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chöd


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(Tib., gcod). A Tibetan term literally meaning ‘cut off’, it refers to a unique system of meditation introduced into medieval Tibet by the Indian ascetic Phadampa Sangyé, (d. 1117). Its theoretical basis is drawn from the teachings of the Prajñā-pāramitā Sūtras while its practice seems to include elements derived from Indian shamanic techniques. Its aim is to overcome, in a rapid and dramatic manner, the false belief in and attachent to an abiding ego-self, as well as all fears associated with the dissolution of that belief. Thus, the central feature of the chöd meditation is a ritual in which pratitioners offer their bodies as food to demons, while seated at night-time in a cemetery equipped with the characteristic thigh-bone trumpet and drum. Initially, the demons are treated as truly existent but the meditator subsequently recognizes them as manifestations of the mind lacking any substantial existence. Phadampa Sangyé's most noteworthy disciple was the female saint, Machig Lapgi Drönma. A few members of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism still practise chöd, although it is now chiefly associated with the Kagyü school.

Subjects: Buddhism.


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