A Smoke Offering is a practice that displays the quintessential Buddhist spirit of overcoming hatred, ignorance, and greed through the meditative generation of love and compassion towards all beings and its physical expression through the movements of ceremony. In encountering any of life’s conflicts, whether within ourselves or with others, letting go of our stubborn attachments and instead offering unconditional gratitude and patience, is at the heart of this practice.
The smoke offering ceremony contains different mental, verbal and physical methods — most notably mantra and visualization — that can produce a calm state of mind. With that relaxed clarity, we can direct our contemplation towards the underlying theme: generosity. As with all Buddhist practice, what happens in your mind is essential.
The Pure Mountain Smoke Offering - “Riwo Sangcho” in Tibetan - is a way to channel one’s inner focus and love, and direct it out towards all beings. Along with the steps of the ceremony, the power of this practice depends just as much upon the minds of the people present. It is a powerful meditation, and the more minds, the more energy is brought to the practice.
Origins of the Smoke Offering
The origins of the Pure Mountain Smoke Offering Ritual can be traced back more than 1,600 years and first became widely known during the construction of Tibet’s first Buddhist monastery, called Samye. Construction of the temple was nearly completed many times, only to mysteriously collapse to the ground at night. Suspecting unseen malevolent forces at work, the King of Tibet, Trisong Detsen, personally invited the legendary Guru Rinpoche to travel from India and help pacify the untamable negative energy in the area.
The practice Guru Rinpoche used, the Pure Mountain Smoke Offering, became recognized for its ability to completely transform the minds of beings into a state of contentment and bliss, thereby eliminating hatred and suffering and restoring balance to the area where it is practiced. It remains one of Guru Rinpoche’s most efficacious and expedient practices. It is this same practice that has been passed down through an unbroken lineage to our Rinpoche.
Only the best Chinese medicinal herbs and fragrant woods, as well as various dried vegetarian offerings, are used in this offering. Combined with a mind of generosity and love, in which we see and love all beings as our parents, the results are unmistakably transformative.