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As promised, here is the post from my yummy, juicy Virginia Beach journey. I went down there with the intention to attend my root lama, Drupon Thinley Ningpo (I call him Rinpoche). Luckily I got to follow through on this aspiration.
Woke up bright and early Saturday morning, with the typical “its the night before a Dharma teaching, therefore I am unable to sleep” kind of deal, so I had a maximum of three hours rest before the three hour drive. As a result, I was giddy all day – you know, in a happy-go-lucky and oblivious sort of manner.
The teachings were well attended – about 28 people on Friday night for the public talk (the organizers reported), then about 20 on Saturday for the empowerment and then 14 or so on Sunday for the practice and teachings. And the Va Beach Sangha really outdid themselves in setting up the shrine room – there were thangkas hanging on the walls in addition to the beautiful shrine and the artwork which usually graces the Heritage Center meditation room.
We descended on an Indian restaurant for lunch on Saturday which was nice – about 18 people joined in. Sunday was a shorter day so we ate at the Heritage Center which has a nice selection of healthy vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices. Plus there is a huge new-age shop attached to the grocery store and deli, so we felt right at home (not that Tibetan Buddhism is new-agey, rather we did not stand out in the least).
From the little bit of understanding that my afflicted mind could discern about this practice is that it is definitely (emphasis) not for beginners. It seems to be an explicitly clear and direct way of cutting through one’s fear and pride which arise due to attachment to the body (self). As a result, the practice itself is a little graphic and very intense. In the past, and apparently in Tibet, one gets the best result from practicing Chod in graveyards (at night).
Chod is also one of the only practices that went against the traditional flow of wisdom from India to Tibet. One of the founders of the Chod lineage was from Tibet and apparently she taught many yogis from India who wanted to learn this profound technique. Basically, the Dharma originally came to Tibet from India along with the teachings and practices of the Vajrayana path. What is so precious about Tibet is that these teachings have been preserved and transmitted, to the point that Tibetan Buddhism was flourishing in Tibet before the Chinese take over. The advanced (tantric) techniques had primarily died out in India before they were re-introduced by Tibetan Lamas and yogis.