WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: Tendrel literally means ‘dependent and connected’. It refers to Buddha’s theory of interdependence or dependent origination or law of causation. The Buddha explained that our life and existence are results of causes and conditions.

There are three features to this natural law: 1. Things do not come out of nothing. Otherwise, everything will occur everywhere or not occur at all. 2. Things do not come out of an eternal cause. Otherwise, things will occur for eternity. Causes are impermanent and so are results. They are not static and absolute, and can be changed. 3. Causes and results are connected. Results correspond to the causes: good results come from good causes, bad results from bad causes, hot chillies from chilly seeds and cold cucumber from cucumber seeds. If the results do not correspond to causes, one would reap rice after planting potatoes, and a lazy person would have a lot of work done.

This law applies to all things in our lives, including goals we seek in our life such as prosperity, happiness and enlightenment. They are dependent on their causes and conditions and we must identify and cultivate their causes and conditions. For a tree to grow, we must plant the causal seed and nurture it with right conditions of soil, light, water and manure. If one seeks prosperity, one must cultivate its causes and conditions which are merit, hard work, financial skills, etc. Any goal we seek depends on cause and conditions. That is why we pay close attention to the idea of tendrel to remind ourselve that we must seek the causes of the thing to obtain the thing itself.

The tendrel ceremony we observe before starting a project or journey is a ritual to have an auspicious and effective beginning with the right circumstances. We start the process with right conditions such as time, place, company, motivation and vibes. We choose a time with the best alignment of stars and planets and a place with best setting to have impact. We choose the right company of people with affection and good will and use right prayers and mantras to imbibe the blessings and powers of higher beings and forces to aid us. We cultivate the right intention and aspirations to kick off the process. During the tendrel ceremony, we accumulate the necessary causes and conditions right at the start so that we can actualise the intended results easily.

Thus, the tendrel ceremony basically involves accumulating the known and unknown factors including right time, space, company, intentions and spiritual blessings to help bring about the result. However, it is important to     remember that a symbolic ceremony alone will not bring about the result because the results are dependent on the causes. After the auspicious beginning, one must further cultivate the causes and conditions.

While doing tendrel ceremony, it is crucial to reflect on the law of causation. One should not be satisfied with a mere ritual and forget to invest in the actual causes and conditions. One of the most important causes for a successful project is the intention. One must have a positive and wholesome intention, preferably an altruistic intention to help both oneself and others.

As one starts a new year, it pertinent to remember the meaning of tendrel, cultivate the best of intentions and set the right circumstances so that the year begins well and also end well. The mantra of tendrel is recited to help generate this effect.

ye dharmā hetu prabhavā hetun,

tesām tathāgato hyavadat,

tesām ca yo nirodha,

evam vādī mahāśramana


Dr Karma Phuntsho, is the founding director of Loden Foundation and author of The History of Bhutan


Skip to toolbar