This week the Dalai Lama is in Toronto to “speak on the subject of world peace,” to pray for and encourage his followers, and to initiate new adherents into the faith known as a Kalachakra ceremony.” Now I know almost nothing of this man, but was pretty surprised to see him referred to on the news as “His Holiness.” I don’t know how many people claim that title, though I think the pope would be a competitor.
I wonder what kind of rigorous application and evaluation process one has to go through to claim the title of “His Holiness.” If I one day decide that I would like to hold that title, can I then insist that people refer to me that way?
I received an email that explains a bit of what he is doing this week:
The Kalachakra Tantra ritual is the key initiation rite into Tantric or Tibetan Buddhism. In the first phase of the ceremony, the Dalai Lama asks the local spirits for permission to use their home. Because the spirits typically do not want to cooperate initially, the assisting monks use shamanistic prayers, music and dance to subdue them. After this, the Dalai Lama receives permission to proceed with the ceremony from Tenma, the earth spirit, on behalf of all the local spirits. These spirits are invited to take up residence in the Mandala, or spiritual house, which has been built for them. This is an intricate two-dimensional sand drawing that through meditation appears as a 3-D dwelling – a door into the spirit world.
The goal of Mandala visualization is to enter into and become one with the spirit at the centre of the Mandala. The initiate thus yields control of himself to a demonic spirit. The Mandala contains a central ruling spirit (Kalachakra) which is surrounded by 4 or 8 more spirits, which are in turn surrounded by others totaling 722. After the ritual destruction of the Mandala at the end of the initiation rite, these spirits, with their prince, Kalachakra, are released over the surrounding territory. The initiation event is completed when the Dalai Lama ritually destroys the Mandala after all meditation and initiatory rites have been completed. The spirits are thereby released over the land while the initiates retain the spiritual connection to Kalachakra and his world, having internalized them through meditation. The sand from the Mandala is poured into a nearby body of water and the demons dispersed into the adjacent lands.
Wonderful stuff, isn’t it?