Murig Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche leads a Sherap Jamma ritual for the Yungdrung Bon community in the Dolpo capital of Dunai, Nepal. Photo credit: Unknown.
A twenty minute walk from the village of Barlé in Dolpo, Nepal is the Barlé gonpa called Yungdrung Shuk Tsal Ling. The main part of the temple located next to the lama residence is said to be over 500 years old. The surrounding area is very green in Summer and the village residents rely heavily upon agriculture. Although the village is a mix of both Bön and Buddhist families, they visit each other’s temples and sacred sites.
The Barlé gonpa was renovated by the father of Barlé Lama Tsukphü Gyaltsen, who assisted in the work. Although most of the Barlé lamas have been ngakpas, or householder lamas, Barlé Lama Tsukphü Gyaltsen did not want to follow this lifestyle and instead received monk’s vows at the age of eighteen. He traveled to Samling and stayed there for three years. He received teachings and initiations from Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche as well as from Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche. Eventually, he returned to the village of Barlé and immediately began to look for a proper place for secluded meditation.
A thirty minutes walk from the gonpa, up a steep cliff, he found the spot that he was looking for. The nearby rock formation naturally resembled a chorten and there was a stone painting of the enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap nearby. Here, he began to construct Drak Gön hermitage, literally “Stone Temple Hermitage.” The first part was completed in 1962. For thirty years, from 1970-2000, he remained in retreat at the hermitage. On the 27th lunar day of the 4th month in the Western year 2000, his outward breath stopped. His body remained in the five-fold meditation posture for three full days.
After the passing of Barlé Rinpoche, his nephew Lama Lhakpa assumed the duties of the main lama of Barlé. He was a householder and lived in the lama residence. He unexpectedly passed away in 2015 and his son took up the duties of being the village lama.
Both a relative and student of Barlé Lama Tsukphü Gyaltsen Rinpoche, Murig Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche was born in the village of Barlé. At the age of eight, he began learning the Tibetan language and thangkha painting. At the age of fourteen, he learned to make torma and practiced the ngondro, or foundational practices. Strongly wanting to become a monk, he left the village of Barlé and made his way to India where he received renunciate vows from HH 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche and HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. Completing his studies in the dialectic program, he received his doctorate of Geshe in 1994. Subsequently, he worked as the Bön department chairmen at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Varanasi. He founded and acted as president of the Dolpo Bon Society and founded the Dolpo Bon School for girls and boys. Although he travels worldwide teaching and performing rituals of the Yungdrung Bön tradition, he regularly returns to the village of Barlé. Most recently, he personally sponsored the construction of a sacred chorten in the village. (See previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2018/07/21/a-chorten-for-barle-village/) In these ways, he continues to preserve and expand the rich Yungdrung Bön traditions of his lineage for the benefit of the Barlé residents, and beyond.
The tulku of Barlé Rinpoche was recognized at an early age in the village of Barlé. He naturally showed the signs of being familiar with the life of his previous incarnation, Barlé Lama Tsukphü Gyaltsen Rinpoche.
Although a difficult decision for his mother, she agreed to have him go to Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India in order to receive the proper training.Geshe Nyima Kunchap has taken personal responsibility to ensure his well being and education.
At Tashi Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, the 22nd-29th of the 6th Tibetan month (Western date August 4th-10th 2018), is the time for the practice of Shenrap Nampar Gyalwa. This is the wrathful form of the founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché. In order to protect the construction of a temple, he spontaneously manifested as Nampar Gyalwa, the Completely Victorious One. See previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/12/25/buddha-tonpa-shenraps-eighth-deed-the-deed-of-being-completely-victorious/
As one of the nine foundational practices in the Yungdrung Bön tradition, practitioners will recite the mantra of Nampar Gyalwa, known as the 100-syllable mantra, 100,000 times while imagining the purification of all negativity of the three times including every action of body, speech, and mind arising from anger, greed, jealousy, pride, and ignorance.
For more information about the descendants of Lord Tönpa Shenrap and the sons of Gyalwa Shensé Rinpoche, see previous post:
In the village of Barlé located in Dolpo, Nepal and approximately 185 miles from Kathmandu, a new Yungdrung Bön chorten (Sanskrit: stupa) has been erected by Murig Geshe Nyima Künchap as a gift to the village residents. The chorten is located near the Barlé gompa. From July 22nd to July 28th, Geshe Künchap Rinpoche will perform the full consecration of the chorten.
Inside the chorten above the doorways, it is ornately painted with sacred Yungdrung Bön images. In the four directions, are the Four Principal Enlightened Ones: Satrik Érsang, Shenlha Ökar, Sangpo Bumtri, and Tönpa Shenrap. As is traditional, each of these enlightened ones is surrounded by two hundred fifty Buddhas for a total of one thousand Buddhas. (For more information about the Four Principle Enlightened Ones, see previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/08/20/the-four-principal-enlightened-ones/ ) On the ceiling above are nine mandalas whose purpose is to act as an appropriate dwelling place for the related enlightened qualities. In the center is the mandala of the Sutra of the Indestructible Vast Expanse (Tib. mdo g.yung drung klong rgyas). Then, beginning in the East (middle left) and continuing counter-clockwise, are the mandalas of: The Peaceful AH that Clears (Tib: zhi ba a gsal), Red Garuda (Tib: khyung dmar), The Stages of Walsé (Tib. dbal gsas las rim), the Great Mother Jamma (Tib: rgyal yum byams ma), Complete Space (Tib: Kun dyings), the Precious Lamp of the MA TRI (Tib: ma tri rin chen sgron ma), Shenrap Nampar Gyalwa (Tib: gshen rab rnam rgyal), and The Lamp that Purifies Obscurations and Removes the Darkness (Tib: sgrib sbyong mun sel sgron ma).
Murig Geshe Nyima Künchap Rinpoche was born in the village of Barlé and spent many years as a student of his root lama, Barlé Rinpoche. In 1982, he received ordination as a monk from HH 33rd Menri Trizen and HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. In 1994, after many years of rigorous study, he received his geshe degree from Menri Monastery. He is a master of sutra, tantra, and dzogchen. However, he is considered a ritual specialist. Of the 360 rituals given by the Enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche, it is believed that only 68 remain. Geshe Künchap Rinpoche holds the transmission, empowerment, and teaching for each of these 68 rituals.
Raven Cypress Wood ©2018
Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, there is the custom of lamas giving their disciples so called “protection cords.” The Tibetan name, sung dü [Tib. bsrung mdud], literally translates as “knot of protection”. This refers to the special knot at the center of the string, or strip of material, that holds the protection.
The string, or strip of material, can be of any of the five colors: white, green, red, blue, or yellow. It can also be of all five together. However, some practices specify the use of a particular color for the construction of a protection cord. For example, at the conclusion of the seven-day longevity retreat of Lama Tséwang Rikdzin, the text instructs the practitioner to create a sung dü using a white cord or string, and tying twenty-one of the special knots together with the recitation of the longevity mantra of Khandro Tukjé Kündrol.
These special square knots are tied as a mantra is blown onto them, and therefore act to hold the blessing and protection of the mantra. They are created only by those who have actually accomplished the power of the mantra through extensive practice according to the scriptures. These knots should never be opened. These sung dü are most often worn around the neck, or placed in a ga’u, or special locket. The area of the body above the waist is considered higher and more respectful than the area below the waist. Therefore, keeping a blessing cord in a pocket below the waist is not ideal. Sometimes, they are worn on the wrist, but there should be mindfulness to keep the protection cord uncontaminated.
Upon receiving a protection cord, it should be worn for at least three nights. After that, it can continue to be worn, placed in a respectful and sacred place such as a shrine, or burned as a respectful method of disposal. As with any sacred object, it should be kept off the floor or other unclean places. It should never be thrown in the trash or mindlessly discarded.
Raven Cypress Wood ©2018
At Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, during the 23rd-29th of the 5th lunar month, monastery residents will be undergoing the practice of Jamma Chenmo, the Great Loving Mother. These lunar dates correspond with the Western calendar dates of July 6th-12th, 2018. Jamma Chenmo, also known as Sherap Jamma, the Wise, Loving Mother, is a fully enlightened being who is practiced as a yidam deity. There are many volumes of scriptures dedicated to her teaching and practice. From the commentary entitled The Sky Ladder of Freedom,
“She is the source of the essence of wisdom, as well as the source of the natural mind of all the Enlightened Ones. She is the empty aspect of space in which everything is arising, everything is abiding, and everything is dissolving. She is the essence of absolute reality. In order to lovingly care for all sentient beings like a mother cares for her only child, she engages in supreme activity by teaching in the manner of a goddess.”
During this seven-day retreat at the monastery, the monastic community will be performing many sessions of practice each day and accumulating a total of at least one hundred thousand recitations of Jamma’s essence mantra.
Translation Raven Cypress Wood ©2015
July 6th is the day to celebrate the birth of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama, head of the Geluk tradition, leader of the Tibetan people, and world renowned spiritual guide.
Prayer for the Long Life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Gang ri ra wé kor wé zhing kham su
In a heavenly realm, surrounded by a chain of snow mountains,
Pen dang dé wa ma lü jung wé né
The source of all happiness and help for beings
Chenrezik wang Tenzin Gyatso yi
Is Tenzin Gyatso, Chenrezik in person.
Shyap pé kal gyé bar du ten gyur chik
May his life be secure for hundreds of kalpas!
The Namchu Wangden, or The Ten-fold Powerful One, is a symbol of great protection within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. It contains the seed syllables for seven hundred and twenty deities.
According to an explanation written by the 23rd Menri Trizin Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche:
“From the tantra, The Cycle of the Elements and Time, found within the 100,000 glorious scriptures of the indestructible, great vehicle, is this ten columns and nine letters of the Namchu Wangden, which contains the seed syllables of Enlightened Mind. AH is the seed syllable for Yungdrung Yéwang Gyalpo, the earth deities, their body color is golden. YANG is the seed syllable for Kündrol Yingjuk, the wind deities, and they are green in color. RAM is the seed syllable for Künrik Barwa, the fire deities, and they are red in color. MANG is the seed syllable for Künjom Gyalpo, the water deities, and they are blue in color. KHAM is the seed syllable for Kündü Chenpo, the iron deities, and they are white in color. DRUM is the seed syllable for the immeasurable tent of protection, and the four nyémjé ma, and they are golden in color. HUNG is the seed syllable for the queens of the four times at the inner door. At the middle door, are the four guardians. At the outer door, are four fierce ones who are dark-blue in color. OM on the right,* is the seed syllable for the grandfather of primordial, phenomenal existence, Sangpo Bumtri and the Four Families, and they are white in color. DU on the left,* is the seed syllable for the four mothers of cause and the eight shen, and they are golden-red in color. In brief, this symbol includes the seed syllables for the seven hundred and twenty deities of the Five Families. It is said that the Namchu Wangden destroys all fear!”
*Right and left are according to the point of view of the object not the subject.
Displaying this image protects from destruction by the five elements, as well as protects the life-force, health, personal power and lungta. It gives protection from the eight classes of beings, as well as from astrologically negative events. Traditionally, this image is placed at the entrance to the home as a means of protection. In modern times, the Namchu Wangden protection amulet is commonly placed in cars as well.
Tibetan Translation Raven Cypress Wood©2018
According to the lunar calendar of the Yungdrung Bön, the 10th lunar day of each month is the day for the practice of the three sages: the great lama Drenpa Namkha and his two twin sons, Tséwang Rikdzin, and Pema Tongdrul. For the Western month of June 2018, that date is June 23rd. This is the day set aside specifically to pay homage and make offerings to these lamas, as well as to recite the mantras associated with their respective practices.
“You are like the embrace of a thousand cloudless suns upon the very white, snow mountain, Mount Meru. A hundred praises to the deathless Tséwang Rikdzin, who overcomes the darkness of suffering of sentient beings during this degenerate time.”
From The Sword that Cuts the Noose of Death found within the Tséwang Jarima, The Teachings of Tséwang given at Jarima
Tibetan Translation by Raven Cypress Wood©2012
Author of Indestructible: The Longevity Practice of Lama Tséwang Rikdzin. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SacredSky
For more information about Lama Tséwang Rikdzin, see previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2018/01/27/indestructible-the-longevity-practice-of-lama-tsewang-rikdzin/
The Zhang Zhung language was a written and spoken language which predates the Tibetan language. In ancient times, the Yungdrung Bön scriptures were translated from Zhang Zhung into Tibetan, as well as many other language such as Chinese and Sanskrit.
There remains examples of the Zhang Zhung language throughout the texts. This Zhang Zhung language reference to Tönpa Shenrap Miwo, Buddha and founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, occurs twice within the commonly practiced one hundred syllable mantra.
The 13th day of the 4th month on the lunar calendar is the anniversary of the parinirvana and rainbow body of the Yungdrung Bön scholar and meditation master, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche. See previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2015/05/31/anniversary-of-shardza-tashi-gyaltsen-attaining-the-rainbow-body-2/
“Fearlessly opening the door to a hundred treasuries of the heart of the Buddha’s stainless teachings,
Having the superior capacity of Mawé Senge,
Supreme guide to the self-radiant, self-arising, primordially pure awareness,
To Manga Werzhi* I pray.”
~Homage written in honor of Shardza Rinpoche, and often placed at the conclusion of the commonly used chöd practice written by him entitled, “Giving the Body, the Full Laughter of the Khandro.”
*Zhang Zhung name for Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche.
Tibetan translation: Raven Cypress Wood
In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, when someone dies and enters the forty-nine day period of the intermediate state between death and rebirth, there are many ways to offer support for the one who has died. One of these ways is the Mang Ja , or large tea ceremony. During the tea ceremony sponsored by the family of the deceased, each nun is given tea, a snack, and a small donation. Afterwards, everyone participates in offering prayers for the deceased in order to alleviate their suffering in the transition between death and rebirth, and to support their liberation from cyclic existence. Traditionally, a tea ceremony is sponsored each of the seven weeks of the intermediate state, or bardo. However, if this is not possible due to the financial circumstances of the family, a tea ceremony during the first and seventh week, or at least the seventh week is sponsored. Through the offering of this donation and sustenance to the ordained, merit is generated on behalf of the deceased. This merit, together with the prayers, acts as a positive support to alleviate suffering, support the circumstances for a positive rebirth, and ultimately, lead to complete liberation.
“Like the sun rising at dawn, through uncontrollable power, may the teachings of Yungdrung Bön spread!”
From A Storehouse of Treasure, The Main Practice of Blue Dzambhala
Translation: Raven Cypress Wood
The Eight Branches of Divine Bön are:
- The Branch of Prostrating
- The Branch of Making Offerings
- The Branch of Admitting Wrongdoing
- The Branch of Rejoicing
- The Branch of Requesting Enlightened Beings to Stay
- The Branch of Requesting Enlightened Beings to Turn the Wheel of Bön
- The Branch of Aspiration Prayers
- The Branch of Dedicating
The Branch of Prostrating is an antidote to pride.
“To the supreme speech of Tönpa Shenrap, which is ornamented with the magical letters,
To His scriptures that remain until the present day,
I prostrate with the devotion of my body, speech, and mind.”
The practice of offering prostrations is one of the foundational practices within the Yungdrung Bön tradition. As a method of purifying the mind-stream, the practitioner performs one hundred thousand prostrations as part of the nine preliminary practices. By properly performing the physical movement of the prostration, one engages the devotion of the door of the body. By reciting prayers of refuge while prostrating, one engages the devotion of the door of speech. By visualizing the field of refuge filling the entire space and also imagining that all sentient beings join together in prostrating, one engages the devotion of the door of the mind.
The Branch of Making Offerings is an antidote to greed.
“Having set out this ornament of unsurpassed offerings,
and magically emanated offerings that fill the entire sky,
I present these clouds of unsurpassed offerings to the Enlightened Ones of the three times.”
Within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, there are many different kinds of offerings. These include the daily five offerings of butter lamps, pure water, food, flowers, and incense. There is also the four daily offerings of generosity which are the offering of smoke of purification, the water offering, the burnt food offering, and the offering of the body. Among the foundational practices is the practice of the mandala offering. In this practice, one imagines offering the entire three-thousand-fold universe and all of its contents to the field of accumulation. See previous post regarding the Five External Daily Offerings: https://ravencypresswood.com/2017/01/14/the-five-daily-offerings/
The Branch of Admitting Wrongdoing is an antidote to hatred.
“With my body: the acts of murder, stealing, and sexual misconduct,
with my speech: speaking lies, slander, and divisive speech,
with my mind: ignorance, and wrong views, etc.,
whatever wrongdoing that I have committed due to the three poisons,
in the presence of the Enlightened Ones, the loving protectors,
without concealing anything, and with regret and sorrow,
I openly admit my wrongdoing.”
The practice of admitting wrongdoing depends upon four powers: the power of witness in the presence of the field of accumulation or other sacred objects, the power of openly admitting wrongdoing, the power of regret, and the power of purification. Through this practice, karmic negativities which obscure spiritual development and realization can be purified.
The Branch of Rejoicing is an antidote to jealousy.
“Whatever virtue that is performed by any migrating sentient beings in this world,
whatever merit is accumulated by any migrating beings,
I rejoice because of all of this merit.”
Rather than being jealous towards those who have greater circumstances for making offerings or donations, supporting lamas, attending retreats and empowerments, or performing other spiritual activity, the Yungdrung Bön practitioner rejoices in the good fortune and accumulation of merit of others.
The Branch of Requesting Enlightened Beings to Stay is an antidote to ignorance.
“From this time forward, as a result of accomplishment,
in order to completely destroy the doors of the three negative places of rebirth,
I pray to the Enlightened Ones to please not go beyond the places of the six destinies of migrating beings.”
By requesting the Enlightened Beings to stay and act for the benefit of sentient beings, rather than abiding in a state beyond cyclic existence, we activate their compassionate blessings.
The Branch of Requesting Enlightened Beings to Turn the Wheel of Bön is an antidote to wrong views.
“In order to empty cyclic existence of those who have been pulled into transmigration,
I request You to stay during this eon for the benefit of migrating beings,
and teach all the various scriptures of the Bön of truth,
the magical speech which opens the mouth which has been mute.”
The Branch of Aspiration Prayers is an antidote to doubt.
“From the three doors of my body, speech, and mind,
continually forsaking the ten non-virtues,
like an ever-flowing river, may I continually perform the ten virtues!”
There are many aspiration prayers, or mönlam, within the Yungdrung Bön scriptures. One of the well-known and often recited aspiration prayers is the Tséwang Mönlam. This profound prayer is recited during the forty-nine day period after death for those who have died, on auspicious days, during eclipses of the sun or moon etc. By following the link below, a pdf of the English translation of the prayer is offered free for the personal use of Yungdrung Bön practitioners. The download link is located under “Freely Offered Translations.” It is free for personal use, but no publication of any kind is allowed. https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/
The Branch of Dedication Prayers is an antidote to attachment.
“Whatever virtue has been accumulated through inviting the enlightened beings, prostrating, making offerings, admitting wrongdoing, requesting. and offering prayers of aspiration,
I share with all migrating beings.
Furthermore, in order to attain the unsurpassable result,
I dedicate it for the enlightenment of both myself and others.”
All quotations extracted from “The Small Sutra of the Eight Branches of Divine Bön” found within Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen’s A Tri Ka Lung Gyatso, Guidance of A, an Ocean of Scripture.
Tibetan translation Raven Cypress Wood©2018
Within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the practice of the Bar Che Lam Sel, or Removing Obstacles from the Path, is a powerful method for removing any kind of obstacle being experienced by the practitioner. From the notation within the text,
“By reciting this “Spontaneous Wish-fulfillment of Removing Obstacles from the Path” a single time, obstacles of an entire year are pacified. By reciting it one hundred times, obstacles of one lifetime are pacified.”
One does not need transmission or instruction in order to recite this prayer. However, if the practitioner is able to receive the oral transmission from a qualified Yungdrung Bön lama, the benefit of the prayer is greatly multiplied. Making a commitment to recite the prayer before a sacred image or shrine, and then fulfilling that commitment, increases the power of the practice by virtue of having fulfilled a sacred commitment. The prayer can be recited at any time, but especially during any experience of problems or obstacles, when starting a business or important endeavor, and during an astrologically calculated “obstacle year” which, according to Tibetan astrology, occurs during the ages of 1, 9, 13, 25, 37, 49, 61, 73 and 81. The prayer can also be taken as a daily practice, or recited for the benefit of others and dedicated to their release from obstacles.
This translation is offered to all Yungdrung Bön practitioners for their personal use. A link to download the pdf can be found at the end of this article. May we all be free from obstacles and have positive circumstances that support our continual spiritual practice and development!
The Google Doc link below will provide access to download the pdf of the translation.
Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the powerful wealth deities act to protect and increase the success, wealth, merit, health, and positive circumstances of Yungdrung Bön practitioners. Kubera, also known as Blue Dzambhala or Dzam Ngön, is one of these wealth deities. Along with propitiation and mantra recitation, Kubera is offered sang, smoke purification and offering, in the morning, and torma in the evening.
“In the midst of a mound of many kinds of wish-fulfilling jewels, and seated upon a magically emanated turquoise-colored horse, is the miraculously born Kubera. His body is a brilliant, dark-blue color. He wears a helmet of crystal upon his head, and a coat of armor upon his body. In his right hand, he lifts a golden sword that rains down precious things, and clears away obstacles for Bön practitioners. In his left hand, he holds a mongoose. From the mouth of the mongoose, precious jewels overflow and come forth. Without exception, he clears away the suffering and misery of poverty for all sentient beings. Above his right and left shoulders, two iron hawks soar and circle overhead. Two tigers leap in front of him, and behind, two lions run. His inner retinue consists of one hundred-thousand deities who resemble him, and his outer retinue consists of millions of deities who surround him.”
~From A Storehouse of Treasure, the Main Practice of Blue Dzambhala
According to the Yungdrung Bön religious calendar, the lunar dates each month that are specified for Kubera propitiation and practice are: 4, 8, 11, 13, 15,17, 27, and 30.
Tibetan translation by Raven Cypress Wood ©2015 All Rights Reserved