུན་པོས་འདི་རྙེད་པ། རིགས་ལྡན་རྒྱལ་པོས་བྱིན་གྱིས་བརླབས་ཡིན་ནམ།

Although my body did not arrive at Kalapa

ལུས་ཀྱིས་ཀ་ལཱ་པ་རུ་མ་སླེབ་ཀྱང།

did the Kalki enter my faithful mind?

དད་པའི་སེམས་ལ་རིགས་ལྡན་ཞུགས་སམ་ཅི།

Although my intelligence has not been refined in threefold insight

ཤེས་རབ་གསུམ་ལ་བློ་འགྲོས་སྦྱངས་མིན་ཡང།

I think the Ocean gushed forth due to the raising of Mount Meru.

ལྷུན་པོ་བཞེངས་པས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་རྡོལ་བ་སྙམ།

Although Noble Ones have difficulty realising the essential points

འཕགས་རྣམས་ཀྱིས་ཀྱང་རྟོགས་པར་དཀའ་བའི་གནས།

they are precisely realized, due to their kindness.

གང་གིས་དྲིན་གྱིས་ཇི་བཞིན་རྟོགས་མཛད་པ།

To all gurus, buddhas and kalkis,

བླ་མ་སངས་རྒྱས་རིགས་ལྡན་ཐམས་ཅད་དང།

and to their great stupa, I pay homage and bow down.

དེ་ཡི་མཆོད་རྟེན་ཆེ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་འདུད།

Taken from the Biography of the Great Omniscient Jonangpa [Dolpopa] by Lhai Gyaltsen. ལྷའི་རྒྱལ་མཚན། གྷ་རུང་བ། ཆོས་རྗེ་ཇོ་ནང་པ་ཀུན་མཁྱེན་ཆེན་པོའི་རྣམ་ཐར།. Translated by Adele Tomlin, September 2018.

These words of Jonang master, Kunkhyen Dolpopa ( b.1292 – d.1361), taken from the biography of his life by one of his major students, Lhai Gyaltsen (Lha’i rgyal mtshan, Gha rung ba) , Biography of the Great Omniscient Jonangpa [Dolpopa] (chos rje jo nang pa kun mkhyen chen po’i rnam thar, as cited in The Buddha from Dolpo, STEARNS 2010: 22), refer to the construction of the massive Jonang Stupa, as ‘the raising of Mount Meru’, and the ‘Ocean that gushed’ from this construction and effort, to his most famous and profound work, Mountain Dharma: An Ocean of Definitive Meaning (Ri chos nges don rgya mtsho). It is also stated that these lines are from a series of verses that Dolpopa wrote at the end of his annotations to the Stainless Light (Vimalaprabha, Dri med ‘od) commentary (see STEARNS 2010: 322, n. 75).

Over the last few days, many photos and videos have been circulating on social media of the Jonang master, and current Head of Jonang lineage and the Dzamthang monastery in Tibet, HE Jigme Dorje Rinpoche visiting Dolpopa’s Great Jonang Stupa this month, September 2018. It is wonderful to see recent pictures of it (see below).

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Posted by Kirill Mst on Saturday, September 8, 2018

One video shows two monks having what are called ‘the descent of blessings’ during the Rinpoche’s visit to the stupa, whereby they appear to be spontaneously jumping and shaking up and down from their seated positions. When I asked one Jonang Rinpoche what was happening, he stated this was ‘experiential blessings’. Such occurences were apparently commonplace when Dolpopa was present and taught.

The Stupa and Its Construction

So why and when did Dolpopa build this stupa? The construction of the stupa, which was known by several different names such as Pal Yonchen, Kumbum Chenpo and Pal Gomang, is described in two biographies written by major students of Dolpopa, one by Lhai Gyaltsen (see above) and another by Kunpang Chodrag Palsang (Kun spangs chos grags dpal bzang ) the Biography of the Omniscient Lord of Dharma: The Light of the Garland of Jewels of Great Virtuous and Excellent Classifications (Chos rje kun mkhyen chen po’i rnam thar gsal sgron gyi rnam grangs dge legs chen po nor bu’i phreng ba) (see STEARNS 2010: 320: n.65).

These sources refer to a prediction by Jonang founder and master, Kunpang Tukje Tsondru (1243 – 1313), who told his disciple Yonten Gyatso:

To this hermitage of mine will come a grandson better than the son, and a great grand-son better than the grandson. In the future he will teach Dharma at upper Zangden and build a great stupa at lower Zangden.

རི་ཁྲོད་འདིར་བུ་བས་ཚ་བོ་བཟང། ཚ་བོ་བས་ཀྱང་ཡང་ཚ་བཟང་བར་འོང། མ་འོངས་པ་ན་བཟང་ལྡན་གོང་མར་ཆོས་འཆད།་བཟང་ལྡན་འོག་མར་མཆོད་རྟེན་ཆེན་པོ་བཞེངས།

When Dolpopa’s master, Yonten Gyatso died, he decided to build the Great Stupa to repay his teacher’s kindness but also due to prior aspirations he had made at the stupa of Tropu Lotsawa (khro phu lo tsA ba byams pa dpal, b.1172? – d.1236?) regarding the accumulation of merit and primordial awareness that comes from building such stupas.

According to these sources, Dolpopa began construction of the stupa at Upper Sangden in 1329, but this collapsed. Then in Spring 1330, the foundations of a new stupa were commenced at Lower Sangden but people were very worried it was too big, would be impossible to finish and would end up being a ruin of earth and stone and become an object of ridicule to others. Part of Dolpopa’s reply to these concerns was (cited in STEARNS 2010: 19):

If I think about the actual condition of sentient beings in general, immeasurable compassion arises. There is no doubt that anyone who even sees, hears or touches, this stupa will be freed, that the seed of liberation will be planted, and that vast benefit for others will occur. Those who oppose it will later be regretful.

སེམས་ཅན་སྤྱིའི་གནས་ལུགས་བསམ་ན་སྙིང་རྗེ་ཚད་མེད་པ་སྐྱེ། མཆོད་རྟེན་འདི་གང་གིས་མཐོང་ཐོས་རེག་པ་ཙམ་གྱིས་གྲོལ་བ་དང། ཐར་པའི་ས་བོན་ཐེབས་པ་དང། གཞན་དོན་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོ་འབྱུང་བར་གདོན་མི་ཟ། ལོག་སྒྲུབ་ཅན་རྣམས་ཕྱིས་ན་འགྱོད་པར་གྱུར།

It is said that Dolpopa himself, along with an exceptional group of yogins, scholars and translators, such as Kunpang Chodrag Palsang, Mati Panchen Lodro Gyaltsen (1294-1376), Lotsawa Lodro Pal (1299-1354), and Chogle Namgyal (1306-1376) all participated in the construction of the stupa. It was constructed according to the descriptions in the Stainless Light commentary on the Kalacakra tantra so that is would fulfill all the necessary criteria to be considered the same as the Glorious Dhanyakataka Stupa in which the Buddha had first taught the Kalacakra Tantra.

Dolpopa wrote two texts praising this Great Stupa:

  1. Eulogy about How the Stupa was Built (mchod rten bzhengs tshul la bstod pa ‘khor ba dong sprug, མཆོད་རྟེན་བཞེངས་ཚུལ་ལ་བསྟོད་པ་འཁོར་བ་དོང་སྤྲུག།) and
  2. Eulogy to the Stupa of Jonang (mchod rten dpal yon can la bstod pa byin rlabs kyi gter chen མཆོད་རྟེན་དཔལ་ཡོན་ཅན་ལ་བསྟོད་པ་བྱིན་རླབས་ཀྱི་གཏེར་ཆེན།) (both as cited in STEARNS 2010). See picture of this Tibetan text below (from the Collected Works of Dolpopa, Dzamthang edition, TBRC, W21208):

I will publish a new English translation of both these texts shortly!

Much of the referenced primary source material for this blog post came from The Buddha of Dolpo (Cyrus Stearns, Shambhala Publications, 2010). I am sincerely grateful for his work on this topic and more.

Visiting Vikramashila-Bihar, Nepal: the forgotten and neglected Kālacakra pilgrimage site of Kālacakra lineage holder and Indian master, Vibhūticandra

While in Nepal, I was intrigued to visit a place in there that one of the major Kālacakra lineage holders and Indian masters of the 12th Century, Vibhūticandra not only taught and studied at, but where he is said to have directly received the teachings on Kālacakra and the six vajra-yogas from the Indian master, Shavaripa. The place, Stam Bihar, Nepal is in modern day Thamel, Kathmandu and is sometimes referred to as Vikramasila-Bihar or Stham-Bihar. This small monastery is said to have been established by Dipamkara Atisa (982- 1054). It was also said to have been visited by Tai Situ Penchen Chokyi Jungne (Si-tu Pan-chen Choskyi ‘byung-gnas) in 1723.

Vibhūticandra – Indian Siddha and Kālacakra and Six Vajra-Yogas lineage holder

Before posting some photos and details about this place as it is today, I will give a little background information about Vibhūticandra. I first learnt about this amazing Buddhist master while translating into English, Taranatha’s text ‘One Hundred Blazing Lights’ (his magnum opus on the Kālacakra six vajra-yogas). In that text, in a section entitled ‘Confidence in the Teacher’, Tāranātha goes into detail on the seventeen distinct lineages of Kālacakra (see my translation of that here) that came into Tibet from India, and then goes onto describe the short and long lineages of Vibhūticandra, which are considered, along with the Dro lineage, the most important one for Jonang. Another excellent resource on his life is that by Cyrus Stearns in his Journal of International Buddhist Studies article The Life and Legacy of Vibhūticandra (1996):

Vibhūticandra (Rnal-‘byor zla-ba ) was born in the latter half of the 12th Century and first came to Tibet in 1204. He was active and influential for several decades in the transmission and translation of both sutra and tantra teachings. He traveled to Tibet three times, and one of the works he translated himself into the Tibetan language has been passed down to the present as an important tantric practice in living transmission. This text is the Rnal ‘byor yan lag drug pa, a fundamental text on the practice of the sadangayoga of the Kālacakra-tantra, directly revealed to Vibhūticandra by the legendary mahasiddha Savaripa.

See below for a discussion of this text. According to Tāranātha, the two Kālacakra lineages of Vibhūticandra listed as belonging to the seventeen Kālacakra lineages compiled and collated by Jonang master, Kunpang Chenpo are:

  • The indirect [or long] lineage of Vibhūti. The lineage in which Pandita Vibhūticandra received the Six Yogas, of the tradition of the adept Anupamarakṣita [Peme Tso], from the master Ratnarakṣita.
  • The direct [or short] lineage of Vibhūti. Called so because in the monastery Stambihar, Nepal, Vibhūti had a direct experience when siddha Śavaripa revealed his face directly bestowing the Six Yogas.

Tāranātha says that:

”Out of all the various different lineages, in terms of the preliminaries, the main and final practices, from beginning to end, these are all contained in the oral instruction texts of the Dro tradition, because, compared to all the others, they are most extensive oral instructions. Also, since all the [Dro] lineage lamas attained direct signs of great accomplishment, the received blessings of their oral transmission are incomparable.

After that, the main lineage is the short lineage of Vibhūticandra, since the instructions are profound and words are new, the received blessings of their oral transmission are also great. In all the three times, the beginning, middle and end, the teachings are like the arrangement of a jewelled display.”

In a following section on the short lineage of Vibhūticandra, Tāranātha mentions:

Afterwards, Vibhūti became a Khenpo at the monastery of Stam Bihar[1] and taught many systems of entering the Dharma. There he also established an independent institute for the study of the major works of Abhayākaragupta such as Munimatalamkara, the Upadeshamanjari, and the Avali Trilogy.[2]In particular, he placed strong emphasis on both the teaching and practice of Kālacakra. Earlier in his life, he had met face to face with the yidams Vajravahari[3] and Manjushri. Later, he also came face to face with Kālacakra and Chakrasamvara. While giving the empowerment of Chakrasamvara, at the time the primordial awareness descended, present were two monks of extremely good fortune. One was a Nepali called Ktishri, and the other one from India, called Manorta. When the space primordial awareness descended, they completely vanished without a trace from the audience of those receiving the empowerment. These amazing signs and so on happened many times.

Vibhūti then went again to Tibet in order to benefit many beings. He translated himself (without a native speaker) many treatises on the Sutra and Mantrayana. Then he arrived again in Nepal. He had become quite old by this time. Once, when [Vibhūticandra] had become very old, a young yogin with bone loops fixed in his ear lobes appeared. He was briefly welcomed, and then shown to a verandah. A junior pandita studying grammar there watched him. When there were several amazing signs, such as no circulation of breath, and his body changing into various colors and shapes, he told the master, pandita [Vibhūticandra].The pandita invited him in, and he replied immediately and without hesitation to every question [Vibhūticandra] mentally asked him. So he asked, “Who are you?” “I am the siddha Shavaripa,” he replied. Overjoyed and devoted, Vibhūticandra asked to be accepted as a follower, and [Shavaripa] taught the six yogas. [Vibhūticandra] recorded it in writing, which is this small extant text.[4]

In general [Shavaripa] satisfied him with infinite profound oral instructions, and blessed his mindstream. It is also stated that he actually stayed for about twenty-one days.Then [Vibhūticandra] asked him, “Where will you go?” “I will go from here to Oddiyana, and benefit a few who are fortunate. Then I will go straight to Sri Parvata [Dpal-gyi-ri],” he replied, and disappeared. At that, due to the force of the blessing, the master Vibhūticandra instantly reached the culmination of experience and realization, and achieved the signs of the ultimate qualities of the branch of ‘retention’. Soon thereafter, Vibhūticandra decided that the instructions he had received from mahasiddha Shavaripa, which have since become known as the direct, or short, transmission of Vibhūticandra would be of great benefit to many people in Tibet[5].

Stam Bihar, Nepal

So as someone interested in Kālacakra and how they came from India and Nepal into Tibet, how could I not visit the place where one of the major lineage holders lived, studied and taught?

Travelling down the dusty streets of touristy Thamel in Kathmandu, it would be easy to miss and pass by the small building nestled in between restaurants and shops. Only the architectural style and sign at the front of the building, denote there is a Bihar.

Most of the building was in a state of disrepair and there was construction work all over it. A man allowed me to take a picture of the golden Buddha statue of Atisha.

Nowhere in sight was any sign that such great masters had lived and taught here. And so on a gross and physical level it was disappointing and rather tragic that such a heritage site had been allowed to wither in that way. On the other hand, there was something still in the framework of the building, the beautiful lattice work on the door way that nonetheless was a reminder that something unusual and precious had been here.

It was not until I left the building and got back into the taxi that I wished I had stayed longer. The impermanence of it all was shattering and moving at the same time. Without the texts, such masters, the Dharma and these profound practises, like that building, would be long forgotten and it is due to the kindness of translators and practitioners like Vibhūticandra, who often travelled and went to great lengths to deliver and spread these teachings, that we have them now with us today. One can never underestimate the importance of preserving and translating the precious Dharma teachings as one may be producing a text that will survive the processes of time and neglect and be the light and thread that allows it to thrive and survive.

[1]See STEARNS 1996, n.37:

This monastery is said to have been established by Dipamkara Atisa (982- 1054), and is often known by the name Tham-bahil, or Vikramasila-Bihar. It is in the Thamel district of modern Kathmandu.

[2] From STEARNS 1996:

These early 12th century works by Abhayakaragupta, as found in the Peking edition of the Tibetan Tripitaka, are as follows: Thub pa’i dgongs pa’i rgyan (Munimatalamkdra), vol. 101, #5299, 71b.3- 398b.3. Man ngag gi snye ma shes bya ba rgyud thams cad kyi skyed rdzogs thun mong du bstan pa (Upades’amanjari-ndma-sarvatantrotpannopapannasdmdnya- bhdsya), vol. 87, #5024, 77.4.5-86.2.4. Dpal ‘jam pa’i rdo rje la sogs pa’i mngon par rtogs pa kun las btus pa rdzogs pa’i rnal ‘ by or gyi phreng ba (Sri-manjuvajrddi-kramabhisamayasamuccaya- nispanna-yogdvali, vol. 87, #5023, 47.5.6-77.4.5. Rdzogs pa’i rnal ‘byor gyi phreng ba (Nispanna-yogavali), vol. 80, #3962, 126.3.4-154.2.8.Dkyil ‘khor gyi cho ga rdo rje phreng ba {Vajrdvali-ndma-mandalopdyikd), vol. 80, #3961, 79.1.1-126.3.4.

[3]Vajravarahi. A sambhogakaya manifestation of the female buddha Samantabhadri. She is also one of the chief yidam deities of the Sarma Schools, as well as a wisdom dakini.

[4] According to STEARNS 1996:

‘The “small extant text” referred to by Tāranātha is the Stages of the Six Yogas (Rnal ‘byor yan lag drug pa (Yogasadahga-nama)), Peking Tripitaka, vol. 47, #2091, 258.4.2- 258.5.1. Vibhūticandra translated it into Tibetan himself. This is a very important text for the six yoga tradition in general, and the Jo-nang-pa transmission in particular. Another transmission of the six yogas from Shavaripa was later received by the Indian master Vanaratna (1384-1468), who taught it extensively in Tibet.’The Rnal ‘byor yan lag drug pa (Yogasadanga) spoken by mahasiddha Savaripa to Vibhūticandra at Stham Bihar in Kathmandu is the most important core text (mula, rtsa-ba) for the direct transmission (nye brgyud) of the sadahgayoga perfection stage practices of the Kālacakratantra as practiced in Tibet. The very succinct verse definitions of each of the six branches of the practice found in this short work are quoted as authoritative speech in virtually every sadahgayoga instruction text written in Tibet. The special importance of this transmission for the Jonang-pa tradition is underscored by the fact that Kun-spangs Thugs-rjebrtson-grus (1243-1313), wrote the only known commentary to it.

[5]From WALLACE (2001: 30):

He himself translated his Sadangayoganama (Rnal ‘byor yan lag drug pa) into Tibetan. According to the Tibetan six-phased yoga tradition, the Sadangayoganama is the direct transmission of the six-phased yoga practice that Vibhūticandra received from Shavaripa during his stay at Stham Bihar monastery in Kathmandu, upon which he attained dharana, the fourth phase of this yoga. In subsequent centuries, this text became one of the most important and authoritativetexts for the direct transmission of the Kdlacakratantra’s six-phased yoga in Tibet, especially in the Jonangpa tradition. According to Taranatha, the teachingson the six-phased yoga that Shavaripa revealed to Vibhūticandra were based onthe dohas of Saraha, and Saraha’s yogic practice itself was based on the six-phased yoga.

In the Sbyor ba yan lag drug gi rdzogs rim gyi gnad bsdus pa, Tshong kha pa (fourteenth- fifteenth centuries), following his teacher Bu ston, cites the Indian lineage of Anupamaraksita in this way: Anupamaraksita—Sndhara—Bhaskaradeva—Dharmakarasanti—RavisrTjnana—Ratnaraksita—Vibhūticandra.