(The Rainbow Healing Chod given by Lho Ontul Rinpoche on September 7, 2017, as experienced by Heather Rigby (Ravalokha))
On Thursday September 7, 2017 from 7:30 PM - 9 PM., at the Institute of Traditional Medicine, 553 Queen St. W. I had the opportunity to receive the Rainbow Body Healing Chod from Lho Ontul Rinpoche & his son Karma Ratna Rinpoche. I will cover a little of the history of Chod, some of the methods of the Healing practice and in conclusion provide a brief reflection of my personal experience during and following the Rainbow healing Chod.
The Rainbow Healing Chod practice belongs to the the Secret Mantrayana and was brought from India by Machig Labdron 1055-1152 A.D. She did not invent Chod. It contains the entire teachings of the Prajnaparamita and Tantric Rituals. The Bon tradition is a skilful method known to be effective in healing a being in various ways. These include dissolving destructive negative energies, chronic physical and/or emotional ailments and transforming (dissolving) ego formations.
The approximately 50 plus attending lay on mats on the floor in semi-darkness as the ritual unfolded. No specific instructions were provided other than it was suggested that while receiving this healing energy the participant(s) remain in a relaxed state. The noise emanating from the busyness of Queen street West 3 stories below could be heard in the distance yet became secondary to the familiar yet ancient mix of mantra in both Sanskrit and Tibetan. The chanting and percussion emanating from this very capable Rinpoche began to fill the space. washing over a community of friends and strangers, all laying together for their own personal reasons. The transformative mudras, mantras and offerings began its work to cut through this group mind with a profound healing energy.
During the initial settling into the ritual, it was suggested that participants imagine feeding their body to the Hungry Ghosts. (There are six realms which include hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, gods, and demigods.) This ancient Tantric ritual serves as a test to transcend the ego and deepen the understanding/realization of the ultimate meaning of emptiness. As quoted by the Most Venerable Khenchen Thrangu from “Chod - The Introduction and a Few Practices: “What is exceptional about giving away one’s own body? Why is it really helpful? The size of the offering and the intention are decisive. If both are great, then the benefit will be great. What does this have to do with one’s physical body? Nobody will deny that one cherishes and clings to one’s body the most, therefore giving it away is an exceptional present.” The core meaning of Chod is “cutting through,” which pertains to seeing ones concepts and perceptions as illusory thus dissolving any concept of self. Of course, this offering is not literal but is achieved through deep concentration, opening to the sensing body and using ones visual imagination. (In many Sadhana’s, it is important in closing to turn the hungry ghosts once they are satiated, into golden light!)
This practice facilitates Purification, leading to an understanding of the Six Paramita’s; generosity, ethical conduct, patience, joyful endeavour, meditation and wisdom-awareness. It could be said that the klesa’s are dispelled wherein the Paramita’s are revealed. No small feat in this hour and a half Rainbow Healing Chod Ritual! Yet it set the stage for one to be transported into the experience of “emptiness”. The energy created by the sound scape of chanting a specific ancient prayer (Sadhana) by a capable lama is an invitation/invocation to the healing energy of the Rainbow Healing Chod using mantra, ritual objects and ritual instruments. This unique form of vocal chanting is said to originally be transmitted by the realized female yogini’s of the pure realms, the dakinis (Tib.. kkha’ ‘gro ma). The implements used in this case were the Thigh Bone Horn (Kangling- Tib. kang-gling), a Drum (slightly larger than the standard drum (Damaru) and a Ritual Bell (Ghanta) with Dorje. (There may have been other ritual implements involved.)
Following my own experience with feeding my body to the hungry ghosts, whom I visualized waiting eagerly in a deep cavern in the earth beneath the building, I basically became absorbed into the ancient ritual sounds emanating from the front of the room by Lho Ontul Rinpoche and, let go.
The following day a relentless experience of purging arose in my body. I couldn’t shake this familiar, sometimes violent experience for several hours that only ended when it was finished with me. This experience was not unlike previous times, following lengthy Vipassana retreat,s when upon completion a profound physical letting go arose where vomit and other liquids demanded attention! A few days later I was blessed with a remarkable dream. Over the years my experience with dreams have served me as a tremendous teaching tool and this dream appeared to seal my journey invoked by Lho Ontul Rinpoche a few days before. (In my art-making practice it has been a habit to produce simple, yet powerful drawings of my dreams helping me to mark a trace between the dream and the waking state.) Based on the content of the above mentioned dream (the details will remain sealed at this time) when I awoke the contents of my dream brought me to a place of intense gratitude! towards the Buddha Dharma and, towards the supreme skill administered by Lho Ontul Rinpoche in this ancient invocation. His generosity in providing this Rainbow Chod healing for the sake of every being in the room was immense. I was fortunate and humbled to have been be a participant.
May any mistakes in the content of this text be forgiven.
May all beings reach to the bliss of Nibbanna!
Heather Rigby M.F.A.