Buddhist Fire Ceremony

While not a ‘devotional’ sorta guy, I can connect with the object of devotion for Buddhist fire rituals: Fudō Myōō. Also known from the sanscrit name, Acala Vidyaraja,  Fudō is considered one of the more “wrathful” deities.   Usually portrayed as wielding a sword in his right and a coil of rope in his left, Fudō is considered somewhat of a Dharma protector. With the sword, Fudō cuts through delusion and ignorance while with the rope he binds uncontrolled and wild emotions.  Fudō is surrounded by flames which, when combined with his indominable (and slightly frightening) visage, makes him a shoe-in for Goma (Fire) ceremonies.  He is also seated on an immovable rock which represents the state of eguinimity that arises with devotees (much more manly than the typical lotus although I prefer to be seated upon an Elephant). Definitely an appropriate deity for a fire ceremony, especially if Fudō brings the beer and brauts…

The Goma begins with preparatory practices to purify and protect the area and the practitioner. After special prayers are said, the altar is prepared for the fire ritual. The hearth is purified and the wood is placed over it. After the fire is ignited, the deities are requested to enter the fire, the fire is purified, offerings and thanksgiving are made, and the deities are invited to return to their realm. Finally, the protections are removed and the merit generated is dedicated to the benefit of all sentient beings.

The symbolic naika, or inner fire, burns away obstacles to enlightenment and negative karma, allowing us to purify our karma, transform negative emotions and energies, and sow the seeds of light, compassion, and wisdom.

The wood that is offered in the sacred fire, known as Goma-ki or literally “wood/energy for the Goma,” is inscribed with the wishes and desires of others. Through the mystical weaving of offerings and mantras and mudras,  through the physical energy of the fire, and through the assistance of the deities, the wishes are manifested. [link]

This is hardly a Buddhist invention.  I think almost every major religion tried to make some excuse to start a fire, bun some shit and drink some beer.  It could be the common thread that ties us all together…

In ancient times the fire sacrifice was an elaborate ceremony that could involve the sacrifice of horses, cows and goats, as well as gold, gems and other precious items into the fire. Today, a havan is a simplified ritual that rarely involves animal sacrifice or the placing of precious items into the fire. Instead, rice or a kind of popery is commonly substituted for these items, but still the basic meaning of the ritual remains. This may sound odd or glib, but an easy way to think of the havan is as a symbolic “postal system.” The fire container is the postbox, fire is the postman, the items placed into the fire are the message and mantra is the means of address. Generally, wood and clarified butter (ghee) are used as the fuel. The fire container, which may be brick or metal, is called a kunda, and when made of brick it is built to specific dimensions and shapes according to the purposes of the ceremony. For home use, generally a small metal havan kunda is used instead of a brick one because of its ease of setup and portability. In a formal situation, a brick kunda will be used. Kundas have different shapes: square, rectangular, round and triangular, but in most cases the square kunda is used. [link]

Well, again I’m not much for sending smoke signals to the gods but it’s no secret that I like fire.  I also like drinking in front of fire…alot.  So it seems like an natural and simple progression to incorporating fire into my practice in some way [full disclosure: I would incorporate bonfires and beer into any practice or any religion as long as delightful beer was included]  My personal thought is that much of the layered stuff can be stripped away and we can build a good ol’ dharma-fire in our back yard.  Not that the layered stuff is bad but, well, I’m hardly a high priest and I sure as f*ck don’t wish to play make-believe so I stick to the adage: Keep it simple, stupid. 

So the process basically involves the constuction of a sacred space.  What deems that space sacred and unique isn’t age, design or locale; it is deemed sacred by the practitioners themselves and the community that uses it.   It has little to do with the religion or the organization or wether something has historical or geological significance.  Whether Hindu, Wiccan, Pagan, Buddhist or Christian; we create our space of practice and build our own sacred fire. I like to think of my deck as a sacred space and my fire used to burn meaningless offerings while symbolically it destroys defilements and any obstacles to my practice.

So chop wood, tend fire, make offering, invite the pagans over, be humble and aware, build your practice and have a beer (or some mead).

[Editor’s Note:  If you invite Pagans to your Buddhist Bonfire, make certain to state that no curses are allowed…also nothing that uses menstrual blood or herrings.  Take my word on that.]

[Editor’s Note 2: Don’t invite Cthulhu cultists to a Buddhist Bonfire.  They still use animal sacrifices but they do bring the best beer…it’s a coin-toss]



The Lord’s Prayer (Zen Edition)

I love this.  Pure and Simple.  Usually, though, I prefer to not just cut and paste someone else’s post here but I came across this on Dharma Killing Tiger.

“Our father, who art in heaven” ~ Our eternal source and Self, timeless, stainless, dwelling always in infinite bliss

“Hallowed be thy name” ~ May we always remember the sky-like being we really are by the power of this mantra

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” ~ And by remembering the timeless being we are, make this present life blissful and infinite too

“Give us this day our daily bread” ~ We would be lost, nothing at all, if we didn’t rely every moment on awareness emanating from the unbelievable treasury of clear light

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” ~ By following this pathless Buddha Way we can stop holding grudges and behold the truth of our infinite being free of karmic delusions

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” ~ By realizing this boundless giving Self we are, we can avoid turning into demons suffering and hating in the countless hell realms

“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever” ~ Because our unstained Nature is the origin all all goodness, all love, and all ability whatsoever, throughout past present and future worlds

“Amen” ~ Clap-clap. Done! It’s always just like this!

Wonderful!  From now on I can honestly say I that the Lord’s Prayer takes on a new and refreshing aspect.  See here for another version (this time from the Shin tradition).

Open Forum: Buddhist Personality Cults

This picture still cracks me up.

A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are often found in dictatorships. The sociologist Max Weber developed a tripartite classification of authority; the cult of personality holds parallels with what Weber defined as ‘charismatic authority’. A cult of personality is similar to hero worship, except that it is propagated by mass media. However, the term may be applied by analogy to refer to adulation of religious or non-political leaders [wikipedia]

This post stemmed from some conversations online concerning the popular standing of the Dalai Lama in the West as well as his status among followers.  It seems that in many Buddhist circle the concept of a teacher spreads far beyond imparting wisdom and guidance ~ There is an element of supernatural prowess and miraculous insight as well.  In some cases, such as the Dalai Lama in my opinion, this personality cult is largely an aftereffect of popular marketing and promotion of eastern philosophies into pite sized nuggets of wisdom that can be easily swallowed and digested.  Who wants to think of the Dalai Lama as a homophobe?  Or of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi as a horrible husband.  Or you favorite teacher as taking a crap?

Or perhaps we need to make sure that we untangle the myth from the individual.  For example, the myth of the Zen Master is far from the reality of the Zen Master.  It is when practitioners become too tied to the myth and the perception that they lose site of the actual person.

Some of these qualities imputed to the Zen master are simplicity, innocence, and lack of self-interest or desire. The master is said to be a person whose actions flow solely out of compassion for other sentient beings. He wisdom, the ability to see the truth behind appearances and to have the prerogative to speak expertly on all subjects. In fact, he is taken to be last in an unbroken chain of enlightened, unblemished masters reputedly going back 2500 years to the historical Sakyamuni Buddha. But, this portrait can only exist if we ignore the irritating complexity and contradictions of actual lives and real history. [Zen Master in America~Stuart Lachs]
We hate complexity and don’t want to see contradictions so it is seemingly easy to appreal to an idealized image of those from which we wish to learn.  And I don’t mean to single out the Dalai Lama on this.  It was the example I heard used most often but I think it can apply to any number of examples.  Shunryu Suzuki roshi is held to a very idealized status in American Zen circles.  Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche had equally high status, idealized by students but very flawed in nature.  Controversy also followed Seung Sahn (founder of the Kwan Um School of Zen) after his passing.  SGI president Daisaku Ikeda has also been labeled as a personality cult leader.
While I don’t fault any of these teachers there is a case to be made where followers become less of a student and more of a automaton.  This manifested view of a perfect teacher can lead to a situation that, as described by Stuart Lachs, can lead to a situation where  the Zen Master (or Lama or Guru or whatever) can be provided with a large amount of power and control.  When we place an almost supernatural expectation on normal (read: flawed) individuals what more can we expect than this?

Baker [roshi] was able to get away with such bad behavior, in part, because of the way he manifested his authority. He gave his followers two choices: obey his words without question or be marginalized. Being marginalized was tantamount to being forced to leave, a choice that was too painful for many people to contemplate. Leaving meant giving up what made life seem most meaningful, leaving close friendships and the joy of community. Therefore, in their need to remain at the Center, members recognized, consciously or unconsciously, a powerful incentive to buy fully into Zen’s mythology. [Zen Master in America~Stuart Lachs]
The Ch’an teacher, Master Sheng-yen stated that when referencing the Zen Master, “it should be remembered that the mind of the master is ever pure… and even if the master tells lies, steals, and chases women…, he is still to be considered a true master as long as he scolds his disciples for their transgressions.”  There is a statement here that a Zen Master, by title and lineage is beyond normal morality, is able to go against his own teachings and these actions should be accepted, without question, from his students. 
So where does the line between teacher and guru lie?  Where and when can we remove the myth and legend away from the actual person?  Or should we? 
The best Buddhist teacher I have had to date was a Shin practitioner in NJ who worked as a janitor and construction worker, married twice, divorced once but had both feet firmly set on the ground.




Issaranimmanahetuvada, Karma and God ~ Guest Post by Genshin

I want to thank John for asking me to provide a guest ramble on his blog, and send out a g’day to all fellow Buddha Dharma followers reading this wonderful blog! [ *blush* ~ The Management]

I’d like to touch on the topic of issaranimmanahetuvada (quite a mouthful eh?). This is the belief that all of our suffering and all our unhappiness is controlled by a supreme being or a god. In effect this is a misinterpretation of the Buddhist teaching of karma.

There is a common misconception that Karma is pre-determinism or some kind of retribution for ill-deeds dished out on us by an otherworldly being intent on controlling mans every move. It is not. Karma is simply an act for which there will be a result. The Buddha said, “Intention is karma. Having willed, one acts through body, speech and mind.”

We humans are a curious lot, always wanting to know the cause of events and the reason for things being as they are. The Buddha wanted to know why we suffer and why we cause ourselves so much grief and unhappiness. Through his very own effort and perseverance he discovered that WE are responsible for our own suffering and our own unhappiness. He realised that there wasn’t any supernatural or otherworldly factor involved in our suffering and unhappiness.

It is very easy to take the easy path out and blame all of our suffering or unhappiness on external forces, be it a god’s will, or the weather, the stars, or some other superstition. The causes of some events in our lives are sometimes obvious, and we are able to easily attribute the cause and hopefully negate its effect. Other times the effect seems to have simply happened and is seemingly unaccountable.

Rather than rely on a man-made “God’ – which was the teaching of the religious elders of the time, the Brahmins –  the Buddha taught that we should turn our attention to creating our own happiness and realising what it is that brings us unhappiness and self-imposed suffering. Change and suffering are inevitable, but we ourselves can overcome and control the effects of our own suffering and unhappiness. Every living thing on our little rock suffers, we are not alone in this.

“Oh shit, I’m having such a bad month, my car isn’t working, I’m putting on weight, my partner has left me, I have a sickness….it must be the will of God/Allah/Thor/Shiva.” Or, “Crikey, I didn’t get that job, it’s my fate, my pre-destination, the will of the universe.”

This isn’t what the Buddha discovered and later explained in his Dharma 2,550 years ago. These are superstitions, which the Buddha was trying to eradicate from people’s minds. He was trying to help people see that the old religions of animal sacrifice and belief in higher powers weren’t getting them anywhere as they were superstitious beliefs used to explain things that were actually just natural occurrences or self-imposed.

The Buddha repelled any doctrine that taught dependance on external fabricated beliefs and supernatural beings. He maintained that events have a cause and that the cause was either the result of our own actions or natural laws of nature. What is the use of man’s intelligence if he continues to believe in supernatural causes?

There cannot be any event which is supernatural in its origin. This would deny the very teachings of the Buddha Dharma – that all is conditioned by cause and effect. This is the central teaching of Buddhism. To believe in god/s or supernatural beings/events is simply NOT Buddha Dharma. A religion based on belief in higher powers is based solely on speculation and superstition – neither of which are of any benefit to us. It is unprofitable.


Working hard to reinvigorate Buddhism in Japan and eradicate metaphysical nonsense from its practice, I am a bodhisattva monk following an open path (non-sectarian) influenced somewhat by the pragmatic teachings of warrior-Zen Master Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi (b:1579 – d:1655). I live in Japan with my wife, two children and a dog.  I believe that we should strive to adapt the body of teachings of the Buddha to this time and that countries and cultures in which we live actually have little to do with Buddhist practice. Buddhist practice is to be realised in our everyday lives in all that we do. I believe that we should be able to make any necessary adjustments where needed to better suit our modern society.

A Spacious Path to Freedom: Practical Instructions on the Union of Mahamudra and Atiyoga

There are times that I just sit back and wonder “What the hell am I doing reviewing this book?”  I mean, seriously, walking from a Zen practice into a book on Mahamudra is like walking from a simple, focused and minimalistic sitting room into a room full of stoned Keibler Elves puking multi-colored streamers.  Its like going from a Scotch on the rocks to a Mai-Tai laced with LSD.  Its like strolling out of an accountant’s convention in WallaWalla Washington and falling smack-dab into Mardi-Gras.

Are you picking up the comparison yet?

Anyway, the book, “A Spacious Path to Freedom: Practical Instructions on the Union of Mahamudra and Atiyoga” was a fantastic (although dense at times) and illuminating (but sometimes difficult) read.  The manner in which the concepts were presented was convoluted and difficult to follow at times.  It took me the first chapter to really get used to the presentation.  The book is a translation of a text by Karma Chagme (who illustrates everything through reference to sutras that I *blush* never heard of) with commentary from Gyatrul Rinpoche.  Unlike some of the commentaries that I have read in the past however these commentaries were interspaced throughout the text rather than at the end of each chapter or as footnotes.  This took me some time to follow well enough to garner an understanding of the information.  The combination of the two was both whimsical and blunt delving into the Dharma.  You may giggle a bit at first but the message hits home.

“Spacious Path” is a book that required a second reading to gain an appreciation of the insightful wisdom within.  Some texts simply require more experience and practice before any benefit is gained.  I found myself skipping over much of the primary text and diving almost exclusively into the commentaries.

The commentaries by Gyatrul Rinpoche were wonderful.  Being a noob (and at times a boob) when it comes to the Vajrayana practices of deity visualization and other such esoteric craziness, it was a pleasure to read his personal and pragmatic take on, what to an outsider like myself, topics that can seem very ethereal and (frankly) somewhat loopy.  His conversations with the reader are well-grounded, logical and approachable to novices.  In particular the chapters “The Cultivation of Quiescence” and “The Cultivation of Insight” provided a base of study familiar to those with a Zen inclination…

By training the body through the practice of the adhisaras [Buddhist physical excersises ~ The Management] – in this case, sitting in the proper posture, with the proper mudras – although you are ostensibly working with the body, you are indirectly subduingand stabilizing your mind.”

Commentary on the process of deity visualization and practice were similarly presented and expounded upon.  It was a refreshingly simply and unique presentation of a practice that it misunderstood and challenging. 

For those unfamiliar with him here is a bit on Gyatrul Rinpoche from the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies

Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche was born in 1924 in China near the Tibetan border. At the age of 7 he was recognized to be a tulku, or consciously reincarnated teacher, by the great meditation masters Chokyi Lodro and Tulku Natsog Rangdrol. Rinpoche was trained at Payul Dhomang Monastery in eastern Tibet by such adepts as Sangye Gon, Tulku Natsok Rangdrol, Payul Chogtrul Rinpoche, and Apkong Khenpo. Rinpoche spent many years in solitary retreat with his root guru Tulku Natsog, moving from one isolated location to another. In 1959, with the Communist invasion of Tibet, Rinpoche fled to India, where he lived for 12 years. Then, H.H. the Dalai Lama and H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche requested Gyatrul Rinpoche to move to the West to teach the Dharma. In 1976, Rinpoche was appointed as H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche’s spiritual representative in America.

Traveling to many countries over the past 30 years, Rinpoche has touched the hearts of thousands of people and founded many Buddhist centers. These include Tashi Choling, Orgyen Dorje Den in the San Francisco Bay area, Norbu Ling in Austin, Texas, Namdroling in Bozeman, Montana, and a center in Ensenada, Mexico.

The take home mesage is that this book was not as “practical” as the title suggested but it provided a fun forray into a realm of pratice with which I have had very little experience.  Perhaps not the best book to jump into with no experience since the topics covered seemed to be more applicable to direct teaching rather than in a the form of a do-it-yourself book.  However, with more experience, I am sure the more subtle teachings become apparent. 

However frustrating and challenging the first time round though, I feel that this book is ripe for another go-around in a year or two.  Maybe after I am abit more versed in some of the topics.  So this book is definitely recommended for more those more advanced (or at least better educated non-practitioners) in Vajrayana practice and not some shitty little Zennie like myself.

That said, the style of the work and the amazing commentary sold me on Gyatrul Rinpoche and I am picking up “Naked Awareness: Practical Instructions on the Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen” and “Natural Liberation: Padmasambhava’s Teachings on the Six Bardos” for some future exploration into the wonderfully colorful world of “Shit I Don’t Understand!”



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Free Buddha Prints for Altars

Ok, so with all this talk about altars (and me spouting my mouth off about them) I discovered something…my altar sucks.  No, don’t say anything.  Its fine but mine is rather bland.  At the same time, I cringe at spending hundreds of hard-earned dollars on ordering something.  So I included some of my favorites prints some sites I found as well as a few *choice* selections from my picture files.

From Tsem Tulku Rinpoche’s blog

We realise that it can sometimes be difficult to find good quality, iconographically correct images of the various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, especially in places where Dharma is not strong, or in remote areas. Therefore, we are very happy to be able to make this selection of images available to everyone to download at absolutely no charge. The images are high-resolution and of sufficient quality to be printed clearly on an A4 or A3 sheet of paper and framed for your altar or shrine.

This is my offering to you. 

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See the originals here and here.

Awesome Thangkas for Easter!

As a  backwards Zen practitioner, these meditation tools seem sorta crazy to me but definitely full of awesome potential.  I thought I would give a brief introduction (abridged from the Wikipedia)  and some particular ones that I found fun.

A Thangka is a Tibetan silk painting depicting a Buddhist deity, event, or mandala. It consists of a picture panel which is painted or embroidered, over which a textile is mounted, and then over which is laid a cover, usually silk. Originally very popular among traveling monks because they were easily rolled and transported from monastery to monastery. Thangkas served as important teaching tools depicting the life of the Buddha, various influential lamas and other deities and bodhisattvas. One popular subject is The Wheel of Life.

Devotional images act as the centerpiece during a ritual or ceremony and are often used as mediums through which one can offer prayers or make requests. Overall, and perhaps most importantly, religious art is used as a meditation tool to help bring one further down the path to enlightenment. The Buddhist Vajrayana practitioner uses a thanga image of their yidam, or meditation deity, as a guide, by visualizing “themselves as being that deity, thereby internalizing the Buddha qualities”

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[feel free to add any of your favorites in the comments. Or to mail me any extra you have lying around…those damn things are expensive.  My meditation deity is Manjushri and/or Henry Rollins]

Shinran’s 750th Memorial & Great Faith

Saint Shinran from Denver Buddhist Temple

This weekend marks the 750th anniversary (here at least) of the founder of Shin Buddhism; Shinran’s memorial.  You can check out a live stream of this event and some keynote speakers here (for good blog post on someone more knowledgable about Shin Buddhism check out this post). For those that are not familiar with Shinran, he was a Tendai monk during the 11th (?)  century that became disillusioned with the intensive emphasis placed upon self-reliance and…

Shinran despaired of attaining awakening through such discipline and study; he was also discouraged by the deep corruption that pervaded the mountain monastery. Years earlier, Honen Shonin (1133-1212) had descended from Mt. Hiei and begun teaching a radically new understanding of religious practice, declaring that all self-generated efforts toward enlightenment are tainted by attachments and therefore meaningless. Instead of such practice, one should just say the Nembutsu, not as a contemplative exercise or means for gaining merit, but wholly entrusting oneself to Amida’s Vow to bring all beings to enlightenment.

This practice of complete trust in the Amida Buddha’s Vow through the recitation of the Nembutsu is also incorporated into Zen practice as a suppliment to practice and sometimes, as in the case of Suzuki Shosan as a central fixture.  In Bill Porter’s book “Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits” I was surprised that many hermits reported that Nembutsu practice was going hand-in-hand with zazen rather than in opposition with each other.

Sometimes viewed as “working class” Buddhism or as Christianity cloaked in Buddhism, Shin Buddhism, in my humble opinion is neither.  Rather than a path of lessened ability or skill, Shin Buddhism enables practioners to focus on Tariki (Power from Outside sources, in this case the power of Amida’s Buddha’s Compassion),  rather than through Jiriki (Power from our selves).  I come from the school of thought that enlightenment can come from Jiriki solely but if some help is out there why not tap into it?  Why attach to my own power or ability?

For me, personally, reliance on the Amida Buddha’s vow does seem similar to Christian concepts of a savior and rebirth in the Pure Land is disturbingly similar to a Christian Heaven.  For me, this is besides the point.  If it aids in your practice then comparisons and discriminations are worthless.

In Shinran I see a monk that was a teaching ordinary man to lead a truly compassionate and humble life without necessarily having to be a  monastic or even a meditator.  A working man, a poor woman or an elderly man is still active in practice.  The Tanni Sho amazes me.  Just like the Keisaku – it is simple, pure and can strike a deep tone.

The Vow of Amida was to free all sentient beings and for this his practice is dedicated to all those that do not sit on a cushion or do prostrations.  Amida’s central theme the placement of one’s full attention and compassion in the reciting of his name. The Nembutsu embody’s the practice of monks, the actions of saints and the compassion of Buddhas.  The Pure Land is not a Heaven but a place of intensive practice that is available to those that can’t spend a life of contemplation and mediation.  I see it less of holy place and more of an extended sit after a life of work and compassion.

My pillars of my Buddhism is “Great Striving, Great Faith and Great Doubt”.  Amida Buddha may offer that faith, Zen may offer that practice and my own skeptical mind provides the doubt. 

And here is a cartoon.

I am not a Shin Buddhist nor an academic.  I am a Zen practitioner and as such I understand that when I open my mouth to express the Dharma, shit will fly out.  If my conceptions of Shin practice, Zen or anything else disturbs you feel free to comment.  But keep in mind, when we talk Dharma we are, in essence, throwing feces in the air and calling it the moon. 

I would prefer, though, that you add your own wisdom and humility to the comments and not denigrating mine.



Losarrrrific! Chhaang!

Not being a Vjarayana practitioner myself (I suppose I am more of a side-line enthusiast.  Sort of like the fat kid that sits on the benches at a soccer game but is still always excited by being there even though he doesn’t get to kick the ball) I thought it would be apt to post a little something on Losar.

Losar is celebrated for 15 days, with the main celebrations on the first three days. On the first day of Losar, a beverage called changkol is made from chhaang (a Tibetan cousin of beer). The second day of Losar is known as King’s Losar (gyalpo losar). Losar is traditionally preceded by the five day practice of Vajrakilaya. Although it often falls on the same day as the Chinese New Year (sometimes with one day or occasionally with one lunar month difference), it is generally not thought to be culturally directly connected to that holiday. It is culturally more related to Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia than to the Chinese New Year festivity.

Wait a second…chhaang?  Tibetan cousin of beer?  Hmmmm….tell me more.

(from wikipedia ~ the true God) Chhaang is a relative of the more universally known beer. Barley, millet (finger-millet) or rice is used to brew the drink. Semi-fermented seeds of millet are served, stuffed in a barrel of bamboo called the Dhungro. Then boiling water is poured and sipped through a narrow bore bamboo pipe called the Pipsing.

Oh really?  I’m beginning to like the Vjarayana more and more.  Would there happen to be a recipe perhaps so that I can experience this fully?


  • Rice (Got that!)
  • Laughter (Indeed!  Got that.)
  • Brewers Tibetan yeast (I think standard ale or wine yeast will surfice)
  • Merriment (This can be worked on…)


  1. Cook 5 kgs. Rice
  2. Spread cooked rice on large sheet
  3. Take off clothing and roll around on it (????)
  4. Wait till rice becomes room temp (I get the feeling I will be finding rice in some interesting places)
  5. Take 3 pieces of tibbo yeast and crush
  6. Spread evenly on the rice
  7. Close up cloth, make into bundle, and keep covered with blanket, to keep warm
  8. 24 hrs. Later wake up and smell the godly whiff
  9. Put fermenting rice into plastic bucket by hand (not the cloth too you drunk.)
  10. Leave if possible,for one month
  11. Open lid of tightly sealed bucket
  12. Take out as much mix as required
  13. Mix with cold water
  14. Strain
  15. Mix brown sugar according to taste
  16. Drink and proceed to hold conversation with tibetan gods.

That chhaang may explain this video from the Karma Tritana Dharmachakra temple of the Karma Kaygu Lineage.  It is loud and I do see something that resembles chai tea being poured.

Some education from the Kagyu Website

The Karma Kagyu Lineage is one of the four main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a very compete form of Buddhism, reflecting its origins in 8th – 12th century India at a time when all levels of Buddhism – hinayana, mahayana and vajrayana – were flourishing. Its speciality lies in the profound meditation techniques of mahamudra and the special yogic techniques of the six practices of Naropa used to speed up realisation of mahamudra. These quintessential teachings of Buddhism were gathered by an illustrious line of Indian patriarchs and then taken to Tibet by Marpa. Thereafter they were preserved through the various Kagyu lineages in Tibet and in particular by the extraordinary line of the Gyalwa Karmapas.

And running with the Vjara and Chhaang theme to Chogyam Trungpa

It is particularly year for us to develop sense of humor. Particularly it is year for [us to] express non-theism, and no doubt that it is year for further cheering up. It is year of experiencing interesting gap in our lives. Some people might feel that there is a sense of loss, confusion, and some people might experience year of making decisions of our lives. But we shouldn’t be afraid of those problems.

The reality, strangely enough, has four legs and it’s hairy [laughter]. Occasionally it has two wings. Sometimes it is ornamented with two horns. Life is not all that bad. It has enormous cheerful possibilities. Wherever you are, you will find great smile. One never knows who is smiling, or for that matter, what we are smiling for. In short, please make sure that there is no frivolity, and make your decisions [in] accordance with the practice of meditation, and with sense of humor. This is year of making decisions: economic, social, education, and so forth.

While Trungpa Rinpoche was discussing the Year of the Wood Rat (1984) and not the upcoming Year of the Iron Tiger, it still bears acknowledging that we need to laugh at our practice and experience a bit of mirth even at our own expense but not so much that it is at the expense of others.

Tashi Deleg!


The Dharma Marmot!

With all of these Buddhist animal avatars (Kyle’s Squirrel Zen and Montana’s own Bitterroot Badger) plus with the passing of Groundhog Day, I thought that this passage from A Spacious Path to Freedom would be appropriate.

For individuals of superior faculties, the introduction [to the nature of the mind] may be enough. For middling individuals, quiencence will arise, and even inferior people will get a glimpse of stillness. Then these are th characteristics of having cultivated quienscence with and without signs: All ideation is calmed in its own place, and the attention remains wherever it is focused. That is quiescence. Moreover, if you remain in a state of vividness, that isf flawless quiescence. If you become blacked-out, as in deep sleep devoid of mindfulness, this is a parody of cessation, and a kind of meditation in which marmots are experts….~ from A Spacious Path to Freedom

Oh yes, indeed.  This is the official birth of the Dharmot ~ The Dharma Marmot!  I am so happy.  My wife calls them “meatloafs”… but I am the master of crappy meditative practice.  I love it!

Every Groundhog Day, they drag a poor old Punxsutawney Phil out of his constructed den and see if he sees his own shadow. Will there be 6 more weeks of winter or is spring right around the corner? That predicitive logic might be acceptable for an eastern Groundhog (I personally prefer Woodchuck), but we have our own Groundhog in the Rockies who won’t even if see sunlight for another 3 or 4 months. ~ from here

Good old Dharmota monax will take care of them violent, home-wrecking sons-a-bitches!  Our only weapons are limitless compassion, a slight weight problem and a tendency to waddle when we run (although we prefer to be called strutters)!