NEW PUBLICATION: Innate Kālacakra: Instruction Texts and Recitations

On this auspicious day of Lhabab Duchen, I am pleased to announce the translation and publication of the Innate Kālacakra e-booklet, as part of the new Dakini Publications publishing intiative. It can be freely downloaded here, Innate Kalacakra booklet.  The book is currently only available to read electronically, only by those who have the requisite Kālacakra empowerment (such as the Innate Kālacakra, the seven empowerments of raising a child and/or the full Kālacakra empowerment) and has the permission and/or instruction to practise it from a qualified teacher. In the near future, I hope to make it available for purchase as a hard copy.

Work on translation project, which was part-funded by an Ashoka Grant from the Khyentse Foundation, faced several major challenges, such that the section of the longer text by Taranatha (A Hundred Blazing Lights) has yet to be completed. Once it is, I will include it in this booklet.  However, other texts, including the Bamda Gelek Gyatso text Chariot that Transports to the Four Kayas have been completed and is published here for the first time.

Here is the excerpted Introduction to the new booklet below:

This booklet is the first compiled published English translation of some of the main Jonang lineage instruction texts and sadhanas on the deity yoga practise of innate Kālacakra (dus ‘khor lhan skyes).  The innate Kālacakra practise, also known as the ‘generation stage’ (skye rim), is one of the two uncommon preliminary practices (the other preliminary being the ‘three isolations’) of Kālacakra.  In the Kālacakra tradition, there are seven preliminaries that must be completed before practice on the completion stage can begin.  There are five common preliminaries: Refuge, Bodhicitta, A Hundred Syllable Mantra [Vajrasattva], Mandala Offering, and Guru Yoga.

In 2017, I commenced translation work on the common preliminaries sections of three Kālacakra texts used in the Jonang tradition.  The first text, The Chariot that Transports to the Four Kayas by Bamda Gelek Gyatso[i] (1834-1904) has now been published for the first time in English by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (2019)[ii].  The other two texts, Meaningful to See and (a longer commentary) A Hundred Blazing Lights, A Supplementary Commentary on Meaningful to See[iii], by Jonang and Shangpa Kagyu master, Tāranātha, are completed but still to be published.  This translation project here is a continuation of the research and translation of those texts and includes the sections on Innate Kālacakra from Meaningful to See and The Chariot that Transports to the Four Kayas.

The innate Kālacakra daily practise of the two-armed deity in union with consort is a simple visualisation and recitation practice to do.  As Tāranātha explains in A Hundred Blazing Lights, there are more extensive generation stage practices, such as the nine-deity mandala[iv] visualisation, but Tāranātha explains that if someone wants to practise only this simpler visualisation, it is permissible.

During this research and translation, I discovered that the Tibetan term lhenkye (lhan skyes or lhan cig skyes pa), is variously translated as ‘innate’, ‘co-emergent’, ‘connate’, ‘spontaneously arisen’ and more. The reason it is not such a simple term to understand and translate is because there are several meanings depending on how and where it is used. In Appendix A this booklet, is an extended explanation I wrote on the meaning of this much used term in tantric literature, based on teachings of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye and Tāranātha, and how it should be understood in the context of Kālacakra generation stage practice[i]. Generally speaking, according to Tāranātha in his longer commentary, the term refers to the ‘root’ deity with one face and two hands in union with consort that is the ‘spontaneously present’ and ‘co-emergent’ nature of the fully awakened Buddha deity and all its qualities, continually present within the nature of mind of all sentient beings.

The Jonang lineage are considered to be one of the main unbroken lineages of the Dro lineage Kālacakra, (the other main lineage practised today being Rwa)[ii] especially in connection to the practise of six vajra-yogas of Kālacakra [‘completion stage’][iii].  Lamas from all the other lineages, Gelugpa, Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma, are also direct lineage holders of the six vajra-yogas, in particular, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, whose daily practice sadhana text is included in this publication.  Kongtrul not only received the Kālacakra empowerment and transmission from Kagyu lamas, such as 9th Tai Situ Rinpoche, but also from his Jonang teacher, Ngawang Chophel, on his first (and treacherous) visit to the main Jonang monastery, Dzamthang, Tibet[iv]. I have also included two translations of innate Kālacakra sadhanas, one by Tāranātha (taken from his text The Celestial Stairway[v], which is the text used while practising the preliminaries) and the other by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.  These practice texts and instructions are still used today in, and outside of, Tibet and also form the backbone of the Kālacakra practise in the Kagyu tradition, that were passed on by Jamgon Kongtrul who received the Jonang lineage transmissions from Kagyu and Jonang masters he studied with[vi].

I first received the Kālacakra empowerment from HH Sakya Trizin in London, 2012 and the innate Kālacakra empowerment twice, first in 2017, in India, from Khenpo Chokyi Nangwa Rinpoche, a Jonang lama.  Secondly from HE Garchen Rinpoche, a Drikung Kagyu lama, in Portugal 2018 and online when he gave the empowerment and instructions again, in Singapore, September 2019.  In Portugal 2018, Garchen Rinpoche gave instructions on the Innate Kālacakra practice and sadhana of Jamgon Kongtrul included here.

There were many challenges and obstacles in completing this project.  I am particularly grateful to my Dharma friend and private sponsor, L, a devoted student and follower of HE Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, as well as the Khyentse Foundation for their award of the Ashoka Grant in 2018, which directly supported the work done on these texts. I would also like to thank my friends, including Ken Holmes, Gonpo Jack, Ina Bieler, Iny, Jo, Jamyang Wangmo, Lodrsri and anyone else who helped me overcome personal difficulties and obstacles during the past year and supported me, or my work, with personal donations and kind and encouraging words of support. In particular, I would like to thank my precious root lama, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, and pray and hope that all the obstacles to his health, activities, life and the Kagyu lineage and Dharma in general be pacified and eliminated.  Please forgive any unintended, or unseen, errors I have made in this translation or publication. May it be of benefit!

Adele Tomlin, India, November 2019.

[i] This explanation has also been published at https://www.shentongKālacakra.com/Kālacakra-2/the-meaning-of-simultaneously-present-lhan-skyes-in-generation-stage-Kālacakra.

[ii] As Tāranātha writes about in A Hundred Blazing Lights, there are seventeen distinct lineages of Kālacakra that were passed down to Tibetan masters. These lineages were compiled and enumerated by the Jonang master, Kunpang Chenpo Thugje Tsondru (kun spangs thugs rje brtson ‘grus) (1243-1313). For my translation of that section, see https://www.shentongKālacakra.com/Kālacakra-2/the-seventeen-lineages-of-the-six-vajra-yogas-by-jetsun-Tāranātha/

[iii] The six vajra-yogas (ṣaḍañga-yoga, sbyor drug) are the completion stage practices according to the Kālacakra system.  The six yogas are:

  1. individual sense withdrawal (so sor sdud pa – pratyāhara)
  2. mental focus (bsam gtan – dhyāna)
  3. wind control (srog rtsol – prāṇāyāma)
  4. retention (‘dzin pa – dharāṇā)
  5. recollection ( rjes dran – anusmṛiti)
  6. samādhi (ting nge ‘dzin – samādhi)

[iv] See Alexander Gardner’s fascinating description of this trip, which involved a murder plot against Kongtrul, in The Life of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great (Shambhala Publications, 2019).

[v] Celestial Stairway: Preliminary Practise Recitations of the Profound Path of the Vajra-Yogas (Zab lam rdo rje’i rnal ‘byor sngon du ‘gro ba’i ngag ‘don mkha’ spyod bgrod pa’i them skas) by Tāranātha.  Published by Dukhor Dratsang, 2017. The main translation of the text was done by Edward Henning, which he sent to me in an email, shortly before he passed away. I was subsequently asked to complete, check and edit his translation and compile it with the Tibetan text and phonetics. This Tibetan text had been previously translated and published by Khentrul Rinpoche, and although I had not seen a copy of it at the time, it is now available online on his website.

[vi] For more on the Kagyu masters who hold the Kālacakra  lineage that originates from Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, see my short article about this at https://www.shentongKālacakra .com/part-two-kagyu-masters-of-the-jamgon-kongtrul-lineage-of-dro-jonang-Kālacakra /.

[i] The Jonang master, Bamda Gelek Gyatso (thub bstan ‘ba’ mda’ dge legs rgya mtsho, 1844-1904) was considered to be a tulku master, teacher and practitioner in all the Tibetan Buddhist lineages such as Kālacakra, the Six Yogas of Naropa (which he studied with the great non-sectarian master, Jamgon Kongtrul the First), Gelugpa philosophy and debate, Dzogchen (he studied with various Dzogchen masters) and more. For more on his life see the biography by Jose Cazebon on Treasury of Lives: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Bamda-Gelek/7272

[ii]The Chariot that Transports to the Kingdom of the Four Kāyas: Stages of Meditation that Accomplish the Excellent Path of the Six-Branch Yogas of the Completion Stage of Glorious Kālacakra’ (Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin (LTWA, 2019). Full Tibetan title: dPal dus kyi ‘khor lo’i rdzogs rim sbyor ba yan lag drug gi sgom rim grub pa’i lam bzang sku bzhi’i rgyal sar bgrod pa’i shing rta.  In: The Dharma of the Profound Path of the Vajra-Yogas (Zab lam rdo rje’i rnal ‘byor gyi chos skor),  1-103, Jonang Well-Being Association India (‘phags yul jo nang ‘gro phan lhan tshogs kyis ‘grem spel byas), 2010.  This text [commonly referred to as ‘Stages of Meditation of the Excellent Path’] by Jonang master, Bamda Thubten Gelek Gyatso, is a commentary and guiding instruction manual text of major importance in the Jonang tradition of the Six Yogas of Kālacakra. In this text, Bamda Gelek gives practical and clear guidance on how to practise all the stages of the Kālacakra: the common preliminaries, the uncommon preliminaries and the completion stage six vajra-yogas.  I found three publicly available editions of this text but have referred mainly to the modern book edition published by the Jonang Well-Being Association in India in 2010. The other editions of the text are an U-Med block print in the Collected Works of Bamda Gelek published by the Dzamthang monastery and another modern book edition published by the Sithron Mirig publishing house, in a collection of works of various Jonang masters. I have not approached the text in an academic context and thus I have not produced a critical edition of the text.

[iii] The first text by Tāranātha is called Meaningful to See (Mthong ba don ldan); the second is his longer and more detailed supplementary commentary on that text, A Hundred Blazing Lights: A Supplementary Commentary on Meaningful to See, the Profound Path of the Vajra-yogas  (Zab lam rdo rje’i rnal ‘byor gyi khrid yig mthong ba don ldan gyi lhan thabs ‘od brgya ‘bar ba).   Meaningful to See is a short and concise instruction text; the five common preliminaries of that text have been translated. For more detailed historical and philosophical background and instruction on that text and Kālacakra, the supplementary commentary, A Hundred Blazing Lights, was written by Tāranātha at a mountain retreat in Tibet ‘while staying in Shambhala’, for the benefit of beings and inspired by one of his of main lamas, the Sakya master, Kunga Lungrig Gyatso. Tāranātha also mentions being encouraged to write something by a Kagyu master, Taglungpa Chenpo, Ngawang Trashi Pal Drub[iii].

[iv] Before he passed away, translator-scholar, Edward Henning told me that he had translated the nine-deity sadhana text by Tāranātha, and its commentary by Bamda Gelek Gyamtso at the request of (and for)  Bokar Rinpoche, I do not know if these translations have been officially published yet though.

7 thoughts on “NEW PUBLICATION: Innate Kālacakra: Instruction Texts and Recitations

  1. With all my respect, I appreciate what you contributed to our Jonang. May i have the Innate Kālacakra e-booklet, please? and what if my guru from Tibet wants to talk to you, what can i do for it?

    1. Thank you for your kind comment. Yes I can send it to you. Who is your guru from Tibet? Happy to talk to them if they wish.

        1. It’s listed a few times already here on this website. -One Hundred Blazing Lights: The Supplementary Commentary on Meaningful to See ཟབ་ལམ་རྡོ་རྗེའི་རྣལ་འབྱོར་གྱི་ཁྲིད་ཡིག་མཐོང་བ་དོན་ལྡན་གྱི་ལྷན་ཐབས་འོད་བརྒྱ་འབར་བ (zab lam rdo rje’i rnal ‘byor gyi khrid yig mthong ba don ldan gyi lhan thabs ‘od brgya ‘bar ba). For example, see here: https://www.shentongkalacakra.com/jonang-texts-and-translations/kalacakra-texts/

    2. I have now uploaded this booklet to freely download here on this post and website. Please let me know if you have any feedback. Apologies for any errors on my part, may it be of benefit!

  2. Appreciate the book “Taranatha’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra” that gives me a chance to learn “empty-of-other”. On page 43, the 2nd paragraph, “… being empty is necessarily the ultimate, [on that view] it would follow [from the words of the sutra] that the form aggregate would happen to be ultimate reality.” What does it exactly mean? What’s the relevance between the former and the latter in this sentence? Would you explain it more, please. Thanks in advance!

    1. That conversation would require quite a bit of time and you would need to have read the whole of the book too. In a nutshell, it means that if one follows the stated rang tong viewpoint on the words of the Heart Sutra then the form aggregate itself would also be the ultimate reality. ‘Form is empty, emptiness is form’….the shentong view is that emptiness is a defining quality of the ultimate nature but that ultimate nature/Buddha Nature is not empty of itself, like the form aggregate is empty of inherently existent form….if I remember the passage correctly. Anyway sorry I don’t have much time to discuss this. Can I suggest you read the book and also some of the excellent works cited in the Bibliography. Good wishes and may it be of benefit.

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