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Tsok

ཚོགས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོ་
tshogs kyi 'kor lo
gaṇacakra
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Author: Samye Institute
Last Updated: July 20, 2022

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Tsok kyi khorlo, or Sanskrit gaṇacakra, is a profound Vajrayana practice of offering. The word tsok means ‘an accumulation’ or ‘a gathering, an assembly or group’, and the word  khorlo literally means ‘wheel.’ So the literal translation is something like ‘wheel of accumulation’. This practice helps the practitioner swiftly gather the accumulations of merit and wisdom. Tsok simultaneously purifies obscurations and Vajrayana samayas. Male and female tantric practitioners gather together to celebrate the tsok feast on the tenth day of the waxing moon and the tenth day of the waning moon, as well as on special anniversaries in the Buddhist calendar. The main benefit of tsok practice according to the tantras is the accumulation of merit with conceptual focus as well as the accumulation of wisdom beyond focus.

Tsok traditionally refers to a the gathering of ‘delightful substances,’ meaning the food and drink that will be offered by the practitioners during the practice. The edible substances represent skilful means and the liquids represent wisdom. It is important that the offering includes a variety of substances, including, it says in the tantras, meat and alcohol.

The teachings also stress the abundance of the offering. It is important to avoid polluting the offerings with limited dualistic concepts, by thinking something is too good or too expensive to offer, or even that something is too dirty or impure, or only offering things that appeal only to personal preferences.

It is important that we consider the substances as offerings, and not as ordinary food and drink. 

Advice on the Feast-Offering Accumulation from Phakchok Rinpoche

When you offer Tsok, magine 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.

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.

—Phakchok Rinpoche

The Benefits of Tsok Offering Practice

All practices on the path to buddhahood are methods for gathering the accumulations of merit and wisdom and for purifying our obscurations. These two processes of accumulation and purification go hand in hand; as we accumulate more merit and wisdom, our obscurations automatically diminish.

The Secret Mantra Vajrayana features countless skillful and powerful methods which, if they are practiced in the proper way, can make the process of accumulation and purification incredibly swift and direct. One such method is the practice of tsok, which is primarily a practice of offering. It is not just a practice of offering however; it is also a powerful method for purifying our samaya.

An immensely powerful way to perform tsok, the feast-gathering, is as a tsok bum, or 100,000 accumulations of the tsok-offering.

—Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche

The supreme form of merit and wisdom is to offer the profound feast-gathering on a vast scale. By making offerings within a group assembly to the deities, gurus, protectors, and vajra brothers and sisters, the two accumulations will be swiftly perfected and all the samayas are restored.

The benefits of performing the feast-gathering are thus immeasurable. Through it, you will perfect the activities of pacifying, enriching, magnetizing, and subjugating. You will restore all impairments and breakages of samaya. You will delight and satisfy the deities, gurus, oath-bound protectors, and vajra brothers and sisters. All unfavorable and unwanted circumstances will be dispelled. You will perfect the two accumulations of merit and wisdom. You will simultaneously accomplish supreme and ordinary siddhis. Through this, you will obtain benefits beyond description.

—Tselé Natsok Rangdrol

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