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333 A Guide to Sang Practice


Namo guru padmakaraye!
Embodiment of all the buddhas of the past, present and future, protector of all living beings,
Consider us, the beings of this degenerate age, and care for us with your compassion!
Lord of Oddiyana, crowning ornament of the teachings and beings in this Land of Snows,
With unwavering devotion, and respectful body, speech and mind, I bow before you and offer you the crown of my head!

南無 咕如 貝瑪卡惹耶(頂禮上師蓮花生源者)

Now, the topic of discussion is as follows: it is by making illusory offerings through illusory practice that we can complete the gathering of illusory accumulations. Through this cause—namely the accumulation of merit—we can gain the result, which is the perfection of wisdom. Four such methods which involve very little difficulty and yet are exceptionally meaningful and beneficial are the offerings of sang, water tormas,[1] sur[2] and one’s own body. The individual who practises these regularly and diligently will gather the accumulations, purify the obscurations, and, in particular, will pacify any obstacles and factors that prevent the accomplishment of the Dharma and awakening in the present lifetime, becoming free of them like the sun emerging from the clouds. Since they also support our progress along the path leading to the supreme attainment of Dzogpachenpo, it makes sense for us to put our energy into practising them.


Firstly, let us consider the practice of sang. The offerings for the sang should be ‘of noble origin, fine substance and beautifully arranged’. This means that they should be untainted by wrong livelihood and stinginess. The five styles of wrong livelihood[3] and stinginess in particular are causes for rebirth as a hungry ghost. If we are as stingy with the offering substances as we would be in cutting off pieces of our own flesh then that will not result in our gathering the accumulations, so we should thoroughly avoid it. ‘Fine substances’ means that we should offer the first portion or the very best parts of the things we consume ourselves, not the things we would never touch because they have turned bad or rotten, or are too bitter, or are just the final dregs. That would not do at all. The buddhas do not have any dualistic concepts of good and bad, or clean and dirty, but everything must be clean and hygienic, as in the saying, “Since it is to gather the accumulations, it should be clean and then made even cleaner.” The crucial point is that the offering substances should be extremely clean and then made pure.


‘Beautifully arranged’ means that it is important the sang burner and so on, as well as the place where the offerings are arranged, be neatly put together and uniform. They should not be crooked or messy simply because we are keen not to over-exert ourselves and therefore disregard whatever instructions we have heard.


Furthermore, no matter what we are doing, we must co-ordinate the actions of our body, speech and mind, or we will never accomplish much of any value. If we are content simply to recite the words of the practice without any thought of what we are doing, as if our heads were wooden masks with paper tongues fluttering inside them, we will only tire ourselves out to very little effect. In fact, there is no practice at all which is to be done only by recitation without the need for visualization. Here too, the practice is based on generation-stage (kyerim) and visualization.


In brief, we begin by reciting the verses of refuge and bodhichitta, taking refuge in the Three Jewels with stable faith and trust, and generating the bodhichitta of aspiration, which is the motivation of wishing that all sentient beings, ourselves and all others, attain perfect awakening. If these two are not done as a preliminary, the practice will be like shooting an arrow without first focusing on the target, and so we must begin with refuge and bodhichitta. Then, unless we visualize ourselves in the form of the yidam deity, whichever one it might be, we will not be able to bless the offering substances, so we must visualize ourselves as the yidam. From the syllable HUNG in our heart appears a dark red syllable RAM which burns the substances of the sang offering. From the syllable YAM comes wind which scatters them, and from KHAM comes water which cleanses them. With this, they are purified within the emptiness of the absolute space of great primordial purity, the dharmadhatu beyond any conceptualization.


Then, once again visualizing ourselves as the yidam deity, from our heart emanates a white OM ornamented with circles (tiklé) of light to become the precious vessel, deep and vast in size, spreading out to fill the whole universe. Inside, white OM syllables, representing the essence of the enlightened body of all the buddhas, red AH syllables, the essence of their enlightened speech, and dark blue HUNG syllables, the essence of their enlightened mind, rain down from the absolute sphere. Having been blessed, the sang offerings, which in essence are emptiness and the immaculate wisdom nectar which liberates upon taste, take on different forms in the perception of the various guests. They appear as forms to stimulate the sense of vision, sounds to stimulate the sense of hearing, fragrances to stimulate the sense of smell, flavours to stimulate the sense of taste and tactile sensations to stimulate the sense of touch, as well as all kinds of other riches and enjoyments, all of them complete, with nothing whatsoever lacking—a vast treasure that is inexhaustible, just like the offering clouds of the noble bodhisattva Samantabhadra. Through the mantra and the mudra of the ‘treasury of space’ they are increased and multiplied. Then from the HUNG syllable at our heart—the heart of the yidam deity—come boundless rays of light, and, we consider that the Three Jewels, who are the guests invited out of respect, the protectors who are the guests invited on account of their qualities, the beings of the six classes who are the guests invited out of compassion, and the obstacle-making guests to whom we owe karmic debt all manifest in physical forms out of the absolute space of the dharmadhatu, like bubbles suddenly appearing in water or lightning flashing in the sky. At the same time as we recite the lines for inviting the guests, we consider that they appear there before us in a single instant, directly perceptible to our own senses, and we request that they take their places.


The Four Types of Guest 四類賓客

The rare and supreme ones, the ‘Jewels’, who are the guests invited out of respect, consist of the dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya buddhas, as well as the Dharma and the sangha, and all the gurus, yidam deities, dakinis and so on. They all appear vividly like clusters of stars in the sky above.


The protectors, who are the guests invited on account of their qualities, are the eight mahadevas, the eight great nagas, the eight great rahus, the four great kings, the nine great terrifying ones, the ten guardians of the directions, the twenty-eight constellations, and the seventy-five glorious protectors of pure abodes, together with their retinues, their attendants, attendants’ attendants, and families, and all positive forces, local deities and guardians. All of them gather like billowing clouds in the sky.


The six classes of beings, who are the guests invited out of compassion, consist of the gods, human beings, demi-gods, animals, pretas, hell-beings and so on, all gathered together like a dense mist in the air.


Obstructing forces, who are the guests to whom we owe karmic debts, include all karmic creditors, such as the 80,000 types of obstructing forces, headed by Vinayaka, king of obstacle makers, as well as the fifteen great döns who strike children, and Hariti with her five hundred children. All of them are assembled on the ground, as if a huge crowd of men and gods were gathered there.


Visualization for the Offering 獻供的觀想

Imagine that the deities to whom we offer all receive the substances of the sang in the form of rays of light, like sunbeams striking water, imbibing them with the hollow vajras of their tongues. Alternatively, you could consider that offering goddesses, as numerous as specks of dust in a sunbeam, emanate from the offering smoke, each of them holding a vase of purifying nectar in their right hands, and a container filled with medicine in their left, and that they spread the sweet-smelling smoke throughout the entire world. From the tips of the smoke, emanate inconceivably vast ocean-like clouds of offerings, consisting of the eight auspicious symbols, seven emblems of royalty and so on.


Benefits of the Offering 獻供的利益

By offering to the rare and precious ones, the guests invited out of respect, all sentient beings, including ourselves, complete the gathering of the two accumulations, purify the two kinds of obscuration, and attain the two kinds of siddhi during this very lifetime.


By offering to the protectors, the guests invited on account of their qualities, their minds become intoxicated by the taste of bliss and emptiness, and they help us to pacify all illness, destructive influences, adversity and obstacles, and to bring about every kind of virtuous and positive circumstance and favourable condition, effortlessly and spontaneously, just as we desire, and to accomplish whatever activity we choose.


By offering to the six classes of beings, the guests invited out of compassion, they are freed from their karmic vision, their sufferings and the habitual tendencies of their respective realms. In the short term, they come to possess all the riches and enjoyments of the gods of Mastery over Others’ Emanations.[4] Ultimately, they become buddhas, awakening spontaneously in the realm of the great, naturally appearing ultimate Akanishtha.


By offering to the obstructing forces, the guests to whom we owe karmic debt, all the debts that we and all other beings have accumulated throughout our infinite lives without beginning, even during our current lifetime in our present bodies, are repaid. These include debts that shorten our lives because we have killed; debts that plague us with illness because we have attacked and beaten others; debts that make us poor because we have stolen; debts to overlords and underlings;[5] and debts from accidentally killing men and horses. Our debts are repaid; we are freed from our karmic obligations, and delivered from the deadly vengeance of the karmic creditors. They are freed from their karmic vision and all their suffering, and, in particular, they are freed from their malicious intentions and tendencies to harm others, and they gain loving kindness, compassion and precious bodhichitta.


It is extremely important that we seal the practice in this way, bringing to mind the visualization as we recite the words of the text.


Visualization for the Dissolution 收攝的觀想

As we recite the text for the dissolution, we consider that the one who makes the offering, the offering substances and the recipients of the offering, are all absorbed into the infinite expanse of great primordial purity and timeless freedom, the dharmadhatu in which there is no conceptualization and which is beyond the limitations of ideas. Then, to conclude, we dedicate the sources of our merit towards perfect enlightenment and recite appropriate verses of auspiciousness.


Since the visualizations for the practices of offering water tormas, sur and offering the body are almost identical, they can be understood by applying reasoning.


Although I am not sure of this meaning in my own mind,
I have remained true to the oral lineage of masters who are beyond compare,
Without displaying any scholarly pride or introducing ideas of my own.
Thus, in response to repeated requests from my Dharma friend,
I have composed this brief guide to the visualization for the practice of sang.
If I have made any errors, I confess them now before the hosts of wisdom deities.
Through this merit, for myself and others—all who see this—
May all obstacles to our accomplishing enlightenment be thoroughly pacified,
And may all our wishes that accord with the Dharma be fulfilled without any hindrance,
And may all be auspicious so that we accomplish our own and others’ well-being, just as we desire!


When the monk Acho, who has made meaningful the freedoms and advantages, and has visited several times all the great sacred places throughout Jambudvipa, requested this again and again, saying that he needed a brief guide to the visualization for the practice of sang, I, the beggar of Dome called Ten, wrote this in an isolated hermitage on the slopes of Dorje Drak.


Virtue! Virtue! Virtue!


Translated by Adam Pearcey, Rigpa Translations, 2006. Many thanks to Tulku Thondup Rinpoche for his gracious clarifications.


1. An offering made with water, milk and grains. 用水、乳、穀所作的供養。 ↩

2. _Sur_ means burnt offering: “An offering made by burning food on coals. It is offered to the buddhas, the protectors, all beings in general and in particular to wandering spirits and those towards whom we have karmic debts.” Words of My Perfect Teacher, p. 405. 「餗」意指燃燒供養:「在木炭上燃燒食物來作供養。獻供予佛眾、護法、一般性的所有眾生,以及特定性的遊走靈類(部多)和怨親債主。」見《普賢上師言教》英文書(舊版頁數p. 405)。 ↩

3. Five styles of wrong livelihood: 1) hypocrisy; 2) flattery; 3) soliciting; 4) expropriating; and 5) calculated generosity. 五種不正業包括:偽善、諂媚、誘引、剝奪,以及刻意預設的慷慨。 ↩

4. The highest of the six god realms within the Desire Realm. 欲界六天的最高界。 ↩

5. “Literally, debts of pulling down the castles of the high (upper classes) and taking land from the poor.” Tulku Thondup. 祖古東杜仁波切開示:「字面意義為,因把高階(上位者)城堡拖拉向下或因奪取貧苦者土地所致的業債。」 ↩

༄༅། །ན་མོ་གུ་རུ་པདྨཱ་ཀ་ར་ཡེ། །དུས་གསུམ་རྒྱལ་བའི་སྤྱི་གཟུགས་འགྲོ་བའི་མགོན། །སྙིགས་མའི་འགྲོ་ལ་ཐུགས་རྗེས་རབ་དགོངས་མཛད། །གངས་ཅན་བསྟན་འགྲོའི་གཙུག་རྒྱན་ཨོ་རྒྱན་རྗེ། །མི་ཕྱེད་སྒོ་གསུམ་གུས་འདུད་སྤྱི་བོས་མཆོད། །དེ་ལ་འདིར་སྒྱུ་མ་ལྟ་བུའི་རྣལ་འབྱོར་གྱིས། །སྒྱུ་མ་ལྟ་བུའི་སྦྱིན་པ་བྱས་ན། སྒྱུ་མ་ལྟ་བུའི་ཚོགས་རྫོགས་པར་འགྱུར་བ་ཡིན་ཏེ། རྒྱུ་བསོད་ནམས་ཀྱི་ཚོགས་ལ་བརྟེན་ནས་འབྲས་བུ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་ཚོགས་རྫོགས་པར་བྱེད་པའི་ཐབས་ཚེགས་ཆུང་ལ་དོན་ཆེ་བ་ཕན་ཡོན་དང་ལྡན་པ་དུས་དང་རྣམ་པ་ཀུན་ཏུ། བསང༌། ཆུ་གཏོར། གསུར། ལུས་སྦྱིན་སོགས་སྦྱིན་པ་རྣམ་བཞི་ལ་རྟག་ཏུ་བརྩོན་པར་བྱེད་པའི་གང་ཟག་དེ་ཉིད་ནི། ཚོགས་རྫོགས་ཤིང་སྒྲིབ་པ་དག་པ་དང་ཁྱད་པར་དུ་ཡང་ཚེ་འདིར་དམ་ཆོས་བྱང་ཆུབ་སྒྲུབ་པའི་འགལ་ཟླ་མི་མཐུན་པའི་ཕྱོགས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཉི་མ་སྤྲིན་ལས་གྲོལ་བ་བཞིན་དུ་ཉེ་བར་ཞི་ཞིང་མཐར་ཐུག་ཐུན་མོང་མ་ཡིན་པ་རྫོགས་པ་ཆེན་པོ་མཆོག་གི་དངོས་གྲུབ་ཐོབ་པར་བྱེད་པའི་ལམ་གྱི་ཆ་ལགས་སུ་ཉེ་བར་འགྱུར་བ་ཡིན་པས་འདི་ལ་འབད་པར་རིགས་སོ། །ཐོག་མར་བསང་ལྟ་བུ་ལ་མཚོན་ན། བསང་རྫས་དེ་ཡང༌། རྒྱུ་བཟང་བ། དངོས་གཙང་བ། བཀོད་ལེགས་པ་ཞེས་གསུངས་པ་ལྟར། རྒྱུ་ལོག་འཚོ་དང་སེར་སྣས་མ་བསླད་པ་ཞིག་དགོས་པ་ཡིན་ཏེ། ལོག་པའི་འཚོ་བ་ལྔ་དང༌། ཁྱད་པར་སེར་སྣ་ནི་ཡི་དྭགས་སུ་སྐྱེ་བའི་རྒྱུ་ཡིན་ཏེ། མཆོད་པའི་དངོས་པོ་གང་ལ་ཡང་རང་གི་ཤ་ལ་གཅིག་གཅོད་དགོས་པ་ལྟ་བུའི་སེར་སྣ་དང་བཅས་པས་ནི་ཚོགས་རྫོགས་པར་འགྱུར་བ་མ་ཡིན་པས་ལེགས་པར་སྤང་དགོས། དངོས་བཟང་བ་ནི་རང་གིས་གང་ཟ་རྒྱུའི་དངོས་པོ་དེ་ལས་ཕུད་དམ་གང་བཟང་བ་དེ་མཆོད་པའི་དངོས་པོ་བྱེད་པ་མ་གཏོགས། །གང་ངན་པ་དང༌། རུལ་བ་དང༌། ཁ་བ། ནག་དྲེག་ཕོག་པ་སོགས་རང་གིས་བཟའ་མི་ལོམ་པ་ལ་མཆོད་པ་བྱེད་པ་ནི་ཤིན་ཏུ་མི་རུང་ཏེ། རྒྱལ་བ་རྣམས་ལ་བཟང་ངན་དང་གཙང་སྨེ་སོགས་གཉིས་སྣང་གི་རྟོག་པ་མངའ་བ་མ་ཡིན་ཏེ། རང་གི་ཚོགས་རྫོགས་པར་བྱེད་པས། གཙང་ཞིང་གཙང་མར་སྦྱར་བ་ཡི། །ཞེས་པ་ལྟར་ཁ་གཙང་ལག་གཙང་བྱས་ཏེ། མཆོད་པའི་དངོས་པོ་དེ་ཡང་ཤིན་ཏུ་གཙང་ཞིང་དག་པར་བྱེད་པ་ནི་གནད་དོ། །གཀོད་ལེགས་པ་ནི། བསང་མཁར་སོགས་མཆོད་སྟེགས་དེ་ཡང་རང་གི་ལུས་ངལ་བ་ཙམ་ལ་བསམ་ནས་ཅི་ཉན་གང་ཉན་ཞིག་མི་བྱེད་པར་ཡ་ཡོ་འཁྱག་འཁྱོག་དང་བྲལ་བ། དབྱིབས་མཛེས་ཤིང་ཁོད་སྙོམས་པ་ཞིག་བྱེད་པ་ནི་གལ་ཆེའོ། །ལར་བྱ་བ་གང་ལ་ཡང་ལུས་ངག་ཡིད་གསུམ་ཆིག་དྲིལ་དུ་མ་བྱས་ན་དགོས་དོན་མི་འགྲུབ་པའི་ཕྱིར། འདིར་ཡང་ཡིད་ལ་བསམ་རྒྱུ་ཅི་ཡང་མེད་པར་ཤིང་ཁ་ཤོག་ལྕེ་ཙམ་ཁོ་ནས་འདོན་ཟློས་བྱས་ཀྱང་རང་ངལ་བ་ཙམ་ལས་དོན་འབྲས་ཆུང་བར་འདུག་པས་བསྐྱེད་རིམ་ཞིག་མི་དགོས་པའི་ཆོ་ག་ཞིག་འདོན་རྒྱུ་གཏན་ནས་ཡོད་པ་མ་ཡིན་ཏེ། འདིར་ཡང་བསྐྱེད་རིམ་དང་དམིགས་པ་ཁོ་ན་ལ་རག་ལས་པ་ཡིན་པས་དེ་ཡང་མདོ་ཧྲིལ་གྱིས་དྲིལ་ན། ཐོག་མར་སྐྱབས་དཀོན་མཆོག་གསུམ་ལ་ཡིད་ཁྱེད་ཤེས་ཀྱི་དད་པ་བརྟན་པོས་སྒོ་ནས་སྐྱབས་སུ་འགྲོ་བ་དང༌། རང་གཞན་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་རྫོགས་བྱང་ཐོབ་འདོད་ཀྱི་ཀུན་སློང་བསམ་པ་བྱང་ཆུབ་མཆོག་ཏུ་སེམས་བསྐྱེད་པ་དང་བཅས་ཏེ་སྐྱབས་འགྲོ་དང་སེམས་བསྐྱེད་ཀྱི་ཚིག་བརྗོད། འདི་གཉིས་སྔོན་དུ་མ་སོང་ན་འབེན་མ་མཐོང་བར་མདའ་རྒྱག་པ་དང་འདྲ་བར་མཚུངས་པས་སྐྱབས་སེམས་གཉིས་སྔོན་དུ་འགྲོ་བར་བྱས་ལ། ཐོག་མར་རང་ཡི་དམ་གྱི་ལྷ་གང་རུང་ཞིག་ཏུ་མ་གསལ་བར་མཆོད་རྫས་ཀྱི་དངོས་པོ་དེ་ཡང་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབ་མི་ནུས་པ་ཡིན་པས་རང་ཉིད་ཡི་དམ་དུ་གསལ་བའི་ཐུགས་ཀའི་ཧཱུྃ་ལས་ཡི་གེ་རཾ་དམར་ནག་གཅིག་སྤྲོས་པ་ལས་བསང་རྫས་ཀྱི་དངོས་པོ་དེ་དག་བསྲེག ཡཾ་ལས་རླུང་བྱུང་པས་གཏོར། ཁཾ་ལས་

LINE it!