Cultural Visions Part Three: His Holiness the Dalai Lama as Kalachakra
Photos by Frank Ward, Thomas Laird and Bill Hamilton (We worked as Research Group Triangle and I don’t recall which pictures are whose).
My first direct experience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism came in January 1974 at the Kalachakra Initiation in Bodh Gaya, India. This was the third Kalachakra given outside of Tibet and the first that matched the crowds of the first Kalachakra empowerment given by the 14th Dalai Lama in Tibet in 1954. Over 100,000 practitioners converged to experience this tantric initiation next to the tree descended from the original Bodhi tree- the tree under which Siddartha Gautama first became Buddha, the enlightened one. That was around the year 589 BCE.
The Bodhi tree is at the top of this picture, thousands of monks are seated before His Holiness.
On January 3rd to 14th, 2017, the 34th Kalachakra Initiation will take place in Bodh Gaya. This time they expect well over 200,000 attendees. The teachings are free and open to everyone. Register at the website so they know you are coming.
The Mahabodhi Temple adjacent to the Bodhi Tree.
Kalachakra, 43 years ago, represented the beginning of a major shift for me. This initiation became an experience of consummate clarity. I did my first vipassana meditation retreat a week or so later, and a couple of months after that Tom, Billy and I were in residence at Takshindu Monastery in the Himalayas, renting a house for $4.00 a month.
During Kalachakra, evenings are a time for lighting candles, lots of them.
Tonight, New Year’s Eve, is an appropriate time for candles to illuminate the consummate clarity we all need to make our way through 2017.