Buddhist Tantra is a method by which a practitioner can attain the ultimate state of enlightenment most rapidly. In order to enter the Tantric path we must have a profound desire to help others, extraordinary compassion wishing to remove their suffering, and vast loving kindness wishing to provide them with all they need and wish for. We must also have some realization of the ultimate truth, the emptiness of inherent existence of ourselves and all phenomena.
One year after Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment, he gave his most important teaching on the ultimate truth. He delivered this sermon on Vulture’s Peak, in what is today the state of Bihar, India. The Buddha simultaneously manifested in Amaravathi, in the state of Andra Pradesh, in order to initiate the kind of Shambhala into the Tantric practice of Kalachakra, Wheel of Time. The Kalachakra Tantra subsequently became the state religious practice of Shambhala.
In 1991 Richard Gere and The Tibet Center invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to New York City to bestow the Kalachakra initiation. Members of the Center worked for a whole year preparing the many implements and furnishings that would be needed for the ceremony. An elaborate throne was built for His Holiness, as was a Mandala House, the structure in which a sand Mandala was created by the many monks from Namgyal Monastery who came to assist His Holiness in this most elaborate Tantric rite of initiation.
His Holiness preceded the initiation by teaching Shantideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, so that the aspiring initiates could cultivate the required aspirations of compassion, loving kindness, and most importantly, Bodhicitta, the commitment to attaining Buddhahood in order to benefit all sentient beings.