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   International
   Kalachakra Network

 
Purpose, Structure and History of the IKN
 

HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA AND KALACHAKRA

Following the example of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his role as leader of all the Tibetan people, the International Kalachakra Network is non-sectarian, and with equal respect supports Kalachakra practice within all major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, Gelug, Jonang, Kagyu, Nyingma, and Sakya.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also the vajra master for the great majority of Kalachakra initiates in the International Kalachakra Network. Out of our respect for him as leader of the Tibetan people, as well as our vajra vows to him as our vajra master, the International Kalachakra Network is committed to following his advice, and cannot support anything that is knowingly harmful to him. It is our sincere wish to assist in his lifelong mission of world peace through Kalachakra.

IKN MEMORANDUM OF INTENT

With the deepest respect and admiration for all authentic Kalachakra lineage masters of the past and present to support world peace analogous to the Kalachakra tradition, which symbolises a powerful force for peace in our world and an antidote to war, the undersigned endorse the following purposes of the International Kalachakra Network, to sustain the Kalachakra tradition:

  • To provide world-wide, trans-sectarian support for Kalachakra practice and study in authentic lineages, by acting as a non-hierarchical communication platform between vajra brothers and sisters, with the deepest respect for the advice of fully qualified teachers such as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
  • To promote effective and efficient communication and cooperation between teachers, practitioners, scholars and translators as well as the Kalachakra Practice Groups and Centres about teaching programmes, retreats and any other related activities.
  • To support emerging Kalachakra Practice Groups and Centres.
  • To promote the translation, creation and production of practitioner-friendly Kalachakra texts, commentaries and practice materials.
  • To preserve and make accessible traditional Kalachakra texts for practitioners, translators and scholars by creating and maintaining a catalogue and repository of available texts.
  • To safeguard tantric secrecy by ensuring that access to practice texts is restricted to initiates and practitioners.
  • To provide basic information to non-initiates in order to avoid serious misunderstanding of Kalachakra practice, while avoiding a popular mass-media focus.
  • To discourage an approach to Kalachakra practice related materials merely for personal or professional gain.
  • To protect the purity of individual lineages and to recognize the value of discussion and friendly, constructive debate between different commentarial traditions.
This Memorandum was undersigned by Ven. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche

WHAT IS THE IKN?

As described above, the IKN has developed quite naturally and initially without any structure. However, as we becoming an international network, certain things need to be agreed upon, like how to make tantric commentaries available for serious practitioners, while avoiding that our tantric secrecy vows are broken. For these kind of decisions, we have asked a number of people to join the IKN-executive discussion forum. There, we try to discuss and agree on specific areas of interest. So far, this group consists of prominent Western scholars, translators and representatives of the Kalachakra centers and practice groups with who we have established contacts and who agreed to our Memorandum of Intent.
We are not (yet) an official organisation, as nobody has had the time and energy to take care of all the red tape and paperwork that would cost.
Our Advisory Team:
Name Function Nationality
Geshe Thubten Jinpa Scholar/translator Tibetan
Robert Thurman Scholar/translator US-American
Alexander Berzin Scholar/translator/Practice Group Berlin US-American
Sofia Stril-Rever Scholar/translator/Practice Group Paris French
Vesna Wallace Scholar/translator US-American
Gavin Kilty Scholar/translator English
David Reigle Scholar/translator/co-founder IKN US-American
Tenzin Tsepag Translator Tibetan
Michael Sheehy Scholar/translator - Jonang Foundation US-American
Andy Wistreich Co-founder IKN/Practice Group London English
Dr. Manfred Klell Director Shedrup Ling Austrian
Allessandro Bracci Director SDK - Italy Italian
Roy Sutherwood Practice Group London English
Alberto Brum Practice Group Brasilia Brazilian
Beate Zweytick Director Kalapa/Practice Group Graz Austrian
Anh Ho Translator (English/Vietnamese) Vietnamese/Australian
Joy Paulson Practice Group Namgyal Ithaca US-American
Dino Cirulli Pundarika Retreat Center Italy
Lama Yeshe Jinpa Director Lions Roar Dharma Centre US-American
Jane Sellers Maitripa College group US-American
Michael Mueller Liaison with the Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama German
Rudy Harderwijk Webmaster Dutch
In May 2005, aiming to run all IKN matters as effectively as possible, a five-member executive team was formed which will take day-to-day decisions, based upon the thorough consultation and supportive advice given by our advisory group members.
Our Executive Team:
Name Function Nationality
Roy Sutherwood Chair English
David Reigle scholar/translator US-American
Andy Wistreich Member English
Gavin Kilty Member, scholar/translator English
Rudy Harderwijk Member/ webmaster Dutch

IKN FUTURE

Yes, we have many plans and wishes - helping all sentient beings towards enlightenement being the overriding one. On a bit more modest scale, we hope to assist Kalachakra practitioners in whatever way we can by making materials available, coordinating and assisting Practice Groups and Centers, trying to preserve the teachings, organizing the translation of important texts, and to generate a sincere feeling of Spiritual Friends among practitioners.

For some of the current projects, have a look at our Wish-List. Any suggestions and of course donations are most welcome! If you like to donate something in time or money, or you would like to see details of the accounts, please contact directly.

HISTORY OF THE IKN

1986
After the Rikon Initiation in 1986, Andy Wistreich proposed the formation of a 'Kalacakra Institute' to support the study and practice of Kalachakra. The proposal was sent out with Alex Berzin's "Graded Materials" which were at that time the only available translations of Kalachakra sadhanas. The idea of an Institute had the support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who recommended a feasibility study. The Institute did not come about. One problem with establishing a physical Institute was the question of where to situate it.

Around this time Lama Zopa Rinpoche also expressed keen interest in the idea, and shortly afterwards asked Hermes Brandt to take Kalachakra teachings from Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche. This initiative led to Hermes' easy-to-follow translation in the late eighties-early nineties of the brief Mind Mandala Sadhana practice by Detri Rinpoche, as well as some other notes associated with retreats etc. It was also around that time that Robert Thurman's translation of the full Body, Speech and Mind Mandala Sadhana by the Seventh Dalai Lama became available on a restricted basis, suitable for practice, but still in need of many corrections.

It is also interesting to note that attempts to establish a continuing Kalachakra practice group in London around that time floundered. There was a general shortage of materials in English suitable for practice, and many people's initial enthusiasm for practice dissipated or transferred to other practices, either simpler or with suitable practice materials more readily available.

1997
The publications of Kalacakra Sadhana and Social Responsibility by David Reigle, and The Mandala: Sacred Circle in Tibetan Buddhism by Martin Brauen signal a new phase in Kalachakra publications in the west, in that both are entirely faithful to their Indian and Tibetan roots, but both are written for an audience of western practitioners, and very effectively serve their practical needs.

Moreover, the Hermes Brandt translation referred to above has found favor with a now-established Kalacakra Practice Group in London, which has been meeting monthly since, and shows no sign of losing momentum (unlike previous groups). This group followed an initiation and teaching in 1996 in London by Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche, who has agreed to return to give the initiation again and further teachings in 1998.

In October 1997, David Reigle came to London to talk to the Kalacakra Practice Group about the themes of his book. He and Andy Wistreich had lost touch since having exchanged some materials following the mid-eighties initiative. They got together and came up with some new ideas. They noted that in addition to the factors mentioned above, the dawn of the Internet might make the establishment of an International Kalacakra Network a practical alternative to a physical building.

Furthermore, the fact that in the past ten years more than half of the Vimalaprabha by Pundarika has been translated (albeit unpublished) - different chapters by different scholars - gives cause for optimism that the translation into English of substantial classical materials to support practice is now a serious possibility.

2002
In the beginning of the year, a completely new website was introduced, including discussion forums and a resource area for initiates which has proven increasingly popular.
The Kalachakra initiation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Graz (October 2002) proved to be a very important event for the IKN, as we managed to organize some meetings with several leading people interested in Kalachakra practice. Very encouraging discussions have been held, for example leading to above Memorandum of Intent, which was (and we hope will be signed) by some prominent Masters and Kalachakra initiates who are important to our Network and Kalachakra practice in general. In a sense, one could say that the IKN was really born during these meetings.

2003
During the summer, our Italian friends of Shri Dhanyakataka and the new Pundarika Center organised teachings and a short retreat by ven. Jhado Rinpoche (abbot of Namgyal monastery). A number of the IKN group had a very inspiring meeting with Jhado Rinpoche, which led to several new projects that can be found on our Wish-list. Plans are being made to have several texts translated, to start an archive of (rare) Kalachakra texts etc.
A fair number of new texts could be added to our resources: like an edited version made by Phil Lecso of the extensive Kalachakra Commentary by Mipham, and translations of the Six-session Kalachakra Guru Yoga in Vietnamese (thank you Anh), Portuguese and Polish (thank you Barbara).

2004
Early in the year, the first IKN project was completed with the donations from several people: a Commentary of the Kalachakra Tsog Practice by ven. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche. Probably a first: Rinpoche taught the commentary to his translator Voula Zarpani in Dharamsala. She recorded it and made a written translation into English, which is now available for Kalachakra practitioners to download for free, as well as her revised tsog text.
Phil Lecso has been doing very much work to edit and re-translate teachings and commentaries, most of which are now available on the website. Also, with the generous help of several people, we were able to request Gavin Kilty to start working on a translation of the Kalachakra commentary by Detri Rinpoche. (Gavin published his very important translation of the Ornament of Stainless Light this year.) Alex Berzin completed transcribing and editing Serkong Rinpoche's commentary to the Kalachakra 6-session Guru Yoga with the kind financial sponsorship of IKN members. Do have a look at our List of Completed Projects.

The website underwent another transformation, actually to reduce the amount of detailed information in the public area of the site and to create a new area which is accessible to initiates only. This restricted area can now gradually be expanded with information without the fear of breaking the secrecy vows. The new design comes basically from Ricky Swaczy, many thanks to him! End of the year, a new section called the Kalachakrapedia was added, in which all initiates can contribute information in a hopefully fast-growing knowledge-base.
The website now attracts over 3000 visitors per month.

The number of available texts keeps increasing steadily, and not only in English; we are now happy to provide texts in Polish, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Spanish, Hungarian, French, German, Italian and Dutch.
Much effort has gone into editing existing sadhanas for recitation; for example the Long Kalachakra Sadhana by Mipham (thanks to Phil Lecso), and a set of sadhanas translated by Alexander Berzin have correct diacritics added. Also the adding of further practice-aides in the texts are being considered.

For us, the most remarkable event of 2004 was the Kalachakra initiation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Toronto; suddenly the time seemed right to start a series of Kalachakra Practice Groups in Canada and the USA. We experienced a rush on our website, and the number of Kalachakra initiates who registered with us for access to the restricted materials is now over 550, and some 80 people have qualified as 'practitioner' for full access to all the resources. The discussion Forum for Initiates has grown to over 130 members.

2005
The year hardly begun, and already we could add Phil Lecso's new translation of Chapter 3 of the Kalachakra tantra in the collection of Mipham's commentary 'the Vajra Sunshiner'. We also received an extensive A Compendium of the Trainings of Secret Mantra by Panglung Rinpoche to add to the resources.
Just before Losar, a Polish translation of the Kalachakra tsog and the first online audio teachings on the site in Russian, also the first Russian text: the Kalachakra 6-Session Guru Yoga, justifying a Russian Resources page. Later in the year, several other texts could be added to the Russian  page.
In May, aiming to run all IKN matters as effectively as possible, a five-member executive team was formed which will take day-to-day decisions, based upon the thorough consultation and supportive advice given by our advisory group members.
During the summer, after many discussions among ourselves, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave us advice on the issue of giving access to tantric materials, and we have tried to follow up on that end of the year by introducing a new system for membership registration, deleting the difference between 'initiates' and 'practitioners'. End of the year, we could introduce the new password protection system.
In September, Jhado Rinpoche kindly gave the second part of his commentary on the long Kalachakra sadhana at Kalapa center, Austria.
Jhado Rinpoche has inofficially requested His Holiness the Dalai Lama in our name for Kalachakra teachings, but His Holiness did not give a direct response.
End of the year, we had some 750 registered initiates (and a handful registered with the new system), and about 190 members of the discussion forum for initiates.

2006
The year began with a bang: the Kalachakra initiation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Amaravati. We hoped to have a short audience with him to formally request Kalachakra teachings, but the schedule of His Holiness did not allow this. We did manage to indirectly present His Holiness, Jhado Rinpoche and Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche a specially printed beautiful book (produced by Beate Zweytick & Manfred Klell) which contains the Kalachakra 6-session Guru Yoga in 12 different languages as a symbolic gift to show our intentions.
During the initiation, we were also finally able to establish proper contacts with some lamas of the Jonang tradition (Khenpo Kunga Sherab Saljay Rinpoche from Tibet and Khentrul Jhamphal Lodroe Rinpoche living in Australia) and Michael Sheehy of the Jonang Foundation.
Phil Lecso has amazed us with English translations of the Nikodessa and commentaries.

CAUTION

Access to authentic Kalachakra materials has always been restricted.

There is a tremendous increase today in the numbers of people internationally who have received the initiation, and there is also widespread access through the Internet, magazines and television to images of the mandala or general introductory information about Kalachakra. The IKN website will likewise contain some generally accessible information.

However, the proposal for the IKN is set up within the awareness and experience that at a deeper level, the access to appropriate materials for Kalachakra practice has to be restricted. For example, for those who have attended an initiation, a number of brief materials are commonly available, such as the Six-session Guru Yoga according to Kalachakra by the late Ling Rinpoche. The number of people who do such practices is very small compared to the number who take the initiation. Far smaller still, is the number who regularly undertakes a sadhana such as the Mind Mandala or Body, Speech and Mind Mandala Sadhanas. It could be said that the IKN is especially for those who are in these last two categories, or on the move from the first to the second.

The purity of the Kalachakra tradition is very powerfully protected. This protection makes authentic materials hard to access. The most famous example of this is that the Root Tantra is not available in our world - only in Shambhala. Furthermore, experience has shown that of the materials available in our world, many are hard to acquire.

The IKN will only succeed if it respects these powerful protective forces and takes great care to ensure that materials it develops for practitioners are not made available to a wider audience.

See also the article: Why the International Kalacakra Network is important to me, by Andy Wistreich.


Do have a look at our Wish-list; if you are interested in donating or seeing the details of the accounts,
please email directly.