Lamas providing Kapala, Kangling, and Chöd Drum

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Palzang Jangchub
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Lamas providing Kapala, Kangling, and Chöd Drum

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:53 pm

Does anyone know if there's a proper way to request ritual items from one's root guru, especially if they're a famous lama in high demand that we have little private access to? Or is it best to not ask, and simply receive whatever items the lama sees fit to give if it happens?

I understand from a friend that his lama gave him a Chöd drum and authentic human kangling (along with the striped zen shawl) during his ngakpa ordination. He didn't ask for them, and doesn't really practice Chöd per se. Are these typically given when one becomes a ngakpa, or was his lama giving him a hint?

I've also heard that Lama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche in Boudha is known to help Chödpas source authentic practice items, and attempted to take advantage of this while I was there back in 2014, but after my Mo with him he left for Portland. Spoke to his sister in broken Tibetan, and tried asking for her help finding a skullcup, but apparently the word thöpa can also mean "bowl," or my pronunciation was waaaay off...

Of greatest concern is an authentic skullcup with the proper signs and marks, from the right source. This was explained in some detail in Sarah Harding's translation of Machik's Complete Explanation. Lho Ontul Rinpoche also told us explicitly after a Chöd empowerment that we must get a kapala, but that we needed to be sure it was proper, for possessing an improper one could lead to dire consequences!
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"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

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Fa Dao
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Re: Lamas providing ritual implements?

Post by Fa Dao » Sat Mar 18, 2017 6:21 pm

If you are the DIY type you can always order real human bones from this place and make your own...
http://www.boneroom.com/store/c44/Human_Bones.html
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

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Palzang Jangchub
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Re: Lamas providing ritual implements?

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Sat Mar 18, 2017 6:52 pm

Fa Dao wrote:If you are the DIY type you can always order real human bones from this place and make your own...
http://www.boneroom.com/store/c44/Human_Bones.html
Seems they cannot guarantee the source of their kapalas, which is of prime concern along with having the requisite signs.
The Bone Room wrote:Real human crania from Nepal, lined and decorated in white metal. Not guaranteed to be truly Buddhist, but the price reflects that.
Garuda Trading and Potala Gate sell similar items for around the same price, give or take. While Garuda seems to get more antiques and pieces from private collections, Potala is the only one I've seen to comment on the actual signs of the skull (though only in a phonetic approximation of the Tibetan, rather than either Wylie or Uchen either of which would be more helpful).

If buying oneself, of course, there is always risk involved. Without being directly involved in sourcing the material, you take the provenance you're told with a certain level of blind faith. For all you know it could be spurious, and the provenance is a tall tale that was told somewhere during the process of the piece's procurement to jack up the price.

The reason getting said implements directly from one's lama is preferable is that they have come into possession of it and deemed it fit to give to you for your practice. It has their blessing(s). Much easier to have faith in one's lama than even the most reputable seller, IMHO.

Not to mention it doesn't cost one an arm and a leg (pun very much intended)...
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"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

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Re: Lamas providing Kapala, Kangling, and Chöd Drum

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:46 pm

Karma Jinpa wrote:Of greatest concern is an authentic skullcup with the proper signs and marks, from the right source. This was explained in some detail in Sarah Harding's translation of Machik's Complete Explanation.
Apologies. Machik discusses the appropriate qualities of a Chödpa's kangling, not the kapala. As it's two paragraphs which don't even take up a full page, I include it here:
[i]Machik's Complete Explanation[/i], pp. 142-143, Tönyön's Questions on Chöd wrote:An unimpaired thighbone is one that has both upper and lower joints[4]. White is best, brown is mediocre, and mottled is the least best. Gray and other sordid ones will cause problems, so they are inappropriate. The shape should be somewhat curved, and the bone front ridged, with the inside front smoothed out and slightly concave. It is improper to carry a thighbone that curves to the left or the right, is crooked in its sections, has a dented sheath, has cracks and such, has many clefts in the inside structure, is really thick and hunchbacked, is not bent but very straight, is much too fat, has a tight sound without sharpness that goes flat, is deformed[5] with the holes in the bottom part being too small, has many overlapping cracks along its length, looks engraved, is rough and gritty, has many ridges, is flat, or is just plain ugly and unpleasant. It is inappropriate to carry a bone that has the bad characteristics of being that of
someone who was younger than sixteen or older than sixty; who has died by his or her own hand or by family feuding or famine; who was a child of incest, a barren woman, or a butcher; or who died of hunger. You shouldn’t keep or blow a bone without a head, or a bone with cracks, or a leper’s bone, or [one with a cover of] iron, copper, wood, or horn, because those are impaired. Particularly, the horns of black yaks are instruments of suppression, and so they are bad, noxious articles. If you find such a horn and blow it, whoever hears it will hear it as a perverted sound and become unhappy and violent. Wherever that sound is heard, all kinds of negativity will occur, so never carry a bone of black horn. Even when it is an article of human thighbone played as a horn, it may be inappropriate to carry. It is important to examine it to know whether it has the bad characteristics, such as being an article that impedes others or produces various problems.

What you should have is a quality thighbone, one without those faults that make it inappropriate to carry, [for example, a bone belonging to] an infuriated man whose voracious rage at another had no chance to subside [before he died], who had no time for any other thought to arise in that voracious mind and who attacked and killed that person with a weapon. It could be the bone of a qualified woman, or a monastic whose sacred pledge
is unbroken, or a man of sincere faith who has avoided sin, or someone belonging to the family of bodhisattvas, and so on. Any of those should be someone between the ages of sixteen and sixty. In particular, the right leg
of someone who died in his or her prime with an unimpaired intellect is the instrument of heroes, and the left leg is the instrument of heroines[6]. Without
going underneath the corpse, use what can be hooked from above[7]. Cut it where it is soft and thin, between the first yellow, rotten joint and the small bump underneath. The small [knee] joint should be undamaged like the nostrils of an elephant. On the front[8] of the two bone knobs of the lower joint, drill a thumbprint-size area so that the joint head will be undamaged, and the connection between will be like the nose of a lion. Make it round like porcupine quills. The hero’s instrument is particularly a thighbone of an adult man killed by a weapon. The dakinl’s instrument is the thighbone of a qualified woman. The instrument [to call] ordinary nonhumans is whatever is appropriate to carry.
The bracketed numbers refer to endnotes, found here:
[i]Machik's Complete Explanation[/i], p. 350, Notes to Chapter 5 wrote:4. mgo mjug gi tshig mgo gnyis. This apparently means that one should have a complete thighbone before one cuts it below the upper joint at the hip.

5. li li po. According to Surmang Khenpo Tsering (SKT), this word describes a deformed person with a very small head.

6. SKT interprets this to mean the instruments that invoke heroes and heroines, respectively.

7. ro de'i 'og tu ma song zhing steng du gang du gug pa de 'brog par bya'o. This passage is extremely obscure and could not be clarified by any of my informants, none of whom had dug up his own bone!

8. gdong, “front” or “face,” what we would call the back, here speaking of the small indentation on the back between the two knobs of the joint.
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"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་མགར་ཆེན་ཁྲི་སྤྲུལ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཁྱེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ།།
རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་མཁས་གྲུབ་ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་མཁྱེན་ནོ། ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོཿ

pemachophel
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Re: Lamas providing Kapala, Kangling, and Chöd Drum

Post by pemachophel » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:01 pm

Lama Jigme at Potalagate is an expert in the signs and qualities of skull-cups. I would trust him in selecting one for you. I personally have bought two from him. I showed them to my own Teacher and He then accepted them for use in a men-drub drub-chen. I don't think He would have done so if He had thought there was anything wrong with them. I've showed them to other Lamas as well (as part of the implements for both empowerments and retreats) and no one has suggested anything not good about them.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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