WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO:The Chokey term jinlab (བྱིན་རླབས་) refers to spiritual blessings. Literally, jin (བྱིན་) refers to power, magnificence or splendor, and lab (རླབས་) to waves and ripples. Jinlab is thus the waves, billows or ripples of power and magnificence, which emits from a sacred agent such as a person, object or event, and affect others. Put loosely, it is the sacred vibes of a powerful person, object or event picked up by others who encounter them. When a person is impacted by a sacred power, presence or splendour, it is said the jinlab has entered the person. The person is blessed. In Sanskrit, it is called adhisthana, literally standing over or dwelling within something. It refers to power or benediction residing in something or somebody.

Jinlap blessings come in different forms through different ways. The Buddhas and spiritual masters bless others through physical forms, verbal chants and mental connections. In the earliest records in the Buddhist scriptures of jinlab or adhisthana, the Buddha is said to have blessed or spiritually impacted people through his miraculous display of multiple emanations and supernatural feats. The Buddha also blessed his disciples by connecting with their mind through the power of meditation, like the case of the Buddha blessing Śaripūtra to ask the question in the Heart Sūtra. However, the most important mode of jinlab or blessing by the Buddha is through his words. The Buddha teaches and instructs his followers using a wide range of teachings and skilful methods. He influences his audience through his teachings or, in other words, through the waves (རླབས་) of his powerful (བྱིན་) speech.

In tantric rituals, an object is blessed or injected with jinlab through ceremonies, rituals, prayers, meditation, mantra spells and mudra gestures. In a ceremony of consecration, sacred objects such as stupas and statues and the ritual artefacts such as vajra, bell, vase, skull, offering, feast, etc. are invested with the waves of power and presence of the Buddhas. Specific sets of meditation and visualization are undertaken, mantras are chanted and mudra gestures employed in order to invest things with jinlab. Many antique religious artefacts are said to possess a great deal of jinlab injected in these manners by the past Buddhas and masters.

People receive jinlab or waves of power or benediction from the holy objects and persons in various ways. Lamas bestow blessings using their hand, book, food, drink, string, ritual implement, etc. The mode of blessing commonly called jinlab in Bhutan and the Himalayas is the sacred medicinal pills and substances given by the lamas. These medicinal sacred substances are blessed through a tantric ceremony to make them powerful so that the person who consumes them gain from them spiritual and other benefits. However, the most important jinlab is the spiritual benefit people receive on their personality and minds. In a popular practice, the enlightened body, speech and mind of the Buddha or one’s guru are invoked to bless one’s body, speech and mind so that their impurities are cleansed, their power enhanced and their potential realized.

A jinlab becomes effective when it leaves an impact on the person. As the literal meaning suggests, the recipient must be touched by the waves or ripples of the power and qualities of the sacred source of jinlab. Merely observing a ritual, receiving a blessing and consuming substances with no positive impact on one’s thought, speech, behaviour, and mental and physical conditions is empty of the original purpose of jinlab.

Dr Karma Phuntsho is the President of the Loden Foundation, director of Shejun Agency for Bhutan’ Cultural Documentation and author The History of Bhutan.


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