The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Part I – 8. The ADI Buddha: His mystic body and his astral aspects

© Victor & Victoria Trimondi








The “Power of Ten”: The mystic body of the ADI BUDDHA

The astral-temporal aspects of the ADI BUDDHA

Rahu—the swallower of sun and moon

Kalagni and the doomsday mare

The myth of eternal recurrence


The highest goal of  the Kalachakra initiation is the attainment of a spiritual state which is referred to as ADI BUDDHA. In the year 1833, the founder of western Tibetology, the Hungarian Csoma de Körös, quoted for the first time in a European language the famous Kalachakra theses which the Maha Siddha Tilopa is said to have fixed to the gates of the Buddhist university in Nalanda. In them the ADI BUDDHA is introduced as the highest ONE, from whom everything else emerges: “He, that does not know the chief first Buddha (Adi-Buddha), knows not the circle of time (Kalachakra). He, that does not know the circle of time, knows not the exact enumeration of the divine attributes. He that does not know the exact enumeration of the divine attributes, knows not the supreme intelligence. He, that does not know the supreme intelligence, knows not the tantric principles. He, that does not know the tantric principles, and all such, are wanderers in the orb transmigratos, and are out of the way of the supreme triumphator. Therefore Adi-Buddha must be taught by every true lama, and every true disciple who aspires to liberation must hear them” (quoted by Körös, 1984, pp. 21, 22). No other tantra has made the idea of the ADI BUDDHA so central to its teaching as the Kalachakra Tantra.


It would be false to assume that the ADI BUDDHA is a being who resides in the highest spiritual sphere which the historical Buddha referred to as nirvana. This becomes apparent when we examine the three gateways of consciousness which lead to this ultimate realm of enlightenment (nirvana): (1) the emptiness (shunyata); (2) the signless (animitta); and (3) the wish-less (apranihata).


Nirvana, the raison d’être of Buddhism, is because of these three gateways a greatness no longer able to be defined in words. We can only ever talk “about” it, yet never capture it in words or conceptually grasp it. Edward Conze, the eminent historian of Buddhism, has assembled a great number of such formulations with which Buddhist authors have attempted to “picture” the highest spiritual level of their religion. We would like to quote some of these here: nirvana is the deathless, immutable, endless, enduring, it is peace, rest, silence, liberation, renunciation, the invisible, refuge, supreme good.


The impersonal “character” of nirvana is already apparent from this list. Nirvana is thus under no circumstances a person, but rather a state of consciousness. For this reason the bodily depiction of the enlightened Buddha was forbidden in early Buddhist iconography. Following his entry into nirvana he could only be portrayed symbolically and never physically — as, for example, a wheel or a pillar of fire or even through his absence whereby the artist drew an “empty” throne. The “Sublime One” who already dwells in the emptiness could not be portrayed more graphically.


Accordingly, nirvana is no creation, not even the prime cause of creation, but rather standstill. It is no action, but rather inaction; no goal-directed thought, rather non-thought. It is without intent and knows no motivation. It does not command, but rather remains silent. It is disinterested and lacks engagement. It stands outside time. It has no gender. It is not even, in the initial historical phase of Buddhism, identical with the mystical “clear light”. All this, however — the creative force, the highest clear light, action, thought, motivation, command — does apply to the ADI BUDDHA.


Unlike nirvana, the ADI BUDDHA is not sexually neutral, rather he is the Great Cosmic Androgyne who has integrated the polarity of the sexes within himself. He arose from himself, exists through himself, that is, he has no father or mother. He is birthless and deathless, without beginning and without end. He is the highest bliss and free of all suffering. He is untarnished and flawless. He is the collapse of opposites, the undivided. He is wisdom and method, form and formlessness, compassion and emptiness. He is the quiet and the motion, he is static and dynamic. He has countless names. He is the universal god, the highest lord. In the words of an old Indian hymn dedicated to him,


He is the ONE and proclaims the teaching of unity;

 He stands at the summit of being.

He permeates everything; he is the infallible way.

He is the victor, one whose enemy is defeated,

 a conqueror, a world ruler who possesses the great powers.

He is the leader of the flock, the teacher of the flock,

the lord of the flock, the master of the flock, the wielder of power.

He has great power, withstands all burdens.

He does not need to be led by others; he is the great leader.

He is the lord of speech, the master of speech,

the eloquent one, the master of the voice, the eternal word.

(quoted by Grönbold, 1995, p. 53)


We are standing here at an interesting turning point in the history of the Buddhist teaching. Instead of the unnamable, impersonal and sexless emptiness of nirvana, we are suddenly confronted by an androgynous universal ruler. A Buddha dwelling in nirvana is outside of all time, the ADI BUDDHA in contrast is, according to a statement by the Maha Siddha Tilopa, identical with the time god Kalachakra. “He is the Wheel of Time, without an equal, imperishable” (Carelli, 1941, p. 21). “The Primordial Buddha [ADI BUDDHA] gives rise to Wheel of Time, the cycle of creation and destruction, unceasing change, that defines our existence”, we are told by Bernbaum (Bernbaum, 1980, p. 127). He is the “king of the Kalachakra Tantra”.


He knows the entire secret doctrine of the tantras, controls the body, the language, the awareness and possesses all magic powers. The Kalachakra Tantra celebrates him as the lord of illusions, “who emanates many illusory forms. He uses those emanated forms to uproot trees, and also to shake the mountain tops” (quoted by Newman, 1987, p. 296). He is a dharmaraja, a king of laws, because he commands all beings as the hierarch. He presides over gods and mortals as the highest universal judge. As the bringer of salvation he vanquishes the foes of Buddhism and leads his followers into the golden age. The ADI BUDDHA stands active at the center of the Buddhist universe, which at the same time emanates from him. Nevertheless he can appear in the anthropomorphic form of a human, a yogi.


If we were to describe the ADI BUDDHA in the terms of philosophical idealism, then we would have to introduce such phrases as “absolute spirit”, “absolute subjectivity”, “absolute ego”. He is the ego ipsissimus of the yogi, whom the latter tries to attain through his sexual magic practices. At the end of his initiation, in one tantric text he proudly cries out: At the end of his initiation, in one tantric text he proudly cries out: “I make the universe manifest within myself in the Sky of Consciousness. I, who am the universe, am its creator. [….] The universe dissolves within me. I who am the flame of the great eternal fire of Consciousness.” (quoted by Dyczkowski, 1987, p. 189). Of course, these sentences are not addressed to an individual “ego”, but rather the “superego” of a divine universal being.


Alongside the absolute subjectification of the ADI BUDDHA, whose will is law and whose power is unbounded, there is oddly also the view which would see in this supreme being a great cosmic machine. The universal Buddha has also been imagined to be a clockwork in which every cogwheel is linked to others and all the cogs mesh. The mechanism of Buddhist cosmogony and its controller proceeds in unending repetition, without anything in this chain of events being able to be changed. Everything has its place, its order, its repetition. Even its own destruction — as we shall show — has become an inbuilt event of this mega-machine, just like the inevitable subsequent resurrection of the divine apparatus. A never-ending process, which can never be stopped, never turned back, never varied. Friedrich Nietzsche must have caught a glimpse of this cosmic clock when he experienced his vision of “eternal repetition”. The ADI BUDDHA is this world clock, the dieu machine or divine machine. Absolute will and absolute mechanism, absolute subjectivity and absolute objectivity, the absolute EGO and the OTHER are supposed to find unity in the absolute archetype of the ADI BUDDHA. This paradox is put about by the tantric teachers as a great mystic secret.


Undoubtedly the universal Buddha (ADI BUDDHA) of the Kalachakra Tantra exhibits all the characteristics of a universal god, a world ruler (pantocrat), a messiah (savior) and a creator; he undoubtedly possesses monotheistic traits. [1]


The idea of an omnipotent divine being, many of whose characteristics match the Near East concept of a creator god, was already accepted in Mahayana Buddhism and was taken up from there by the early tantras (fourth century C.E.). It first found its maturity and final formulation in the Kalachakra teachings (tenth century). Many western researchers are led by the monotheistic traits of the ADI BUDDHA to suspect non-Buddhist, primarily Near Eastern influences here. Convincing references to Iranian sources have been made. The continuing development of the image and its contour are further indebted to a reaction against Islam. In India and the Near East the personally-oriented theophany of Allah presented the common populace with an attractive and emotional counter-model to the elitist and “abstract” nirvana doctrine of the learned Buddhist monks. It thus seemed natural to incorporate appropriate charismatic images into one’s own cult. As arch-god, the ADI BUDDHA also represents an alternative to Hindu polytheism, which at that time threatened Buddhism just as strongly as the teachings of the Koran later did.


There had not been such a subjectification of the image of god in the philosophically oriented opinions of the early Buddhist schools up until the great scholar Nagarjuna (second to third century C.E.). They were all at pains to portray the “Buddha” as a level of consciousness, a cognitive field, a stage of enlightenment, as emptiness, in brief as a mental state, yet not as a Creator Mundi. In the ADI BUDDHA system, however, the creative aspect plays just as great a role as, for example, the epiphany of divine wrath or the apocalyptic judgment of divine destruction. But the highest mental and transpersonal Buddha consciousness exists on a level beyond creation and destruction, beyond life and death.


The ADI BUDDHA is according to doctrine the “theological” principle, which pervades the entire tantric ritual system. In his perfected form he appears as the “androgyne cosmocrat”, in his incomplete form he is still progressing through the individual initiation levels of the Kalachakra Tantra as a practicing yogi. In principle the mystic body of the tantra master coincides with that of the ADI BUDDHA, but complete identity first occurs when the yogi has “exterminated” all elements of his human body and transformed it into a divine body.


Let us now look at the expansion of power of the ADI BUDDHA as it is described in the Kalachakra Tantra. Essentially it exhibits five aspects:


  1. An inner aspect, which can be described via microcosmic procedures in the androgynous energy body of the yogi (or of the ADI BUDDHA respectively). There is a “physiological map” of this, depicted with a complicated symbolic character, the so-called dasakaro vasi (the ten energy winds). We shall examine this sign more closely.


  1. A temporal/astral aspect, which stretches to the stars. In his macrocosmic dimension the ADI BUDDHA encompasses the whole universe. As far as the heavenly bodies of sun, moon and stars are mentioned, they are treated, in the Kalachakra Tantra as in all archaic cultures, as the indicators of time. Anyone who controls them is accordingly the master of time. In this chapter we analyze the various tantric models of time.


  1. A spatial/cosmic aspect, which likewise extends across all of space. The ADI BUDDHA is, although also a person, likewise identical with the structure of the Buddhist cosmos, or — to put it another way — the macrocosmic model of the universe is homologous with the microcosmic body of the ADI BUDDHA. Both take the form of a mandala (a cosmic diagram). Here we describe the structure of the universe over which the ADI BUDDHA exerts his power.


  1. A global/political aspect, which is focused upon the idea of a Buddhist world ruler (Chakravartin). As we shall show, the ADI BUDDHA makes an outright claim for real political power over the whole globe.


  1. A mytho-political program. The Kalachakra Tantra does not just treat the topic of the world ruler in general, but has also developed a specific utopia, ideology, and form of state, which are summarized in what is called the Shambhala myth. This global political program of the ADI BUDDHA is so significant for an understanding of the Kalachakra Tantra and later for the analysis of Tibetan history that we devote a separate section to it.


In the second, political part of our study (“Politics as ritual”) we shall examine all of these five aspects in connection with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. He is currently the highest Kalachakra master, whose person, actions and thoughts most closely approximate the conception of an ADI BUDDHA.


The “Power of Ten”: The mystic body of the ADI BUDDHA

The control of cosmic energies through a mystic body described in the Kalachakra Tantra is a tradition which was also known in medieval Europe. There were philosophical schools in the West as well which regarded the anatomy of the human mystic body and cosmography as the same science. The person and the universe formed a unity. Homo omnis creatura — “man is the entire creation”. In this view, the microcosmic organs and limbs — the heart, the navel, the arms, the head, the eyes, for example — all had their macrocosmic correspondences.


In order to realize the microcosmic conditions for the expansion of power of the ADI BUDDHA, an androgynous body of a yogi is needed, that is, the internalization of the maha mudra (inner woman) which we have described above. This obsessive conception, that absolute power can be conjured up through the “mystic marriage” of the masculine and feminine principles within a single person, also had European alchemy in its thrall. We are once again confronted with an event which plays so central a role in both cultures (Western and Eastern) that the equation Tantrism = alchemy ought to be taken most seriously. At the end of the “great work” (opus magnum) of the Westerners we likewise encounter that transpersonal and omnipotent super being of whom it is said that it is “at the same time the controlling principle (masculine) and the controlled principle (feminine) and therefore androgynous” (Evola, 1989, p. 48). In the relevant texts it is also referred to as Hermaphroditus, to indicate that its masculine part consists of the god Hermes, and its feminine part of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. This bisexual deity is like the ADI BUDDHA a creative spirit who produces the universe. In the Corpus Hermeticum, the late Egyptian collection of mysto-magical texts (200 B.C.E.–200 C.E.) from which European alchemy is derived, we can already read that an “intellectual being, the masculine/feminine god, is the life and light”, which produced the universe (Evola, 1989, pp. 78, 79). Such fundamental correspondences reveal that we are confronted with far more than an astounding parallel between two cultural spheres. There is therefore much to be said for the suggestion that the Kalachakra Tantra and European alchemy both stem from a common source.


As we have already reported in some detail, the artificial genesis of the cosmic androgyne in both the occidental/alchemic and the tantric/Buddhist experiments is preceded by the sacrifice of the feminine sphere and its subsequent integration into the masculine sphere. Additionally, in both cases the old mental and physical “aggregates” of the adept are destroyed. At the same time as his tantric colleague the alchemist also dies and “lives through” several subtle deaths until he attains his goal. He too dissolves his human existence so as to be born as a deity. He strips away what the texts refer to as his “old Adam” (his human existence) in order to develop himself up into the “new Adam”, the universal superhuman (or god), just as the Tantric must let his earthly personality and ego die so as to then serve as the vessel of a deity.


According to the micro/macrocosmic doctrine, the cosmic androgyne — in alchemy as in Vajrayana — exercises control over the entire universe with the help of his mysto-magical body. The origin of the universal power lies inside the yogi and then grows out of his “small” body to finally expand to the “great” body of the universe, just as an oak tree grows from an acorn. In this micro/macrocosm theory we must regard the mystic body of the yogi as the central monad of which all other monads (and all other people too) are simply reflections, or, to put it more concretely — and both the alchemists and the Tantrics were so concrete — through the control of his energy body the cosmic androgyne (the ADI BUDDHA or the alchemic Hermaphroditus) determines the orbit of the stars, the politics of the world we know, and the psyche of the individual.


The dasakaro vasi

The microcosmic body of the ADI BUDDHA, with which he controls the whole universe, is depicted in the Kalachakra Tantra by an enigmatic symbol which goes by the name of the “Power of Ten” (Sanskrit dasakaro vasi; Tibetan namchuwangdan). The German orientalist, Albert Grünwedel, called it the “Powerful in Ten Forms” and the first Western Tibetologist, Csoma de Körös, the “Ten Protectors of the World”.


We find the character on numerous Lamaist objects. It adorns the covers of books, small boxes and containers for amulets, appears on stupas, and is considered a talisman in everyday life. As the personal seal of the Panchen Lama it is surrounded by the mythic bird, garuda, swallowing a snake. The dasakaro vasi is said to have been displayed for the first time together with the above-mentioned ADI BUDDHA theses of the Maha Siddha and Kalachakra specialist, Tilopa, on the gates of the Indian monastic university in Nalanda.


The dasakaro vasi (Tib. namchuwangdan)


The sign incorporates seven interwoven letters, of which each is in a different color. Letters one to five depict the five elements in the following order: air, fire, water, earth, space. The sixth letter represents Mount Meru, the cosmic axis of the Buddhist universe; the seventh the lotus, or the twelve continents arranged in a wheel around Mount Meru in Buddhist cosmology, one of which is supposed to be our earth. Above this we find the moon (10), and the sun (11). Both are crowned by the dark demon Rahu in the form of a small flame.


This entwined character (dasakaro vasi) is the anatomical map of the microcosmic body of the ADI BUDDHA. The individual lines forming the letters are therefore described as his inner venous or nervous system. On a mysto-physical level the dasakaro vasi symbol refers to the ten main energy channels from which a total of 72,000 side channels branch off. The starting point for the whole body schema is — as we have described above — formed by the three central veins assigned to the genders, the masculine on the left (lalana), the feminine on the right (rasana) and the androgynous middle channel (avadhuti).


Each of the letters composing the dasakaro vasi corresponds to a particular form of energy. The elements — earth, fire, water and space— also count as energies. Each of the energy currents which flow through the veins can be activated by a corresponding magic spell (mantra). Put together, the various mantras form a single magic formula, which is said to grant whoever pronounces it correctly power over the entire universe; the word is “hamkshahmalavaraya” (Mullin, 1991, p. 327). This global mantra controls all ten of the main energies which constitute creation and which the tantra master controls through the force of his spirit and his breathing.


This too has its counterpart in European alchemy or in the cabbala closely interwoven with it. The androgynous cabbalist deity in the Jewish system likewise possesses a mystic body composed of ten (!) energy centers, the ten sephirot, and 32 canales occultae (occult channels) coming out of these. The first three sephirot correspond to the three main tantric channels of the sexes: chochma is the masculine, bina the feminine, and kether the androgynous one.

There is no doubt that the ADI BUDDHA is identical with the venous system of the dasakaro vasi. Yet we must make a differentiation here, for there are numerous indications in the Kalachakra Tantra that the “Power of Ten” (dasakaro vasi) is exclusively regarded as the symbol of a feminine energy system which the adept renders subservient via the “method” (upaya). The term is namely also translated as the “ten shaktis” or the “ten powerful goddesses”. (Bryant, 1992, p. 157). Each of them bears a special name. These shaktis represent the ten primal forces of the ADI BUDDHA. They are additionally equated with the ten “states of perfection” of the consciousness: magnanimity, morality, patience, effort, concentration, wisdom, method, spiritual goal setting, spiritual power, and transcendent wisdom.


The ADI BUDDHA has — as it says in one Kalachakra text — dissolved the shaktis within himself (Dalai Lama XIV, 1985, p.406). It must be concluded from this sentence that prior to this inner act of dissolution they must have existed in the external world, either really or subtly. If our suspicion is correct, then these ten shaktis of the dasakaro vasi are the ten mudras who celebrated a ganachakra together with the tantra master in the four highest initiations of the Time Tantra. A further passage from the Kalachakra Tantra makes reference to this: “At that time there appear the forms of the various empty body Shaktis”, it says there, “The yogi, who has arisen in the form of the empty body deity, then sexually unites with these goddesses, giving rise to the extraordinary, supreme, unchanging bliss” (Mullin, 1991, p. 235).Here, his “empty body” absorbs the “form bodies” of the goddesses, so that these continue to exist within his interior as energy currents or as a mystic venous system. In the previous sections we have shown how the real women (karma mudras) at a ganachakra are transformed via a ritual sacrifice into spirit women (dakinis) so as to then continue their existence as the maha mudra ("inner woman”) in the body of the yogi. Adelheid Herrmann-Pfand writes that “the dakinis (or ten shaktis) are identified with the veins of the mystic yoga physiology, so that the [yogi’s] body [becomes] a horde of dakinis. The process of their union is conceived as a union of these veins or, respectively, of the energies circulating within them which unite into a great current, ascend, and finally pulse through the whole body. ... Through the union with all dakinis one becomes the same as all Buddhas” (Hermann-Pfand, 1992, pp. 400, 401).


In the image of the dasakaro vasi then, the ten shaktis (the ten mudras) flow together into a single powerful female being, the so-called “world woman”. We know her from the Kalachakra Tantra under the name of Vishvamata, the goddess of time. The various lines of the sign (dasakaro vasi) therefore symbolize, strictly speaking, her mystic venous system which is inserted into the empty body of the yogi or ADI BUDDHA at the culmination of the tantric ritual, becomes a part of his self and lies under his control. The male tantra master is thus in possession of a female energy body.



We must thus now ask what remains of him as a man? Are the yogi and his male body made female and transformed into the “great goddess”? No! As “empty” as the tantra master may have made himself, he would never relinquish his breathing. His breathing is the absolute control instrument with which he steers the incorporated “world woman” or the “ten shaktis”. A yogi who has mastered his breathing is said to ride the energy wind. He possesses a “wind or breath body”. Wind, air, and breath form a unity in tantric terminology and praxis. For this reason, and homologous to the ten shaktis or the ten veins of the “world woman”, the dasakaro vasi are spoken of in the Time Tantra as the ten “main winds”: “The first eight winds correspond to the eight goddesses (shakti) who surround the divine couple, Kalachakra and Vishvamata, whilst the last two are linked to the center and are associated with the goddess Vishvamata” (Brauen, 1992, p. 55).

The final step in controlling the winds is “holding the great breath”. With it, the yogi dissolves the “world woman” in his imagination into emptiness, that is, he exterminates her or brings her to a standstill. But since he can recreate her from nothing at any moment he is “lord over her life and her death”. With her death the world ends, with her creatio ex nihilo it arises anew, then the wind energies of the yogi “are endowed with special potencies that are capable of shaping a new world”, as the Tibetan Kalachakra interpreter Lodrö Tayé tells us (Tayé, 1995, p. 177).

Once the yogi has incorporated the dasakaro vasi, the world woman or the “ten powerful goddesses” he has become the ADI BUDDHA, who now possesses a bisexual “diamond body” (vajrakaya). The tantra researcher, Alex Wayman, has described how the vajrakaya emerges from the gender dynamics: “The fact that in each instance the goddess is imagined as the initiator, or as the female element behind the scenes, indicates the initiations as the step-wise progress in the solidification of the innate body of the tantras ... meaning the progress of that body to the pregenetic androgyne state and then to the Clear Light” (Wayman, 1977, p. 69). European alchemy also has its vajrakaya, the “glory body” which the adept receives in the finale of the opus (the great work).

Let us summarize: according to the teachings of the Kalachakra Tantra, the mystic body of the ADI BUDDHA consists of ten main energy channels. These correspond on a macrocosmic level to the ten main energies from which all the forces of our universe are derived. To move and lead the individual energies, the ADI BUDDHA makes use of above all his breathing. His energy body is symbolically depicted as the dasakaro vasi.

An “etiology” of this sign leads us to the ganachakra, or the four last initiations of the Time Tantra. The ten energy winds, which also go by the name of the ten shaktis, correspond to the ten karma mudras who participate in the sexual magic ritual. The dasakaro vasi is therefore a further proof for the fundamental significance of the “tantric female sacrifice” in Vajrayana Buddhism, since the gynergy of the ten tantric sexual partners is stolen in the ganachakra and then integrated into the mystic body of the yogi so that he can obtain the androgynous diamond body of an ADI BUDDHA with it. This body is the powerful instrument through which he controls all the processes of the universe.


The astral-temporal aspects of the ADI BUDDHA

There is an occult correspondence between the microcosmic body of the ADI BUDDHA and the macrocosmic universe. In the Kalachakra Tantra the term ADI BUDDHA encompasses both the energy body of the practicing yogi or vajra master and the entire universe with all its worlds and stars. The yogi, the ADI BUDDHA, the tantra master, and the laws of the universe are thus synonymous and form a mystic unity. (We take the liberty of repeating that this doctrine of magic correspondences is absolutely essential to an understanding of tantric logic and that, under the influence of our western/scientific world view, we tend to forget this.)


Already, the story has it, when the historical Buddha was explaining the Kalachakra Tantra to King Suchandra for the first time, he indicated that the entire universe was to be found within his body. The map of the heavens is similarly inscribed in his body. Sun, moon, and stars are found not just outside, but also within, the mystic body of the yogi (ADI BUDDHA). It was thus that the conception could arise that an enlightened tantra master could move the planets through his internal energy winds. Consequently, the rotation of the stars which we can observe in the firmament is also an action of the winds. “The wheel of stars, fixed at both poles [the pole star], propelled by driving winds, rotates untiringly”, it says in an astronomical fragment from the Kalachakra Tantra (quoted by Petri, 1966, p. 58). This driving wind is considered to be “the cosmic breath” of the ADI BUDDHA. Since the motion of the heavenly bodies proclaims the time, the microcosmic “star body” of the tantra master (ADI BUDDHA) is correspondingly a type of time machine, a “cosmic clock”.


Since a universal drama (the fiery ascent of the candali) is played out in the energy body of the yogi, there must, according to the doctrine of correspondences, be a matching performance in the macrocosmic heavens. We now wish to examine this spectacle in more detail: the sun and moon play the main roles here, the five planets have bit parts. Two further powerful astral protagonists, unknown to us here in the West, also take to the stage. They are called Rahu and Kalagni. The zodiac and the fixed stars initially remain in the audience, but become caught up in the general whirlwind of events at the end.


Sun—feminine ∙ Moon—masculine

The sun and moon correspond in the Kalachakra Tantra to the right and left energy channels in the mystic body of the yogi respectively. Here too, just as in tantric astrology, the sun is considered feminine and linked to fire and menstrual blood; the moon in contrast is masculine and corresponds to water and semen. This homology is, as we have already pointed out more than once, very unusual in terms of cultural history, then traditionally the moon is seen as feminine and the sun as masculine.


Perhaps we can grasp this symbolic inconsistency better if we take a look at the astral and elemental associations of fire and water, sun and moon in the Indian cultural sphere. In the Vedic era (1500–1000 B.C.E.) the symbolic linkages were still classical: man = fire and sun; woman = water and moon. The horse symbolism at this stage central to religious life also reflected this “classic” orientation: The stallion represented the sun and the day, the mare the moon and the night. The “sun stallion” symbolized the accumulation of masculine power, the “moon mare” feminine power. The latter was thus equated with the loss of male power in the androcentric society and was considered a symbol for castration anxieties.


In the Upanishads (800–600 B.C.E.) fire continued to be regarded as a masculine element. The man thrust his “fire penis” and his “fire semen” into the “watery” cave of the female vagina. (O'Flaherty, 1982, p. 55). Here too the feminine was classified as inferior and harmful. The “way of the sun” led to freedom from rebirth, the “way of the moon” led to unwanted incarnation.


Even in the first century (C.E.), the Puranas (a collection of old Indian myths) employed the fiery energy as a name for the semen virile. Yet at this time the conception had already emerged that the male seed ought to be assigned to the moon on account of its pale color, while menstrual blood should depict a solar energy. This idea then became codified in Tantrism, of both the Hindu and Buddhist form. For example, we can read in a shivaite text that “the male semen represents the moon, the female flux represents the sun, therefore the Yogi with great care must combine the sun and the moon in his own body” (O’Flaherty, 1982, p. 255).


The symbolic equipment of the Hindu god Shiva also provides a vivid example of this 180-degree change in the sexual significance of the sun and moon. Shiva wears the moon upon his head as a crown, is mounted upon the animal symbol of the great mother, the bull Nandi, and has her midnight blue skin (like the goddess Kali). He, the masculine god, is also fitted out with emblems which were regarded as feminine in the preceding cultural epochs. In terms of religious history, the symbolic reinterpretation of sun and moon probably takes effect in his appearance. But why?


We have already indicated on a number of occasions times that androcentric Tantrism must be deeply rooted in matriarchal religious concepts since it accords the universe a feminine character, even if the yogi exercises universal dominance at the end of the tantric ritual. This could be the reason why the male seed is symbolically linked to the moon. An androcentric claim to power over the traditionally feminine is, namely, already expressed in this association, before the whole tantric initiation process is set in motion. The most supreme masculine substance of all, the semen virile, reveals itself in feminine guise in order to demonstrate its omnipotence over both genders. Shiva wears the moon crown to indicate that he has integrated all the energies of the moon goddess in himself, that is, he has become the commander of the moon (and thereby of the feminine).


Naturally, we must now ask ourselves what happens to the semen feminile and the menstrual blood of the goddess. For reasons of symmetry, these symbols are assigned to the sun and to fire. But doesn’t the woman through this culturally anomalous distribution now absorb the force and power of the formerly masculine solar principle? Not at all — then in the tantras the “feminine sun” and “feminine fire” have obviously not taken on the many positive characteristics which distinguished the “masculine sun” and “masculine fire” in the preceding cultural epochs in India. In the Kalachakra Tantra they are no longer shining, warm, rational, and creative, in contrast they represent deadly heat, pyromania, flaming destructive frenzy, and irrationality on all levels. The yogi does admittedly understand how to deal skillfully with these negative feminine fire energies, he even outright uses them to burn up his coarse body and the universe, but they are not thereby transformed into anything positive. Whilst the tantra master — as we have shown — survives as “pure spirit” the flaming adventure of destruction in which his human body is exterminated, in the end his “inner fire woman” (the autonomous feminine principle) burns herself up and disappears for good from the tantric activities. We must thus distinguish between a destructive feminine sun and a creative masculine sun, just as we must draw a distinction between the ruinous fire of the candali and fire as a significant masculine symbol of the Buddha’s power.


The ADI BUDDHA (Kalachakra master) as the androgynous arch-sun

The association of the image of the Buddha with sun and fire metaphors is, in contrast to his links to moon and water symbols, pervasive and is already attested in early Buddhism. Buddha’s father, Suddhodana, was descended from a “sun dynasty” and counted as a member of the “sun race”. As a sign of his solar descent his son bore images of the sun upon the soles of his feet, a thousand-rayed wheel or a “hooked cross” (the swastika is an ancient sun symbol), for example. A sun-wheel adorns the back of his “spiritual” throne.


In all cultures the lion represents the “sun animal” par excellence; this is also true of Buddhism. According to a well-known legend, Shakyamuni Gautama Buddha roared like a lion upon leaving his mother’s body. From then on he was called the “lion of the house of Shakya”. After the young Gautama had fled his palace in order to follow the path of enlightenment, he also roared “with the sound of a lion”: “Till I have seen the farther shore of birth and death, I will never enter again the city ...” (Joseph Campbell, 1973, p. 265). How the gods rejoiced when they heard this powerful “leonine voice”. Joseph Campbell, a researcher of myths, comments upon this significant moment in world history in the following words: “The adventure had begun that was to shape the civilization of the larger portion of human race The lion roar, the sound of the solar spirit, the principle of the pure light of the mind, unafraid of its own force, had broken forth in the night of stars. And as the sun, rising, sending forth its rays, scatters both the terrors und the raptures of the night: as the lion roar, sending its warning out across the teeming animal plane, scatters the marvelously beautiful gazelles in fear: so that lion roar of the one who had thus come gave warning of a lion pounce of light to come.” (Joseph Campbell,  1962, 265)

Both in Mahayana Buddhism which followed and later in Tantrism this solar apotheosis of the Buddha is strictly maintained and even extended. The sun metaphors lie at the center of the Kalachakra Tantra too. The time god has a “body like the Sun”, it says there (Newman, 1987, pp. 225, 326). Kalachakra is particularly often spoken of as the “daymaker sun” (Newman, 1987, p. 243). He is the lord of the “three hundred and sixty solar days” (Newman, 1987, p. 454) and sits upon a “vajra lion throne”. His believers worship him as “the splendid lion of the Sakyas” (Newman, 1987, p. 243). In a commentary upon the Time Tantra we can read that “Kalachakra is in all three worlds as the sun, which is the image of time” (Banerjee, 1959, p. 133).


When the universal regal power of the Buddha needs to be illustrated, then the sun symbols step back out into the limelight in Tantrism as well. The images of the moon, which are of such great significance in the mystic body of the yogi, now in the very same texts play second fiddle, or sometimes count as emblems of negativity. Hence the Kalachakra researcher Günter Grönbold places the “solar” descent of the historical Buddha in direct contrast to the lunar sphere: “The dynasty of the sun stands, as the reader is aware, for the principle of the unadulterated light. The light of  the sun is pure. The light of the moon in contrast has its share of darkness. Moreover, the light of the sun is eternal, whilst the light of the moon, which waxes and wanes in the counterplay with its own darkness, is mortal and immortal at the same time” (Grönbold, 1969, p. 38). That such a sudden “heliolatry” can be only poorly squared with the logic of tantric physiology, in which the masculine principle is represented by the moon and the feminine by the sun, is also apparent to several commentators upon the Kalachakra Tantra. Therefore, so that no doubts can arise about the solar superiority of the male time god, these authors have degraded the time goddess, Vishvamata, who according the tantric understanding of the body possesses a solar nature, as follows: She “represents not the sun itself, but the sun's effect of daily cycles [hours]" (Mullin, 1991, p. 273). She thus symbolizes a “small feminine sun” which is overshadowed by the “great masculine sun” of the ADI BUDDHA.


Fundamentally it must be said that in the Kalachakra Tantra the androgynous ADI BUDDHA unites fire and water, sun and moon within himself — but nevertheless in the final instance he lets himself be glorified as an androcentric arch-sun, so as to demonstrate the masculine light’s primacy in comparison to the darkness. The sun symbol is therefore of a far greater radius than the natural sun. It integrates within itself all the light metaphors of the universe. In a description by Herbert Guenther the highest Buddha (ADI BUDDHA) appears “as if the light of the sun were to fall into an ocean of vermilion; as if the luster of all the suns in the universe were to gather in a single sun; as if a golden altar were rising higher and higher in the sky; ... as it fills the sky with its rays of light as if all the suns in the universe had become a single sun” (quoted by Guenther, 1966, p. 101). The reader should never lose sight of the fact that the ADI BUDDHA, and hence the arch-sun, is identical with the mystic body of the initiated yogi.


Rahu—the swallower of sun and moon

In Greek mythology the union of sun (Helios) and moon (Selene) is celebrated as a mystic marriage, as the collapse of opposites. We can also find such statements in the Kalachakra school, but here the Hieros Gamos is a marriage of death, brought about by a terrible existence by the name of Rahu, which we now wish to examine in more detail.


In Tibetan astronomy and astrology (which are not distinguished from one another) two further planets with the names of Rahu and Ketu are to be found alongside the seven wandering stars (the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). Seen from an astronomical point of view we are not dealing with real heavenly bodies here, but rather with the ascendant and descendant lunar nodes, that is, the two points at which the moon’s orbit intersects the ecliptic (the path of the sun). These are also known in the occident as the “dragon’s head” and the “ dragon’s tail”, or together as the “ dragon points”. When, at times which can be determined astronomically, the moon passes through such an orbital node (or syzygy), then an eclipse can occur: when the moon is full a lunar eclipse, and with a new moon a solar eclipse.


Rahu – the Kalachakra  demon of darkness


Both types of eclipse gave rise to the belief in the minds of the Indian astronomers that a gigantic planet swallowed the relevant heavenly orb. Since the shadow of the moon which obscures the sun during a solar eclipse is always pitch black, one of the imaginary planets, Rahu (which consumes the sun), is also black. In lunar eclipses the shadow of the earth appears to have a colored border and the moon becomes copper red, and hence the other planet, Ketu (which consumes the moon), is described as being colorful. Nonetheless, in the Kalachakra Tantra Ketu remains largely in the background and all the events associated with it (the lunar eclipses) are transferred to Rahu. Thus Rahu appears here as the swallower of the sun and the moon.


Let us now take a closer look at the mythical origin of the dark demon (Rahu). In old Indian tales Rahu storms across the heavens in a dark chariot drawn by eight black horses as swift as thought itself. He pursues the orbs of sun and moon, snapping at their heels with his huge jaws. In another version of the myth, however, only Rahu’s head still exists floating above the firmament, having been severed by Indra, the sun god, as the dark demon tried to steal the vital drink of the gods. Nonetheless, this decapitation did not hinder him from continuing to fly through the heavens and swallowing the sun and moon. It is just that these now passed through him unharmed and soon reappeared, freed from the lower end of his throat. In astronomical terms this process signifies the end of the solar or lunar eclipse respectively.


Rahu plays such a prominent role in the philosophy of the Kalachakra Tantra that according to Helmut Hoffmann the events associated with him form a “darkness theology” of their own (Hoffmann, 1964, p. 128). The epithets of the dark demon alone have much to say about his psychology and proclaim his comprehensive mythic program. He is known, among other things, as the “enemy of the moon, subduer of the moon, darkling, flesh-devourer, lion’s son, the roarer, but also [as the] lightgiver of the heavenly paradise” (Petri, 1966, p. 141). He is also called “dragon”, “snake”, “eclipser”, and “lord of the darkness”. In the Hevajra Tantra it is still said that it is solely the consciousness of the yogi which brings the sun and moon under control. But in the Kalachakra Tantra, the Vajra master in league with Rahu pronounces the sentence of destruction over the two heavenly bodies. It becomes the task of the “darkling” (Rahu) to destroy the two shining orbs as autonomous forces, that is, to bring the masculine and feminine energies to a standstill.


The destruction of the gender polarity appears — as we have seen — as a necessary stage along the road to power in every tantric ritual. The final goal is first reached by that initiand, “by whom the ways of the sun and the moon are completely destroyed” (Grönbold, 1969, p. 74), as a text from the Sadhanga Yoga says, and the famous tantra master Saraha requires that: “Where motility and intentionality are not operative / And where neither sun nor moon appear, / There, you fools, let mind relax restfully” (Guenther, 1976, pp. 69-70). Since the sun and moon both indicate the time, their exterminator Rahu is also described as “free from time” (Wayman, 1973, p. 163).


Likewise, in the Kalachakra Tantra the middle energy channel within the yogi’s body (avadhuti), which draws the right-hand, solar and left-hand, lunar energy currents into itself and thereby shuts them down as independent forces, is equated with Rahu which indeed also destroys the sun and moon. The avadhuti therefore bears its name and is called “Rahu’s channel” (Wayman, 1973, p. 163). In reference to the “lord of the darkness” the middle channel is also known as the “leading channel of the darkness” (Naropa, 1994, p. 272).


Its association with the bodily geography of the yogi also brings the planetary demon into contact with the mystic heat. Accordingly, Rahu, the swallower of the shining orbs, blazes as an “androgyne fire” in the Tantric’s body (Wayman, 1983, p. 616). “Hence also when one reaches the androgyne as fire in the middle the sun and the moon will disappear” (Wayman, 1983, p. 616), The relationship of this fire symbolism to the candali, who is conceived of as purely feminine and not at all androgynous, remains unresolved. But then the tantras are often not very exact when it comes to the details. Important for us is that in the Rahu myth the destruction of the heavenly orbs is executed through fire as well as through darkness. This combination has also earned the imaginary planet Rahu the name of “dark sun”. [2]


The power symbol of Rahu adorns every Tibetan stupa. In tantric doctrine it is this small, unprepossessing flame which has elevated itself above the sun and the moon so as to demonstrate that both shining orbs are under its control. The androgynous violence of the “black sun” could hardly be demonstrated more vividly or concisely.


Kalagni and the doomsday mare

The demon Rahu also occupies a central place in the iconography of the Kalachakra couple. The four cushions upon which the time god dances with his partner (Vishvamata) contain in concentrated form the entire program of this tantra. The two upper cushions depict the sun and moon respectively and must be seen as the emblems of the two time deities (Kalachakra and Vishvamata). Beneath them lie the cushions of Kalagni and Rahu, the two demons of death which shall exterminate the mystic couple. We have already made Rahu’s acquaintance, but who is Kalagni?


Kalagni is considered the “apocalyptic fire” which destroys the world. On a microcosmic level Kalagni is equated with the “inner fire woman” of the yogi, the candali. On a macrocosmic scale this fire demoness (we have several still to be presented reasons for regarding it as a feminine force) destroys the entire universe. She liquidates the sexes as the two universal primal forces of being and therefore like the planet Rahu has the epithet of “devourer of the sun and moon”. But primarily she is known as the “fire of destruction”. The Sanskrit word kalagni is, namely, etymologically composed of kala (‘time’/‘destruction’) and agni (‘fire’). But kala also means ‘black’ and reminds us of Kali, the wrathful black goddess, ruler of the dark last days, the Kali yuga. Kalagni, Kali and Candali are accordingly variants of the terrible mother who plunges the universe and herself into a sea of flames, so that the tantra master as the ADI BUDDHA can then bring it forth from himself in an autonomous act of creation.


We can thus see that Kalagni performs similar functions to Rahu, so that we can quite reasonably regard both planets as the two aspects of the same energy (the one masculine, the other feminine). The German explorer of Kalachakra astronomy, Winfried Petri, refers to them on the basis of their limitless destructive power “as the highest instances of cosmic activity” (Petri, 1966, p. 146). They are at any rate the two protagonists of the Time Tantra who systematically bring about the downfall of the heavens, then Rahu’s and Kalagni’s destructive role is not limited to the destruction of the sun and moon. Just as the yogi burns up the various aggregate states of his body from the bottom to the top using the inner fire (candali), so too do Rahu and Kalagni destroy all the planets of the heavens (Saturn, Jupiter, etc.) in parallel, then the energy centers (chakras) in the mystic body of the tantra masters correspond to the various planetary spheres. Just as all the chakras are microcosmically burnt out by the “inner heat”, so to a corresponding planetary holocaust takes place in the macrocosmic world. Candali and Kalagni are thus aspects of the same feminine destructive force.


In the Kalachakra Tantra, Kalagni also has the epithet of “the mare's mouth fire” (Newman, 1987, pp. 229, 481). Based upon a study by the American Indologist, Doniger O’Flaherty, we would like to devote a few considerations to this peculiar phrase. The myth of the so-called “doomsday mare” has a long tradition in India. The customary tales tell of how she is held captive at the deepest point of the ocean and how flames stream continuously from her nostrils. At the end of time the monstrous horse escapes its watery prison and sets the whole universe on fire. “The fire of the mare's mouth drinks the waters of the ocean and lets them out again; eventually this fire of the underworld will destroy the universe, at the end of the Kali age”, we are told in the Indian national epic, the Mahabharata (O’Flaherty, 1982, p. 213).


In general, in Indian mythology the “mare” has characteristics similar to those we know from descriptions of the candali. It is a symbol for a “lower-class woman”, for the insatiable sexual appetite of men-destroying witches, for all erotic excesses of the female sex. “The minute she sees a man,” we read in one text, “a woman's vulva becomes wet immediately. ... Death, hell, the mare-headed [fire], a razor's edge, poison, a serpent, and fire — women are all of these in one” (O’Flaherty, 1982, p.214). Women from the retinue of the Indian goddess Kali, who are considered as seductive and highly sexual, are still today feared as emanations of the dangerous doomsday mare. [3]


Deep down, the demonic mare, inflamed with rage, is the arch-enemy of the tantra master, who can only bring her under control through the reining in of all his passions. O’Flaherty sees in her the outright cosmic gynocentric opponent to the androgynous cosmocrat, the bisexual yogi: “For the mare is the quintessential female androgyne, the phallic woman. ... female androgynes are comparatively rare but, when they occur they are more deadly than the males” (O’Flaherty, 1982, p. 236) But we ought never forget that the tantra master has mastered the magic art with which to put the deadly energy of the woman to use in his own pursuit of power. Let us also not forget that at the end of the eschatological fire occasioned by the doomsday mare (Kalagni/Candali/Kali), it is not she, but rather the yogi as ADI BUDDHA who ascends the world throne.


It is particularly striking that in the myth of the mare the apocalyptic fire comes out of the water. (The fiery mare is to be found in the depths of the world’s oceans.) If we interpret the story from the viewpoint of the tantric initiation this origin may become more comprehensible. This concerns, namely, a phenomenon which is known as “burning water” in European alchemy. Water, originally feminine, is ignited by the masculine energy of fire and then functions destructively. In the old Indian legal codex of Manu we can also read that, “Fire is born of water, as is seen in the case of lightning and the mare fire” (O’Flaherty, 1982/1988?, p.214).


Once ignited water behaves like some sort of cosmic fuel and serves the masculine as a destructive energy. On the macrocosmic level the yogi makes use of the “submarine fire” of the mare to dissolve the old universe with its help, just as he destroys his old bodily aggregates on the microcosmic level with the help of the candali. Thereby, the “death” of the ocean and of the feminine with it is preprogrammed, since when the doomsday mare has burnt up all of the seas it ultimately destroys itself, just as in parallel the candali collapses and quits the tantric stage once the tantric combustion procedure is concluded.


The doomsday mare and the apocalyptic fire, Kalagni, represent the same destructive energy, it is just that one is to be found in the depths of the sea, the other in contrast at the roots of the of the world mountain Meru, there where the fires of hell burn. When the time has come, Kalagni rises up out of the lower layers and step by step burns down the world, the planets, and the stars. Just as the yogi is weighed down with past karmic debts which he must cleanse with a baptism of fire along his way to enlightenment, so too, according to the Kalachakra doctrine, the debt of many millennia weighs upon the stars and planets. Therefore the heavenly bodies must also undergo a total purification by fire. The same is true for the twelve months and the zodiacal signs which correspond to them. They are likewise blemished with a special nidama, a type of karmic stain: the star sign Capricorn with ignorance, for example, Leo with desire, Scorpio with rebirth, and so forth (Banerjee, 1959, p. 166).


Inexorably and cruelly, Kalagni lets the whole universe go up in flames. Along with the stars the inhabitants of heaven are also burnt out, the Buddhas and the gods; with the earth humanity and all other living creatures are also consumed by fire. The elements dissolve themselves — space, air, fire, water, and earth. The entire creation sinks into a sea of fire. In the macrocosm only a few “galactic seeds” remain, which form the starting material for a new world (Tayé, 1995, p. 41). The sole element which survives this apocalypse is wind, that is, in microcosmic terms, the breath of the tantra masters (ADI BUDDHA). In the next cosmic epoch it has an effect on the remaining “galactic seeds” and creates a new universe from them. [4]


The myth of eternal recurrence

The myth of the world fire, which dominates the Kalachakra Tantra, was originally at home in the Greek and Oriental cultures. The majority of orientalists assume that it came from Iran. From there it penetrated the Indian cultural sphere and became linked to, among other things, Buddhist systems of yoga. Hence we also find the traditional motif of the apocalyptic fire doctrine in the Time Tantra, namely the destructive triumph of Good over Evil: In an epoch of decadence Evil has seized power. Therefore the great fire which consumes the corrupted universe acts as the final catharsis. The apocalyptic logic to be found in many religions which infers that the new can only be born out of the catastrophic destruction of the old, is thus also a paradigm in the Kalachakra teachings and has , as we shall later show through examples from Tibetan history, had disastrous consequences — incidentally no less than the Apocalypse of St. John has had for the West.


Time and time again Rahu will swallow the sun and the moon, time and again Kalagni will drown the universe in a sea of flames, time and again the world will end and time and again it will arise anew. Such concepts of “eternal recurrence” repeatedly display the same apocalyptic schema:  a state of paradise at the start, then accelerating decline of morals and the conditions of life, a destructive global catastrophe at the end and a glorious new beginning which recreates the original paradise.


In the Indian beliefs about world time (which were taken up by Buddhism) just as in the Greco-Roman world a distinction is drawn between four great cycles. In the West these are known as the golden, silver, copper, and iron ages. The first of these corresponds in the Indian system to the Krta yuga the last to the Kali yuga. All four eras form a Mahakalpa, a great cycle, at the end of which stands the sacrifice of the whole universe and at whose new beginning a redemptive figure stands. (We shall consider in detail this messianic figure who emerges at the interface between the destruction and the renewal of the world and who also makes a spectacular appearance in the Kalachakra Tantra in our discussion of the Shambhala myth.) [5]


In eternal recurrence the universe runs through this rhythm of destruction and resurrection. Billions upon billions of universes suffer the same fate. Something like this exceeds human comprehension, but the truly monstrous in this conception is that the tantra master, for whom there is an occult correspondence between the inner world and the outside world, is supposed to be the director of this cosmic drama, in that he purposefully frees the candali (the fire woman) within his mystic body. He appears in the Kalachakra Tantra both as the great destroyer, the Rudra Chakrin, the wrathful “wheel turner”, who moves the wheel of cyclical time, and also in the form of the long awaited messiah who leads the chosen out of the terrible hell of the Kali yuga (to which he administers the death-blow) into the sunlight of the Krta yuga. He is the ADI BUDDHA, the lord of the astral worlds and of the times. [6] The famous scholar of religious studies, Mircea Eliade, speculates over a number of pages in a text on the Mythos der ewigen Wiederkehr [Myth of eternal recurrence] as to how the people of antiquity found comfort in the idea that one day the time of their misery and torment would pass and be replaced by a joyful time (Eliade, 1953). As bad as it may be for us, the hour will come in which we enter the original paradise once more. The resurrection inevitably follows the catastrophe. But — and this is something Eliade suppresses — in this model, the catastrophe inevitably follows the resurrection. (He also suppresses the fact that in most religions those of different faiths are sacrificed in the apocalyptic downfall and only the true believers are allowed to enter the Christian “New Jerusalem” or the Buddhist mythic realm, “Shambhala”.)



[1] This doesn’t mean that he must therefore renounce the nameless “characteristics” of nirvana in the tantric texts.  Indeed, Tantrism sees itself as the continuation and further development of the two previous schools of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism and is constantly at pains to integrate their teachings.  In its view they can be all but said to form the necessary steps which must be climbed before the diamond path may be set foot upon.  It is, however, not rare for Vajrayana to become caught up in incurable contradictions in this undertaking.  One of these is the personification of the ADI BUDDHA as a creator god.

[2] We also know of a “dark” or “black sun” in the symbolic world of European alchemy, which — exactly like Rahu in the Kalachakra Tantra — has the role of destroying the sun and moon as the masculine and feminine principles and replacing them with an androgynous principle.

[3] The “mare” as the symbol of dangerous, aggressive and morbid femininity must therefore be seen in stark contrast to the “cow”, highly revered in India.  In the two animals prostitution (mare) and marriage (cow), dissolution and fidelity, lecherousness and motherhood, sex and love, destruction and fertility confront one another.

[4] The cynicism and the consequences of such or similar statements as — “The microcosmic apocalypse experienced by the yogi is only from one side a downfall: It is opposed by a becoming in the spiritual [side]" — is something the authors are barely aware of, simply because they do not take the micro/macrocosmic consequences seriously (Hinze, 1983, p. 48).  Everything which is within, so Tantrism teaches us, is also outside.  This means without exception that the yogi through the ritual destruction of the internal (his bodily aggregates) also destroys the external.  Or, to put about the above quotation, the “becoming in the spiritual” is linked to an extermination of the material (the external world).

[5] Normally the sequence of yugas is conceived as a series in time.  This is also true in general for the Kalachakra Tantra.  Yet here a further, very original conception is adopted from Indian mythology, which says that all four ages exist simultaneously alongside one another, as the segments of a circle, so to speak.  The time god wanders through this circle as the savior, pacing the periphery.  The territory which he is walking through always finds itself in the last phase of the Kali yuga. But as soon as the “messiah” has set foot in it, the golden era (Krta Yuga) dawns at this location.  The time god thus finds himself constantly on the borderline between catastrophe and paradise.  He is the clock hand which in every second transforms hell into heaven and, since he is walking in circles, this situation repeats itself incessantly (Petri, 1966., p. 39).

[6] In the Four Noble Truths, all schools of Buddhism teach the origin of suffering, the way to alleviate the suffering, and the entry into timelessness (nirvana).  It is difficult too understand why the doctrine — already in Mahayana and later in Vajrayana — adopted as its own a cyclic vision of world history, which predicates suffering as a constantly to be repeated cosmic program.


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