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Chod

November 15, 2012

in Nepal

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A big tent set up next to the stupa one morning holds more than 150 people with drums and bells performing a Chod practice. Chod is used to cut through our identification with our ego. These are not monks, but everyday Buddhists, practicing Chod for a day as part of their spiritual work. Video here.

Dating back to the 10th-13th centuries, Chod is a practice of “cutting through”–severing our attachment to illusion and our attachment to the existence of a personal self. A special 2-sided drum and a sacred bell are used while the practitioner chants special prayers, and sacrifices one’s own body as the offering in a Tantric feast. Do not try this at home. Chod is an advanced practice that requires transmission and permission from a lineage holder in order to protect the practitioner.

The Chod practitioners here may not look frightening, but Chod can be a spooky and powerful practice. Fearful situations are believed to help the practitioner’s work of cutting through attachment to the self, so the ritual was often performed in frightening places, such as burial grounds. In old Tibet, Chod practitioners stayed in burial places and used their fear as a tool to help liberate themselves from illusion.

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