Historically, Kalachakra is closely associated with the Dalai Lamas and with Namgyal Monastery. The Seventh Dalai Lama began providing Kalachakra Initiations to large communities of ordained and lay practitioners in Tibet during the 18th century. Since then, subsequent Dalai Lamas have continued this tradition. The current Dalai Lama, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, has bestowed over thirty Kalachakra Initiations throughout the world. The monks now residing at Namgyal Ithaca have assisted with Kalachakra Initiations since 1989.
As the home monastery of the Dalai Lamas, Namgyal Monastery has come to specialize in training monks in the teachings, practice and ritual ceremony of Kalachakra. Following their basic training in the great texts and treatises of Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy, Namgyal monks receive teachings and training in tantric practice. As within all Geluk schools of Tibetan Buddhism, they are trained in the tantric practices of Yamantaka, Chakrasamvara and Guhyasamaja. In addition, the Namgyal monks receive extensive teachings and training in all aspects of the Kalachakra tantric practices. This includes construction of the Kalachakra sand mandala and performing the rituals and dances of the Kalachakra Ceremony that precede the Kalachakra Initiation. A minimum of fifteen monks is required to perform a full Kalachakra Ritual Ceremony.
Overview of the Kalachakra Tantra Teachings and Practice
Kalachakra means The Wheel of Time. The root text, the Kalachakra Tantra, includes three levels of teachings: External Kalachakra, Internal Kalachakra and Alternative Kalachakra.
The External Kalachakra teachings describe the physical environment, in particular, the outer movements of planets within our world system, and the process by which world systems, including ours, have come into existence.
The Internal Kalachakra teachings describe the subtle body of an individual human being, including the inner channels, the elements and the movements of wind energy. The External and Internal Kalachakra systems are interrelated in that an individual and his environment, both social and physical aspects, are seen as intimately interrelated and interdependent.
The Alternative Kalachakra teachings describe the Kalachakra Initiation and the the generation and completion stages of the tantric practice. Practitioners are able to cultivate deeper, vaster capacities for love, compassion and peace and thus transform not only themselves but also their environment.
The Kalachakra Tantra and World Peace
As with any highest yoga tantra, the Kalachakra teachings and practices are based on the practitioner’s thorough understanding of the core sutra teachings and practices of Buddhism. These fundamental teachings and practices include refuge, bodhicitta, ethical discipline, concentration and the wisdom realizing emptiness.
Prior to bestowing a Kalachakra Initiation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama always provides extensive teachings on key sutra level texts of Mahayana Buddhism that cover these fundamental topics. He shows in this way that the first stage of cultivating inner peace is through developing an understanding of these teachings and putting them into practice. When practitioners begin to develop inner peace of mind, they then are able to bring this quality to their interactions with their family, work colleagues and community.
The practice of the Kalachakra Six Session Guru Yoga as well as the generation and completion stages of the Kalachakra tantric practice help to quicken one’s development of inner peace by cultivating peace of mind at deeper, more subtle levels of mind. This is achieved through developing an understanding of the teachings of the External and Internal Kalachakra as well as engaging in the practices of the Alternative Kalachakra.
In addition, one of the unique features of Kalachakra is that initiation is provided openly to large communities of ordained and lay Buddhists. For example, in 2012 over 200,000 people attending the Kalachakra Initiation in Bodhgaya. In 2011, 8,000 people attended the Kalachakra Initiation given in Washington DC. Hence, as larger numbers of people in a community cultivate inner peace together, the possibility of world peace is greatly increased.
Kalachakra Ritual Ceremony Program.
This year the Namgyal monks of India and Ithaca will perform the full Kalachakra Ritual Ceremony in Ithaca. Observing the Kalachakra Ritual Ceremony serves as a symbolic means to help connect students in a deeper and subtler way to the different levels of the Kalachakra teachings and practices. During the first week the monks will perform the Earth Ritual Prayers and construct the Kalachakra Sand Mandala. In the afternoons, students who have had the Kalachakra Initiation and who register for the event can attend Kalachakra teachings and participate in the Six Session Guru Yoga practice sessions. For details on cost and registration go to (event link). Kalachakra students who choose not to register as well as the general public may attend and observe the Earth Ritual Prayers and Six Session Guru Yoga practice sessions.
During the second week the monks will perform the Ritual Dance Offerings and the Actual Ritual Ceremony. These activities will only be available to Kalachakra students who have registered and who have also participated in the first week of activities, teachings and practices. Students may attend only the first week; however those wishing to attend the second week are required to also attend the first week. During this part of the Ritual Ceremony a translator will provide an explanation of the different aspects of the ceremony and their meaning in relation to the Kalachakra Tantra teachings and practices. This is a rare and unique opportunity for Kalachakra students to receive teachings on the Kalachakra Tantra, to begin to develop an understanding of the Ritual Ceremony and to practice together as a community along with Namgyal monks from India and Ithaca.
- 2006 Geshe Drakpa Gelek – Kalachakra Six Session Guru Yoga for one week.
- 2007 Khensur Geshe Dawa
- 2008 Khensur Rinpoche Jhado – August 22 – 24, 2008
- 2009 Gangkar Tulku Rinpoche
- 2010 Khensur Rinpoche Lobsagn Tsephel
- 2011 Gyume Khansur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa July 31 to August 7, 2011
- 2012 Geshe Lobsang Dhargye August 12 to 19, 2012
- 2013 Geshe Lobsang Dakpa July 28 to August 2013 Two Weeks Start.
2014 Geshe Tsering Choephel – Sep 1 to 14, 2014
First Kalachakra Ritual Ceremony at Du Khor Choe Ling
Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies hosted its first Kalachakra Ritual Ceremony over the course of 14 days from September 1st to the 14th at the newly opened facility on Tibet Drive in the South Hill neighborhood of Ithaca, NY. Overall, 42 students attended the teachings and many more guests witnessed the ritual ceremonies at Du Khor Choe Ling.
Presiding over the two week event was the Abbot and Lobon of our parent institution, Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, India, accompanied by 15 additional monks from India and assisted by the 4 monks currently in residence at Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies in Ithaca, NY. A highlight of the two week event was the construction of a Kalachakra Sand Mandala in the Shrine Room of the new facility. The Sand Mandala will remain until this coming summer, June, 2015, when the ritual ceremony of its dissolution will occur.
- 2015 Geshe Tsering Chophel Schedule from June 24 to July 7
- 2016 – Geshe Drakpa Gelek – July 10 to July 23, 2016
- 2017 Geshe Jamyang Nyima – Schedule from June 25 to July 9, 2017