Chöd Tibetan: གཅོད, lit. ‘to sever’, is a Tibetan spiritual practise primarily found in the Nyingma and Kagyu
schools of Tibetan Buddhism. According to Mahayana Buddhists, emptiness is the ultimate wisdom of
understanding that all things lack inherent existence. Chöd combines Prajñāpāramitā
philosophy with specific meditation methods and tantric ritual. The chöd practitioner seeks to tap into the power
of fear through activities such as rituals set in graveyards, and visualisation
of offering their bodies in a tantric feast in order to put their
understanding of emptiness to the ultimate test.
“External chod is to wander in fearful places where there are deities and demons. Internal chod is to offer one’s own body as food to the deities and demons. Ultimate chod is to realize the true nature of the mind and cut through the fine strand of hair of subtle ignorance.”
- UJetsun Milarepa (རྗེ་བཙུན་མི་ལ་རས་པ - 1052 – c. 1135 CE)
Chöd is now a staple of the advanced sādhana (discipline) of Tibetan Buddhism. It is practiced worldwide following dissemination by the Tibetan diaspora. Vajrayogini is a key figure in the advanced practice of Chöd, where she appears in her Kālikā (pictured) or Vajravārāhī forms.
This practice emphasizes cutting through grasping at the dualistic mind to realize complete selfless compassion.
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