Receiving an initiation requires more than just physical participation – going to a certain place at a certain time to receive something that someone will give you.
It also involves active mental participation. We need to have the ability to open up and allow the experience to penetrate, instead of being crisp and obsessive. Because, you see, initiation, including all the meditations that compose it, is a method that leads us within an experience of totality, and this totality is the direct antidote to our fragmented, dissatisfied, fanatical and dualistic mind. Through the inner experience of true initiation, all obstacles to achieving this totality are eliminated – eliminated not by something you hear or study but by something you experience and live yourself.
So why do we call it initiation?
Because it is the beginning of the experience of meditation, a beginning that activates in a certain way the concentration, meditation and penetration into the reality of all things. Through the power of such an initiation, you use the wisdom, ability and great openness of gentleness – loving that you already possess.
It's an awakening of something that already exists.
It is very important to recognize that you already have these qualities of wisdom, ability and compassion. It is a mistake to think that any of us lack, it is a mistake to think that through initiation we receive qualities that are totally foreign to something that exists deep within us. Buddhist teachings in general and tantric experience in particular emphasize that in each of us there is an unlimited resource of deep wisdom and an immense benevolence – loving.
What is needed is to access this resource and activate the energy potential for lighting.
For an initiation to be effective, both the master and the disciple must participate in the creation of the proper atmosphere.
The Master is responsible for leading the initiation in a way that truly touches the minds of the disciples, and must have the skill and flexibility to shape the initiation in order to be appropriate to the abilities of the disciples.
Disciples need to know how to generate an open, spacious attitude and to keep the mind in such a state of receptivity.
If they are too attached to the objects of the senses or too caught up in selfishness, or they are cramped by the appearance of things as existing in themselves, there will be no space for realizations to enter the mind. If, however, they have trained enough in giving up, the bodhichitta and the correct vision of vacuity, it will not be difficult to put aside prejudices and open up to the transmission of understanding.
When the master and the disciple are both properly qualified, the initiation is crossed by the immense wisdom of ecstasy. Instead of remaining a requirement that must be fulfilled before you can enter the tantric path, the initiation will embody the transcendent experience of the path itself. In fact, many times in the past, disciples have attained enlightenment even during this process of initiation.
It is also important to keep in mind that for a serious practitioner, initiation is not something that he or she receives only once. It is customary for the initiation into a certain tantric practice to be received repeatedly, each time it is possible to receive deeper and deeper levels of experience.
Therefore, let us not be disappointed if at first our meditation remains only at the level of pure imagination and not of true experience. And this is very good. Don't think it wouldn't be. Even just imagining an experience plants the seeds in the huge field of your consciousness and eventually these seeds will bear fruit to your own experiences. It's a natural process. So you have to always stay open and reconnect and be satisfied with whatever happens.
excerpt from "Introduction to Tantra" by LAMA YESHE