Tsok Offerings are a practice which is unique to Vajrayana Buddhist. Vajrayana Buddhism is differentiated from other Buddhist approaches in that the concept of creating a view of pureness of all appearance and phenomena is incorporated into the meditation practice.
Part of Vajrayana meditation practices provides a meditator with the opportunity to use and develope ones’ mental imaginative power by participating in the ritual through visualizing themselves interacting with other beings and in particular, enlightened Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Tsok Offering practices utilize these special techniques and emphasis making actual and visualized offerings as a profound method to accumulate merit and wisdom which are two key ingredients to obtaining the state known as Buddhahood.
Although Tsok Offerings are generally an advanced and difficult practice, we open our Tsok Offerings to Buddhist of all levels. Even though having the visualization and concentrative capacity to completely follow along with the practice is something most participants lack, one can derive tremendous benefit through adopting the attitude know as pure view during the practice. On a very basic level, this means feeling profound gratitude and appreciation towards the Buddhas and enlightened beings and having undiscriminating compassion for all beings who live in confusion. And to recognize that this confusion is a temporary situation that all beings can be free of.
Attitudes and behavior which are the direct opposite of pure view include: jealousy or fault finding, argumentativeness or disagreeability, aggressiveness, combativeness, hostility and loud, careless and disruptive behavior. While those attitudes and behaviors are always advised against and especially while at a Buddhist Temple, it is especially emphasized to maintain mindfull and respectful behavior while participating in Tsok Offering practices. If participating through a healthy state of mind, incorporating pure view, the benefits of only just participating are tremendous.
During the Tsok practices a small amount of food and drink are distributed, so it is of critical importance to be mindfull while consuming this and not spill food crumbs or drink onto the holy books or anywhere else inside of the shrine room.
Cleanliness of all objects of the Tsok Offering, including oneself are also emphasized. Therefore, participants should do their best to attend the Tsok practices by applying proper hygiene, both to ones’ body and attire, before arriving and to ones’ mental attitudes before and during the ceremonies.
Tsok Offerings are practiced regularly on the 10th, 15th and 25th days according to the Tibetan Lunar calendar as well as on special holy days such as anniversaries of great masters, Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Rinpoche.
Tsok Offerings are free to attend although enhancing ones’ participation through making offerings of money and/or flowers are encouraged and appreciated.