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The Meaning of Guru Rinpoche Tsok Practice

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Guru Rinpoche
Tsok Practice

The Meaning of the Tsok or Feast Offering Practice

It is a Tibetan Buddhist congregation where practitioners make ample offerings to the lineage masters, the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, Deities, and Protectors during the ganachakra practice. Together, practitioners also partake of the blessed offering substances upon completion of the ritual like festive family gatherings.


Merit of Tsok Offering

Practitioners accumulate the merits of the six paramitas when practicing a tsok offering. Particularly tsok practice is a primary method to uphold the samaya of the Vajrayana. If practitioners violated or broke their vows, they can repair their downfalls through the blessings of the tsok offering practice and sincere confession to remedy their transgressions. Thus, the practice of the tsok offering holds immense significance for Vajrayana practitioners.


Origin of Tsok Offering Practice

The tsok offering practice originated in India, it was later introduced to Tibet by Guru Rinpoche. Initially, only wealthy individuals could afford such ceremonies. Guru Rinpoche, out of compassion for sentient beings, transformed this tradition. The tsok offering practice, also known as the mandala offering, has three aspects to its meaning: firstly, male and female yogic practitioners gather to practice; secondly, inviting the lineage masters, deities, dakas, and dakinis to assemble at the mandala; thirdly, summoning local deities, spirits, ancestors, parent-sentient-beings of the six realms, and debtors to the mandala. Offerings are made to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, then given to sentient beings of the six realms, thus the termed "offering." The tsok offering practice is a sublime practice for swiftly accumulating merit and wisdom. The general procedure of the practice is roughly divided into several parts. Firstly, prayers are offered to the lineage masters and Buddhas and bodhisattvas to descend and bless the mandala, followed by requesting them to bless the offerings substances, thereby purifying the outer, inner, and secret aspects of the practitioners with their immense wisdom.


Outer offerings refer to the abundant substantial offerings arranged, inner offerings pertain to the practitioner's own aggregates, and secret offerings refer to the offerings made in the practitioner's mind, i.e., mental offerings. The second part involves practitioners making offerings to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas with utter sincerity, and in a state of mind that is non-attachment and equanimity, they invite the Lamas, deities, dakas, dakinis, wealth deities, local spirits, and parent sentient beings of the six realms and debtors to partake in the inner, outer, and secret offerings.


By partaking of this joyous nectar of the tsok offering practice, practitioners give rise to inner bliss, naturally expressing themselves in doha and dances for the offering. At this moment, practitioners should develop conviction that they are none other than the dakas and dakinis, and wherever they are is the mandala of the Buddhas. This constitutes the third part of the tsok practice. Lastly, the remainder of the offerings are collected and disposed of in the river nearby or given to spirits in the northwest direction according to certain rituals. Finally, practitioners collectively make aspirations and dedications, purifying all negativities, and visualize the dissolution of all that appears into the space of Dharmadhatu. The tsok offering practice embodies the four enlightened activities - "pacifying, increasing, magnetizing, and subjugating" - and is a sublime practice for repentance for tantric practitioners. On the day of the tsok practice, each tantric practitioner can sincerely repent their violations of vows in the presence of the mandala, allowing themselves to regain purity.


Timing of Tsok Offering Practice

It is usually practiced at the presence of accomplished masters or during auspicious times (the 10th and 25th day of each lunar month) with participation of practitioners who have upheld pure vows. The tsok practice held on the 10th day is to seek the blessings of Guru Rinpoche, as he promised to visit his disciples on that day. Holding the tsok practice on this day naturally brings great blessings. The 25th day is known as the Dakini Day, where dakinis surround sentient beings in space, bestowing blessings.


The Merits and Benefits of Guru Rinpoche's Tsok Offering Practice

Those who are not familiar with Guru Rinpoche's biography might say that Guru Rinpoche was born in India, traveled to Tibet, and then went to benefit sentient beings in the land of Rakshasa. However, the truth is that whenever a Buddha appears, Guru Rinpoche manifests accordingly, disseminating tantric teachings based on sentient beings' karma and capacities, benefiting beings accordingly. Guru Rinpoche manifests with different names in each Buddha's pureland, such as during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, there were manifestations such as Guru Rinpoche's three bodies, Guru Rinpoche's eight forms, and forty other honorific titles. Guru Rinpoche is also an emanation of Amitabha Buddha. When we pray to Guru Rinpoche, it is the same as praying to all Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the three times, receiving blessings from them all. Thus, all gurus, yidams, and dakinis reside universally within Guru Rinpoche's body, speech, and mind. Guru Rinpoche said, "In the future, on the 10th day of each month, I will come to bless you. Have firm faith and respect and pray sincerely. All your aspirations will be accomplished." Therefore, holding the Guru Rinpoche tsok offering practice on the 10th day of each month is the most efficient way to accumulate merit and wisdom. Accomplished masters have said, "If in this lifetime you can attend such a sublime practice once, in the next life, you will have no problems with your livelihood." The tsok practice embodies the four enlightened activities of "pacifying, increasing, magnetizing, and subjugating," and is also a sublime practice for repentance for tantric practitioners. When countless offerings are made before the mandala with devout reverence, practitioners shall attain immeasurable merits, perfecting the six paramitas, thereby receiving supreme blessings by enjoying the ambrosial taste of the blessed offering substances.

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