The Practice of Chod

What is Chod?

Chod Lineage

The Lineage of Chod

Chod is a profound and extensive system of meditation and ritual, using sacred instruments mainly the damaru and kangling music and mantras. As a spiritual practice, it is rightly famed for its ability to transform beings and awaken them to their true enlightened potential. Cho means “to cut”, as both the path and goal is to cut away the shackles of our fixations, egocentricity and dualistic grasping. Its twin pillars are the development of unceasing generosity and compassion, and an understanding of the true nature of the selfless, unborn fabric of reality, from which we and all phenomena arise. Chod continues to be a living tradition, with unbroken transmission of its methods and infallible results, stretching from ancient times to today’s modern masters. Chod is a well traveled, though steep road to full enlightenment, as well as a powerful vehicle for helping others.

Cultural Setting of Chod

Machik, Founder of Chod

Statue of MaChik

Cho holds an important place in the culture of Tibet and the traditions of Buddhism. It was practiced extensively in monastic communities of various lineages, and several were devoted exclusively to this system. It was also the mainstay of many wandering ascetics and solitary yogis or Ngakpas, who roamed the mountains and plateaus of the Himalayan kingdoms of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Brought to full fruition by the great female saint, Machik Labdron, Chod had a strong and lasting appeal for women practitioners, who have had a significant impact on its development and preservation.

Over the milennia, many traditions and styles developed, especially within the Kagyu and Nyingma sects. Apart from its unparalleled benefit as a spiritual path, Chod has played an important role in the community, with rituals for healing, averting misfortune, weather control, pacifying conflicts and guiding the journey through the after-life. Chod practitioners wandered the Himalayan landscape, correcting imbalances in the earth and environment, working for both their own realization and the benefit of sentient beings, human and non-human, whose number are as limitless as space.

The Many Traditions of Chod

Chod spread and diversified rapidly through the Himalayan kindgoms of Tibet, Nepal and what is now Bhutan. Here and there, great masters arose, from the direct lineal descent of MaChik Labdron. Some continued with the original tradition, while other great mystics and treasure masters (terton), were able to bring new revelations and “downloads” from Sacred Mind, the original space of non-dual Wisdom. Thus new lineages and practices arose within the vast treasurey of Chod, not from “innovation” or “progress” or clever invention, but directly from the spiritual heart of Ultimate Being.

Various lineages of Kagyu (Karma Kagyu, Drikung Kagyu, Drukpa Kagyu), Shangpa, Nyingma and Bon, emanated further, and some monasteries and nunneries were devoted wholly to this practice. As in so many other schools of Tibetan Buddhism however, each followed their own lineage to a great degree, and there was never a fully eclectic training in all these methodologies, save for a few brilliant yogis or scholars of the art. Today the School of Tibetan Healing Cho is proving an integrated education in the various aspects of this unique spiritual practice, that brings together the best of these worlds to benefit students and the larger worlds. The creation of a Distance Learning program and Online Empowerment system can now bring this needed education to the widest possible audience.