We know that Shakyamuni Buddha received the holy dharma that was taught 2,500 years ago on this earth from his teacher, Dipankara Buddha. We also know that Dipankara Buddha was a manifestation of Dorje Chang Buddha, but that this took place in another world system—not the one that we are part of. Dorje Chang Buddha has only come to our world system one other time, and that was at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha when Dorje Chang Buddha incarnated as Venerable Vimalakirti (Dorje Chang Buddha II) to help Shakyamuni Buddha teach the Mahayana system to his Hinayana monks. In fact, all the buddhas in the ten directions received the dharma from Dorje Chang Buddha. That’s why we are so very, very fortunate to be living in this time and place and are also able to receive dharma directly from H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
When Shakyamuni started teaching, he first taught only the fundamentals. Actually, at first he did not want to teach at all since he did not think that anyone would be able to understand what he had received and understood after he became enlightened. Since there are different views on this in the world today, it is important to know that Shakyamuni did have the dharma when he came to this world and that he was already a buddha, but he had to “awaken” to that truth. That was what his enlightenment experience was all about—the true realization of the fourth and fifth level of the Mahamudra of Liberation. This is the process we must go through as well. We have the basic “Buddha-nature” of a Buddha, but we must eliminate our obstructions and develop our wisdom so that we can awaken to that nature and thus become enlightened, go deeper, and eventually become buddhas. Anyhow, both Brahma Sanatkumara and Sakra/ Sakka (Indra), the ruler of the Trayastrimsa Heaven, came to encourage Shakyamuni Buddha to teach, “so that those with only a little dust in their eyes might see.” The Buddha thought about who that might be and realized that his own teachers had gone to a buddhaland, but then he remembered the five monastic companions with whom he had practiced austerities for many years. He found them at Deer Park near Sarnath and taught them the Four Noble Truths. This was known as the first turning of the wheel of dharma and what was taught for the first part of his ministry. These teachings were later recorded in Pali, the language that is believed to be the Magadhan dialect that the Buddha spoke at that time in India, and have been preserved to this day as the Hinayana Tripitaka.
It is important to realize that the so-called Hinayana (lesser vehicle) teachings are valid and true and something that every Buddhist must learn and understand. Following them can lead to the level of an Arhat, who is free from the sufferings of samsara and who has achieved a level of nirvana. These teachings formed what became known as the Lineage of the Elders (Theravada) and were transmitted very early into Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and other parts of Southeast Asia. They are not the highest teachings that the Buddha brought to this world, however. Later in his career the Buddha gave the higher teachings. At Vulture Peak, he taught the prajnaparamita teachings on emptiness which became known as the second turning of the wheel of dharma. These teachings were primarily for bodhisattvas and other higher beings because at that time there were few human beings who could grasp this teaching. It is said that the monks put their hands over their ears, as they could not bear to hear these teachings on emptiness. Because of this the nagas (advanced dragon-like beings) took the teachings and hid them until the human world was ready to receive them. It was also predicted that in around 500 years a great holy being would incarnate and retrieve the teachings and make them accessible to our world, which by then would be ready to receive them. That holy being was known as Nagarjuna, the founder of what became known as the Wisdom or Profound Lineage and the patriarch of many of the Mahayana (higher vehicle) sects like the Ch’an or Zen School and the Pure Land School. This was the dharma that traveled the Silk Road into China and on into Korea and Japan. The Buddha also turned the wheel of dharma the third time when he gave the Tathagatagarbha teachings on Buddha Nature at Shravasti. These teachings were developed by Master Asanga in the fourth century after he received them from Maitreya Buddha in the Tushita Heaven. These teachings formed the basis for the Yogachara (Consciousness-Only) and other Mahayana traditions and became known as the Method Lineage. They also became very popular in China and later in Japan and among some of the Tibetan schools, most notably the Jonang School. Sometimes you hear these teachings referred to as the "shentong" view or as "other emptiness." This view is not held by many Tibetans who hold to the "rontong" view of emptiness as taught with the second turning of the wheel.
But there was yet another set of teachings that Shakyamuni Buddha had received, some of which he transmitted while he was alive and some that he did not transmit at all. These were the secret or esoteric teachings, also known as the Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle). Only the Buddha’s son Rahula had the realization and purity to receive the esoteric teachings during the Buddha’s lifetime. When the Buddha was about to die, the Buddha transmitted certain esoteric teachings to his trusted assistant and cousin Ananda with the instructions that Ananda was to teach Padmasambhava this dharma, which he did. Padmasambhava was born only a few years after Shakyamuni Buddha left this world. It was Ananda who originally tonsured Padmansambhava and taught him the esoteric teachings. These teachings became known as the Tang Esoteric Dharma. These teachings developed in India and were transmitted to Tibet by Padmansambhava and others in the eighth century, where they were further developed. This aspect of the Buddha’s teachings together with other esoteric transmissions that came directly from Dorje Chang Buddha became known as the fourth turning of the wheel of dharma and formed the Practices and Blessings Lineage. This lineage was so named because if you performed these secret practices, you received the special blessings of higher beings who helped you on your path. These teachings, in turn, became known as the Tibetan Esoteric Dharma and were considered the highest and most profound. Remember that there were holy beings like Master Tilopa, Lady Niguma, and Lady Sukhasiddhi, who reached a level of realization as human beings that they were able to receive these dharmas directly from Dorje Chang Buddha. Just think how fortunate we are to be able to learn directly from this great holy being.
At the same time Shakyamuni Buddha was giving the Prajnaparamita Sutras at Vulture Peak (Mount Grdhrakuta) near Rajagrha, Shakyamuni Buddha manifested his wrathful twenty-four armed form as the Kalachakra Buddha and gave the Heart Essence [Xin Sui 心髓 ] form of the Kalachakra Tantra teachings in 12,000 verses at Dhanyakataka to King Suchandra and his retinue of ninety-six minor kings and emissaries from Shambala. The Shambala Kings continue to rule this samboghakaya kingdom using the Heart Essence form of the Kalachakra. Later Shambhalian kings, Manjushrikirti and his son Pundarika, are said to have condensed and simplified the teachings into the "Sri Kalachakra" or "Laghutantra" of slightly more than 1,000 verses and its main commentary the "Vimalaprabha (Stainless Light Commentary)", which remain extant today as the heart of the Kalachakra literature.
Certain advanced practitioners in India knew of the existence of these teachings. In the tenth century Venerable Kalachakrapada Jamyang Dorje of India tried to journey to Shambala to receive them. The eleventh Kalkin King of Shambala realized this and how difficult it would be for this venerable one to make such a journey and took pity on him and with great compassion met him on his journey and transmitted the Kalachakra dharma to this holy being. This dharma was then transmitted throughout India and later to Tibet. Somantha, the Kashmiri Kalachakra master, transmitted the Heart Essence Kalachakra Dharma to the Tibetan translator Dro Lotsawa Sherab Drak and another Tibetan disciple, Yumo Mikyo Dorje around the eleventh century. They formed the foundation of the Jonang Sect, which has maintained this lineage to this day. Je Tsongkapa also received the Heart Essence form of the Kalachakra Tantra, but did not feel that his disciples were ready to receive it, so did not transmit this dharma. To set an example for his monks, Tsongkapa also did not practice this dharma. Because of this, he was not able to become a twelfth level bodhisattva until after his death, while in the bardo state. This is the reason that the Geluk Sect does not have the Buddha-dharma that can enable one to become enlightened in this lifetime. Many individual Geluk practitioners (including the Panchen Lama and Dalai Lama) do, however, obtain such dharma from other sources. This is why it is not easy to understand one’s level of practice, because some have great accomplishment and some—even some in high positions—are quite ordinary. For example, the true phenomena of the opening of the crown is simply not found in the world today. Those claiming to have such dharma have not received the Vajra Substitution Body Meditation.
Kalachakra literally means the cycles of time. It addresses the astrological cycles of the physical world as well as the cycles of human existence. The popular concept of “as above, so below” applies as the tantra emphasizes the similarities and correspondence between human beings and the cosmos. It teaches the practices of working with the most subtle energies within the human body as the path to enlightenment. It is the most advanced of all the Buddhist teachings in the world today.
The Kalachakra Dharma has become a fairly popular teaching in all the major Tibetan sects. The Dalai Lama has given initiations and empowerments in this dharma to hundreds of thousands of followers all over the world, as have other Tibetan dharma masters like H.H. Sakya Trizin, H.H. Penor Rinpoche, H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, and H.E. Kalu Rinpoche. As of 2006, The Dalai Lama had given the initiation thirty times, including five times in North America and three times in Europe. However, at best this has only been an outer tantra transmission and in fact few receiving these teachings are able to do the practice. It could be said that what we have seen as the Kalachakra is but the shell or a mere semblance of the original dharma and lacks certain special powers of the true Buddha-dharma that Shakyamuni taught. It is given as a sort of empowerment for world peace. This is a very good example of the degeneration of the original teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha.
This Heart Essence form of the Kalachakra was not the highest form. However, Shakyamuni Buddha never taught the higher form, even though he himself had learned it and practiced it. The higher form is known as the Holiest and Most Secret Kalachakra Dharma. The Vajra Substitution Body Mediation is part of this dharma whereby the crown of the disciple must be opened within two hours so that the disciple’s consciousness can freely move about. The great holy being and patriarch of the Kagyu sect, Tilopa, was able to learn this dharma directly from Dorje Chang Buddha but did not transmit this dharma to his disciples as he was not yet a buddha and only buddhas can transmit this dharma. Tilopa also learned a form of tummo (inner heat) dharma from Dorje Chang Buddha that he transmitted to his students, but what is practiced as tummo today has little resemblance to what we are witnessing from the present day students of His Holiness.
Because we are living in the Dharma Ending Age, Dorje Chang Buddha has incarnated again to teach us the highest form of tantra—the true Mahamudra of Liberation. One aspect of this dharma is also known as the Holiest and Most Secret Kalachakra Dharma and this is the Vajra Substitution Body Meditation Dharma. This may well be what the late Penor Rinpoche meant when he told me that “because this is the Dharma Ending Age, it is good that such a high being has incarnated.” He also said that such a being “should demonstrate many miracles.” Penor Rinpoche was considered a master of the Kalachakra Dharma, but only the Heart Essence form. H.H. Penor Rinpoche also told me that my master, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, was much higher than he was.
The treasure book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III includes testimonials of two advanced disciples who received the Xian Liang Great Perfection Dharma. This is Buddha-dharma from the Mahamudra of Liberation. Those fortunate enough to receive this dharma can enter the rainbow body state after only practicing the dharma for less than two hours. These two disciples also received the Vajra Substitution Body Dharma whereby their crowns were opened so that they could manifest another vajra body that could freely come and go anywhere, including other realms of existence. However, anyone receiving this dharma has to have reached a level of realization and virtue whereby they could already travel to the samboghakaya realms, like Shambala and meet Guru Padmasambhava and Shakyamuni Buddha. This is not the same dharma as the phowa dharma that is commonly given to the dying to release their consciousness. With the various forms of phowa dharma, like the Kuan Yin Phowa, when the consciousness leaves the body, it does not come back, but that is not the case with this form of the Holiest and Most Secret Kalachakra Dharma. The practice of this dharma enables one to be fully enlightened and free from the karmic conditions of samsara and to be in more than one location at the same time. Before and after MRI images of the skulls of those who received this dharma clearly reveal an opening in the crown, big enough to insert several fingers. At most there are only 10 or so people in the world today who have received this dharma and only one, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, who can transmit it. A nun, Dharma Master Miaokong, at Hua Zang Si in San Francisco also received this dharma and is now known in the temple as Abbot Daoguo (one who is accomplished in practices). A third rinpoche from New York City, Losang Dorje Dan Bei Jianzan Rinpoche, has also received this dharma.
A third, very high Buddha-dharma from the Mahamudra of Liberation has also been transmitted by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III—the tummo dharma whereby the disciple can raise his or her body heat to over 160 degrees to self-cure various illnesses and remove his or her own negative karma. He can also remove the negative karma of others. Kaichu Rinpoche demonstrated his level of accomplishment by practicing this dharma in front of a dharma assembly of dharma kings, rinpoches, dharma masters, and lay people. During this time the rinpoche was able to cause his body temperature to rise to 197.4 degrees Fahrenheit. After his body returned to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, certain holy seed characters appeared on his body. I actually saw this happen along with many other people! A video of this rinpoche practicing this dharma is available that also used modern heat-sensing technology to document this amazing event. This 76 year-old rinpoche said that his doctors could not believe the condition of his body. It had transformed from being disease ridden to being disease free and quite healthy. This is the dharma that Tibetan masters like Milarepa used to keep warm wearing only cotton robes or less while meditating for long periods in the frigid cold of the Himalayas. There are many eyewitness accounts of yogis and yoginis being able to generate sufficient heat to dry wet shawls draped over their bodies while sitting or walking in the freezing cold—even being able to do this multiple times. The Tibetan term for this practice is "tummo," which means inner fire or heat. However, the true tummo dharma that is part of the Mahamudra of Liberation is more amazing than this.
There is a rinpoche with whom I lived for many years, Akoulama Rinpoche, who also practices tummo. She can be considered a high level Tibetan practitioner. The way she practices tummo is different from Kaichu Rinpoche. What Kaichu Rinpoche practices is the “corpse” pose tummo within the fourth level of the Mahamudra of Liberation. It is the “King of Tummos.” This form of practice can cause one to reach the state of having the rainbow body when one leaves this world. The level of accomplishment is similar to that of the Great Perfection-Longchen Nyingthig. What Akoulama Rinpoche practices is the Tibetan Yoga Tummo in the “naro” or sitting pose. During her demonstration of this dharma she was able to raise her temperature to over 140 degrees. I also witnessed this on the spot.
Now in the world there are many people who talk about practicing tummo, but to have the skills to make the temperature increase like this is very rare. Basically, these skills can no longer be seen. This shows that the true Buddha-dharma is disappearing. You should grasp this opportunity to walk on this path by learning the true Buddha-dharma that actually manifests beneficial effects.
Venerable Zhaxi Zhuoma: Letter to her students, August 7th, 2009