The audio was originally recorded at Karma Choeling Tibetan Buddhist Monastery near Auckland, NZ in late August 2001, words and art recently added.
Mahakala appears in the form of a wrathful deity.
It is not because there is something ferocious about Mahakala or that he is aggressive. Mahakala is none other than the inseparability of compassion and loving-kindness. In the view of ultimate wisdom, there is no separation between the Awakened Mind of Buddha and that of Mahakala. Mahakala is a manifestation of the awakened mind.
Appearing in very majestic form, splendid yet frightening, Mahakala stands in the midst of a mountain of flames to symbolize that no enemy can stand this appearance aspect; the sharp chopper, which he holds aloft in one hand, symbolizes the cutting through of negative patterns, aggression, hatred, ignorance--any of the five poisons. No neurosis or negativity can tolerate this very majestic form; the frightening form symbolizes Mahakala as totally devoid of fear or hesitation in his spontaneous yet consistent work toward the benefit and liberation of all beings.
Mahakala is seen standing on the corpse of two human bodies, thus symbolizing the death of negativities and the complete uprooting of negative patterns to such a point that, like a dead body, they will not come to life. It is very important that we know these symbols of Mahakala because many times we have mistaken notions that he may be a clinging spirit or harmful, evil being, perhaps even the Lord of Death ready to devour and attack. One would find great difficulty in relating to the various symbols without understanding that our awakened compassion is the essential quality of the being of Mahakala. Mahakala has never been known to harm one being, even in the slightest manner, because he is constantly benefiting beings through the continuous play of the enlightened mind.
From a teaching given by the Ven. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche on February 2, 1981 at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra; translated by Ngodrup Burkhar and edited by Agnes M. Ruch.
Thanks to Ven. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche & KTD
I would like to offer a very special "Thank You" to Venerable Lama Karma Samten and his early students in New Zealand for translating this powerful text.
Also special thanks to H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche's website for the beautiful artwork.
And especially H.H. Karmapa! I am eternally grateful!