The dramatic practice of chöd, in which the yogin visualizes giving his or her own sacrificed body to the gods and demons as a way to cut the attachment to self and ordinary reality, offers an intense and direct confrontation with the central issues of the spiritual path. The chöd practices of the Bön tradition, a tradition that claims pre-Buddhist origins in the mysterious western lands of Zhang-zhung Tazig and Olmolungrig, are still almost entirely unknown.
Chöd ('Cutting Through') is a meditative practice in which the practitioner imagines offering their body in sacrifice through elaborate contemplative visualization. Although a meditative practice, Chod is not done just sitting comfortably on a cushion in a shrine room, but instead is often practiced in terryfying places like cemeteries, or charnal grounds. The feelings of fear that result are used by the Chod practitioner to cut through his or her own ego. Chod contains elements of early shamanism, of sutric and tantric teachings also found in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and of the highest tradition of Dzogchen.
Alejandro Chaoul received a PhD focusing on Tibetan Religions from Rice University and has been teaching Tibetan meditation and mind-body techniques under the auspices of the Ligmincha Institute in various parts of the United States, Mexico, and Poland since 1995. He is now an Assistant Professor at the McGovern Center for Humanity and Ethics at the University of Texas, Houston, with an adjunct position at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he researches the use of Tibetan mind-body techniques for cancer patients.
This book offers a comprehensive intellectual understanding of chöd and its origins within both the Bön and Buddhist traditions, and as such will have great benefit for scholars as well as for those who wish to engage in chöd as a daily ritual or meditation practice.