Happy Tsog Day: Motivation for doing series

In Guide to Dakini Land, Geshe-la explains Heruka said, “Practitioners who sincerely practise the tsog offering without missing the two ‘tenth’ days of each month will definitely be reborn in Dakini Land.” A tsog offering is, in effect, an enlightened party. When ordinary beings throw a party, they gather their friends and enjoy objects of delight. In a tsog offering, we generate ourself and others as the Guru-deity, gather together, and collectively accumulate vast merit that is in turn dedicated to gaining Dharma realizations and accomplishing spiritual goals for the sake of all living beings.

Once we take rebirth in the pure land, we will be able to receive teachings and empowerments directly from Heruka and Vajrayogini and be able to swiftly complete our spiritual training. A pure land is like a bodhisattva’s training camp, and once reborn there we will never again take an uncontrolled samsaric rebirth. If we wish to help those we love, we can send emanations – almost like drones or avatars in a video game – into the realms of samsara, but from our perspective, we remain safe in the pure land. Once we reach the pure land, our eventual enlightenment is guaranteed. Geshe-la explains many different ways to guarantee that we attain the pure land, such as reaching tranquil abiding on the generation stage object, reaching the fourth mental abiding on the Mahamudra, or dying with a pure mind of compassion. But the easiest and most certain way of reaching the pure land is to maintain our commitment to practice the tsog offering without missing the two tenth days of each month. Heruka himself explained this. Thus, practicing the tsog offering is like an insurance policy for attaining the pure land. What could possibly be more important than this?

The “tenth” days here refers to the 10th and 25th of every month when Kadampa practitioners traditionally engage in a “tsog” offering in the context of the practice Offering to the Spiritual Guide. If we miss a tsog day, we can just make it up on the weekend. If we cannot do it at the center, we can just do it at home on our own. If we cannot do it with physical offerings, we can just do it with imagined ones. If we do not have time to do it and our other daily commitments, we can just imagine our tsog puja indirectly fulfils our other commitments. If we do not have time to do it, we can just do it more quickly. If we cannot do any of that, Venerable Geshe-la says we can just double our normal daily mantra commitment. The point is, we should try find a way to remember tsog days.

To help mark the tsog days myself, and hopefully help others do the same, I am writing this 44-part series of blog posts which I will post on every tenth day over the next two years. During January, which is Heruka and Vajrayogini month, I will post separately on the 10th and 25th since they are Vajrayogini and Heruka day respectively, hence 44 parts instead of 48 parts.  This series will share my personal thoughts and reflections on engaging in the Offering to the Spiritual Guide sadhana with tsog. Geshe-la encourages us to “make our own commentary” to our practices to try deepen our understanding of them. When Shantideva wrote Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, he said his purpose in doing so was to consolidate his own thinking about the bodhisattva’s path, and if others received benefit from his explanations, then all the better. In the same way, I do not pretend that this explanation is in any way definitive – for that, we have the book Great Treasury of Merit – rather, I will share what my current understanding is of the practice. I write it to help consolidate my own experience and understanding of the practice, and if others also find benefit, then all the better.

In my mind, writing and posting this series of posts is my tsog offering to my spiritual guide. By writing it, I offer my practice, my faith, and my effort to try help the Kadam flourish in this world. I pray that those who read this will be inspired to always engage in tsog offerings every tenth day for the rest of their life, and thereby guarantee that they take rebirth in Keajra Pure Land. Once there, may they quickly complete their spiritual training and begin liberating all living beings from the vast, terrible ocean of samsara’s sufferings. 

7 thoughts on “Happy Tsog Day: Motivation for doing series

  1. I would like to be able to do tsog online and be supported somehow in that way. I haven’t seen able to do tsog for years as I can’t get to my nearest centre

    • Hi Sarah, I’m sorry you haven’t been able to get to your nearest center. I know sometimes the NKT on their YouTube channel streams sadhanas, such as Tara. Perhaps you could write the NKT office and ask if they could also stream Offering to the Spiritual Guide with Tsog. Even if they can’t, we can always do it on our own. We can buy the recording and do it ourself at home alone. We don’t have to do anything elaborate, we can do what is possible for us given our circumstances. We can even just do it all visually, following the sadhana. What matter is the mind of faith and making a point of doing something special to remind ourselves. We shouldn’t let the “perfect” be the enemy of the “good.” Yes, doing it on-line or at a center might be better, but doing it on our own is also very good.

  2. Thank you, Ryan. I look forward to following along. Thanks for the explanation to just do it. Do something, but really try to do the tsog pujas. Will take to heart.

  3. I found it interesting that you said you could make up a tsog day on the weekend. Not long ago i saw a post on an NKT Facebook group asking if we could do OSG on the following day if we forgot or weren’t able to observe on the actual day. The answer was no, if you miss it you miss it. I don’t remember who gave the answer. But I’m wondering where or from whom you got that teaching that we could do it on a different day?
    Thanks!

    • Three reasons. First, Geshe-la says if we miss our mantra commitment on a given day, we can just make it up the next day by doing twice as many, so why would we not also be able to make it up on the weekend? Second, something is better than nothing. If we say, “you miss it, you miss it,” then what happens? You do nothing. If you say you can make it up, then you do something. Which is better? Third, tsog days do not exist from their own side, but are rather mentally imputed. In the old days, they were linked to the lunar calendar, but that proved too complicated for people who live according to the solar calendar. So Geshe-la just changed it to the 10th and 25th of each month under the logic it is all mental imputation anyways. We do the same with imputing “facing east” in our practices, etc. So why not impute, “for me, this month, the tsog day is the 27th?” Of course we try do it on the correct day, but if we can’t or forget, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  4. Thank you. In the last several years only a couple of times have I forgotten or been unable to do it on the day, and I’ve just imputed the next day as my tsog day that month, It felt right and I was happy doing that. Then I was disappointed to see that idea criticized when I saw the Facebook discussion about it. Your explanation makes sense to me and yes it does fit with what I understand Geshe-la’s approach to be. I will always try to do it on the correct day, but I will feel better about moving it as opposed to not doing it at all.
    Marion

    • Yeah, we shouldn’t always believe everything we read on facebook. Sometimes people “hear” something, and then start repeating it as if it was gospel. We need to ask ourselves, “does this make sense with everything else Geshe-la has taught and how he approaches things?”

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