How to Direct Your Practice

Advice on the Feast-Offering Accumulation

by Phakchok Rinpoche

The upcoming series of feast-gatherings will be held at the extraordinary sacred site of Asura. The participants performing the offerings will be the sangha of monks, nuns, ngakpas (tantric practitioners) and lay disciples. In terms of the occasion, it will be held on Guru Rinpoche day, the tenth day of the lunar month. The Dharma to be practiced will successively be the Guru Heart Practices of the Dispeller of All Obstacles (Barché Künsel), The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Wishes (Sampa Lhündrup), The Heart-Essence of the Lake-Born One (Tsokyé Nyingtik), The Powerful Vajra Wrath Guru (Guru Dorjé Draktsal) and The Embodiment of All Realization (Chidril Gongpa Kündü), followed by the Yidam practice of Vajrakīlaya (Dorjé Purba) and the Ḍākinī activity of Kurukulle (Pema Khandro).

When offering this feast-gathering, imagine that you are in the extraordinary sacred site of Asura, in the midst of sacred lands. There, visualize that Guru Rinpoche is present in person, as the embodiment of the three kāyas: Samantabhadra and all dharmakāya buddhas; the five family lords and all sambhogakāya deities; and all nirmāṇakāya emanations throughout the three times. All are indivisible from Guru Rinpoche, who emanates every activity without ever wavering from dharmakāya realization—this is how you should visualize and think of him.

In this way, we gather the entire mandala of deities for the offering; we gather all the offering articles; we gather many people together for the recitation, both male and female, monastic and lay from all around the world who form the gathering circle of ḍākas and ḍākinīs. As for the motivation, the best among all motivations is that of bodhicitta, the resolve to attain awakening for the benefit of all beings. In terms of samadhi (meditation), visualizing that the Guru is there in person, we make offerings on the outer, inner, and secret level: Outwardly, we offer all the feast articles and substances that have been prepared. Inwardly, we visualize the entire phenomenal world, the vessel and contents, as the feast-offering, and proffer that. Secretly, trusting the indivisibility of our own minds with Guru Rinpoche, we rest in that recognition if we know how to meditate in this way, and if not, we can just think of the non-duality of mind and wisdom. This is the correct way to engage in feast-gatherings and their associated visualizations.

In particular, these seven times 100,000 accumulations of feast-gatherings are especially being held this year to benefit the world at a trying time. As we face a pandemic as well as social, political, and economic turmoil in much of the world, it is particularly important for practitioners to accumulate merit and dedicate it to all beings so that they may overcome obstacles and receive temporary and ultimate happiness. It is therefore essential to keep in your hearts all those who are currently suffering while setting your motivation at the beginning of the practice and dedicating the merit at the end.

Please keep all these points in mind while performing the feast-gatherings.

Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.