Tsog dates on Western Calendar: and, the meaning of Tsog (Tsok) — the non-ordinary blissful offering

To learn about Tsog and its profound importance refer to the feature below the calendar.

For those already familiar with Tsog (sometimes spelled Tsok) it can be confusing working out the Tsog dates and Lunar-based Buddhist festivals for the Western calendar year. For convenience, we’ve mapped them out for 2019 on our new PDF calendar (free download) or the chart below.

Or, for quick reference, here’s an at-a-glance graphic with the Daka (lunar 10th) and Dakini (lunar 25th) dates for 2019, see below.

NOTE: A very kind reader pointed out a discrepancy between Lunar 10th by the official observatory calendars and the dates posted on temple sites. Please be guided by your own tradition on this as there may be an astrological reason for the variance. Our calendar is mapped to the official lunar calendars. Please especially check January 15 vs 16 and March 30 vs 31 as these seem to disagree in some calendars, including the 2019 Drukpa Calendar.

 

 

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Tsog Offering Dates (based on lunar calendar 10th and 25th) shown in Western calendar dates.

 

The rest of this feature is for those who are wondering:

What is Tsog, and why is it so precious and important?

NOTE: Tsog is a higher tantric practice. If you have Higher Initiation, Tsog twice a month on the 10th and 25th of the LUNAR calendar may be a commitment you’ve made (depends on tradition and teacher). No matter how humble your offering, if you have commitment, you should make one. For some high initiations the commitment (or option) might be a daily one (in which case you don’t need this calendar.)

 

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Each year Buddha Weekly’s volunteers create a 12 month downloadable PDF calendar with Buddhist celebrations, festivals, practice dates and Tsog dates. This year’s 2019 calendar is a stunning trip around the world: “Buddhism Around the World.” Download from here>>

From the Heruka Root Tantra:

Quickly attempt to make offerings
Every waxing and waning of each month do tsog.

Tsog Purpose

The Heruka Root Tantra explains the purpose of Tsog offering, which is to remove obstacles and hardships:

The waxing and waning of each month
If good tsog is offered
Then one has no hardships, no difficulties
And one goes to the pure land of Tharpo Kachoe

 

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Tsog is carefully described in the Heruka Root Tantra. Image: Heruka Chakrasamvara with Vajrayogini (Heruka and Dakini). Photo of detail of author’s gorgeous thangka created by magnificent artist Laura Santi>>

 

Tsog Offering — What it means

H.E. Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains the higher meaning of Tsog offerings:

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The great Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

“The very highest meaning of tsog is to join method and wisdom. The real meaning of experiencing tsog is the transcendental wisdom, non dual great bliss – the wisdom of emptiness, the non-duality of that, and uniting these two. That is the very essence of tsog. It is the offering of that experience, oneself experiencing it, the male and female heroes and heroines, of which the essence is the guru deity, and oneself also experiencing that, as the guru deity. The real meaning of tsog is integrating method and wisdom, the transcendental wisdom, non-dual bliss and voidness (this is the secret meaning).” [1]

Tsog is nearly always at night time. From the Heruka Root Tantra it is explained — night is symbolically when Dakas and Dakinis are more active:

Offering extensive food and drink
Always do at night time – why?
Because it is admired to do at nighttime
Always wander at nighttime and always gather at nighttime.

 

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H.E. Lama Zopa (foreground) at Lama Chopa Tsog.

 

As always, with Buddhist offerings, the offerings are not “needed” by self-aware deities or Buddhas. The Enlightened have no need of sensory offerings. In general, offerings are an opportunity for us to earn merit to help overcome our negative karmas and attachments. The act of offering, or generosity, is also the “cure” for the grasping, attached mind. And, then there’s Tsog, which is precious especially to the Enlightened Dakinis and Dakas. [For a story on Dakinis and a previous story on Tsog, see>>]

In some practices, the Lunar 10th is often called the “Feast of Heroes” (Feast of Dakas) — and is often a celebration of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) — and the 25th is the “Feast of Heroines” (Feast of Dakinis.) In others, there is no distinction, so both days are called the “Feast of Dakas and Dakinis” or “Feast of Yogis and Yoginis” (Feast of Heroes and Heroines.)

Pandit Ratna Raksherita explained:

Those doing the activities of the heroes, it is called the feast of the heroes,
Similarly, those doing the activities of yoginis, it is called the feast of the heroines,
Those whose minds are enriched with control of the circle
Of the integrated method and wisdom,
That is called the circle of unification.

Tsog is special

Everything about Tsog is special. We might have tangible, sensory offerings in front of us, but they are “converted” in our minds and by our karmic actions, mantras, visualizations and practices into sacred, special, blissful NECTAR.

H.E. Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains the higher meaning and purpose of Tsog:

The meaning of nectar is not just some special taste, like honey. In Tibetan, the word is du-tsi.Du is mara, tsi is medicine. So here, du is ordinary appearance and ordinary concepts, delusions, negative imprints and defilements. Tsi means medicine —the ultimate medicine is the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness, which is like an atom bomb to cut through those delusions, which are the maras.

One has to think of the meaning of nectar, du-tsi, the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness. By taking that nectar, you generate that experience within you. If you don’t have the actual experience of that, then you visualize it. That blesses the mind, body, and the chakras, the winds and drops. It becomes a preparation to achieve the path, the Highest Tantra accomplishing path of the illusory body and clear light, and it enables you to achieve the resultant Dharmakaya and Rupakaya. Then, one is able to offer perfect works for sentient beings, without the slightest mistake, until everyone, every single sentient being, is brought to enlightenment.

Actual method

For actual method, this must be guided/taught by a qualified teacher. Normally, you attend as a group, to the Gompa, temple or monestary. If you cannot, or if you are remote, you can do this on your own. There is a ceremony for those empowered to perform Tsog.

It is IMPORTANT to never place the offerings on the ground, even at the end when offering to the protectors. Normally, Tsog is offered to the Dakas and Dakinis, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Gurus and the Enlightened Protectors. Then, the offering is re-blessed as nectar for the protectors sworn to protect the Dharma and offered outside. Often, a paper plate is used, to prevent the offering from being “tossed” on the ground — which is considered inauspicious, or even a downfall.

 

NOTES

[1] Source Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive: “Tsog Offering Practice

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Lee Kane

Author | Buddha Weekly

Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.

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