Tibetan kalachakra astrology
Second comes the inner Kalachakra, which addresses applying the profound internal meditations on the subtle channels, vital winds, elements, and essential drops that make up the subtle psychic body. Third, the secret Kalachakra involves meditating on and within the ultimate meaning of the truth of emptiness. Alternative Kalachakra teaches us how all the physical appearances of this world are the manifestation of our collective karma; it teaches us the causes that bring about this universe. It describes the outer universe and how it directly corresponds with and reflects the inner propensities and karmic vision of all the beings within this universe.
Thus, the Kalachakra tantra contains the deepest meanings of four types of tantras all within a single tradition. This volume comes packed with illustrations that give a helpful sense of how the mandala support for this practice is created. Berzin has researched and written extensively on the subject and this encapsulates his work. It begins with an introduction to tantra generally, the Kalachakra specifically, and then dives deeper and details the initiation itself, what is happening each day.
A brief summary of the purpose of the practice is included:. Through these two stages, we access and utilize the subtlest level of our mind to see reality. Remaining continually focused on reality with it eliminates forever confusion and its instincts, thus bringing liberation from the external and internal cycles of time. This is possible because our basis tantra, our individual clear light mind, underlies each moment of experience and, like time, it has no end.
Once our subtlest mind is freed from the deepest cause giving rise to the impulses of energy that perpetuate cycles of time and bondage to them, it gives rise, instead, to the bodies of a Buddha, in the form of Kalachakra. It includes an explanation of the understanding of the universe and how it differs from the more familiar Buddhist view of the universe. An excerpt appeared in the Snow Lion newsletter, and you can find it here.
This work also includes other aspects of the text such as why it is so closely related with the line of Dalai Lamas, its connection with Shambhala, and more. The first half serves as a comprehensive overview of the tantra and the Kalachakra. The second half includes a set of translations of teachings and practices related to this cycle from the First, Fifth, Thirteenth, and present Fourteenth Dalai Lamas. With two dozen translations and essays, this contains pieces by Robert Thurman, Thupten Jinpa, Alexander Berzin, Vesna Wallace, and many other scholars and lamas known for their work with these teachings.
There are several other works that include teachings, stories, and other helpful and fascinating information on the Kalachakra and its history and impact in India and Tibet.. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye taught extensively on the subject.
Time, Terma, and the Kalachakra
He talks about this repeatedly throughout his autobiography, A Gem of Many Colors. He also wrote about it extensively in his Treasuries. There will be a Kalachakra volume in the Treasury of Precious Instructions , the massive multivolume work from Shambhala Publications. In his The Treasury of Knowledge , published in English in ten volumes, there are two volumes specifically that contain a lot of detail about the Kalachakra system. The Kalachakra is very central to the Jonang tradition, and a figure who is obviously very prominent in the teachings and propagation of the Kalachakra system was Dolpopa.
Tibetan Medical & Astro
The Kalachakra system also forms a large part of the astrological and divination techniques in Tibet. Finally, The Art of Buddhism contains a short section on the Kalachakra mandala and the image above is from that work. These energies relate to the Chinese animals and elements, for example, the La force of the Horse is Wood etc. This system is unique to Tibet and is important to establish yearly horoscopes. The La moves through the body in a monthly cycle, the Wangthang element is the same element that rules the year in Chinese astrology. When the forces become weak, numerous specific practices are prescribed to strengthen the force again, from saving lives of animals to reciting mantras or performing special rituals like exorcism.
The Bon religion was well established in Tibet before the introduction of Buddhism. Over the centuries however, it appears that many Buddhist practices have taken root in Bon and reverse. For someone not too familiar with robes, iconography or rituals it may even be hard to spot the difference. Astrology is important within the Bon system. Methods are given for divination, warding off negative influences, astrological calculations and medical diagnosis.
A very important Bon deity is called Balchen Geko, who is said to govern time and the three world of existence. In this respect the deity is analogous to Kalachakra in Buddhism. The Tibetan system works with a day lunar year and cycles of 60 and years. As a year is longer than days, some days are doubled, but others are skipped in a complicated manner.
History of Tibetan Astrology
To make the calendar fit the observations, occasionally even an extra month is introduced. From Chinese astronomy and astrology originate concepts like the Trigrams from the I Ching, the nine Magic Squares or Mewas, cycles of 12 and 60 years, the twelve Animals, the five elements and the duality of Yin and Yang etc. The traditional explanations say that princess Kongyo introduced Chinese astrology in Tibet in , but much earlier influences are very likely. Two main Tibetan systems are of Chinese origin: 'Naktsi' or 'black astrology' referring to the Tibetan name for China: 'black area' , and the 'astrology of the elements' or Jungtsi.
The Chinese elements are natural dynamic forces of transformation - energies - and constantly interacting with each other.
The names do not directly relate to the objects of the same name, but refer to affinities which can lead to positive, neutral and negative relations. Too much or too little of a specific element can become dangerous. They are related to a direction and a time of year. Wood dominates in spring and the East, Fire in summer and the South, Metal in the autumn and the West, Water in the winter and the North.
Each element has a specific relation to an activity, colour, planet, organ etc. The elements have specific relationships with each other, described as Mother, Son, Friend and Enemy. They also can have a feminine or masculine polarity - similar to Yin and Yang. Each animal is related to an element which represents its life force, a direction, a specific sex and certain personality treats.
The animals can go together well or difficult in various levels. Each year is a combination of an animal and an element.
Also, years are alternatingly male or female. The 'nine moles' or 'nine coloured islands' are derived from the I Ching and Chinese numerology. Each of the nine Mewas is related to a colour, a direction and an element. For example, the three whites 1, 6 and 8 are metal. Each day, month and year, the Mewas move.
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These represent the equivalent of the Chinese pa-kua, which form the basis of the I Ching. In turn, the pa-kua are based on the concept of Yin and Yang. They are an extension of the theory of the Five Elements. Tibetan astrology may have been influenced by Indian sources as much as from Chinese. Analogous to above, India was known as the 'white area' and gave rise to the term 'white astrology'. Early Indian civilisation had much cultural interchange with the outside world, which is reflected in an identical zodiac to the Mesopotamians twelve signs and twelve houses and the widespread decans.
Later on however, differences occurred for example when most other systems moved away from the early sidereal zodiac, which is preserved in the Indian tradition. Far back in history, also the Chinese and Indian system may have common origins. Similarities are for example the 28 Chinese lunar constellations and the 27 or 28 Indian Naksatras from the Vedas , and the importance of the lunar nodes, Rahu and Ketu.
Signs of the zodiac The Indian system is based on the observation of the sun, moon and the planets like Western astrology.
The sky at night appears like a globe dotted with stars surrounding the earth. During one year, the sun moves along this expanse of stars and completes one cycle. This cycle is divided in 12 sections, called the signs of the zodiac.
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Western astrology follows the cycles of the sun related to the seasons, and the Tibeto-Indian system follows the cycles of the sun related to the stars, and there is a small difference between these two.