Offering Tsok While You Shop


Dharma Mati, Berlin, 28 September 2023

Offering Tsok While You Shop

Dharma Mati, Berlin, 28 September 2023

At the end of his stay at Dharma Mati, Berlin, OT Rinpoche shared the following parting advice, inspired by his earlier visit to the glittering KaDeWe department store in the centre of town. OT Rinpoche recalled something that Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö had written in his diary about the time he recited the tsok prayer while circumambulating the Golden Temple in Amritsar, one of the many stops on his pilgrimage of India.

There’s something I noticed while reading Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö’s personal diaries. In 1958, he embarked upon a pilgrimage in India, visiting many different holy sites. At one point he went to Amritsar which was very difficult to reach as the road was so narrow. Nonetheless, he visited the Golden Temple and other places in the surrounding area. There’s a circumambulation path around the Golden Temple which he circled many times. Alongside the path were lines of shops selling all kinds of different foodstuffs, beautifully arranged: laddu (Indian sweets), roti (bread), biscuits, fruits and so on. He wrote that “As I passed by the shops, I started to recite ‘Tsokdzé döyön[1]Short Tsok prayer by Jigme Lingpa...’, considering everything that I saw as a tsok offering, and spending the whole day offering tsok.” “It was really good”, he added in the journal. 

The other day we went to the food hall of that fancy department store called KaDeWe. You can do exactly the same thing when you’re there—as you walk around, recite the short tsok prayer and consider everything that you see as an offering. I think you can do that. It seems no one else has mentioned practising in this way before, but Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö has written this in his journal. You don’t necessarily need to recite a self-visualization to visualize yourself as the deity. We’re supposed to maintain the view of ourselves as the deity all the time anyway. In the Tsokdzé döyön prayer itself, no specific deity is mentioned. It encompasses all deities—all the lamas, yidams, khandros and dharmapalas, as well as all the dakas and dakinis of the 24 sacred places and 32 sacred lands. They’re all there.

Everything you see in that department store is beautifully displayed, really well arranged. You don’t need to do anything.

If you were to ask, “Am I allowed to do this?” Well, we have it on excellent authority—Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö himself. According to what he says, you don’t necessarily have to prepare a little offering in front of you in order to do the tsok practice. It’s like the Karmapa said—you don’t have to cut flowers in order to offer them. Actually, he said it’s far better if you plant flowers and consider that as an offering instead. I think that’s a very good comment. 

It's like the shops that Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö wrote about around the Golden Temple. Of course, they arranged all those foods so they could sell them, but they did it really beautifully. Much better, in fact, than the way we make our tsok offerings! You know how we do it—we just throw everything together and it looks a real mess. But there, they took great care to arrange everything very nicely.

You all know the Tsokdzé döyön prayer… but don’t go around the shop doing all the mudras! People will think you’re crazy. That tradition of performing mudras with the prayer actually came later from Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje, so it’s okay not to do the mudras. All the elderly practitioners in Lerab Ling seem to love to practice that way [OTR imitates the way they form the mudras in a very exaggerated way]. I don’t know how high their realization is, but they all look like they’re really advanced practitioners, the way they gaze far off into the sky [laughter].

Translated by Gyurme Avertin
Edited by P. Philipou and D. Rand.

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