His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The IVth Dalai Lama

The word 'Kalachakra' means 'cycles of time'. The Kalachakra Tantra is a profound Buddhist system of teaching and practice which encompasses three aspects: Outer Kalachakra &emdash; the external environments, the universe and its cycles of arising and disintegrating, and our world system and its cycles of sun, moon and planets; Inner Kalachakra — the sentient beings living in the universe, and the cycles of death and birth and internal flows of breath and energy; and Alternative Kalachakra — the practice of purification undertaken by an individual so that ordinary death, birth, and manifestation on both an individual and universal level, which are usually uncontrollably subject to the purified into the fully englightened state of complete Buddahood.

The Kalachakra Tantra has particular relevance for our world system. The tantra was taught by the Buddha in India, two and a half thousand years ago at the request of the King of Shambhala, a place variously viewed as having been an actual historical kingdom which existed beyond the Himalayas, or as a pure land existing on another plane not generally accessible but none-the-less strongly connected to our world. Predictions concerning Shambhala have particular relevance to world events of today, being especially concerned with peace on this planet, and can also be compared with the predictive literature of other religions.

All Buddhist teachings are based on the Four Noble Truths: the recognition that every sentient being experiences suffering; the understanding of the causes of this Suffering; the recognition that if the causes are removed there will be an end to the suffering; and the practical methods by which to achieve Liberation from suffering, or full Enlightenment or Buddhahood. Within the Buddhist Tantras, the practice of Highest Yoga Tantra leads to perfect Buddhahood; The Kalachakra Tantra is a Highest Yoga Tantra, and as such can be said to epitomise the apex of Buddhist teachings. Only in Tibet were the Highest Yoga Tantras preserved and Practiced as a living tradition after the decline of Buddhism in its native land of India. The mandala, as represented here in particles of colored sand, is the residence of the Kalachakra deity and the retinue of deities surrounding him, all of which represent the components of an individual person in purified form- a fully englightened being.

The sand mandala can be thought of as a plan of Kalachakra's residence or pure environment. It represents a large building or palace, standing on a raised foundation, with four walls with a door in the centre of each, there is a roof over the whole building. The five storeys of the palace represent the five levels of body, speech, mind, pristine consciousness, and great bliss. The colors of the four directions correspond with the colors of the four faces of Kalachakra; black in front, red to his right, white to his left, and yellow at the back. The palace is surrounded by articles of offering and is resting on yellow, white, red, and grey-blue discs which represent the elements of earth, water, fire, and wind.

There are eight great cemetries represented as wheels between the fire and wind perimeters. The other two wheels depict cemeterieries above and below. There is a setting sun and a rising moon on the earth perimeter. The whole is surrounded by a protective fence of vajras, and outside it is blazing light. One can imagine entering the mandala through one of the outer doors at the first level, that of the body mandala, walking in through the outer walls, which are transparent and in five layers and colored, from outside to inside, yellow, white, red, black, and green. You walk further in and climb up the steps to the second level, the speech mandala, also surrounded by five transparent Colored walls; up another set of steps to the third level, the mind mandala, surrounded by three transparent colored walls. You can see inside the mind mandala a square platform, the fourth level, and the pristine consciousness mandala. On this platform is another platform, the great bliss mandala. On this is the green eight-petalled lotus on which Kalachakra stands.

A representation of this mandala is used by a practitioner of the Kalachakra Tantra for the purpose of visualising in meditation the Kalachakra deity and his pure environment. Everything within the mandala is significant; nothing is superfluous or arbitrary. As part of his or her training, a practitioner develops the power of meditative concentration to be able to visualize not only every detail of the mandala, but also of thedeities present within it.

Just to glimpse this sand mandala, however, is thought to establish a positive connection with this profound Buddhist Tantra, and to sow positive seeds upon the mindstream of the observer which will ripen beneficially in the future as the events of our world system manifest as predicted in the Kalachakra teaching.


Ten vases are placed in the ten directions around the perimeter of the Mandala. The Mandala is further adorned with curtains, banners and fringes. The offerings of the Initiation ritual are arranged on the altar.

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