Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kalachakra in Indiana

Kalachakra Stupa in foreground and Changchub Stupa in the distance
Photo Source: Stupas in the West website

The Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana was founded in 1979 by the 14th Dalai Lama's older brother, Thubten J. Noru (a.k.a. Takster Rinpoche), who is a retired professor from Indiana University. The Center is now spiritually directed by Arjia Rinpoche. The grounds are also home to Kumbum Chamtse Ling Monastery.

Chamtse Ling = Field of Compassion

Two stupas have also been constructed on this wooded property- a Kalachakra Stupa and a Changchub Stupa. A Kalachakra Initiation was held on the grounds of the Center in August 1999. The eleven day ceremony was, as per tradition, presided over by H.H. the Dalai Lama. The Kalachakra Stupa is a commemoration of this event- of world peace and harmony. The Changchub Stupa was built in 1987 in honor of Tibetan refugees.

I have not yet been to a Kalachakra Initiation. As the most complex, rigorous and highly revered Buddhist rite, I do not purport to understand the depth of it's purpose and intent, though I would like to eventually be present at a Kalachakra Initiation and Ceremony. The Kalachakra Initiations are open to anyone who wants to attend them, although observers clearly will not be a part of taking the actual initiation.

Kala= Time
Chakra= Wheel

"The word “Kalachakra” refers to cycles of time (kala meaning “time” and chakra meaning “wheel”)...and the Kalachakra system presents three such cycles: external, internal, and alternative. The external and internal cycles of time (samsara) deal with time as we normally know it, while the alternative cycle consists of practices for gaining liberation from these two. The alternative cycle of time entails a graded series of meditative practices."

The first time the Kalachakra Initiation was offered in the West was at Deer Park, close to Madison, Wisconsin, where now Deer Park Buddhist Monastery and Center exist. The Kalachakra Initiation in Bloomington was the seventh Initiation to be given in the "West" and the fourth on the North American continent.

Kalachakra Chorten (Stupa) and Kumbum Chamtse Ling Temple Monastery
Source: The Pluralism Project's photostream at flickr

The history of the Kalachakra extends centuries into the past, as well as to future times, and is wound with religious literature, mythology and tantric practice. This is the first time I have mentioned the Kalachakra in these pages. I have looked at some historical references to the Kalachakra and find endless intrigue in the texts, particularly with the explicit relevance to a future era of planetary society. I gradually up the ante on my readings of both Buddhist history and teachings. Concerning the Kalachakra, the diverse implications of this rite, the meaning for the individual and the society at large, are truly of critical interest.

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