About Raven Cypress Wood
Raven Cypress Wood was born into a Christian family in Alabama, United States. Throughout her childhood, she was focused on gaining spiritual knowledge and experience and was interested in the role that religion and spirituality played in people’s lives. This lead her to begin studies which eventually led her to developing her a spiritual counseling practice in order to assist people with their healing and inner development regardless of their religious beliefs. In late 1999, she felt that it was time to focus more intensely on her own spiritual path and decided to dissolve her counseling practice. She made a vow that for 100 days she would pray to meet and connect with an authentic spiritual guide. In the first half of this 100 days of prayer, she met Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and felt an immediate, and clear connection. A couple of years later, having received many teachings from him as well as other Yungdrung Bön lamas, she dissolved her thriving counseling practice and stopped her teaching and lectures regarding ritual and healing. Soon therafter, she was asked to join the Ligmincha Council and acted as retreat coordinator for four years. During this time, she moved from Massachusetts to Virginia and spent three months serving practitioners at Serenity Ridge who were undergoing the dzogchen practice of dark retreat. Afterwards, she lived at the retreat center for over six years and also acted as one of the caretakers of Serenity Ridge.
When Raven began practicing the Yungdrung Bön tradition, she wanted to make more of the precious Tibetan language texts available in the English language, so she began to self-study classical written Tibetan. Over the course of many years, she has had the opportunity to study and practice with many esteemed Yungdrung Bön masters including His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche, His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, and His Eminence Menri Ponlop Yangton Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche. With disciplined study on her own of Classical Tibetan, together with the help of many lamas, she began to translate various texts from Tibetan into English. In order to translate the Tsewang Chok du Jarima text, she learned to read the Tibetan umé, or head-less, script along with its many hidden letters. In order to accurately translate the Yungdrung Bön prayers and texts, she continually studies the historical, cultural and political contexts specific to Yungdrung Bön and its ancient origins. In 2011-2013, she assisted with the creation and implementation of Ligmincha International’s 1st Two-year Causal Vehicle Program teaching in-depth the rituals of longevity, soul retrieval, and death ransom from the Tséwang Chokdü Jarima as taught by the Yungdrung Bön ritual specialist, Geshe Nyima Künchap.
In her translations, consideration is given to using English words that convey both the literal meaning as well as the implied meaning. With few exceptions, she does not use Sanskrit language words except for those that have come to be part of the general English lexicon. In this way, Raven’s English translations aim to stay true to the Yungdrung Bön and not be mixed with Buddhist contexts. Similarly, when translating texts such as prayer request that are written as poetry and meant to be accompanied by a melody and instruments, her goal is to translate the accurate meaning as well as convey the poetic beauty and tone of the original text. Her translations of texts that are meant to be chanted include the English translation as well as the original Tibetan together with a pronunciation guide in order to allow students to chant the texts in the Tibetan language.
Raven Cypress Wood has translated hundreds of Yungdrung Bön prayers, poems, texts and commentaries and is the author of Indestructible, The Longevity Practice of Lama Tsewang Rikdzin. This book is a translation and detailed annotation of the most commonly performed longevity practice within the Yungdrung Bön tradition. As a yidam, Lama Tsewang Rikdzin can bestow any quality or wisdom that is needed. However, in this text, the healing and protection of the life force, vitality, and health are emphasized. This book was the first publication of Sacred Sky Publications, began by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. This book is available from the Ligmincha International bookstore, Tibet Shop.
Since 2013, she has been writing articles and offering information on the history, culture and practice of Yungdrung Bön religious tradition on her website Nine Ways. The website has been translated into the Spanish and Portuguese languages and is currently being developed for the French language.
This bio was kindly requested by and translated into Tibetan by Geshe Chaphur Rinpoche. This is a link to the Tibetan language version on his Tibetan language