What follows is a structural presentation of the Jonang Kalachakra practice curriculum from the preliminary practices up through and including the profound path of the 6-fold vajrayoga (“six yogas,” sbyor drug). This outline is based upon the program of a typical 3-year meditation retreat within the Jonang tradition, and includes the various approaches to Jonang Kalachakra trantric practice. Approaches to the practice of the Kalachakra vary according to individuals and circumstances, and each approach is fully elaborated within the contemplative instruction texts of the living Jonang tradition.
This outline is not intended as a guidance manual for Kalachakra practice. In order to proceed with these practices, it is necessary to receive the Kalachakra empowerment as well as the transmissions and instructions from a qualified master.
Ngondro: Preliminary Practices (sngon ‘gro)
In accord with Buddhist tantric practice, the common preliminaries are accomplished before advancing onto the uncommon preliminaries. In the Jonang Kalachakra system, the generation stage is performed as part of the uncommon preliminaries. These practices prepare the yogi for the completion stage practices of vajrayoga by reversing the practitioner’s involvement in delusory experiences and adversarial circumstances, as well as purifying the practitioner’s perceptions.
A) Common Preliminaries (thun mong gi sngon ‘gro)
1) Refuge and Prostrations
2) Awakening Bodhicitta Mind
3) Vajrasattva Meditation & Recitation
4) Mandala Offerings
Each Common Preliminary is accomplished 100,000 times.
B) Uncommon Preliminaries (thun mong ma yin pa’i sngon ‘gro)
Preliminary Practices to the 6-Fold Vajrayoga
I. Generation Stage (bskyed rim)
Deity yoga generation stage practice is performed as a support for the completion stage 6-fold vajrayoga.
1) Condensed Practice Approach
a) Connate Kalachakra Deity with Consort (lhan skyes)
b) Principle Deity with Consort (gtso skyang)
c) Five Deities (lha lnga)
One of the above approaches (a, b, c) is meditated upon; generally the connate Kalachakra (a) is practiced; 1,000,000 recitations of the mantra are performed.
2) Medium-Length Practice Approach
a) 9 Deity Enlightened Mind Mandala (lha dgu thugs dkyil)
1,000,000 recitations of the mantra are performed.
3) Extensive Practice Approach
a) Enlightened Body, Speech, and Mind Mandala of the 636 Deities (drug brgya so drug)
4-Fold Approach & Accomplishment:
1) Supreme Royal Mandala (dkyil ‘khor rgyal mchog)
2) Supreme Royal Activity (las rgyal mchog)
3) Essential Sphere Activity (thig le’i rnal ‘byor)
4) Subtle Yoga (phra mo’i rnal ‘byor)
10,000,000 recitations of the mantra are performed; in addition to the 4-fold Approach & Accomplishment (bsnyen sgrub yan lag bzhi), several tantric practices are included in this approach; generally takes 1 year to accomplish.
II. The 3 Isolations (dben pa gsum)
The 3 isolations of the body, speech, and mind are performed as a special preparation for the completion stage yoga. These practices are performed in a dark-room in order to isolate the habitual activities of one’s ordinary perceptions and expressions.
1) Condensed Approach
• 50 days
2) Extended Approach
• 100 days
Vajrayoga: Primary Practices (dngos gzhi)
Accomplishing both the common and uncommon preliminary practices prepares the practitioner for the profound path of vajrayoga. Once the generation stage practices are perfected, the initial postures of the 6-fold subtle yoga of the Kalachakra completion stage are performed successively. Through the support of multiple bodily positions, and specialized means of abiding in tranquility, the meditation adept advances through each of the 6-fold yoga according to the signs of realization.
Each phase of the 6-fold yoga is practiced until accomplished before progressing on to the next yogic phase. Retreat durations are usually for the periods of 3, 6, or 9 years, depending upon the individual’s capacities, dispositions, and opportunities.
I. Completion Stage (rdzogs rim)
The 6-Fold Vajrayoga (sbyor drug)
1) Yoga of Withdrawal (so sor sdud pa)
The adept severs attachment to objective references and begins to perceive inconceivable and intangible yet formulated natural manifestations of the mind known as, “empty forms.” This yoga is practiced in complete darkness until the signs of successful meditation arise.
2) Yoga of Meditative Concentration (bsam gtan)
Unifying one’s perceptions of empty forms with interior awareness, the adept’s mind abides in equanimity as it gradually begins to engage the empty forms as sensible objects.
3) Yoga of Harnessing One’s Life-force (srog rtsol)
Interfusing perceptual awareness with empty forms, the adept then performs the vigorous methods of drawing-in and sustaining the primary and subsidiary vital winds within his or her central channel and six chakras.
4) Yoga of Retention (‘dzin pa)
Mobilizing one’s life-force, the adept yogically unifies the empty forms with the vital winds and perceptual awareness, generating indestructible seminal spheres within his or her six chakras, and fusing his or her subtle essences with these seminal spheres.
5) Yoga of Recollection (rjes dran)
Mastering the subtle essences, the adept draws-forth the four joys, successively increasing and stabilizing supreme immutable bliss and recognition of the empty forms. Supplementary enhancement yogas such as “tummo” (gtum mo) or “inner fire” practice are also performed at this point.
6) Yoga of Meditative Stabilization (ting nge ‘dzin)
Relying upon the pristine awareness of supreme immutable bliss, the impure seminal spheres diffuse and the adept accomplishes coalescence with the connate Kalachakra deity’s enlightened body.
Compiled according to the oral instructions of Khenpo Kunga Sherab Saljay Rinpoche and Jonang Kalachakra instruction manuals; Special thanks to Cyrus Stearns, Edward Henning, and Rudy Harderwijk for their editorial suggestions. June, 2006.
By Michael R. Sheehy, Ph.D.
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