This Mandala one of the most popular paintings today. It could be considered the archetype mandala, rich in meaning and full of visual aids help us decode and remember its message. This version, is a strict reproduction of the "sand mandala" used by the Dalai Lama during his conferences to help iterate the concept of impermanence,causing it to become extremely popular in the West.
For now, we will consider it a simple “diagram” of the basic principles and structures to follow when Meditating.
The Mandala of Kalachakra is visualized in the practitioner's mind as a three dimensional palace but it also exists in the physical world. A temple situated in Lhasa is a perfect 3 dimensional reproduction of the painting. The temple itself contains 722 Deities, in its center atop a golden lotus throne, a single Buddha : Kalachakra.
It is a 5 level structure, that when painted could be considered the top view of the structure, detail of the painting symbolizes a particular element of the Tantra. As our spiritual journeys grows we become more and more familiar with the Kalachakra Tantra.
The Kalachakra Mandala, come with an interesting legend or history depending on how you look at it. Involving the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama. Legend has it that King Shuchandra, the king of the mystical Kingdom of Shambala, asked Shakyamuni Buddha for a Tantra or teaching that would allow him practise Dharma without giving up his wordly enjoyments and responsibilities. Much like what we all desire, a way to keep our comforts and remain faithfull to our beliefs and ideals. Buddha then began teaching this to King Shuchandra, who transcribed his teaching into a 60,000 verses that became known as the Kalachakra Tantra. It is upon this Tantra that the Mandala was created.
THE 3 MAIN KALACHAKRAS
There exists three different Kalachakras, or “bodies” which Buddhist regard as vital to the understanding of life, linking our “being” to the Universe. This very concept that has prompted the Kalachakra Mandala to its current notoriety., offering a simple yet effective way to practice dharma and more importantly compassion.
1 – External Kalachakra – This can be considered as the basic sciences : Astrology, Astronomy and Mathematics
2 – Internal Kalachakra – The structure of the human body and its Energy System which are known as Chakras.
3 – Other Kalachakra – The Study and practise of the Kalachakra which leads us from our ordinary state to the state of Buddha-hood or Enlightenment.
5 LEVEL SUPPORT FOR MEDITATION
Each of the 5 levels, or Mandalas if you will, represents a different “initiation” or support for Meditation. Starting from the outermost Mandala and finishing in the lotus center.
Mandala of the Enlightened Body
Mandala of the Enlightened Speech
Mandala of the Enlightened Mind
Mandala of the Enlightened Wisdom
Mandala of Great Bliss - Lotus Flower center
Each mandala has the same features, 4 doors in the 4 cardinal directions and a perfect symmetry across the diagonals. They are listed in order from the largest to the smallest.
A VISUAL SUPPORT FOR MEDITATION
The purpose of these 5 Mandalas is to create a visual support for Meditation and what is to be achieved, perhaps even how to achieve it. One may wonder how exactly to penetrate into the Mandala, and therefore begin the slow yet steady journey towards Enlightenment. This information is extremely complex and even I could not allow myself to teach anyone the practice of Kalachakra, scholars and monks spend years if not decades, guided by Gurus (teachers) to gain sufficient siddhis (merits) that allow them to pass from one Mandala to the next. Each step taken towards the center is considered and achievement.
THE 6 ELEMENTS OF THE MANDALA
The 6 elements, may seem a strange concept, as science has it that there are only 4 elements : earth, water, fire, air. Buddhism accepts the existence of 2 other elements: space and wisdom. Although this may seem as strange concept, it is through these 2 elements that a Kalachakra adept is able to meditate on the Kalachakra Tantra.
Support for Meditation
This Thangka is only a support for your practise and gazing at it for countless hours without any prior knowledge or initiation by a true master would be equivalent to boiling water without a source of heat.
I do not want to come across as an expert in the field of Kalachakra Meditation, and although I consider myself a Buddhist, I myself have many Siddhis to gain before I would dare calling myself Kalachakra Guru or even adept.
It is safe to say that anyone who believes themselves to be an adept of Buddhism, will have heard of the Dalai-Lama probably the most veneered teacher of the Kalachakra Tantra.
I strongly invite you to visit the following links to find a more detailed explanation of the Kalachakra Tantra, and perhaps seek out a Guru for your practice: