There is something attractively romantic about the mysterious, shamanic practice of ancient Chöd (Skt: ccheda-sadhana, Tib: gChod sgrub thabs). Chöd-practice, cutting through delusion’s root, is haunting, strange and mysteriously beautiful all at the same time. This practice involves a whirling dance, accompanied by drum and bell. As the following essay will recount, Chöd is a special type of mysticism that unites shamanic practice with profound yogic meditation.
Chöd has long been a way of seeking direct and personal experiences of mind and divinity outside of conventional and institutional frameworks.
In Chöd-practice, the yogi or yogini journeys into the night world—the dangerous regions of ghosts, spirits and the damned, to bless all souls lost for a time on the wheel of existence. The selflessness of the practitioner’s compassion, his or her contact with spirits of the other-world, and the making of himself into a vehicle of healing, all tends to become a path for the hero to win the noetic Mind-Jewel of true awakening.
Chöd is a practice that combines Buddhist meditation with ancient Tibeto-Siberian shamanic ritual. The “liturgy” of Chöd is sung to the accompaniment of drum, bell and a thigh-bone horn. The word “Chöd” means to cut through, to “chop,” and what is chopped off is ultimately the Ego. Initially this begins with cutting all attachment to the body and to material things. When identification with the finite mind-body complex is let go of, then the pure awareness is set free to perceive reality as it really is. The whole world becomes potent as a place of blessing power and awareness.