Hi my name is Pastor Khong Jean Ai. I’m a member of Tsem Ladrang where I serve as one of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche’s assistants. I have known Rinpoche for nearly 20 years since I was a little girl but I only joined Kechara full time in 2009 after graduating from university.
I’m here today to talk about an important part of the Dorje Shugden daily sadhanna. It is known as the kawang, or confessional prayer. This prayer is also known as kangshag and its literal meaning is, ‘the clearing of obstacles’. Kangshag is recited as a confessional practice to purify significant accumulated negative karma threatening to obstruct one’s practice. It also helps practitioners to develop a closer bond to Dorje Shugden. Reciting kangshak on a regular basis also clears the karma that prevents us from full reliance, faith and trust in Dorje Shugden. Because we have a lot of negative karma, the actual visualisation done during the recitation is particularly graphic. There is a logic reason for all of this. We have accumulated a lot of negative karma over countless lifetimes. Thus if the negative karma that blocks one’s practice is forceful, then the puja to counter it has to be as equally intense.
So let’s start with the visualisation. First, you visualise the three poisons which are ignorance, hatred and desire and all the negative karma of samsara of every single sentient being. All of this takes the form of a very large man or woman. At this point, if you want, you can also visualise yourself as this being. Next a dakini who is an emanation of Vajrayogini appears. She wields a cemetery knife and slays the being who personifies our negativities. Then this dakini slices up the being and removes the internal organs. The body parts are then used to form a wrathful version of the sensory offerings to Dorje Shugden. First the dakini drains the blood from the corpse into a skull cup. This forms the offering of Arhgam. Then visualise the dakini removing the organs of the 5 senses which are the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue and the heart. The dakini arranges these organs in a vessel to form Pupe, or the wrathful flower offering. Following on from Pupe, is the offering of Dupe, or the offering of incense. Visualise the dakini pulling out the bones of the corpse and arranging them in a vessel. She then burns these bones as an offering of incense. You follow the offering of Dupe with the offering of Aloke which is an offering of light. At this point, visualise the dakini extracting human fat from the corpse. She melts the human fat into a vessel and inserts a wick made from human hair. After this you make an offering of perfume, or Gende. During the kangshak prayer, visualise the dakini draining the other fluids of the body, for example the bile and the urine. Second last of the wrathful sensory offerings is Newide, or food. You visualise the dakini chopping up the flesh of the corpse and mixing it with tsampa, or barley flour, then placing this into a vessel to be offered up. Finally you make an offering of wrathful sound, or Shapta. The dakini pulls out the thigh bones of the corpse. Then she cleans and fashions it into a thigh bone trumpet to represent a wrathful music offering. So who is the dakini offering everything to? She offers up all these substances to Dorje Shugden on your behalf.
Once you have visualised all the wrathful offerings, Arhgam, Pupe, Dupe, Aloke, Gende, Newide and Shapta, these are purified into nectar and offered to Dorje Shugden. If Dorje Shugden accepts these, visualise and believe all our negative karma and impurities are similarly purified. Then we become clean and free of negativities. This visualisation is very very powerful when done correctly and consistently.
I know that all of this sounds pretty gruesome but there is a logical explanation behind all of it. First going back to what I previously said, if the negative karma blocking our spiritual practice is very forceful, then the puja to counter it has to be as equally intense. Second, visualising our negativities in human form makes it easier and less abstract for us to imagine. Then some people might ask, ‘Why are you offering all these gross things the Buddhas? Won’t they be offended? Why not offer pretty things, nice things?’ Well the answer is quite simple. Enlightened beings are without ego. If you offer something sincerely, they do not perceive the offerings as gross or unclean and they won’t be offended. Of course if you can, you don’t intentionally offer gross, unclean things to them when you can afford to offer nicer things. The key word here is sincerely. Ultimately the best offering of all is the offering of our attachments, our negative karmas and our practice. The best offering, the one that pleases Dorje Shugden the most is our mind transformation, to become better, more beneficial and kinder human beings.
Next we are going to talk about altar set up. This isn’t strictly necessary when you do your kangshak recitation but it will be good for you to make wrathful offerings with a symbolic representation. Rinpoche previously explained it like this. When we make offerings, yes we can just visualise the offerings, the Buddhas will definitely accept these offerings, especially if they are done with sincerity but at our level, as the unattained practitioner, there is a difference between visualising an offering and actually making it. Rinpoche explained this difference as being the same as visualising that we walk down to the river to collect water to make offerings and actually going down to the river, washing the cups, collecting the water, coming back to our altar to make the offerings. The difference here is the intention, the effort, the time and the energy. So even though making wrathful offerings during the kangshak recitation is not strictly necessary, it will be good to make them with a symbolic representation, to generate an even closer bond with Dorje Shugden. Of course you don’t offer blood, thigh bones, human fat and that kind of thing. You would offer substances that represent these wrathful offerings. So for blood, or Arhgam, you can offer tea. For the sense organs, or Pupe, you would offer a wrathful flower. In the place of burning bones for Dupe, you would offer crossed incense sticks. For Aloke, which is the human fat, you can offer a candle. To offer Gende, or the bodily fluids, you can offer beer. In the place of flesh for Newide, you would offer wrathful foods. Finally to make a symbolic wrathful offering of music, or Shapta, you can offer a spiked conch shell.
During kangshak we also make other kinds of offerings. During the prayer you offer the commitment substances, the 7 Royal Emblems, armour, weapons and animals. The commitment substances are milk yoghurt, tsampa or roasted barley flour, tea and beer. Milk is offered because it is nourishing in nature, thus representing spiritual nourishment. Yoghurt is offered because it is a calming food substance used to cool down energies which may sometimes be too wrathful. Tsampa, which is roasted barley flour, is a nutritious food substance that anybody can consume. It is considered a very strengthening food that anyone of any age can enjoy. If you cannot find tsampa where you are, you can also offer oats in its place. Tea is considered a precious substance. It is offered because it awakens and livens the senses which is important when we are requesting Dorje Shugden and his entourage and his emanations to offer swift assistance. Finally beer is offered. In tantric symbology, when beer is consumed, it is transformed into inner attainments. Therefore when we offer beer here, it represents tantric attainments.
Then we offer the 7 Royal Emblems. What are they and what do they represent? With the 7 Royal Emblems, you first make the offering of the Precious Jewels. The Precious Jewels represent unending power and possibilities. This is followed by an offering of the Precious Elephant which represents the qualities of being a noble gentleman and having the strength of the mind. Next you offer the Precious Queen which represents love that is not attached. The Precious Queen has the ultimate feminine beauty and love for a husband. She radiates the joy of enlightenment. This is followed by the offering the Precious King. When you offer the Precious King, it represents gaining the power to overcome our enemies. Of course once you have offered the Precious Kind and the Precious Queen, then you offer the Precious Minister. The Precious Minister is the liaison who helps the King and his role is to spread the Dharma. Following from this you would offer the Precious Horse which is able to travel far and wide. The Precious Horse represents carrying the Dharma and spreading it quickly everywhere. Finally, you would offer the Precious Wheel, which is the Wheel of Truth. This wheel of truth refers to the truth of the Dharma or the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
In the kangshak we also offer armour, shields and weapons to Dorje Shugden. These are implements for Dorje Shugden to either protect us or to fight our negative karma so when we make these offerings, we are creating the causes for Dorje Shugden to assist us. During the kangshak prayer we also offer animals to Dorje Shugden. For example, the horse, elephants, yaks and dogs. These are depicted as mounts in Buddhist symbology. We offer these animals to create the causes to receive swift and effective assistance from Dorje Shugden and his entourage. Nothing is selected to be offered by chance or randomly. These offerings are implements to request Dorje Shugden to do his work. When we make these kinds of offerings we generate great merit for the purification of our negative karma. We also create the causes to receive the resources that we need for a smooth spiritual path where we can dedicate our mental time and our energy to studying, comprehending, practicing and finally realising the Dharma.
So who can recite kangshak and when can they recite it? As with all Dorje Shugden prayers, anyone can recite kangshak as part of their daily sadhanna or practice. For those who are short on time, you can follow this order. Kangshak is highly recommended for people who have a lot of bodily karma to purify. Bodily karma refers to karma created from the actions related to our body. It is also highly recommended to recite kangshak, especially when we are going through our obstacle years or in our old age. Kangshak is very effective to clear and stabilise the mind when doubts and confusing arise. At this time, Rinpoche has often recommended that we recite kangshak a minimum of 7 times. Rinpoche also recommends that people who are engaging or starting large projects, especially involving the growth of the Dharma, should recite kangshak.
So how to do you pronounce the kangshak prayer? The kangshak prayer is recited as follows.
Heart’s blood drinking offerings
Set out like the flower of the Ganges
Flowers of the sense organs
Blossoming and clouds of
Human bile perfume, flesh
And blood and the sound of
Thigh bone trumpets
Please accept these as well as
An ocean of undefiled nectar!
Also sensual objects and
The seven royal objects
The intelligent horse, elephants,
Frightful yaks, sheep, and dogs,
Saffron robes, strong,
Hard armour and shields
Arrows, spears, swords, and outer,
Inner, and secret bases,
With these clouds of offerings,
Both supramundane and worldly
O Dorje Shugden and all your
May your heart commitment be
Fulfilled and degeneration restored!
Especially, each accumulated
Faulty deed of body,
Speech, and mind
We have committed under the
Influence of ignorance
Which goes against your mind,
We confess with a mind
Of remorse and regret.
Furthermore, transgressions of our
Commitments to the Protector
And neglect or degeneration
Of retreat practice, tormas,
And offerings, etc.,
We practitioners confess all of these
Within the unobjectifiable emptiness
Of the three spheres.
I hope that this explanation has been helpful to you. As you can see, kangshag is a very powerful practice. Not only for purification but also for us to generate merit, create the causes for our work to flourish and for us to draw a closer connection to Dorje Shugden. Thank you.