The Sacred Chod Feast
The many benefits of Chod (prononced Cho) are accomplished through offering our most precious and closely guarded possession, our own bodies. In the meditations and visualizations of Chod, our normal physical body is left behind, and our consciousness takes on a pure, enlightened form, as the wrathful, feminine Wisdom Dakini. Ones visualized corpse is then transformed and prepared in a variety of ways, so that each and every being receives exactly what they desire. Transformed by the blessings of the Buddhas, our form becomes an inexhaustible feast for the whole of creation.
The Guests of Chod
These vast offerings are made to the traditional Four Classes of Guests, a way of including all possible levels of beings within the universe, from highest to lowest.
1. Higher Guests encompass the full spectrum of enlightened Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Yidams (Deities), Dakinis, and realized sages, teachers and yogis, in both male and female form. Through this offering we accumulate merit, and reconnect to our own pure Buddha nature.
2. Guests of Quality are fierce beings who uncompromisingly protect the Dharma and its practitioners. Some are pure emanations of enlightened mind; others are powerful worldly spirits who are oath-bound guardians. Our relationship to the protectors is crucial to our spiritual and earthly well-being.
3. Guests of Compassion exist within the Six Realms of humans, animals, hungry ghosts, hell beings, demigods and gods. Each realm has different experiences and modes of perception, pleasures or pain. But all reincarnate endlessly in a cycle of rebirth, subject to the unpredictable winds of karma and intractable suffering.
4. Lower Guests include all beings to whom we owe a karmic debt, as well as demonic forces, harm-givers and a whole pantheon of negative spirits and entities who are linked to us and seek specific retribution. Through this generosity, we seem to pay back what is owed, and redeem these beings from their negative states.
The Offering of Chod
In the course of the Chod offering, our bodies become an inexhaustible ocean of whatever is appropriate to each guest. Higher Guests are offered things of great beauty, value and richness. Guests of Quality are offered attributes, objects and residences as befitting their nature and kind. Beings of the Six Realms receive whatever they lack, such as food, shelter, possessions, happiness, companionship, love, health, fulfilment or simply release from pain, suffering and torment. Lower Guests are repaid whatever has been taken from them, or eases their suffering. This may also take the form of our flesh, organs and bonesâ€”whatever demonic beings may desire. All offerings are multiplied infinitely, in vast quantities, so that all are completely satiated and made joyful.
The Results of Chod
The benefits of Chod are vast and profound, as outlined in the previous article here. In essence however, we can say that this practice has the ability to remove the deepest causes of human suffering, sickness, emotional instability and pain, mental confusion and the clouds of negativity that envelop most people’s lives. Chod accomplishes all this through three main mechanisms:
1. Clearing karmic imprints that are attached to consciousness and life force
2. Reducing attachment to false identity (body and personality) and recognizing our true identity (5-elemental essence and pure consciousness).
3. Developing deep compassion, fearlessness and other human qualities, i.e. character building.
Through a full integration of our spiritual and human potential, we find our true humanity, helping other suffering beings, and our true nature, beyond and prior to any phenomena or experience.
Like realizing the nature of the mirror, rather than looking in our reflection all the time, the Chod of Machik and subsequent lineages brings us back to our original, stainless and unchanging beingness, without deception.