Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

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Bruce
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Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Bruce » Sat May 05, 2018 9:00 pm

Three questions:
1. I live in Canada. Is it legal to obtain and keep Kangling (made from human remains)?
2. If I use a wooden or resin Kangling, would it yield the same type of result ?
3. If it is legal, where does one normally obtain it?

Regards

B

Norwegian
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Norwegian » Sat May 05, 2018 9:04 pm

1. I don't know about Canadian laws.
2. You don't actually need these kind of implements for Chod, you can do Chod practice just fine without.
3. Such items are best obtained from a lama or someone qualified.

Arnoud
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Arnoud » Sat May 05, 2018 9:52 pm


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Palzang Jangchub
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Sun May 06, 2018 3:36 am

I'm largely with Norwegian on this, though I would add that the use of alternative substances like wood or animal horn may or may not be kosher, depending on who you ask and/or what texts you consult. Pretty sure Machik forbids them in Sarah Harding's translation of Machik's Complete Explanation, though my memory could be failing me here (though whether this text was written by her or much later is a matter for another day).

That said, using substances other than bone seems to be more popular with Nyingmapas (specifically the Mindrolling lineage), though I'm sure you'll find as many opinions on this as you'll find lamas (often even within the same lineage). The free alternative is to blow through your mostly closed fist and thereby using the bones in your hand. As always, consult your guru (if not your root guru, the one who gave you the specific Chöd practice you have).

Ontul Rinpoche, being a major propagator of Chöd in the Drikung lineage (which has lots of ties to the various Nyingma lineages and tertöns), at one point designed a copper version of the kangling so that his students could find them at an affordable price. However the one website i saw them being sold on doesn't seem to offer them anymore, so I'd guess they're outta stock and can't get more for the time being. Who knows, maybe they only do special orders for them. You might try contacting them with the info here to find out:
http://dharmastuff.com/epages/77c0ff37- ... es/Imprint

Not only is there controversy surrounding the owner of Damaru Works for various reasons (and has been for some years after he was repudiated by his own lamas), but his Dharma wares are often extremely overpriced (an opinion I share with Glyn and some others here which you are free to take or leave). I overpaid for a vajra and bell set by nearly $300 USD before finding another set of the same quality for a much better deal through one of Garchen Rinpoche's centers.

If you can't get an item like this from your lama directly, the best thing to do in my experience is try looking at the bookstores of Dharma centers run by lamas you know and trust. They often have great discounts on these sorts of items compared to what you'll find online, and have the added benefit of supporting a local sangha that is likely on a shoestring budget. Basically you'd be helping to ensure the Dharma continues at that center in some small way. This is how i found my kangling (which, incidentally, is made of wood). It was sourced by one of my Drikung lamas while he was in Nepal.

Alternatively, if you're willing to pay top dollar for such an item, why not go thru a source not mired in controversy? Tara Mandala has a kangling for sale approx the same price as Damaru Works, with the added benefit of being sourced by a recognized incarnation of Machik Labdrön herself or one of the students she trusts:
http://dakinibookstore.mybigcommerce.co ... gs-covers/

Similarly, Potala Gate often has these and other hard to find items and is run by a Nyingma lama associated with the Dudjom lineage. I have a serious practitioner friend in Nepal who swears by him and can vouch for how he sources what he sells:
https://potalagate.com/collections/kangling-cover

It still surprises me that Damaru Works gets recommended (though I'm not pointing a finger at you, Arnoud). Many are still unaware of these things and the perception of his site having the only legit Chöd items out there is still pretty pervasive, from what I can tell.

Lastly, I know someone thru a mutual friend who only sells to people he's put in touch with, having collected many special items over the years he's spent in India and Nepal. He's got ties to Nyingma as well thru Shechen gompa and some of the lamas who've passed thru there.

I mention him because I got a kapala from him late last year that was consecrated by a well known Nyingma master, and I'd be willing to try and ask him if he's got what you seek. In my experience his prices are much more reasonable than most. I'd put folks in touch with him directly, but then he might be swamped with people clamoring for his stuff. Such attention probably wouldn't be great for flying under the radar of the authorities, either.

Keep in mind authentic bone items, while desirable for serious practitioners, are still illegal precisely because of the spurious and violent methods that can be used to procure them in the first place. The legality for you in Canada is something you'll have to investigate, as it might vary depending on what region you're in. Here in the U.S. it varies from state to state, though the U.S. Postal Service doesn't seem to x-ray packages (or else I might not have received my skull cup after it was carried in my friend's luggage from Nepal).
Image

"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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Bruce
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Bruce » Sun May 06, 2018 7:20 pm

Palzang Jangchub wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 3:36 am
I'm largely with Norwegian on this, though I would add that the use of alternative substances like wood or animal horn may or may not be kosher, depending on who you ask and/or what texts you consult. ......................................................................... it varies from state to state, though the U.S. Postal Service doesn't seem to x-ray packages (or else I might not have received my skull cup after it was carried in my friend's luggage from Nepal).
Thank you for writing such comprehensive information. I really appreicate it. Since I am only a beginner of Chod practice, I will start with a wooden Kangling till I master the visulization and chanting better.

Regards

Bruce

Miroku
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Miroku » Sun May 06, 2018 7:23 pm

Start without anything. Get melodies right, words right be comfy with visualisations and then add instruments. It looks easy but is actually quite hard to play them. Good luck
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

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Palzang Jangchub
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Sun May 06, 2018 10:14 pm

I'm with Miroku on this one. Our lamas and monastics in general make it look easy, but remember that they have months and years of repitition to learn the rituals fluently.

Personally I suck at coordinating the bell and drum (the chödam in particular takes a while to even play properly, and finding the right size for you takes careful consideration in my opinion). Plus i still need to be refreshed on the melody.

Then again I only learned these things on a single teaching retreat, and don't have easy access to lamas locally. If you do, great! That would certainly help accelerate your learning of such things.

Oh, and before I forget... If you've never played a trumpet before in your life like me, remember to purse (i.e. pucker) your lips while leaving a tiny gap between them when you blow into the kangling! The sound actually comes from your lips vibrating against one another when the breath passes them. If you make the mistake of having your lips tightly closed there won't be enough air coming out and either the kangling will make no sound at all, or it'll sound like spit and static. On the plus side, in my experience this is quite amusing for the lamas and even might help them remember you years later... hahaha!

I'm simply grateful beyond words that I was able to receive wang, lung, and tri from Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche on Chöd while I had the chance. Still really haven't come to grips with the fact that he's no longer with us.

But I digress...
Image

"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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Bruce
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Bruce » Tue May 08, 2018 6:35 pm

Miroku wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 7:23 pm
Start without anything. Get melodies right, words right be comfy with visualisations and then add instruments. It looks easy but is actually quite hard to play them. Good luck
Thank you! I am still having trouble to coordinate my bell and drum. However, sometimes when I get the drum and bell right, I forget the visualization. Sometimes, I got the visualization and instrument right and forget the view asscociate with the practice. I find it hard to juggle between these. But hopefully with continue practice and prayer to my lamas, I may get better at this.

Bruce

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Bruce
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Bruce » Tue May 08, 2018 6:37 pm

Palzang Jangchub wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 10:14 pm
I'm with Miroku on this one. Our lamas and monastics in general make it look easy, but remember that they have months and years of repitition to learn the rituals fluently.

Personally I suck at coordinating the bell and drum (the chödam in particular takes a while to even play properly, and finding the right size for you takes careful consideration in my opinion). Plus i still need to be refreshed on the melody.

Then again I only learned these things on a single teaching retreat, and don't have easy access to lamas locally. If you do, great! That would certainly help accelerate your learning of such things.

Oh, and before I forget... If you've never played a trumpet before in your life like me, remember to purse (i.e. pucker) your lips while leaving a tiny gap between them when you blow into the kangling! The sound actually comes from your lips vibrating against one another when the breath passes them. If you make the mistake of having your lips tightly closed there won't be enough air coming out and either the kangling will make no sound at all, or it'll sound like spit and static. On the plus side, in my experience this is quite amusing for the lamas and even might help them remember you years later... hahaha!

I'm simply grateful beyond words that I was able to receive wang, lung, and tri from Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche on Chöd while I had the chance. Still really haven't come to grips with the fact that he's no longer with us.

But I digress...
Thank you! Good to know that I am not the only guy who struggle with the coordination between bell and drum

Miroku
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Miroku » Tue May 08, 2018 7:09 pm

Bruce wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 6:35 pm
Miroku wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 7:23 pm
Start without anything. Get melodies right, words right be comfy with visualisations and then add instruments. It looks easy but is actually quite hard to play them. Good luck
Thank you! I am still having trouble to coordinate my bell and drum. However, sometimes when I get the drum and bell right, I forget the visualization. Sometimes, I got the visualization and instrument right and forget the view asscociate with the practice. I find it hard to juggle between these. But hopefully with continue practice and prayer to my lamas, I may get better at this.

Bruce
Heh. Hey it is okay. I so often forget my prayers even when I do only my prayers. Bell and drum are hard to coordinate. It really seems like it works both parts of your brain at the same time and add singing, mantras, visualisations and whole lot of other stuff. It is really hard. Do not get discouraged and continue. But trust me sometimes less is more it is not as discouraging.
Child, if you are not hypocritical and out of control, that is conduct.
~ Padampa Sangye

You say such clever things to people, but you do not apply them to yourself.
The faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
~ Padampa Sangye

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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Wed May 09, 2018 2:35 am

There's always the Kusali form of Chöd which tends to be short and pithy, ditching the ritual instruments in favor of an all visualization approach...

Since you posted this under Nyingma, I would highly suggest you seek out the lung for the Namchö Kusali if that would help encourage you to practice Chöd more. I've had very good results whenever I practice it. Merit ripens very quickly after even a single practice session, at least in my experience.
Image

"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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Bruce
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Bruce » Wed May 09, 2018 3:55 am

Palzang Jangchub wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 2:35 am
There's always the Kusali form of Chöd which tends to be short and pithy, ditching the ritual instruments in favor of an all visualization approach...

Since you posted this under Nyingma, I would highly suggest you seek out the lung for the Namchö Kusali if that would help encourage you to practice Chöd more. I've had very good results whenever I practice it. Merit ripens very quickly after even a single practice session, at least in my experience.
Thank you!

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Bruce
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Bruce » Wed May 09, 2018 3:57 am

Miroku wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 7:09 pm
Bruce wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 6:35 pm
Miroku wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 7:23 pm
Start without anything. Get melodies right, words right be comfy with visualisations and then add instruments. It looks easy but is actually quite hard to play them. Good luck
Thank you! I am still having trouble to coordinate my bell and drum. However, sometimes when I get the drum and bell right, I forget the visualization. Sometimes, I got the visualization and instrument right and forget the view asscociate with the practice. I find it hard to juggle between these. But hopefully with continue practice and prayer to my lamas, I may get better at this.

Bruce
Heh. Hey it is okay. I so often forget my prayers even when I do only my prayers. Bell and drum are hard to coordinate. It really seems like it works both parts of your brain at the same time and add singing, mantras, visualisations and whole lot of other stuff. It is really hard. Do not get discouraged and continue. But trust me sometimes less is more it is not as discouraging.
Thank you!

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed May 09, 2018 7:33 am

learn it all separate and then put it together

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Lingpupa
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Lingpupa » Wed May 09, 2018 9:34 am

Bruce wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 9:00 pm
Three questions:
1. I live in Canada. Is it legal to obtain and keep Kangling (made from human remains)?
2. If I use a wooden or resin Kangling, would it yield the same type of result ?
3. If it is legal, where does one normally obtain it?

Regards

B
1) I don't know, but the problem with these things can be that even if it is legal, the security martinets at airports etc. can get jumpy if they realize what it really is
2) It has been pointed out that these objects are not entirely essential, so of course you can go with resin or wood. But part of the point of the practice is the "drama", and the real thing is going to help you to experience fear
3) I got a real kangling on ebay! As for a kapala, I was given (a real) one years ago, and never quite understood why, so I took it as a sign that I had a connection to practice.

Both the kangling and the kapala have changed countries several times, but always buried deep in a whole pile of other assorted stuff - rupas, flutes, harmonicas, electric drills....

The other thing that will help you is luck, so I wish you that!
All the best
Alex Wilding
Stupa in the Snow blog at http://chagchen.org/

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lelopa
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by lelopa » Thu May 10, 2018 7:36 am

i was told:
"use a real kangling, or nothing - but do never use animal-bone, wood, or plastic, etc"
if i remember well: in a book i've read some years ago Machigma told the same
just my 2 cents
ཨོཾ་ཨཱཿཧཱུྃ་བོ་དྷི་ཙིཏྟ་མ་ཧཱ་སུ་ཁ་ཛྙཱ་ན་དྷཱརྟུ་ཨཱཿ

Dharmaswede
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Dharmaswede » Thu May 10, 2018 7:55 am

Different teachers and lineages have different answers to the question of Kangling.

Personally, I think it seems fair to start out with a wooden Kangling until you find a teacher or a lineage that provides you with a specific answer.

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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by Palzang Jangchub » Thu May 10, 2018 10:00 am

The qualities of a kangling that make it either appropriate or inappropriate for a Chödpa to use are laid out in detail in Machik's Complete Explanation, translated by Sarah Harding (see the full quote in this thread):
pp. 142-143, Tönyön's Questions on Chöd wrote:
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.
Emphasis mine. Is that the particular proscription you're talking about, lelopa? I wonder why SH felt the need to add "one with a cover of" in brackets before the mention of iron, brass, wood, or horn. Would be interesting if someone could analyze the original Tibetan there to see if that is the implication, or if she perhaps added to it unnecessarily.

Maybe... just maybe... these substances being used to cover an otherwise proper kangling is what makes it "impaired." Perhaps what we really have here is an injunction against using ones that have been altered/adorned because this a) hides/obscures the natural qualities, b) is a sign of spiritual materialism and thereby runs entirely counter to Chöd being generosity, c) alteration affects the ability of the instrument to perform its function, or d) some combination of these.

Could it not be the case, then, that a facsimile made entirely out of such a substance (but definitely not black yak horn!) is preferable to one made of human bone that's impaired or has the wrong signs/qualities?

It should be noted here that, while this work is attributed to Machik Labdrön herself, even Sarah Harding admits in the Preface that the history of the text indicates it was compiled much later and from various sources:
Sarah Harding wrote:Machik Lapdrön is said to be the source of all that is contained in this book, and it is written as if it were recorded from her teachings and storytelling. But it is in fact a compilation gathered from various sources that finally took shape in its current form many hundreds of years later. How much of it is truly the words or even ideas of the great woman of eleventh-century Tibet is pure conjecture.
So while it's the only source I've seen that gives such details on what to seek and avoid in a kangling, whether those actually were the words of the founder of this practice lineage (or added later by someone less authoritative) is an open question.

Thus we are left to figure out for ourselves who's instructions we should heed in selecting our thighbone trumpet: a text supposedly representing the lineage founder's intent, the advice of our own lamas, or the words of those on an internet forum... :shrug:
Image

"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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conebeckham
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by conebeckham » Thu May 10, 2018 4:28 pm

Just remember, the ultimate aim is to cut through attachment. I recall a Lama saying that the reason a kangling was first used was that the chodpa was in a cemetery and felt the need to call on the guests, so he picked up the first thing he could find as a horn, and it happened to be a thighbone!

Apocryphal story, probably, but it captures a certain attitude.

Honestly, finding the right thighbone of a virgin 16 year old girl who died accidentally (or whatever those specific "requirements" are--I've forgotten!) is a long-shot in the first place. If you wait to practice until you have the perfect implements you'll be waiting a long time. Use what you can find, but don't use something you know was acquired through deceit, etc.

Chod is a beautiful and effective method.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

oldbob
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Re: Regarding Kangling used in Chod practice

Post by oldbob » Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:49 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 4:28 pm
Just remember, the ultimate aim is to cut through attachment. I recall a Lama saying that the reason a kangling was first used was that the chodpa was in a cemetery and felt the need to call on the guests, so he picked up the first thing he could find as a horn, and it happened to be a thighbone!

Apocryphal story, probably, but it captures a certain attitude.

Honestly, finding the right thighbone of a virgin 16 year old girl who died accidentally (or whatever those specific "requirements" are--I've forgotten!) is a long-shot in the first place. If you wait to practice until you have the perfect implements you'll be waiting a long time. Use what you can find, but don't use something you know was acquired through deceit, etc.

Chod is a beautiful and effective method.
Yup and Yup to good posts all.

My 2 cents.

The key, key point is not to hesitate and not to get discouraged.

Start the Chod practice by committing to give up hope and fear about learning the Chod.

Always better to ask religious questions to your Teacher, and legal question to the authorities. You might be able to find something online under import regulations.

If you have a letter from a recognized academic, from a recognized university, that the Kangling is s known religious ritual instrument that you are importing at their request – maybe this will help when bringing in.

You can go ahead and do the Chod perfectly without any implements. (My experience.) The business part of the Chod can be done in a very short time. Any noisemaker will add to the shock and awe / drama of this visualization. You can clang on pots and pans or use pot tops as cymbals. The key point is to create aural chaos which you are then cutting through (so to speak) with the sharpness of your concentration on the visualization. Always better not to create the aural chaos in the vicinity of anyone not practicing with you.

If you have the great good fortune to be able to afford the correct implements this is helpful but absolutely not necessary.

When I was getting into Chod 48 years ago, in Sonam Kazi’s group in NYC, I made my own drum because they were hard to find. If you have a friend with a wood lath they can turn the heads for you. Any thin leather / drum / banjo leather will do. There are tricks to putting on the skins wet, putting glue along the rims and lacing the two heads together so that they dry tight. I think that most Lamas will know how to do this.

There is also a trick to using a 2-3” round flat wafer under your hand holding up the drum so that there is tension between your first finger and thumb pushing up on the bottom of the drum, and the bottom of your hand pushing down on the wafer.

That said, the real trick is to sit beside a friendly practitioner / Teacher, facing the same way, slightly behind them, and do a monkey see / monkey do: first with the drum, then with the bell and then together. This is what I did for many many times over many years.

:bow: :bow: :bow:

This makes learning Chod easy as you don’t have to think and you can just put your arm on auto-pilot, and your muscles learn what they need to know.

Kanglings, with leather cases, used to be available in the shops around Boudhanath Stupa at prices far less than in the West.

There are many tricks to make the visualization function more strongly so it is better to get the full instructions from a qualified Lama / practitioner.

:heart:

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