Showing posts with label Kalachakra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kalachakra. Show all posts

Monday, September 13, 2021

Tibet | Great Stupa of Jonang | Dölpopa

I recently added The Buddha from Dölpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen to the Scriptorium and have just finished reading it. The book was of special interest to me because Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen was one of the most famous residents of Jonang Monastery in Tibet, which I had the pleasure of visiting when I was doing research on Zanabazar, the First Bogd Gegeen of Mongolia. Taranatha (1575–1634), the Previous Incarnation of Zanabazar, founded the monastery of Takten Damchö Ling not from Dölpopa’s Jonang Monastery and Zanabazar almost certainly visited both sites during his Visits to Tibet

Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (དོལ་པོ་པ་ཤེས་རབ་རྒྱལ་མཚན་; Döl-po-pa Shes-rab Rgyal-mtshan) was born in 1292 in the Dölpo region of what is now Nepal. He is more commonly known simply as Dölpopa, the “Man from Dölpo”. He was the founder of the Jonang Sect, later suppressed by the more politically powerful Gelug Sect to which the Dalai Lamas have belonged. He was also the first major proponent of the so-called Shentong View, an important stream of Tibetan philosophical thought which continues to have staunch adherents down to the Present Day:
"Zhentong," (gzhan stong, "shentong") "extrinsic emptiness" or "other-emptiness" is a view of how the ultimate nature of reality is free from or empty of everything "other" than its absolute nature. In other words, a zhentong view understands how one's own enlightened essence is empty of everything false in superficial relative reality. Zhentong as a view for meditation practice regards relative reality as empty of its own intrinsic existence. This emptiness of inherent substance or "rangtong" is considered to be solely the nature of relative reality while ultimate reality is understood to be empty of everything other than itself. Accordingly, transient tangible experiences remain devoid of inherent substance as the boundless luminous nucleus of Buddhahood within all beings remains intangible and invariant.
The meditation caves in the cliffs above Jonang Monastery were reportedly used by Padmasambhava, the 8th century Nyingma master who introduced tantric Buddhism from India into Tibet. A monastery was flourishing on the site by the time Dölpopa arrived there for the first time in 1321. In 1326 he was officially installed as the head of the monastery, taking the place of Yönton Gyatso, who had also been Dölpopa’s teacher. A year later Yönton Gyatso transmigrated. In his honor Dölpopa decided to built an enormous stupa. The first attempt in 1329 failed when the entire structure collapsed during construction. Undaunted, he began construction of an even bigger stupa on a different site. As word of the project spread artisans and laborers from all parts of Tibet flocked to the site and soon donations of gold, silver, copper, tea, silk, and much else poured in from all over the Tibetan Buddhist world. More on the Great Stupa

The design of the stupa was based on descriptions of the Glorious Stupa of the Planets given in the Stainless Light, a commentary on the Kalachakra Tantra, which according to legend had first been expounded by the Buddha himself. (As you may know the current Dalai Lama is giving a Kalachakra Initiation in Washington, DC, July 6–16, 2011.) According to tradition, the Stainless Light had been written by Pundarika, the Second Kalkin King of Shambhala. Dölpopa apparently believed that he was a reincarnation of Pundarika and claimed to have visited Shambhala by visionary means.
The Jonang Stupa today
The fourth floor of the stupa reportedly once held statues of the 25 Kalkin Kings of Shambhala. I could find no trace of them when I was there. 
Another view of the Jonang Stupa
On the hillside above the stupa can be seen Dölpopa’s personal residence, known as Dewachen. Above Dewachen can be seen meditation huts and openings to caves, perhaps the meditation caves used by Padmasambhava.
Dewachen, red building, lower center
When Tsarchen Losel Gyatso, one of the great Sakya sect tantric masters of the sixteenth century and also a follower of various Jonang tenets, visited Jonang in 1539, he noted:
The next morning we visited the great Stupa That Liberates on Sight, the temple of the lineage of the Six-branch Yoga, and so forth. When I gazed from afar at the hermitages, my mind went out to them and I was enthralled. A distinctly vivid pure vision dawned in the center of my heart and I thought, “The early excellent masters established a continuous meditation center on a site such as this. Placing many people on the path of liberation, their way of life was so amazing and incredible. When will we also practice for enlightenment in an isolated site such as this?” 
Also see a transcript of a talk, The Legacy of the Jonangpa by Michael Sheehy at the Great Stupa of Jonang in Tibet on July 17, 2009.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Austria | Graz | Arch-Duke Ferdinand | Shambhala

As most of you know, 100 years ago today, June 29 1914, Bosnian-Serb hothead Gabriel Princip assassinated Arch-Duke Ferdinand of Austria in the city of Sarajevo, touching off World War I. In 2002 I wandered over to  Graz, in Austria, the birthplace Arch-Duke Ferdinand, and visited the townhouse where he was born and grew up. It is now a museum. 
Entrance (center) to Arch-Duke Ferdinand’s townhouse, now a museum
I was in town for the Kalachakra Initiation performed by the 14th Dalai Lama. In connection with the Initiation the museum was holding a Buddhist-themed exhibit. 
The Inimitable Madame Blavatsky superimposed on an image of Kalapa, the capital of Shambhala, on display in the museum.
You will recall that according to legend the Buddha taught the Kalachakra Tantra to Suchandra, the first King of Shambhala. If you are wondering, we are now living during the reign of Aniruddha, the 21st Kalkin King of Shambhala. 
 Dharma-Wear on Display at the Graz Museum

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mongolia | Kalachakra | Vesna Wallace

A translation by Vesna Wallace of Chapter Four of the Kalacakratantra  has recently been released. See The Kalacakratantra: The Chapter on the Sadhana Together with the Vimalaprabha. As noted, this translation includes the commentary known as the Vimalaprabha, according to tradition written by Pundarika, the Second Kalkin King of Shambhala (ruled 177 BC - 77 BC).
Pundarika
You may recall that Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, founder of the Jonang Sect to which Taranatha, the previous incarnation of Zanabazar, the first Bogd Gegeen of Mongolia, belonged, believed that he was a reincarnation of Pundarika and claimed to have visited Shambhala by visionary means.

Professor Wallace has also translated Chapter Two of the Kalachakratantra: The Kalacakratantra: The Chapter on the Individual Together with the Vimalaprabha. 
The Kalacakratantra: The Chapter on the Individual together with the Vimalaprabha (Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences)
She has also written a commentary on Chapter Two, including an overview of the whole Kalacakratantra: The Inner Kalacakratantra: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Individual.
The Inner Kalacakratantra: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Individual
She has also contributed two essays—“The Body as a Text and Text as the Body: A View from the Kalacakratantra’s Perspective” and “Medicine and Astrology in the Healing Arts of the Kalacakratantra”— to As Long As Space Endures: Essays on the Kalacakra Tantra in Honor of the Dalai Lama
As Long As Space Endures: Essays on the Kalacakra Tantra in Honor of the Dalai Lama
Professor Wallace returns to Mongolia each summer with the regularity of a Demoiselle Crane to continue her studies of Kalachakra in a Mongolian context and other aspects of Buddhism in Mongolia and since the Appearance of the First Wildflowers is not far off we can look forward to her imminent arrival for the 2011 season. When she does reappear she should be heaped waist-deep in laurels for her continuing efforts to provide translations and elucidations of the Kalacakratantra. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mongolia | Ulaan Baatar | Full Moon| | Shambhala

Yesterday, April 28 (Gregorian Calendar), was the Full Moon of Caitra (March-April), the first month of the year according to  the much more relevant Kalachakra Calendar. As you know, this was the day on which the Buddha taught the Kalachakra Tantra to Suchandra, the first of the Kings of Shambhala
Suchandra (reigned 977 BC – 877 BC)
Wandered on up to Gandan Monastery for the All-Day Puja held to celebrate this auspicious day. 
Approaching Gandan
Lama on his way to Puja
Wandering into the Kalachakra Temple, where the Puja was held, I viewed the Kalachakra Mandala Made of Sand and the Kalachakra Thangkas, then sat for two hours listening to the chanting. 
Kalachakra Temple (right) and Janraisig Temple
According to tradition, while the Buddha was in his physical body at Vulture’s Peak in India delivering the Prajnaparamita Sutra he bi-located in south India, at a place called the Dhanyakataka Stupa, and taught the Kalachakra to Suchandra, who had traveling to India from The Kingdom of Shambhala somewhere in the north specifically to receive these teachings.
Vulture’s Peak in India 
It is generally believed that the name of the capital of Mongolia, Ulaan Baatar (Red Warrior), refers to the Bolshevik fighters who established socialism in Mongolia in the 1920s. This is only the exoteric meaning of the name, however. According to local Shambhalists the name actually refers to the Red Warrior (sometimes identified as Jamsran) who guards the Portals to Shambhala. Thus the city itself, and by extension most of Mongolia, is considered by some to be a Portal to Shambhala. This is why the Full Moon of Caitra (April 28 this year) is such an important day in Mongolia. There are, of course, those who maintain that there are also Portals to Shambhala in Istanbul