The Tibetan word “chöd” means “to cut off” or “to slay.” It is a traditional Buddhist practice of offerings one’s own body to frightening demons. The traditional practice of Chöd cuts off self-cherishing and grasping at a truly existent “I.”
Developed by the great Tibetan yogini Machig Labdron (1055–1145), and the only practice that made its way back to India from Tibet, it is an extremely effective and quick tantric method for attaining realizations of the path to enlightenment.
By doing chöd practice, you come to realize your true nature and develop awareness of “I” as an object of ignorance. You are able to recognize that “I” is false; you are able to use your logical reasoning that the “I” doesn’t exist because it is a dependant arising, or merely imputed.
Chöd is usually practiced in scary frightening places and visualizing making your body into offering as a way of severing ego.
You invite fears, sicknesses, demons to your meditation and offer them your body.
There are so many “demons”. Demons (maras in Sanskrit) are not bloodthirsty ghouls waiting for us in dark corners. Demons are within us. They are energies we experience every day, such as fear, illness, depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship difficulties, and addiction. Here are some example of internal demos:
- “the Demon that Blocks the Senses” — our fixations on sensory attractions (or revulsions), such as “a desire to possess” a beautiful woman or man
- “the Demon which Cannot be Controlled” — our run-away thought processes that distract us from true awareness and realizations
- “the Demon of Pleasure” — becoming attached to pleasures, such as food or sex, to the point where it becomes obsessive or controlling
- and, “the Demon of the Ego” — perhaps the greatest demon of all, the ego creates our fears and cravings (for example our fear of growing old and dying). It is the ego that conditions our view of our world
Practice of Generosity
The idea is that you do not fight with “demons”, but rather approach them with love, compassion and generosity.
Practice of Chöd is practice of generosity. Start small. You can offer your time, words of encouragement, donations, time and so on. Notice your motivation, how it feels to do it, and the reactions of others.
There is a story of a rich man who said that he could not practice generosity because he was unable to give anything away. The Buddha’s advice to him was to begin by simply taking a piece of fruit and passing it from one hand to the other. The Buddha told him to notice how it felt to let the fruit go and how it felt to receive it. Using this method, the man began to experience both the joy of giving and the pleasure of receiving. Eventually he became a great benefactor.
Even imagined gifts can be powerful.
There is a story about the great Buddhist king Ashoka that illustrates this. The story goes that a poor child was playing by the side of the road when he saw the Buddha begging for alms. The child was moved to make an offering, but—with nothing else to give—he spontaneously collected some pebbles and, visualizing them as vast amounts of gold, placed them in the Buddha’s alms bowl. Due to this act, in his next life the child became the powerful, wealthy King Ashoka and benefited countless beings.
Feeding your demons by Lama Tsultrim Allione – click here
The Practice of Generosity – click here