Kalachakra Offered by Dalai Lama in DC, July 6 -16, 2011


Question: What is the Kalachakra?
The Kalachakra for World Peace is a multi-faceted, rich, and profoundly meaningful event, the largest Buddhist ritual open to the public given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness has offered the Kalachakra to large groups of people around the world.

When you attend the entire 11-day cycle of the Kalachakra, you will see the building of the great Kalachakra sand mandala; extensive opening rituals with prolonged periods of beautiful harmonic chanting; ritual dances to prepare the hall as a sacred ground; three days of teachings from His Holiness, presenting the foundations of Buddhist thought, so that each person has a basis for understanding; 3 days of the actual empowerment ceremony, which includes 11 levels of initiation; and a concluding day in which the mandala is dissolved, a ceremony expressing our wishes and prayers for His Holiness to enjoy a long and healthy life, and a long-life blessing for all in attendance are conducted.

For a thorough and scholarly description of the history of the Kalachakra, dating back to the original teaching by Shakyamuni Buddha, please visit the web site of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at http://www.dalailama.com/teachings/kalachakra-initiations. If you scroll down to the end of that page, you will also find a list of Kalachakra empowerments conferred by His Holiness.

In brief, the word Kalachakra or "Wheel of Time", refers to the presentation of cycles of time which are unique to the Kalachakra Tantra. The word “tantra” means an "everlasting stream of continuity." This understanding of time is used in the Kalachakra as the basis for its precise system to achieve liberation from suffering and enlightenment. The Kalachakra is multi-leveled, and addresses circumstances and forces in the outer world, in our inner world, and in the realm of reality arising from extremely subtle energies.

The foundations of Kalachakra rely upon the basic Buddhist tenets of the Four Noble Truths. The initiation confers on the practitioner permission to begin the study and practice of the Kalachakra Tantra. Engaging in the practice with the motivation to free all beings from suffering, and with the proper internal and external conditions, one who is willing to study and practice in a mindful way can realize the path to enlightenment.
Kalachakra Program

July 6—12

During the first seven days of the Kalachakra, from July 6 through 12, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with the monks of Namgyal Monastery and senior lamas, will conduct rituals which prepare and consecrate the venue. These include chanting of prayers, creation of the sand mandala and other ancient rituals.

July 9, 10, and 11

His Holiness will give teachings to present the foundations of Buddhist thought on July 9, 10 and 11. His Holiness the Dalai Lama explained the importance of these preliminaries during the Kalachakra offered in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1999:
"I would like to congratulate those who are attending here only for the preliminary teachings and not the Kalachakra. Because in actual fact the topics I am covering in the preliminary teachings are the more important elements of the practice. So I would like to express my appreciation for those who are just attending the preliminary teachings. 
"…When I announce a Kalachakra Empowerment, because Kalachakra is so popular, it attracts people; but what I really intend is to spend time during the preliminary teachings and speak more about the general aspects of the path of the Dharma…. But if people simply come for the empowerment with no real grounding in the preliminary practices… then simply attending the Kalachakra ceremony alone? I do not know what benefit that can have."
July 12—15
The Kalachakra Ritual Dance on July 12, opens the next phase of the event, with the three days of the actual Empowerment extending from July 13 through July 15.

July 16
On the final day, July 16, the Kalachakra for World Peace 2011 will close with a ceremony offering prayers for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama; a long-life blessing for all those in attendance; and the dissolution of the sand mandala.

From an email from Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center 
Mindfulness Practice in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh