The Meaning of Tsog Offering

The Meaning of Tsog Offering

Date Posted:
November 2009

Rinpoche wrote the following letter to a Chinese temple in New York, to answer some questions they had about Tibetan Buddhism.

My very dear, devoted, dedicated Buddhist organization of Mahayana Buddhists,

I am very happy that we met that evening. Your request and questions stayed in my mind very clearly. It seems from your talk there are a few issues, not only the problem with the tsog offering.

I already explained to you about the tsog, the meat and alcohol. There is no public distribution of this, because everyone has not taken a Highest Tantra initiation, so it is not a pledged samaya to take meat and alcohol.

As I mentioned that night, it is not ordinary meat and wine. You have to take it with a pure view and pure experience. The pure view is of yourself as the deity and the meat and wine as totally pure nectar.

The meaning of nectar is not just some special taste, like honey. In Tibetan, the word is dutsi. Du is mara, tsi is medicine. So here, du is ordinary appearance and ordinary concepts, delusions, negative imprints and defilements. Tsi means medicine —the ultimate medicine is the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness, which is like an atom bomb to cut through those delusions, which are the maras.

One has to think of the meaning of nectar, dutsi, the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness. By taking that nectar, you generate that experience within you. If you don't have the actual experience of that, then you visualize it. That blesses the mind, body, and the chakras, the winds and drops. It becomes a preparation to achieve the path, the Highest Tantra accomplishing path of the illusory body and clear light, and it enables you to achieve the resultant dharmakaya and rupakaya. Then, one is able to offer perfect works for sentient beings, without the slightest mistake, until everyone, every single sentient being, is brought to enlightenment.

In tantric texts it is advised to not to give an ordinary label to this, but to give the special name "bala and madana", the secret name.

So, as I mentioned, you only need a small quantity for the lama and those people who engage in Highest Tantra practice. The other thing is after you offer it to the lama, then leave it at the altar for the people who have taken Highest Tantra initiations, or who have a commitment to do tsog daily. Later, they can come to take little bit of the bala and madana from the altar. This way the public doesn't have to see it, and it doesn't create any confusion. It can be kept secret, you don't need to expose it much. That is the essence.

Many times in my experience, the ritual attendant and the people who are offering service don't know that it creates a problem if it is distributed to the public. So, this has to be guided by the person who is the head of the organization and is in charge, who knows about tsog and the problems. Please tell the ritual attendant and the people who are offering service during the tsog, who are distributing the bala, madana and tsog.

As far as offering meat to the lama, if there is a problem, like people losing faith by seeing or hearing the lama eat meat, then in that case the organizer should inform the lama and the attendants. That will help. In this way, they are aware. Sometimes the old lamas get sick if they don't have meat for a long time. This happened in the past in some of our centers. Then, after somebody brought meat for the lama, the lama got better. Some lamas are quite old and they have to eat meat, as they did their whole life in Tibet. All geshes and lamas are not the same, so one has to check.

As far as teachings and initiations, you can request the lama to teach whatever is most beneficial for the people coming. First, you have to think of the level of people's minds and their understanding of Buddhism, whether they have an understanding of Buddhism or not, and if they do, what level of understanding. I am not talking about each person but the majority of the people.

With much love and prayers...