Happy Tsog Day: Making the Actual Tsog Offering

In order to remember and mark our tsog days, holy days on the Kadampa calendar, I am sharing my understanding of the practice of Offering to the Spiritual Guide with tsog.  This is part 22 of a 44-part series.

Making the tsog offering

HO This ocean of tsog offering of uncontaminated nectar,
Blessed by concentration, mantra, and mudra,
I offer to please the assembly of root and lineage Gurus.
OM AH HUM
Delighted by enjoying these magnificent objects of desire,
EH MA HO
Please bestow a great rain of blessings.

When we make the tsog offering itself we do so in successive rounds to the different parts of the field of merit. In this verse we make the tsog offering to the assembly of root and lineages Gurus. With the first line, we recall the outer aspect of the offerings we previously blessed. With the second line, we recall their cause, namely our concentration on emptiness, the mantra of all the Buddhas OM AH HUM, and our hand mudras performed during the blessing of the offerings. With the third line, we should imagine that countless offering goddesses holding skull cups scoop up the nectar of our offerings and fly to the assembly of root and lineages Gurus. With the fourth line we should imagine that the root and lineages Gurus partake of the offering through straws of wisdom light. With the fifth line we imagine that the root and lineages Gurus experience great bliss in dependence upon enjoying the offerings. With the sixth line we recall that ourselves, the offerings, the deities, and their experience of great bliss all lack inherent existence and are of one nature, like water mixed with water, or like different waves on the ocean of bliss and emptiness. With the last line, we request the root and lineages Gurus to perform their primary function, which is to bestow a great rain of blessings to realize all the stages of the path to enlightenment. Venerable Tharchin explains that a blessing is like a subtle infusion of the Buddha’s mind into our own. In modern terms, it is like we are downloading the Guru’s realizations into our own mind. By requesting that we receive the Guru’s blessings, we create the causes to do so. We should then strongly imagine that light rays and nectars descend from all the root and lineages Gurus and dissolve into our root mind at our heart.

HO This ocean of tsog offering of uncontaminated nectar,
Blessed by concentration, mantra, and mudra,
I offer to please the divine assembly of Yidams and their retinues.
OM AH HUM
Delighted by enjoying these magnificent objects of desire,
EH MA HO
Please bestow a great rain of attainments.

Here, we are making the tsog offerings to the assembly of Yidams and their retinues. The first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth lines can be understood in exactly the same way as the first verse above. With the last line, we request the Yidams to perform their specific function which is to bestow a great rain of attainments.

There are a few different types of attainments that the Yidams bestow upon us. The first is according to the types of enlightened actions that a Buddha engages in, namely pacifying, increasing, controlling, and wrathful actions. The ability to engage in these types of actions are four different types of attainment.

A second set of attainments is mundane and super mundane attainments. Mundane attainments are the ability to accomplish things in this life. These are important because the more effective we are in this world, the greater the benefit we can bring causing the Dharma to flourish. Geshe-la explains in Joyful Path of Good Fortune the eight attributes of a fully endowed human life. These are: long life, beauty, high status, wealth and resources, persuasive speech, power and influence, freedom and independence, a strong mind, and a strong body. These eight mundane attainments all help us accomplish the ultimate purpose of human life, namely to attain enlightenment and to lead others to the same state. Geshe-la explains these attainments provide us “the very best opportunity to attain liberation and enlightenment in one lifetime.” A long life gives us the time we need to complete our Dharma practice. Beauty helps us attract disciples and makes it easier for them to generate faith in us. High status makes people more inclined to listen to our advice. Wealth and resources provide us with the means of benefiting living beings and Dharma centers in material ways. Persuasive speech makes others trust what we have to say so that our good advice is taken to heart. Power and influence enables us to operate at a higher scale and therefore bring greater benefit in all our actions. Freedom and independence enables us to be free from interferences with our Dharma practice. A strong mind enables us to easily understand the Dharma and help others do so as well. A strong body enables us to be healthy and also to live a long life.

The supermundane attainments are the realizations of the stages of the path, namely renunciation, bodhicitta, the correct view of emptiness, generation stage, and completion stage of Highest Yoga Tantra. All the supermundane attainments can be understood from the explanation of the stages of the path that follows.

HO This ocean of tsog offering of uncontaminated nectar,
Blessed by concentration, mantra, and mudra,
I offer to please the assembly of Three Precious Jewels.
OM AH HUM
Delighted by enjoying these magnificent objects of desire,
EH MA HO
Please bestow a great rain of sacred Dharmas.

With this verse we make the tsog offering to the three precious jewels. After making the tsog offering to the three precious jewels, we request them to accomplish their specific function which is to bestow a great rain of sacred Dharmas. The Buddhas bestow Dharma jewels through their teachings and blessings. Sangha bestow Dharma jewels through their good example and wise advice. The Dharma itself is both the teachings and also, more importantly, the actual realizations of the stages of the path inside our mind. In Joyful Path of Good Fortune, Geshe-la explains there are two types of refuge: simple and special. Simple refuge is simply requesting blessings that the three jewels help us. Special refuge is our actual refuge in the form of the realizations of the stages of the path within our mind. These realizations protect us from lower rebirth, rebirth in samsara, or becoming trapped in the solitary peace of a Hinayana Foe Destroyer.

HO This ocean of tsog offering of uncontaminated nectar,
Blessed by concentration, mantra, and mudra,
I offer to please the assembly of Dakinis and Dharma Protectors.
OM AH HUM
Delighted by enjoying these magnificent objects of desire,
EH MA HO
Please bestow a great rain of virtuous deeds.

In this verse we make off the tsog offering to the assembly of Dakinis and Dharma protectors, and we request them to accomplish their specific function, which is to bestow a great rain of virtuous deeds. As explained above, the Dakinis refer primarily to the deities of Heruka’s and Vajrayogini’s body mandala. These deities attained enlightenment for the express purpose of healing the subtle body of living beings in order to help them engage in completion stage practices. Our subtle body is comprised of channels, drops, and winds. At present our subtle body is a mangled mess with blockages and imperfections everywhere. As a result, our drops and winds are not able to flow freely and unobstructedly throughout our subtle body.

When blockages in our subtle body occur, we develop both outer and inner sicknesses. Outer sickness can take the form of things like cancer, infections, and other diseases. Inner sickness includes developing different types of delusions. When we heal our subtle body, our drops and inner energy winds can flow effortlessly without obstruction, resulting in the healing of both outer and inner sickness. Additionally, by virtue of healing our subtle body, when we engage in completion stage practices, all our inner energy winds can gather, absorb, and dissolve into our central channel at our heart. It is only through causing our winds to dissolve into our central channel that we can experience the eight dissolutions culminating in a qualified experience of clear light. Once we have generated the mind of clear light, we can then meditate on emptiness and quickly purify our mind of all delusions and their karmic imprints, thereby attaining enlightenment.

The Dharma Protector’s job is to arrange all the outer, inner, and secret conditions necessary for our swiftest possible enlightenment. Buddhas can only work with the karma on our mind. Their blessings can function to activate different karmic potentialities on our mind in specific ways that are conducive to our enlightenment. The principal Dharma protector of the New Kadampa Tradition is Dorje Shugden. He is a manifestation of the wisdom Buddha Manjushri. In dependence upon receiving his blessings, we come to see how whatever karma ripens is perfect for our spiritual training. There is no such thing as an inherently existent obstacle to our Dharma practice. Everything can be a condition for training our mind. Because we are currently strongly attached to certain things and averse to others, we think somethings are good for our practice and other things are obstacles. This is ignorance. Dorje Shugden’s blessings enable us to understand how everything is perfect for our training, therefore nothing is an obstacle to our Dharma practice. Things may still be a problem for our worldly concerns, but they are not a problem for our spiritual path. In this way, he removes all obstacles. Understanding this, we request him to perform this function for our self and for all living beings.

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