6.4.12

Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione


I discovered Tsultrim Allione's book a couple of years ago and I have not hesitated recommending it to clients and friends since that time. It is a potent modern adaptation of the Tibetan vajrayana practice called Chöd, made accessible for the modern person whether they are buddhist or not. The principle behind Feeding Your Demons is that our darkest and most frightening fears, anxieties or addictions (our demons) can be befriended and transformed. 

With the surprisingly simple yet radical technique one 'feeds' the demon whatever it wants until it becomes completely satisfied! This takes the form of a meditation in which the demon is first personified and given shape before feeding it and finally transforming it into an ally. 

Those with new age proclivities will seize upon the totem-like 'ally' that the method produces as the end goal, but folks with some background in Buddhist meditation of vajrayana variety will know that the true power of the practice lies in the bit where the ally is dissolved into the practitioner and they rest in unstructured awareness. This unstructured awareness neither grasps nor rejects anything in that moment and therein lies its incredible deep healing capacity - because this state momentarily introduces the meditator to their own deepest nature: unconditioned freedom. This is the greatest magic of all.

Tsultrim Allione compassionately and expertly teaches the method using case histories and stories of the most moving variety and by the end of the book the reader has been given ample examples of how to apply this technique in almost any kind of situation. If you want to learn to work with even the most difficult or painful emotions, addictions or memories I cannot recommend Tsultrim Allione's teachings highly enough.

5 comments:

  1. Now I have to get this book to see what connection it has with traditional Chod.

    The basic theory is absolutely sound. You pacify demons (as well as all other beings and forces) by feeding them in a series of feasts: Red, White, and sometimes black.

    The thing about traditional Chod though, is that there would never be instructions for personifying your neurosis. Not much focus is placed on the beings that are eating, the focus is on presenting yourself as the meal! In fact, for those with very fractured ego's, some people suggest that Chod can be dangerous, the idea being that you should have a healthy ego before you start deconstructing it.

    Nor for the being being dissolved into you. If anything it is the other way around - you and the demons dissolve into emptiness.

    Also, traditionally, Chod is not just aimed at demons of the mind, but at actual spirits that haunt places, this is why Chodpas are sought out by people who are sick or need exorcism of some kind. It brings it to the level of mind and perception - but that is because no separation is made between external and internal, all is emptiness and clarity.

    As you know, I am not at all a stickler for tradition, and believe that things CAN be taken out of their traditional context and made accessible if done in an intelligent and respectful way. I am very curious to see how Lama Tsultrim handles this. Thanks for the recommendation, my copy should arrive next week.

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  2. Hi Jason - I think she has done a very good job. It really is a technique inspired by the principles in Chod rather than being another kind of Chod lite or something. Her story of discovering the technique is quite wonderful, as are all the stories of how it has helped people to overcome things such as sexual abuse or terminal disease diagnosis.

    You are quite right both the meditator and the demon dissolve into the unconditioned awareness.

    She also shows applications for using the technique on outer demons such as enemies, diseases so forth, so there is another overlap there.

    I think you will like it.

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  3. Actually, not to put to put too fine a point on it - if the one is resting in unstructured awareness - it safe to say one has "dissolved into emptiness".

    In fact I would go so far as to say that the language of dissolution is quite dualistic. Unstructured awareness is by nature uncreated so it cannot dissolved into or out of. If you could it would be conditioned. :-)

    Anyway, this is why I hate talking buddhist metaphysics!

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  4. It is complicated by the fact that even within Tibet, there are divergent views on the nature of emptiness.

    From the Dzogchen perspective (which is where I approach things from) there is indeed nothing to dissolve into or out of, BUT such approaches can be used to address certain flaws blocking understanding of that.

    From the perspective of Dzogchen and Mahamudra one can rest in the nature of awareness, and still engage in thought and dissolution within that sphere as the play of awareness.

    Buddhist Metaphysics are FUN FUN FUN

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  5. I tend to come from a Mahamudra perspective because that is all I ever got training in (although I've read about the Dzogchen view) but, indeed, even conceptual thinking can ultimately be understood as an expression of unstructured awareness. That's when it get's really trippy. ;-) FUN!

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