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Ceremonial Objects Of The Buddhist Faith, Page 3

Drum Used for Exorcism  

This large pellet drum is used together with a bell and trumpet fashioned from a human thigh bone to create an eerie musical accompaniment for the esoteric 'cutting' or ãchödä (gcod) ritual. The drum is made of two shallow wooden bowls joined at their bases, with the two open sides covered with a green stained skin. A heavy woven strip of fabric is tied around the drum, leaving a length to serve as the handle. Also attached are two cords, one on either side, with a pellet of stitched cloth at the end of each to produce the sound when the drum is rotated. Although popularly thought to be an exorcism rite, on a deeper level the ãchödä ceremony has the aim of 'cutting through' (gcod) conceptual distortions (vikalpa, rnam rtog) which give rise to the process of duality in the apparent world, i.e. the belief in a real apprehending subject and apprehended object. This sense of duality leads to all egotism and emotional conditions, the presence of which keeps sentient beings separated from the realization of their own true nature, i.e., Buddha-Nature (tathagatagarbha, de bzhin snying po). Therefore it is necessary to eliminate or sever these discursive processes. Having done so, one becomes free from all dichotomies including fear of birth and death, etc. The meditation that accompanies the ritual takes the form of a sacrifice in which the practitioner imaginatively offers his or her body, senses, and life itself to a female manifestation of the Buddha. The rite is an hallucinatory evocation during which terrifying deities and demons appear to the meditator. In fact, it is recommended that the practice of chöd be carried out in cementeries filled with corpses, jackals, vultures, etc. so that the practitioner's deeply held sense of ego manifests even more strongly than usual in order that it may be completely sacrificed.

Ritual Dagger (kila, phur pa)  

The phurba (kila, phur pa) or ritual dagger is a tantric ritual implement used symbolically to conquer evil spirits or negative emotional states, as well as avert obstacles. Phurbas are used in esoteric rites by high level tantric practitioners. The phurba is made in three separate segments: the head, the shank, and the triangular blade. The three-sided blade has two serpent-like creatures called nagas (klu) entwined around it, and above each of the corners of the blade there is a gilded crocodile (makara). The shank is comprised of two inverted lotuses at the center, with what appear to be decorative knot-designs on either side. Finally, at the top of the dagger are the three heads of the deity Vajrakilaya, each with three eyes, blazing bushy hair and eyebrows and skull crowns with turquoise inlay. The triple-head is crowned with a miniature half-vajra. When using the phurba, the meditator recites the appropriate liturgy, and invites the actual deity to abide within the dagger. The practitioner then imagines that he or she is frightening and subduing the evil spirits by impaling them with the blade.

Ritual Crown (dbu rgyan)

A lama 'crown' consisting of five thin copper (?) panels with arched tops, painted gold, and attached to each other with a red cord. In the center of each panel is a Sanskrit syllable corresponding to one of the five meditational or ãcosmicä Buddhas (dhyani-buddha). The crown is worn together with a stitched fabric topknot with loosely hanging strands of cotton in the rear. Such crowns are used by lamas and monks during certain religious ceremonies such as tantric initiations rituals (abhisheka, dbang), and are styled after the iconographic representations of 'Enjoyment Body' (sambhogakaya, longs sku) Buddhas' ornaments, which are in turn based upon the traditional garb of the royal class. While wearing the crown, the lama or monk visualizes himself as the actual deity. Such crowns may be worn by several initiates at once during a large initiation ceremony, or individually by a single monk during a 'self-initiation' ceremony. They may also be worn during certain ritual dances.

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