For those of you who are taking the Kalachakra initiation for the first time, you might want to do a little reading ahead of time. I would suggest that you begin by reading Lama Yeshe’s classic “Introduction to Tantra” for a short but powerful explanation of why tantric practice so important and what it entails. It clears up many common misconceptions about tantra and describes the unity of method and wisdom.
In order to practice tantra at any level, it is necessary to have at least a basic understanding of emptiness. Skillfully written, Guy Newland’s book “Introduction to Emptiness” is a friendly, thought-provoking introduction to this very complex subject.
Finally, guru devotion lies at the heart of tantra. Guru devotion is not easily developed particularly for Westerners. Your guru is the essence of the deity. Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s “The Heart of the Path: seeing the guru as buddha” is a moving, detailed teaching on guru devotion. He writes “In reality, there is no buddha separate from our gurus”. Further on he continues, “While we may take initiations, engage in the practices, do retreats and recite mantras of many deities, we need to recognize that in reality we are trying to attain the guru”.
Here are some resources for learning more about the Kalachakra tantra. The primary web resource is probably the International Kalachakra Network which offers an extensive bibliography and other resources. A few books include:
Alexander Berzin, An Introduction to the Kalachakra Initiation, Snow Lion Publications
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kalachakra Tantra: rite of initiation, Wisdom Publications
Geshe Ngawang Dhargey, Kalacakra Tantra, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives – includes an explanation of the root tantric downfalls and bodhisattva downfalls
Khedrup Norsang Gyatso, Ornament of Stainless Light: An introduction of the Kalacakra Tantra, The Library of Tibetan Classics
The first two listed above include good introductions to tantra as well as a detailed explanation of the initiation process.
Snow Lion carries many additional titles and multimedia resources related to Kalachakra.
Do you know of any other Kalachakra resources?