Sunday, April 26, 2020

The significance of Dradu and Dilbu, the two commonly used ritual instruments in Throema practice

Photo of Dradu and Dilbu

In Throema practice, the practitioners use a small ritual drum called Dradu and a bell called Dilbu. These ritual instruments give a spiritual rhythm to the prayers. But they have deeper meaning and significance than what we think we know. According to His Eminence Garab Rinpoche, the pioneer of Throema practice in modern times, a Dradu is more than just a circular drum made of a hollow wooden cavity covered on two sides by a thin animal skin. I feel it is important that all Throema practitioners know the actual significance of these seemingly simple-looking ritual instruments while using them.

It is said that a Dradu has two layers of significance. Externally, it is an embodiment of the blessings and empowerment of all the Buddhas as it is being blest by a qualified master before being put to use in the spiritual practice. Just by its sound, it is believed to have the power to bless the sentient beings of all six realms and liberate them from the world of Samsara. It has the power to translate the value of prayers into a powerful wave of energy that can bless the universe with peace and happiness.

But at the deeper level, a Dradu is also said to represent the universal truth of emptiness and impermanence. His Eminence Garab Rinpoche has said that if we try to focus on the source of the sound that comes out of the drum when we use it, we would realize that it neither comes from the wooden frame that makes up the drum nor from the animal-skin that covers the wooden cavity. It actually comes from the empty space that lies between the wooden frame and the skin. Since we don’t hear the same sound when we dismantle the drum and hit on the wooden frame and the skin separately, we should know that the sound we hear while using the drum basically comes from emptiness and dissolves back into emptiness. This signifies that whatever we see and hear around us is only illusory and nothing is solid and permanent in life. For practitioners, it should serve as a constant reminder of emptiness and impermanence, the core foundation of Buddhism.

On the other hand, the ritual bell or Dilbu which accompanies the Dradu is believed to invoke the blessings and powers of 100 deities or Zhithroi Lhatshog (50 peaceful and 50 wrathful deities) within our body. If we can practice Throema with such an understanding and awareness, we can focus on the true meaning and purpose of our practice more effectively and accumulate more merits for the benefit of other sentient beings. May this entire universe be blest with eternal peace!

Author's note:

This article has been based on an audio teaching given by His Eminence Garab Rinpoche that was being circulated on WeChat.

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