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The visualised dissolution of one’s own “stuff” (in the Mandala offering, for instance) can’t compare with the kind of yanking-away of the familiar which comes with prison or any other kind of involuntary confinement.

Having spent about a year and a half myself behind bars (for taking a strong stand on behalf of black guys whose lives were being treated as expendable… at a time when I myself didn’t have to do military service due to being blind in one eye), I can vouch for the shift of view which comes with imprisonment.

It is not terrible – but certainly in some regimes it can be made much worse if one is tortured or berated daily for one’s beliefs. I was mostly left alone in that regard, and actually formed a resolve there to adopt Buddhist practice.

I now have a personal friend in Tibetan China who is not, apparently, so fortunate. I’m not exactly sure how bad the situation has become for her, but my “sense of things” is that she is cut off from family, subjected to intense re-education, and quite probably physically removed from familiar surroundings. I am told by Tibetans familiar with the culture of subservience under Chinese masters that I should leave the situation alone. And that it will iron itself out.

That very well may be. My friend is strong, resilient, a devoted Buddhist practitioner and knows how to survive in adverse circumstances.

Yet I think it perhaps going a bit far to “leave it alone.” Besides doing my quiet best to discretely inquire about her well being, and send her good wishes and encouragement, I also do chöd on her behalf.

There are times I can fully believe that what I diminish in attachment toward myself adds, somehow, to the energetic nourishment of all other beings who struggle with conceptual and real boundaries to their freedom. May it be so.

I invite other practitioners to similarly offer their chöd outcomes on behalf of Tibetan Buddhists under watch or confinement by security forces inside China.

My gratitude for chöd training and drum from Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche.

My gratitude for chöd training and drum from Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche.

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