About Raven Cypress Wood
Raven Cypress Wood was born into a Christian family in 1967 in Alabama, United States. Throughout her childhood, she focused upon gaining spiritual knowledge and experience and had many vivid dreams of receiving advice and healing knowledge from her ancestors. At the age of 18, feeling that Christianity was limited in its view, she began studying her ancestor’s native American traditions. Attending college, but mostly studying on her own, in her early 20’s she began offering healing rituals and spiritual guidance for those who came to her asking for help. For over 12 years, she developed her ritual and counseling practice in order to assist with the healing and growth of people regardless of their religious beliefs. In late 1999, after a strong visionary experience upon reading the name ‘Niguma’ and seeing an image of the yogini, she made a vow to pray for 100 days and ask for her help in meeting an authentic lama. During this time, she read whatever she could find about Niguma, her teachings, and the Shangpa Kagyu lineage.
In the first half of the 100 days of prayer, she met Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and felt an immediate connection. A couple of years later having received many teachings from Tenzin Rinpoche as well as other Yungdrung Bön lamas, she dissolved her thriving counseling practice as well as stopped her teaching and lectures regarding ritual and healing. 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 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. While living at the retreat center, she had the opportunity to study and practice many Yungdrung Bön teachings under the guidance of esteemed Yungdrung Bön masters including His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche, His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, and His Eminence Menri Lopon 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 her translations, consideration is given to using English words that convey both the correct literal meaning and 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.
To date, Raven Cypress Wood has translated hundreds of prayers, texts, poems and commentaries. Additionally, she supports many Yungdrung Bön lamas by writing teaching curriculums, creating practice and study supports for the students, writing and creating advertising material for their retreats, acting as practice leader or the person in charge of the offerings when needed, and generally helping in any way that she can. In 2014, she had the good fortune to receive Gen Nyen vows from His Eminence Menri Lopon Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche.
Since 2013, she has been writing articles and offering information specific to the history, culture and practice of Yungdrung Bön on her website Nine Ways. The purpose of this website is to offer accurate and diverse information to the worldwide Yungdrung Bön sangha. The website has been translated into the Spanish language and Raven would like to offer this as well in the Polish and the Hungarian languages.
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 website:http://gyalshenbondra.com/?p=3895