Why do we practice the Dharma? The "Dharma" means love, kindness, compassion, joy, and appreciation. We want to activate, deepen, and engage these basic qualities so that we can radiate them more powerfully to other beings. We practice positive qualities to become stronger practitioners so that we can really make a difference for ourselves, our families, friends, neighbors, and for everyone. This is what makes our lives meaningful. But as we progress, we don't change the way we are: we always remain very humble and simple. This motivation is at the very heart of Chod practice, and directs all our growth.
Dzogchen teaches the essence of Chod. We could also say that Dzogchen practice is absolute Chod practice. Many of us know and practice the Dzogchen approach of Trekcho, which means "cutting thoroughly." In Dzogchen, where are we cutting? We're cutting in the space of the dharmadhatu. What are we cutting? All dualistic conceptions. While we're cutting with this view, there is no cutter, no object to be cut, and no cutting. In other words, our practice is free from grasping on to subject, object, and action. This is the essential view that Dzogchen practitioners use to cut all dualistic conceptions, which is also the essential understanding to maintain during Chod practice.
We can also regard Chod from yet another point of view. Machig Labdron said, "Chod practice is a combination of the view of the Sutras and the skillful means of the Tantras." The view of the Sutras was taught by the Buddha in the Prajnaparamita Sutras, such as at the beginning of the Heart Sutra: "Inconceivable, inexpressible, unborn, unceasing, by nature like the sky." That is the view of the ultimate truth of reality that we discover within the nature of our own mind. Then we deepen this view using the skillful means of the Tantras, such as the ritual implements, chants, visualizations, and meditations that are taught in each specific sadhana. Combining this view with skillful means brings realization quickly.
Cutting Through Ego and Revealing Fearlessness: Chod Practice According to Jigme Lingpa's Bellowing Laugh of the Dakini, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Dharma Samudra, Hardcover, 296 pages, $28.00