The fundamental method in the Healing Chö is that a patient comes and lies down in front of the Chöpa, who recites the Chö liturgy in addition to using some autochthonic rites grouped under the term gto. The use of the these rites can be complicated or simple, depending on the choice of the ritual master and requirements of the situation. During the recitation of the liturgy, the Chöpa performs the visualization of Chö on behalf of the participants in the rite.
My first contact with Healing Chö came on the occasion of meeting my precious root guru, the late Mantradhara Yeshe Dorje for the first time in 1992. The first evening he was there, he performed a Healing Chö in order to remove obstacles of the people present. I had no idea what he was doing, and he did not explain anything. But we all lay down, and he performed the ceremony of Chö on our behalf.
One can easily read more about Chö. Since it is easy to receive instructions on the practice Chö these days, I won't go into any more detail about Chö here, apart from saying that a critical part of Chö is about paying back karmic debts one has incurred to negative spirits who act as obstacles and cause illness.
Now then, why all this bother about demons? I read an interesting article on delirium in the NY Times yesterday and saw this statement:
No one who knows Justin Kaplan would ever have expected this. A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian with a razor intellect, Mr. Kaplan, 84, became profoundly delirious while hospitalized for pneumonia last year. For hours in the hospital, he said, he imagined despotic aliens, and he struck a nurse and threatened to kill his wife and daughter.
"Thousands of tiny little creatures,” he said, “some on horseback, waving arms, carrying weapons like some grand Renaissance battle,” were trying to turn people “into zombies.” Their leader was a woman “with no mouth but a very precisely cut hole in her throat(link).
It is well known in the Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine that fevers, especially contagious fevers, are caused by the actions of spirits. The general fever chapter of the Upadesha Tantra discusses gdon as one of the four causal conditions of fevers:
Spirits: [fevers] are caused by arising from the central eye of Shiva and from the cursing and fighting between matrikas and ḍākinīs (two types of female spirits).
There are many other gdon which are indicated in a whole range of illnesses. From the perspective of Tibetan Medicine many people are afflicted by gdon and are never treated for it properly, nor are they protected against it. In the article above, it states that many folks who are struck by the kind of delirium described above, never completely recover.
In most instances, from our perspective, many of these conditions could be alleviated with proper rituals done correctly. At our Healing Chö, people reported amazing results, such as the vanishing of long-term persistent physical pains from injuries, lifting of depression, enhanced feelings of well-being and so on. It is said that while such rites seem like child's play, they are extremely effective. My intent here is not to advertise our Healing Chö ceremonies, but to point out to people that ritual plays an extremely important role in Tibetan Medicine, and should be used to address and remedy that part of illness that is often left unattended i.e. the role of spirits in causing or prolonging illnesses. It is tempting to write off the hallucinations of delirious persons as purely being caused by the heat of fever. But from our perspective, such experiences as those reported above in the news article, prove the vital need for people to look at deeper spiritual causes for their states of disease.