Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

Collapse
X
 
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts
  • Stephanie

    Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi all,

    I just bought a handful of Buddhist books, one of which is Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione. I've read about half of it and while I'm not sure about the details of the practice Allione presents, I have found the basics of it and the general approach to be helpful and illuminating.

    The book is basically Allione's version of a Tibetan practice called Chöd that originated with the teacher Machig Labdron. Chöd means "cutting through." The basic idea is that instead of trying to conquer, repress, or run away from the "demons" one encounters, one faces them, gets to know them and what they want, and offers one's body to them as the food they desire. The end result is that the demons become allies. (Both Machig and Allione understand demons as projections of the mind, not metaphysical entities.)

    I deal with, and have met, a lot of "demons" on my path. Reading Allione's book and about Chöd in general was striking to me because it so closely resembles spontaneous visions and practices I've done along the way--naming and giving a form to personal "demons," befriending them and enlisting them as allies.

    There are demons of doubt, self-loathing, fear of loss, and so on, and these often have the power of completely dominating experience. The interesting thing about Chöd is that working with demons as this way opens up the potential for clear seeing that is otherwise obscured by the demons. This resonates with my own experience, in which identifying demons takes away their power and allows me to relax into "just sitting" or the "just thus" of the moment. As in Buddha being able to recognize Mara and say, "Mara, I know you."

    I find that there's a lot of the Tantric approach, at least based in my (probably limited) understanding of it (especially Mahamudra) that resonates very deeply with Zen, especially Soto. The basic similarity being that one takes everything one experiences as the path, as a manifestation of Truth/Reality, and works with it accordingly. Chöd is an expression of, and part of the Mahamudra lineage--a Tibetan practice similar to Zen--which might seem odd, given the vivid talk of demons and visualization practices. But it all boils down to looking directly at experience and not fighting with it. Asking "What is this?" even to a very persistent demon.

    Does anyone else here face a lot of demons in your practice? If so, is there any particular way you deal with them? What do people think of Chöd?

    Stephanie
  • Dorje T
    Member
    • Mar 2010
    • 12

    #2
    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Stephanie nice to "meet" you,

    I don't practice Chöd but I found another book you might be interested in..


    Machik's Complete Explanation


    I don't call mine "demons" per se, but I still encounter obstacles both in life and in practice - which are really the same thing (or non-thing) anyway right?

    I've noticed that within buddhism in general there are a multitude of methods in dealing with demons ranging from "slaying" them to pacifying them, to ignoring them etc... Zen Buddhism certainly offers ways to approach these as does Tibetan Buddhism. My first "buddhist" teacher was my psychologist at the time who helped me over come some of my demons using thoroughly western methods - turned out to be very buddhist in essence though. It seems you have a lot of options and choices.

    ps- But, how do you know those demons arn't really Buddhas in disguise?

    Comment

    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39392

      #3
      Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

      Originally posted by Stephanie

      Does anyone else here face a lot of demons in your practice? If so, is there any particular way you deal with them? What do people think of Chöd?

      Stephanie
      I must admit that the title of this thread gave me pause. I receive an e-mail about once a week from some folks in the Christian evangelical community who are certain that we are engaging in devil worship over here ... and I really don't wish to fuel their imaginations! :twisted:

      But, on the topic of our "inner demons" ...

      I have sometimes compared our "demons of doubt, self-loathing, fear of loss, and so on" to "the boogie man under the bed"



      Perhaps our way is like making the "boogie man under the bed" disappear ...

      When we just stop thinking about the "boogie man", drop all thought of some "boogie man" ... HE'S GONE!

      So, our basic process is to drop thoughts, self-loathing, fears for the future, bad memories of childhoods long past (and thoughts of 'future' and 'past' too) ... and just sit still, at peace in one piece, whole ... right at the eye of life's storms and broken pieces. We come to see each and all as just passing mind created theatre, and we need not buy into any of it.

      Our way is a complete hitting of the reset button, a clean erasing of the mental blackboard ... and what we will write from this point on upon that pristine surface is up to us, and need not be the same as before. The 'self', which creates all this mess, is put out a work.

      We simply stop thinking of bits of passing mental scenery as "real and unchangeable" and "the way things have to be felt and thought".

      Yet, of course, so long as we are human we will have scars from the past, fears for the future, and the like ... We must recognize that fact too ... Saying that the "scars from the past" are just a dream of the mind is not realistic if those scars remain with us each day.

      So, to the extent that mental and physical scars remain from the past and will not heal ... we just sit with that, with "what is", and let it be. For example, imagine the shock and physical hurt, fears and trauma that may remain from a car accident many years after the fact. We just sit with it all, dropping all resistance to it, dropping demands that all be some other way ... allowing the pain to be the pain, the fear to be the fear, the regrets to be the regrets .... all just the scenery of life or (as Dorje T said) each and all "a Buddha in disguise" when seen as such.

      Zen practice will not prevent the car accident, nor take away the fact of its having happened, nor the scars that may remain. However, it will allow one to just be at peace with that fact, allowing the fact and letting it be, even honoring it all as part of sacred life.

      To the extent that fears, scars from the past, self-loathing and the like remain with us during Zazen ... we simply observe them as if any other object in the room where we sit ... neither running toward them nor pushing them away, not judging nor indulging in stirring them up ... letting them just come to rest. In this way, each comes to lose much of its fuel ... for fear, loathing, etc. are made worse when we poke them with a stick and try to fight them.

      In other words, there is a difference between (1) "just sitting and allowing self-loathing to be without playing its games" and our usual (2) "wallowing, rehashing, stirring up, focusing on the pain and thinking it more than our self's theatre".

      So, I cannot comment on the practice of Chöd as an outsider.

      However, I will say this: In our way, we also do not try to "conquer, repress, or run away from the 'demons' we encounter" ... but neither do we give them anything they want or pay them any mind. They are just demons of our own (self's) creation ... and vanish when dropped from mind.

      Gassho, J
      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

      Comment

      • will
        Member
        • Jun 2007
        • 2331

        #4
        Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

        I don't know about all this stuff. Food? Desire?

        Why can't we just sit down for a while and enjoy it for a moment? There are many practices Stephanie, many. I do Zazen. What do you do?

        On that note...

        Again, and again, and again. Always the same chat. Nothing new. Dropping things for a moment might give insight into something that can't be discussed through words. What are words anyway? Well...they are words I guess. We don't need to know everything. Time takes care of things, when we forget about time. This is not a post to Stephanie, this a post to "Stephanie". We don't have too agree, and we don't have to disagree we just have to be le.

        ("le" is an emphatic word similar to an exclamation mark used in the Chinese language. Not to be confused with "le" used to talk about past events.)

        Anyway... (another good expression, especially what it points to )

        Gassho
        [size=85:z6oilzbt]
        To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
        To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
        To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
        To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
        [/size:z6oilzbt]

        Comment

        • Stephanie

          #5
          Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

          Thanks, Dorje and Jundo, for your helpful responses, which were also enjoyable to read.

          Originally posted by Dorje T
          ps- But, how do you know those demons arn't really Buddhas in disguise?
          They are! I'm drawn to the iconography of the "wrathful deities" for the same reason--in my experience, what I hate and fear wakes me up and strips delusion faster than what I love and desire. I'm just too hard-headed for the "peaceful deities" to get through to :wink:

          Originally posted by Jundo
          I must admit that the title of this thread gave me pause. I receive an e-mail about once a week from some folks in the Christian evangelical community who are certain that we are engaging in devil worship over here ... and I really don't wish to fuel their imaginations! :twisted:
          This makes me think of the story of the Zen master who told his student he was going to hell. When the student asked "Why??" the master said, "Who else would teach you?" :lol:

          Originally posted by Jundo
          But, on the topic of our "inner demons" ...

          I have sometimes compared our "demons of doubt, self-loathing, fear of loss, and so on" to "the boogie man under the bed"

          ...

          When we just stop thinking about the "boogie man", drop all thought of some "boogie man" ... HE'S GONE!

          So, our basic process is to drop thoughts, self-loathing, fears for the future, bad memories of childhoods long past (and thoughts of 'future' and 'past' too) ... and just sit still, at peace in one piece, whole ... right at the eye of life's storms and broken pieces. We come to see each and all as just passing mind created theatre, and we need not buy into any of it.
          A good metaphor for the basic approach of Soto practice.

          And to be clear, it's not that I don't practice in this way. It's just that there are some "demons" that arise again and again, persistently, no matter how many times one "drops all thought" of them. Sometimes, I find, a more hands-on approach is needed.

          It seems clear to me from the lives of teachers that even the deepest and most committed Zen practice will not automatically erase all phantasms from the mental blackboard. Sometimes, it's not enough to "just drop" a demon, because it will come back as many times as you drop it, and take the reins in one's daily actions.

          When do you think an active approach is required?

          Originally posted by Jundo
          Yet, of course, so long as we are human we will have scars from the past, fears for the future, and the like ... We must recognize that fact too ... Saying that the "scars from the past" are just a dream of the mind is not realistic if those scars remain with us each day.

          So, to the extent that mental and physical scars remain from the past and will not heal ... we just sit with that, with "what is", and let it be. For example, imagine the shock and physical hurt, fears and trauma that may remain from a car accident many years after the fact. We just sit with it all, dropping all resistance to it, dropping demands that all be some other way ... allowing the pain to be the pain, the fear to be the fear, the regrets to be the regrets .... all just the scenery of life or (as Dorje T said) each and all "a Buddha in disguise" when seen as such.
          Yes, this works beautifully on the cushion... but sometimes I find it is not so effective off the cushion. The collections of deluded thoughts, emotions, and beliefs being referred to here as "demons" often will hijack the brain. Having given them a name allows me to recognize them as false and illusory more quickly. And I'm not sure about the exact approach in that book, but I can say from experience that in general, being able to understand "what a demon is asking for" can give one the tools to deal with it and either drop it for good, or transform it into an ally.

          I want to be clear I am not arguing with the validity and greater clarity of the "just sitting" or "just letting be" approach. To see all mind events as just the play of the mind, and to let them be, and pass away of their own accord... this is being grounded in truth. It is just that in my experience, practically, some "first steps" may be required for this to be able to happen when one is off the cushion. Maybe this is true "only for beginners"? I honestly don't know. I just know that in moments of acute "demon attack," "add-ons" to Zen have been helpful, such as The Work of Byron Katie or something like the above.

          Perhaps it would be interesting to point out that Tsultrim Allione's "five step method" of working with demons has as the fifth step "resting in awareness." Basically the same as the first and last step for us Soto practitioners If you can start out there, none of the rest is necessary. It's just that sometimes, a few "first steps" are necessary!

          (And if I haven't made it clear, I'm not advocating for any of the above when sitting; even if one's mind runs wild on the cushion, nothing else will come of it on the cushion but discomfort. So it doesn't matter how long it takes for the phantoms of the mind to disappear. But in daily life, when one has to decide on an action or words to use, some recourse to a 'cruder method' can actually be very helpful...)

          Gassho

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39392

            #6
            Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

            Hi Steph,

            I am not so stubborn or doctrinaire as to say "even if something else is helpful, don't do it".

            I often say that Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do it let one "be at one, and whole" with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each. But, there is not then anything stopping you from putting on the clearasil blemish cream or changing that tire (I say we can fully accept something, yet need to fix it nonetheless)! If someone is an alcoholic or drug addict, for example, Zen practice may be a great aid ... but probably one should first head for a 12 Step Program or the Betty Ford Clinic (as a couple of Zen teachers with addiction issues had to do).

            So, if it works for you ... do that!

            As you say, however, one need not (and should not) then lose the "no loss no gain" perspective of this Shikantaza way.

            There is a great beauty in fixing the "flat tires" of life (from pimples to cancer to "inner demons") while simultaneously accepting and being whole with each "just as it is". It is a shame if, because one feels they must "fix something" they then lose the beautiful attitude that "there is nothing ever to fix"!

            One can fix things with the attitude that there is nothing to fix ...

            Someone wrote to ask whether all this "self acceptance" and embracing ourselves "just as we are" means that, for example, a wife beater or alcoholic or thief should just accept themselves like that, not seek to change or live any other way.

            No. Please recall that, in our Zen Way, we live on several channels at once ... seemingly contradictory, yet not contradictory at all.

            I want to reach for Jundo's handy-dandy "acceptance without acceptance" formula here, and apply it to our personal natures:

            So, in our "Just Sitting" Shikantaza, we completely accept the universe, and all in it, just as it is. We drop all thoughts of likes and dislikes, dreams and regrets and need for change, hopes and fears. Yet simultaneously, hand in hand without the slightest deviation (on another mental "track", if you want to say that), we live our lives as human beings, and living life requires choices, goals, likes and dislikes, dreams and hopes.

            Thus, living our life is much like living in a house with a leaky roof, spiders and broken windows. In Master Dogen's way, we simply sit to drop all resistance to the house we have been living in all along, to realize that there is nowhere to 'go' in life, to cease all efforts to add to or take away from the structure, to let go of the ego's insisting on how things "should be" in order for the house to be "good" ... we ARE that house, our True Home! Then we find, in dropping that resistance, that the house we have always been in is "perfectly what it is", and we can be joyful right where we are. HOWEVER, we can be content with that house even as, hand in hand, there is still much serious repair work to do (an acceptance-without-acceptance of the leaky windows, spiders and creaky doors). There is nothing to prevent our fixing those, even as we accept their existence! We can accept and not accept simultaneously, repair what needs to be repaired.

            We have goals for repair even as, on the other "track", we drop all goals and thoughts of repair.

            So, even as we can accept that we are a wife beating alcoholic, we should immediately set to not be so! One simply cannot taste the fruits of Buddhist practice if one is so filled with anger, violence, pain and need that one is a violent, abusive alcoholic!

            And what guides us onto the smooth path for life?

            Yes, the Precepts.
            Gassho, J
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

            • Hans
              Member
              • Mar 2007
              • 1853

              #7
              Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

              Hi Stephanie!


              Although I don't practice it, I've been a big "fan" of the Chöd approach for years....by which I mean that I find it very interesting but don't practice it...because I'm the kinda guy who would then want to REALLY practice it, including Ngöndro preliminary exercises, collecting as many empowerments as possible, buying a thighbone trumpet etc. Which would mean to leave my Zazen behind due to each day having only 24 hours, which I DEFINITELY won't do. I am already married to my Soto-cushion

              The "feed your demons" approach reminds me of those stories where a father discovers that his young son has started smoking cigarettes in secret, only to then receive the biggest cigar ever from his father...who forces him to smoke it in one go....which puts the young boy off so much he never ever wants to smoke again in his life.

              You might enjoy Allione's "Women of Wisdom" btw.

              The teacher behind this site http://www.tibetancho.com is also legititmate...and they have a good booklist regarding Chöd: http://astore.amazon.com/schooloftibet-20

              I am really tired now, but will try to write something about how I personally deal with reappearing demons in the next couple of days.

              Gassho,

              Hans

              Comment

              • Seishin the Elder
                Member
                • Oct 2009
                • 521

                #8
                Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

                Hi All,

                Back from retreat and Holy Week at my Abbey.

                The first time I saw references adn Thangkas of Wrathful Demons, I said "Oh Boy, what have I gotten myself into???" I was concerned about sopmeone telling me "See, those Buddhists you're so on about worship demons!" Well then I read a bit about those [i]demons[i] and after some study was able to relate them to what we have in Christianity called Archangels. Now I know the mythology about the warthful dieties having been "native" deities who were "converted" to Buddhism; but I prefer to think of them (and I think I have evry right to do so as a Buddhist) as protective angels. There are probably many of you who pooh-poh the idea of angels or demons altogether, and that's fine, but as Jundo said
                Originally posted by Hans
                So, if it works for you ... do that!
                I like angels [u]and[u] protective dieties. I think of them as aides in cutting away the dross that I have unable or "unwilling" to discard. Sometimes it helps to believe that you have a "friend" to help you do something that is difficult to do by yourself.

                I attended several Mahakala services at a Tibetan Monastery and they were quite wonderful, very noisy and dramatic; lots of horns, cymbals and drums. You could almost envision the Mahakala diety, all fiery and wrathful, in the room. It really is not that far of a step from some of the Psalms wherein we ask God to smite the enemy; only the real enemy is our false self.

                In closing I offer a time honored quote from "Little Big Man" when the old Medicein Chief turns to Little Bid Man after his dying ceremony didn't work:

                Sometime the magic works; sometime it doesn't!"

                Gassho,

                Kyrill Seishin

                Comment

                • Dorje T
                  Member
                  • Mar 2010
                  • 12

                  #9
                  Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

                  One thing I think is easy to miss in regards in the "Buddhist tantric" approach is that all phenomena (all beings included) are "marked" with emptiness - unlike lets call it "non-Buddhist" tantra. It's good to remember that Buddhist tantra is really based (as is Zen) in the madhyamaka understanding/realization of emptiness or interdependence (aka prajnaparamita). Said concisely (maybe inaccurately) demons appear, but their nature is emptiness.

                  Because this is so easy to overlook, this is one reason it is stated so often that the guru "teacher" must be there to guide one through the maze that is the interplay between appearance and emptiness. Without this helpful methodology, it's very easy to slip into one or the other extreme - in this case for example, either you might think your "demons" are external to your mind and real enough to harm you, or on the other hand, you might reject all the benefits associated from the therapeutic insights you can gain by working with these experiences because you deny these experiences as "non-realities" in any way shape or form.

                  These (method or "path" and benefits) are all there in Shikantaza too as Compassionate Teacher Jundo pointed out and as I believe from my own experience as well. Maybe sometimes one needs 'some other flavor' of therapy, but it's funny that so often in my own little crazy "dual" practice of Zen Buddhism and Buddhist tantra, I find myself often thinking "this tantra practice is just like zazen" and "this zazen practice is just like tantra."

                  The main point here I guess is simply this; unless we actualize (apply) the understanding of 'emptiness-interdependence as our fundamental nature' (prajnaparamita) to all tantric practices we can get caught pretty easily in a demonic maze of our own making. This is where zazen and specifically shikantaza can really be seen to be 'not-at-odds-with' tantric approaches.

                  I remember years ago reading the "Tibetan Book of the Dead" (Evans-Wentz) and thinking "what the hell does all this deity and scary demons stuff have to due with Buddhism?" But then you get to that part where it says "recognize all of this as your own mind" and I went "oh yeah".

                  Comment

                  • will
                    Member
                    • Jun 2007
                    • 2331

                    #10
                    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

                    This makes me think of the story of the Zen master who told his student he was going to hell. When the student asked "Why??" the master said, "Who else would teach you?"
                    lol
                    [size=85:z6oilzbt]
                    To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
                    To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
                    To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
                    To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
                    [/size:z6oilzbt]

                    Comment

                    • scott
                      Member
                      • Oct 2009
                      • 138

                      #11
                      Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

                      Chöd is powerful and admirable. I've only explored the edges, but I know someone who has truly practiced it. I cannot imagine combining Chöd and Shikantaza. Shikantaza drops away all other problems and all other solutions. This is simultaneously its brilliance and its constraint, because people like some kind of intermediate practice that directly grabs, brings forward, and deals with unconscious stuff, e.g. chöd or tonglen or even noticing your breath (which can be very revealing of one's mind's unconscious habits). Perhaps it's possible to use the Soto precepts in ways that satisfy that need -- to take them beyond should-and-shouldn't and internalize them deeply. I don't have any experience there, and I would like to know, so if you've done that, please talk about it. Do you use the Soto precepts while simultaneously being in Shikantaza space while walking around? If so, how do you combine them?

                      Thanks ... Scott

                      Comment

                      • Dorje T
                        Member
                        • Mar 2010
                        • 12

                        #12
                        Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

                        Hi Scott, nice to "meet" you.

                        Did I miss something regarding "combining" Chöd and Shikantaza?

                        In the context of "methods" practices should not be "mixed" is my thinking.

                        When Shikantaza is being practiced is Shkantaza there?
                        No more so than when Chöd is being practiced.
                        What is not "there" can neither be mixed nor distinguished.
                        The Buddha taught one thing only - and this "one thing" is distinguished in it's diverse appearances but not it's essence.
                        Methods should not be mixed for sure, but what keeps Buddha from being your nature?

                        Comment

                        • Jundo
                          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                          • Apr 2006
                          • 39392

                          #13
                          Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

                          Hi,

                          Let me make clear that, if Shikantaza is practiced correctly, nothing more is needed or should be added upon it. Only people who are not, or cannot, practice it correctly would be in need to run for something more ... because there is nothing more. By definition.

                          If one is practicing Shikantaza correctly, there is no place to run to, nothing to run from. The very act of running/ever arriving at life -is- Shikantaza.

                          Shikantaza is the practice of just sitting with what is, complete and whole in this moment ... dropping fears, worries, aversions and attractions (or, to the extent they are not dropped, just sitting with each as what is). However, many people do not know how to sit with "what is" and thus chase after their own tails.

                          Sometimes I will recommend someone to enter a 12 Step program, see a doctor, try some other means for a problem such as depression or panic disorders for the same reason that I advise folks to see a doctor and get an appendectomy for a bad appendix. Zazen will not fix your appendix, and only a surgeon can do that. Many types of depression, addiction and anxiety can be treated very well by means complementary to Zazen (the Zazen will allow one to be "at one" with a burst appendix ... it may lesson the symptoms of depression or anxiety ... but other methods may be helpful too).

                          HOWEVER, for the average person with normal, everyday fears and worries ... a practice like Chod may actually create the demons by making one think that they exist and that there is something to fix (much like those pharmaceutical company commercials seen most nights on the evening news make many of us think that we actually have "restless leg syndrome" and need to get some pill from our doctor. Suddenly, one convinces oneself that there is a disease that needs to be cured by radical means, instead of realizing that the DISEASE WILL VANISH IF ONE SIMPLY DROPS IT FROM MIND, BECAUSE IT WAS NEVER ANYPLACE BUT IN ONE'S MIND AND THE BEST TREATMENT IS RADICALLY DOING NOTHING for there is nothing to do. All are seen as as 'empty' as the boogieman under the bed.)! It makes people think that they have to "do something" to treat the disease, and that there is a disease ... instead of allowing them to just let go and let be.

                          In our Zen practice, we try to be decent people, kind and gentle, avoiding harm to self and others ... we drop fears, worries, aversions and attractions, and just let life be ... we accept our small human foibles even as we seek to polish them. BUT DON'T MAKE IT COMPLICATED!(I add a drop of Metta around here because it is such a simple yet profound practice, nothing more than garnish on the soup). Just sit still, let it all go ... let your childhood go, the trauma of some terrible event in the past.To wrestle with these things, wallow in them, is not to the best way ... to just let them go, and let them be is the best way.

                          What is more, traditional Chod seems to be based on a dance of hocus-pocus, with funny hats and mystical incantations ... descriptions such as this ...

                          ... There are different visualizations for these four feasts according to different traditions such as Chagdud Rinpochay, Dudgom Rinpochay, Nyingtik and so on. The main point is always the same: one visualizes oneself as the Black Yogini, Troma Nakmo and then ejects one’s consciousness from the body with the sound of phat and then transforms the corpse into different offerings for the feast. If you understand the basic view, you can understand all the various practices. ...

                          In the inner chod practice, one transforms the body into anything which is excellent or edible and invites the guests to partake of the feast in any way they wish. If you are uncertain about this and you are not really imagining that they are devouring the feast, then you are just playing a game with the gods and spirits whom you have invited. In order to practice you must have great compassion for all beings, our previous mothers and just let them take what they want in any way that they want. At first, it won’t be like this; we won’t be able to actually give up the body so easily, but by meditating again and again, slowly we will be able, in the actual presence of gods and spirits, to give up our body easily and certainly. When this happens, the mind is purified of obscuration and merit is accumulated; one has understood the meaning of inner chod, which is the giving up, through generosity, of our attachment to the five aggregates. Absolute chod, or the real meaning of chod, is to understand clearly that all confused perceptions arise from grasping to self. Until we have been able to sever the root of confusion, confusion will persist. For example, gods and spirits are an aspect of confused perception, and so in our chod practice, if we believe that gods and spirits really exist, then we will never be able to sever the source of that appearance. This is where many practioners deviate. They may be invited by sponsors or patrons or by a sick person to come into the home and do a pratice to get rid of spirits or illness. These misguided practioners will go and view the demonic force possession or the spirit in the house as an enemy, a truly existing entity, and then with a mind of aggression and even anger towards the entity, they will try to strike it, kill it, eliminate it through exorcism of the external enemy. They will play their damaru very fiercely and blow the thighbone trumpet intensely and say, ""Phat!" and this and that and roll their eyes back. But without having a focus on the source of that phenomenon, they will never kill that enemy or penetrate it because it didn’t arise from that. In fact, anger is what created it. It arose from grasping to self; the belief that it’s there is what created it. Until the fire is gone, there will be smoke.

                          http://www.bodhicitta.net/Chod.htm
                          It is a complicated dance with imaginary creatures. The only good I see in the above description is that, on some level, it is saying that the demons and trumpet blowing and fancy words are a fairy tale. It seems basically like a kind of exorcism for very superstitious folks. Fine, if it is helpful to someone. But it would only be helpful to someone who did not understand how to "Just Sit" ... letting go, and letting be.

                          Gassho, J
                          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                          Comment

                          • Taigu
                            Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
                            • Aug 2008
                            • 2710

                            #14
                            Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

                            Much like Jundo, I would say that Chod and Shikantaza cannot be combined. If you go for Chod, you go another path, which is fine, but then shikantaza is not anymore. Shikantaza sits demons and saints, in one spot, in one gulp, at once.


                            gassho


                            Taigu

                            Comment

                            • Stephanie

                              #15
                              Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

                              This thread was getting interesting before you two got all Soto priest-y and ruined the fun :wink:

                              I honestly have no designs on pursuing Chöd, but I do find the general principles remarkably similar to practices I've developed or discovered on my own.

                              I can understand why you would not recommend Chöd and really can't argue with that, even if I personally am open to a more widely stocked spiritual toolbox.

                              I couldn't disagree more, however, with the dogmatic position that "nothing more than shikantaza" is needed. OK, I can respect, and possibly agree with, the position that nothing more than shikantaza is needed to wake up to the truth. But nothing more is needed for dealing with relative world stuff if you do shikantaza "right"? My goodness, hopefully I'm not the only person with sense and knowledge enough to know that generations of Soto teachers have amply demonstrated that is not the case.

                              I also take issue with the dismissal of something like Chöd as "superstitious." It's one thing to say, "That practice is not compatible with what we do here," another to demean or insinuate that Tantric practitioners are engaging in an inferior practice. Is anyone really foolish enough to believe any more that waking up is a matter of choosing the right technique? People who've practiced any number of things have woken up.

                              I have a lot of respect for Tantric practice even if I have no intention to go that route myself. Working with archetypes and personified images can be very powerful--and it's something widely incorporated in Western therapy (which seems to pass muster with you, Jundo) because it works. People can work on a mythopoeic level without having concrete belief in the mental images that populate it.

                              Perhaps this example was too "far out" for this place, but I think that any honest practitioner would "admit" they incorporate other approaches besides shikantaza to deal with various issues that come up off the cushion. I know some folks here use Byron Katie's "Work," some people utilize mindfulness practices, Jundo advocates metta practice, and I use things I've picked up from Western psychotherapy and various other sources. I believe the only real measure of a practice is testing it out for oneself.

                              In summary, my experience has taught me that waking up requires no particular tool, and dealing with life requires many varied tools. I can't really advocate for Chöd, as I don't practice it, but learning how to "name my demons" in my own way has certainly helped me drop a lot of deluded thinking.

                              Comment

                              Working...