Category Archives: Iconography

Iconography: Animals Under a Throne

Sherap Jamma with lions underneath her seat as painted by Lama Kalsang Nyima. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Iconography is the use of images and symbols to convey meaning or concepts especially in a spiritual context. The iconography within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition is detailed within many volumes of scriptures. Symbolic meanings are specific and often complex depending upon the context. Meaning is attributed to includes composition, proportions, color, hand objects, clothing, ornamentation, etc.  Sometimes, a few of these details are left to the interpretation of the artist but they are most often prescribed within the sacred text.

Elephant throne

A throne depicting elephants under the main figure

The Tibetan thangkha is a painting on canvas that is framed in brocade and has dowels at the top and bottom to enable the painting to be hung and also rolled like a scroll.  These paintings are rolled from the bottom towards the top.  There are often ties at the top that are used to fasten the rolled painting and allow it to be easily carried.

Horse throne

A throne depicting horses under the main figure

An example of the use of iconography within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition is demonstrated by the images of animals depicted underneath the throne of enlightened deities. This position symbolizes that the deity tames or transforms the quality associated with the animal. According the oral teachings of the preeminent scholar and spiritual master His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, the five common animals depicted in this way symbolize the following:  the lion symbolizes anger, the elephant symbolized ignorance, the garuda symbolizes desire, the horse symbolizes jealousy, and the dragon symbolizes pride.

Garuda throne

A throne depicting garudas under the main figure

For example, although the buddha Sherap Jamma has all of the perfected qualities, emphasis is placed on her teaching sentient beings to transform anger and hatred into love and kindness.  This is symbolized by lions being depicted on the throne underneath her as she sits peacefully.

Throne with all 5 animals

A throne depicting each of the five animals.All translations and content by Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.

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Celebration of the Second Buddha: Nyamme Sherap Gyaltsen

The 5th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan lunar calendar is the celebration of the birth and cremation of Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen.  In 2019, this date in the Western calendar is February 9th. Within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen is often referred to as the Second Buddha.  He was a reincarnation of Yikyi Khye’u Chung, one of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche’s sons. Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen was responsible for uniting the three transmissions of sutra, tantra and dzogchen as well as founding one of the largest Yungdrung Bön monasteries in Tibet, Tashi Menri Ling.

Born in 1356 in the region of Gyalrong into the Dru lineage, as a child, he could recite mantra and read scripture without having studied.  At the age of ten, he decided to become a monk.  In 1387 at the age of 31, he entered the prestigious Yeru Wensaka monastery and eventually became its abbot.   During a journey to Eastern Tibet, Yeru Wensaka was destroyed by flooding and mudslides.  After returning, he searched the ruins of the monastery for artifacts.  He took these and established Tashi Menri Monastery further up the same valley.  It was now 1405 and he was 50 years old.

Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen was known throughout Tibet as a great scholar and prolific writer on the many varied subjects within the Bön scriptures.  He also exhibited many miracles and signs of his spiritual realization.  Twice, he flew up into the sky.  During one of these flights, he burned his hat with the rays of the sun.

Nyamme Sherap Gyaltsen handprint

Nyamme Sherap Gyaltsen’s hand print in stone

In 1415 at the age of 60, he passed away.  His body levitated high into the air, but due to the many heartfelt prayers of his disciples, the body came back down.   During the cremation, rainbows appeared and an eagle circled three times around the cremation area before disappearing into the West.

Today,  Bönpos will spend the day with their eyes looking skyward.  If you are lucky enough to be visited by a vulture on this day, it is said to be an auspicious sign of having received the blessings of the lama known as the Second Buddha, the Unequaled One, Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen.

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Protection for Travelers


When traveling, one can specifically include the Goddess of Travel, Chammo Lamlha, in the morning smoke offering, and also offer her torma in the evening, while asking for her protection. Although there are longer invocations of her and her retinue, this is a concise invocation that was written by His Holiness 23rd Menri Trizen Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche when he saw her in a vision at the age of thirteen.

SO!  Within a mandala of luminous and beautiful jewels,

Seated upon a golden hornet,

Is the majestic and youthful goddess,

Chammo Lam Lha, together with her retinue.

Come here now and keep your protection vow!

Please accept these offerings of smoke and torma.

Act as my companion.

Expel the causes for harm and obstacles.

Please act to accomplish this entrusted activity!

Translation Raven Cypress Wood ©2015 All Rights Reserved. No publication permitted.

 

The Fierce, Secret Tamer of Demons

Walchen Gekho with his consort, Queen of the Drala

On the 23rd day of the Eighth Tibetan month, Western calendar date October 2nd 2018, Tashi Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India will begin an intensive seven-day retreat for the yidam Gekhö. Specifically, they will perform the practice from the text compiled by His Holiness 1st Menri Trizen Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoche, “Gekhö Sangwa Drakchen, The Fierce, Secret Gekhö.” This retreat will conclude on the 29th lunar day, October 8th 2018.

The tantric cycle of Gekhö contains 360 deities, and within the cycle of the Father Tantras he is the manifestation of enlightened quality within the Five Supreme Embodiments. (See previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/06/05/the-five-supreme-embodiments/

He was the deity of the ancient land of Zhang Zhung and his tantric practice was widespread throughout the realm. It is said that he originally descended upon the sacred mountain of Gang Tisé (aka Mount Kailash), and he and his retinue dwell there. However, even though there is a close association with an earthly abode, he is not a worldly guardian. Rather, he is the embodiment of enlightened energy that manifests as a meditational deity and enlightened protector for the practitioners of Yungdrung Bön. The epithet “Gekhö” in the Zhang Zhung language means “demon tamer.”

“In order to lead those who have not gained realization, Walchen Gekhö possesses the Five Bodies and the Five Primordial Wisdoms. Through the truth of pacification, and through these forceful, wrathful means, those who are untamed will be tamed.” ~From the Essence Practice of the Fierce Champion, Zhang Zhung Meri

One manifestation of Gekhö is Zhang Zhung Meri. This yidam deity is closely associated with the dzogchen practice of the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyü, The Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung. The practice of dzogchen is, by definition, perfected and beyond needing to apply any methods to develop it. However, because the practitioners of dzogchen have not yet fully realized this primordial perfection, the deity Zhang Zhung Meri offers protection and support.

Translation and copyright Raven Cypress Wood ©2018 All Rights Reserved

The Field of Accumulation: The Yidams

Tsok zhing according to Menri

Tsok zhing according to MenriThe Yungdrung Bon Merit Field of the Menri Tradition

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the place where the deities and objects of veneration are gathered is called the “Tsok Zhing”, the “Field of Accumulation”.  It is also sometimes translated as the “Field of Merit” or the “Merit Field” because what is being accumulated by paying homage and making offerings to this place is merit, or virtue.  This is the Merit Field according to the Menri Tradition from a drawing done by the great master and scholar HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche.

Yidams are deities who have their own individual cycles of practice with the aim of acquiring the qualities and blessings of the yidam being meditated upon.  In general, these cycles of practice are centered around an individual retreat in which the practitioner focuses upon self-transformation into the deity, recitation of the deity’s mantra, along with any other ritual or meditation specific to the deity which support the attainment of the deities qualities and blessings.  There are yidams specific to a family lineage, to monastic lineages as well as personal yidams.  Some of the vows associated with yidam practice are general to all, and some vows are specific to each yidam.  Some yidams are represented more than once to signify their different tantric cycles.

#2-4, 14 & 18: The Five Supreme Embodiments of the Father Tantra (See previous post:https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/06/05/the-five-supreme-embodiments/)

1. Zhiwa Künnang Khyappa: This yidam represents all peaceful yidams

2. Trowo Tsochok Khagying: This yidam is an embodiment of the Enlightened Mind of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche.

3. Walsé Ngampa: This yidam is an embodiment of the Enlightened Body of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche.

The Yidam Walse Ngampa, Embodiment of the Enl ightened Body

4. Lhago Tokpa: This yidam is an embodiment of the Enlightened Speech of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche.

5. Sangwa Ying Rol

6. Tséwang Rikdzin: As a long life deity, this yidam is white in color.

7. Magyü Sangchok Tartuk: This yidam is the principal deity of the Mother Tantra and is also known as Tukjé Galpo.

8. Drenpa Namkha

9. Bumpa

10. Rampa

11. Rolpa

12. Dütsi Yungdrung Khyilwa

13. Takla Pudri Marpo

14. Gekho Sangwa Drakchen:  This yidam is the embodiment of the Enlightened Qualities of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche.

15. Trowo Druksé Chempa: This yidam is the Embodiment of the Enlightened Activities of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche.

16. Meri Walchen Gekho

17. Chidul Yidam Gyatso Trogyal Raksha Khagying

18. Sangpur

19. Walsé Khyungnak Trowo Karpo

20.Wal Khyung Marpo

Yidams of the Other Tantras

#22-#25 The Four Principal Enlightened Ones (See previous post https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/08/20/the-four-principal-enlightened-ones/)

21. Gyepa Kunnang Khyapa

22. Tönpa Shenrap Miwo

23. Sipa Sangpo Bumtri

24. Lhachen Shenlha Ökar

25. Yumchen Satrik Érsang

26. Shenrap Nampar Gyalwa

27. Namdak

28. Jamma

29. Mélha

30. Kéngtsé Lenmé

31. Sherab Mawé Séngé

The Yidam Mawe Senge

32. Dülchok Tönpa Tritsuk Gyalwa

33. Jamma

34. Namdak

35. Mönlam Taye

36. Menlha

37. Künying

38. Gényen Tékpa Lha

39. Jamden

40. Dükhor

41. Künrik

42. Gyalwa Gyatso

43. Namjom

The Yidam Namjom, aka Nampar Jompa, and his emanations.

Sacred Form

A Collection of Sacred Yungdrung Bon Objects. Photo credit: Unknown

Victory Over Ignorance

Gyaltsen or Sign of Victory

As one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols, the gyaltsen or sign of victory, symbolizes victory over all obstacles especially the demon of ignorance.

The Everlasting Yungdrung Bön

Special mandala offering with chakshing and flaming jewels presented to HH 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche and HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche in 2016 by the Worldwide Yungdrung Bon community.

 

Ancient Symbols

The chakshing, hand object of Lord Tonpa Shenrap Miwoche, and the Yungdrung Bon flag atop Menri Monastery in Dholanji, India. Photo credit: Unknown

The Field of Accumulation: The Ocean of Khandro

Tsok zhing according to Menri

Tsok zhing according to MenriThe Yungdrung Bon Merit Field of the Menri Tradition

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the place where the deities and objects of veneration are gathered is called the “Tsok Zhing”, the “Field of Accumulation”.  It is also sometimes translated as the “Field of Merit” or the “Merit Field” because what is being accumulated by paying homage and making offerings to this place is merit, or virtue.  This is the Merit Field according to the Menri Tradition from a drawing done by the great master and scholar HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche.

outline-guide-for-tsok-zhing-ocean-of-khandros

The Ocean of Khandro are depicted as figures #1-25.   Khandro (Sanskrit: dakini) literally translates as ‘sky-goer’ or ‘one who moves in the sky’.  Khandro are a class of female beings who protect and serve the religious tradition as well as bestow spiritual attainments.   Khandro can be classified in many ways.  The classification below is according to the Tsok Zhing text.  Each of the khandro are adorned with the six bone ornaments.

#1-8 Wisdom Khandro

1. Kalpa Zangmo,  she has one face and four arms
2. Miyo Tenma
3. Dekma Kündrol
4. Kyema Ötso, Khandro of the Mother Tantra
5. Namkha Déden
6. Dakpa Kündü
7. Salwa Dröbéb
8. Tukjé Kündrol, Khandro of Tummo and Tsa Lung

Khandro Kalpo Zangmo

#9-13 Action Khandro

9a. Ürgyen Khandro, Khandro from Ürgyen
9b. Ürgyen Khandro, Khandro from Ürgyen
9c. Ürgyen Khandro, Khandro from Ürgyen
9d. Ürgyen Khandro, Khandro from Ürgyen
10. Choza Bönmo, Khandro of the female lineage of the Yétri Tasel Dzogchen
11. Öden Barma, Consort of Yidam Drenpa Namkha
12a. Gyagar Khandro, Khandro from India
12b. Gyagar Khandro, Khandro from India
12c. Gyagar Khandro, Khandro from India
12d. Gyagar Khandro, Khandro from India
13. Drushé Khandro, Khandro from Drusha

#14-25 Animal-headed Khandro

14. Durjé Ü, Heron-headed Khandro
15. Pharwé Ü, Coyote-headed Khandro
16. Chusin Ü, Crocodile-headed Khandro
17. Duktrul Ü, Poisonous Snake-headed Khandro
18. Chè Chang Ü, Jackal-headed Khandro
19. Sengé Ü, Lion-headed Khandro
20. Khyungi Ü, Garuda-headed Khandro
21. Takgi Ü, Tiger-headed Khandro
22. Zikgi Ü, Leopard-headed Khandro
23. Domgi Ü, Bear-headed Khandro
24. Drékyi Ü, Yellow Bear-headed Khandro
25. Khaté Ü, Crow-headed Khandro

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The Field of Accumulation: The Yungdrung Sempa

The Field of Accumulation according to the Menri Tradition

Yungdrung Sempa, Changeless & Ceaseless Warriors of the Mind

The term ‘Bodhisattva’ is a commonly used Sanskrit word referring to a practitioner who has fully developed their compassion as well as their intention to attain enlightenment in order to benefit other beings as well as themselves.  In the Yungdrung Bön, the term is jang chub sempa.  This literally translates as a ‘warrior or hero of the mind who has attained purification and understanding.’  There are many levels of jang chub sempa.  Depicted in the Field of Accumulation in the Menri tradition are the Yungdrung Sempa, the Changeless and Ceaseless Warriors of the Mind.  Among this group of Yungdrung Sempa, there are the Great Yungdrung Sempa and the Unsurpassed Yungdrung Sempa.  The Great Yungdrung Sempa are the warriors of the mind who have reached one of the first seven grounds which are still considered impure.  The Unsurpassed Yungdrung Sempa have reached one of the final three grounds which are considered pure.

A Yungdrung Sempa can manifest as any kind of sentient being in order to be of benefit.

  1. Dung Tsop Mucho Démdruk: He is the Speech manifestation of the Enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap.  In the Wood Dragon year of 6016 B.C., he descended from Ölmo Lungrik to the earth in order to benefit sentient beings.  This was 1,801 years after Lord Tönpa Shenrap showed the appearance of passing into parinirvana.  During this time, many scholars appeared.  In the Water Rabbit year of 5717 B.C., he went to the realm of the demi-gods in order to give teachings.
  2. Yungdrung Sempa of the Ten Stages of the Path of Meditation
  3. Yungdrung Sempa of the Path of Seeing
  4. Yungdrung Sempa of the Path of Preparation
  5. Yungdrung Sempa of the Path of Accumulation

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The Four Principal Enlightened Ones

The Four Principal Enlightened Ones of the Yungdrung Bon. Top to bottom & left to right: Satrik Ersang, Shenlha Okar, Sangpo Bumtri and Tonpa Shenrap

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, there are Four Principal Enlightened Ones, the Dershek Tsozhi.  These are the four principal buddhas who offer skillful means in order to guide sentient beings during the time when the human life span averages one hundred years.  These Four Principal Enlightened Ones are often depicted individually as a central figure surrounded by two hundred fifty enlightened beings.  These four are depicted in this order:

Satrik Ersang:  The name ‘Satrik Ersang’ is from the Zhang Zhung language.  She also emanates as the Wise Loving Mother known as Sherap Chamma.  The name ‘Sherap Chamma’ is from the Tibetan language and has the same meaning as the name ‘Satrik Ersang’, Wise Loving Mother.  Satrik Ersang appears as gold colored with a single face and two hands.  In her right hand, she holds the Five Warrior Seed Syllables.  In her left hand, she holds a mirror.  She sits upon a throne held aloft by lions.  Surrounding her throughout the ten directions are: 1) the fifty peaceful, white goddesses who are emanations of her Body and who hold the Five Warrior Seed Syllables and a mirror, 2) the fifty peaceful, green goddesses who are emanations of her Speech and who hold the Five Warrior Seed Syllables and a mirror, 3) the fifty peaceful, red goddesses who are emanations of her Quality and who hold the Five Warrior Seed Syllables and a mirror, 4) the fifty peaceful, blue goddesses who are emanations of her Activity and who hold the Five Warrior Seed Syllables and a mirror. and 5) the fifty peaceful, gold colored goddesses who are emanations of her Mind and who hold the Five Warrior Seed Syllables and a mirror.  Together, these five groups of goddesses constitute her retinue of two hundred and fifty goddess emanations.

“With the uncreated and uninterrupted nature of space, the Single Mother has completely clear wisdom.  From unborn space, clear light streams forth and becomes the Lord of Compassion.  I prostrate to the Body of Satrik Ersang!”  ~translated from the Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood

Shenlha Ökar, also known as The Great, White Deity:  In his manifestation as one of The Four Principal Enlightened Ones, he is white in color, his right hand holds an iron hook and his left hand is in the mudra of equanimity.  He sits upon a throne held aloft by elephants.  Similarly, he is surrounded in the ten directions by fifty emanations of his Body who are white, fifty emanations of his Speech who are green, fifty emanations of his Quality who are red, fifty emanations of his Activity who are blue, and fifty emanations of his Mind who are gold colored.  All of these emanations hold an iron hook and the mudra of equanimity.

Sangpo Bumtri, also known as the White Deity of Phenomenal Existence: He  is white in color and sits upon a throne held aloft by  garudas.  His right hands holds a victory banner and his left hand is in the mudra of equanimity. Surrounding him throughout phenomenal space are fifty emanations of his Body who are white, fifty emanations of his Speech who are green, fifty emanations of his Quality who are red, fifty emanations of his Activity who are blue, and fifty emanations of his Mind who are gold colored.  All of these emanations hold a victory banner and the mudra of equanimity.

Tönpa Shenrap: In his manifestation as one of The Four Principal Enlightened Ones, he is blue in color and holds a chakshing in his right hand and his left hand holds the mudra of equanimity.  He sits upon a throne held aloft by wheels of Bön.  He is surrounded throughout the ten directions by two hundred fifty shenrap manifestations: fifty emanations of his Body who are white, fifty emanations of his Speech who are green, fifty emanations of his Quality who are red, fifty emanations of his Activity who are blue, and fifty emanations of his Mind who are gold colored.  All of these emanations hold a chakshing and the mudra of equanimity.

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The Five Supreme Embodiments

The Embodiment of Enlightened Body, the yidam Walse Ngampa

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, there is a group of five yidam deities from the Father Tantra who embody the Enlightened Body, Speech, Mind, Quality and Activity of the Enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche.  This group of five yidam deities is collectively known as the Sé Khar Chok Nga, The Five Supreme Embodiments, or literally The Five Divine Fortresses.

The yidam deity, Walsé Ngampa is the embodiment of Enlightened Body He is dark blue with nine heads and eighteen arms with which he holds various weapons for subduing obstacles.  The main ritual text for this deity is entitled, “Stages of Practice for Walsé” which was composed by the great sage Drenpa Namkha.  His consort has the peaceful nature of the enlightened Great Mother Satrik Érsang and is known as Ngammo Yumchen Tröpé Taktenma.  Her body is dark green.

Embodiment of Enlightened Speech, the yidam Lhago Tokpa

The yidam deity, Lhagö Thokpa, is the embodiment of Enlightened SpeechHe is dark blue with four heads and ten arms with which he holds various weapons for subduing obstacles.  This yidam is not widely practiced at present.  His consort has the nature of Sipé Gyalmo and is known as Jangnak Tröma.  Her body is dark green and she has blue turquoise-colored hair.

Embodiment of Enlightened Mind, the yidam Trowo Tsochok Khaygying

The yidam deity, Trowo Tsochok Khagying, is the embodiment of Enlightened MindHe is dark blue with three heads and six arms.  The main ritual text for this deity is known by the abbreviated title, “The Great Empowerment of Trowo.”  His consort is Khala Dukmo.  Her body is red and she wears a sun, moon and stars as a head ornament.

Embodiment of Enlightened Quality, the yidam Walchen Gekhko

The yidam deity, Walchen Gekho, is the embodiment of Enlightened QualityThis deity is closely associated with the ancient kingdom of Zhang Zhung and Mt. Tisé (Mt. Kailash).  He is dark blue with nine heads, four legs and the wings like a garuda.  He has eighteen arms with which he holds various weapons for subduing obstacles.  There are five tantric texts associated with the yidam.  One of them was compiled by the esteemed first abbot of Menri Monstery, Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen, and is entitled, “Secret Fierce Gekho.”  His consort is the queen of the Drala and has a body that is red.

Drukse Chempa

Embodiment of Enlightened Activity, the yidam Drukse Chempa

The yidam deity, Walpur Drukse Chempa, is the embodiment of Enlightened ActivityThis yidam is also referred to as Phurba.  He has three faces and six arms, each of which are holding a phurba, or ritual dagger.  He and his consort’s body are joined below the waist and form a single phurba adorned with snakes.  Both the yidam and his consort have wings.  There are many ritual texts associated with Trowo Drukse Chempa.

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Time to Practice The Great Lama

drenpa namkha prayer flag with watermarkThis prayer flag contains the image of The Great Lama, La Chen Drenpa Namkha and contains prayers and mantras specific for his practice.  According to the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the 10th lunar day of each month is designated as the time to devote to his practice.

The Field of Accumulation: The Gathering of Buddhas

Tsok zhing according to Menri

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the place where the deities and objects of veneration are gathered is called the “Tsok Zhing”, the “Field of Accumulation”.  It is also sometimes translated as the “Field of Merit” or the “Merit Field” because what is being accumulated by paying homage and making offerings to this place is merit, or virtue.  This is the Merit Field according to the Menri Tradition from a drawing done by the great master and scholar His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche.

Outline guide for tsok zhing 235-249

This is the gathering of all of the Enlightened Beings.

235. Gyalwa Shenrap Miwo Künlé Nampar Gyalwa, the Completely Victorious in Every Way, Shenrap Miwo.  16,017 BC – 7,817 BC.  He is the Enlightened Being of the present time and founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition.  He appeared in the human realm when the human life-span was generally 100 years long.  There are three versions of his life history: short, medium and long.  The short version is within a text commonly referred to as the Do Dü.  It is a terma, or rediscovered text, and has twenty-four chapters within one volume.  The medium length version is within a text commonly referred to as the Zer Mik.  It is also a terma and has eighteen chapters in two volumes.  The long version is within a text commonly referred to as the Zi Ji.  It is part of a group of orally transmitted texts and has sixty-one chapters in twelve volumes.

236. Yungdrung Tsukshen Gyalwa.

237. Sebu Malo.  One of the main disciples of Shenrap Miwo.

238. Sebu Yulo. One of the main disciples of Shenrap Miwo.

239. Tobu Bumsang.  He was the eldest son of Tönpa Shenrap Miwo.  He led a group of disciples who primarily practiced the dzogchen teachings.

#240-246 Enlightened Beings that Appeared in Past Eons

240. Nangwa Rangjung Tukjéchen.  This Enlightened Being appeared in the world when the human life-span was generally 100,000 years long.

241. Gewa Khorwa Kündren.  This Enlightened Being appeared in the world when the human life-span was generally 80,000 years long.

242. Künshé Nyonmong Duksek. This Enlightened Being appeared in the world when the human life-span was generally 60,000 years long.

243. Lékpa Tsemé Tukjéchen. This Enlightened Being appeared in the world when the human life-span was generally 40,000 years long.

244. Nyompa Tamche Khyenzik. This Enlightened Being appeared in the world when the human life-span was generally 20,000 years long.

245. Jampa Trigyal Khukpa. This Enlightened Being appeared in the world when the human life-span was generally 10,000 years long.

246. Dakpa Togyal Yékhyen.This Enlightened Being appeared in the world when the human life-span was generally 1,000 years long.  He was the eldest brother of Tönpa Shenrap Miwo in the celestial realm.

Jamden Rangma Medron, the Buddha prophesized to appear in the future

247. Jamden Rangma Médron.  This Enlightened Being is prophesized to be the Buddha of the Future and will appear in this world when the human life-span has declined to be only 10 years long.  He was the younger brother of Tönpa Shenrap Miwo in the celestial realm.  He is depicted upon a throne held aloft by elephants and seated upon cushions of a sun, moon, and lotus.  His right hand is held in a mudra of contemplation at the center of his heart and his left hand is held in the mudra of equipoise.  His body is the color of clear crystal and upon his head is a crown of precious jewels.

248. The 1002 enlightened Beings of the Fortunate Eon.

249. All of the Enlightened Beings found throughout the ten directions.

Buddha Tonpa Shenrap’s Seventh Deed: The Deed of Completely Overpowering

tonpa shenraps 7th deed w watermark

Within the state of absolute truth, there is no duality such as “obstacle” or “ally” or “good” or “evil.”  However, from the perspective  of the relative existence of sentient beings, there is the experience of harm coming from bad things and support coming from good things.  Therefore, from his great compassion, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché displayed the methods of how to subdue harmful forces.

These harmful forces included a large group of demons in the world who not only believed wrong views but had a great hatred for human beings.  Son of the powerful demon king, Düje Thöje, was the demon prince Khyappa Laring.  From his black palace, Prince Khyappa Laring perceived a bright, unexplained light coming from the human realm in the land of Olmo Lungring.  Looking more closely, he saw that Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché was teaching and encouraging activities of virtue and wisdom and that many human beings were following his teachings.  Infuriated, he devised a plan using nine different deceptions to deter the work of Lord Tönpa Shenrap.  First, he appeared as the enlightened White Light Deity, Shenlha Ökar.  While appearing in this way, he told the Great Teacher that because times had changed, he should stop teaching and simply follow his own desires.  Recognizing this as a demon, Lord Tönpa Shenrap left the area and began teaching elsewhere.  The demon prince then manifested in turn as Lord Tönpa Shenrap’s Lama, his father, his mother, as five carefree youths, as five beautiful young girls, his brother, and his son.  All the while, the demon prince tried to convince Lord Tönpa Shenrap to stop teaching and follow the ways of non-virtue.  Each time, he failed.  Frustrated and angry, Kyappa Laring decided to use wrathful means to achieve his goal.  He conjured up a massive army of demons who attacked Lord Tönpa Shenrap with their weapons.  Remaining stable in his meditation, Lord Tönpa Shenrap transformed the weapons into beautiful flowers.  Following this miracle, the Great Teacher bestowed teachings of the Yungdrung Bön to the demon army and all of them were converted to the mind of virtue and became disciples.

Helpless to continue the attack, the demon prince Khyappa Laring pretended to become a disciple as well.  During the day, he appeared to be good and obedient, but at night he continued his activities of harm and destruction.  He tried seducing the wives of Lord Tönpa Shenrap but failed.  However, he managed to trick his daughter, Neuchung, by using a magical emanation of seven handsome youths that invited her to their kingdom.  Internally, Neuchung had felt doubt about her father’s teachings and so went with the youths.  The most handsome of the youths was actually the demon prince who seduced her and eventually took her as his prisoner.  During this time, Lord Tönpa Shenrap was teaching in a god realm but was aware of the situation through his unobstructed clairvoyance.  He sent an invisible emanation of himself in the form of a large garuda to watch over his daughter.  Once realizing her error, her father had her returned to Olmo Lungring.  There, she confessed her doubts and presented five offerings of light, incense, pure water, food, and flowers as an act of atonement.

The Mountain of Yungdrung Bon, Kongpo Bonri

Having thus far failed in all of his attempts to stop the teaching of Lord Tönpa Shenrap, the demon prince Kyappa Laring decided to attack the Great Teacher’s property.  He had his demon emissaries steal seven of his best horses and take them far over the mountains and plains into the region of Kongpo in Eastern Tibet.  Having no attachment to the horses, but seeing that the time was right to introduce the Yungdrung Bön into Tibet, Lord Tönpa Shenrap began to slowly pursue the demons.  Seeing that he was being followed by the Great Teacher, Khyappa Laring sent many magical creations to try and stop his pursuit.  All of these failed.  Crossing into Western Tibet and reaching the great Mt. Tise (Mt Kailash), Lord Tönpa Shenrap blessed it and left his footprints in a rock near the mouth of the Tsangpo River.  The Great Teacher having reached the thick forests of Southeast Kongpo in Eastern Tibet,  the demon prince manifested a great mountain in order to block his way.  Lord Tönpa Shenrap pushed down this mountain, and with the great power of his mind, created another to take its place for the future benefit of his disciples.  This is the holy Bön mountain, Kongpo Bönri.  The demon prince then forced the king of Kongpo and his armies to fight against the Great Teacher.  But again, their weapons were transformed into flowers and all attempts to defeat him failed.  The people of Kongpo were terrified by the battle and amazed by the glorious power of Lord Tönpa Shenrap.  Thus, they were converted as his disciples.  However, because the population of Tibet was still under the strong influence of demons, Lord Tönpa Shenrap focused his teaching to them on the Causal Vehicles of Yungdrung Bön which include teachings on the great non-virtue of blood sacrifices and instead the benefit of proper offerings and veneration of the powerful worldly gods, and methods of sending away or subduing negative forces.  Although he mainly taught from the Causal Vehicles of Bön at that time, he prophesied that in the future, the time would come that the Tibetans would be ready to receive the higher teachings of the Yungdrung Bön.

His army again having abandoned him, the demon prince spent the daytime listening to the instructions of the Great Teacher and spent the night time destroying things.  Still, he plotted his revenge.  One day when Lord Tönpa Shenrap had gone to Mt. Meru, Kyappa Laring used trickery to convince the Great Teacher’s wife to set fire to the boxes containing Shenrap’s teachings.  Feeling satisfaction as the scriptures burned, the demon prince went on his way.  One of Lord Tönpa Shenrap disciples ran to the fire and tried desperately to extinguish it with no success.  However, aware of what was happening, the Great Teacher had blessed the fire.  Among the ashes the great five warrior seed syllables of AH OM HUNG RAM DZA remained.  From this mantra, all of the letters were recreated and the entirety of the scriptures written anew.

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Sacred Activity of the Lama

His Eminence Menri Lopon Yangton Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche consecrating a newly restored chorten in Dolpo, Nepal

The Power of Prayer

Tapihritsa prayer flag with blog url

This Yungdrung Bön prayer flag has a center image of Tapihritsa.  He was an historical person of the 8th century who attained full realization and is seen as being merged with the primordially enlightened Küntu Zangpo.  Tapihritsa is an important figure in the lineage of the Zhang Zhung Aural Tradition of Dzogchen.  The direct lineage of this tradition was never interrupted in any way and continues to this very day.

This prayer flag contains the “Invocation of Tapihritsa” as well as the Bön ‘SA LÉ Ö” heart mantra which is said to contain the complete introduction to the natural state of the mind.

“Lord Tapihritsa, protector of migrating beings, I offer this prayer to you!  May the beings of the six realms of cyclic existence be held within your compassion, and may my mind be liberated!”

-From The Invocation of Tapihritsa.  Translated by Raven Cypress Wood.

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The Field of Accumulation: Lamas of the Renowned Three Cycles of Secret Mantra

Tsok zhing according to Menri

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the place where the deities and objects of veneration are gathered is called the “Tsok Zhing”, the “Field of Accumulation”.  It is also sometimes translated as the “Field of Merit” or the “Merit Field” because what is being accumulated by paying homage and making offerings to this place is merit, or virtue.  This is the Merit Field according to the Menri Tradition from a drawing done by the great master and scholar His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche.

Outline guide for tsok zhing TANTRA

This is the lineage of tantra and these lineage masters wear the clothes of yogis, tertons or revealers of hidden sacred treasure, or monks accordingly.  These profoundly pure masters of tantra have all accomplished the attainments of practice.

1. Trulshen Nangden was the incarnation of Lord Tönpa Shenrap before he manifested in Olmo Lungrik.  Transforming himself into a blue cuckoo, he alighted upon the shoulder of the deity Zangza Ringtsun.  This caused a subtle, internal heat.  As a result, he was miraculously born to her as Chimé Tsukpü.

2. Zangza Ringtsun was an emanation of the enlightened wise, loving Mother, Sherap Chamma who received the teachings of the Secret Mother Tantra from the primordial Buddha.

3. Chimé Tsukpü was miraculously born to Zangza Ringtsun.

4. Sangwa Düpa is cited in some texts as the previous incarnation of Buddha Shakyamuni.

5. Takla Mebar was a prince of Tazik.

6. Lhashen Yongsu Dakpa spread the teachings among the gods.

7. Milu Samlek was known for his intelligence and wrote separate commentaries for each of the three cycles of the Mother Tantra: outer, inner, and secret.  He spread the teachings in the human realm.

8. Ludrup Yeshe Nyingpo was born to parents who had been childless for a long time.  After making offerings and praying to the lu, or naga, a child was born to them.  He spead the teachings among the lu.

Lama Ludrup Yeshe Nyingpo

9. Nangwa Dokchen transmitted the teachings to the son of the first Tibetan king.

10. Mutri Tsenpo was the son of the first Tibetan king, Nyatri Tsenpo.  He invited one hundred eight esteemed scholars of Zhang Zhung to Tibet.  After him, these teachings were not taught for three generations due to political obstacles.

11. Hara Chipar received the teachings from the four magical khandro of the elements of earth, fire, water and air in order to keep the teachings from further decline.

12. Takwer Liwer was a female practitioner and achieved supernatural powers.  She could tame wild animals and also transform herself into anything that she wished.  The spirits of earth and water obeyed her commands.  After living for three hundred sixty years, she achieved the fruit of realization, the rainbow body of light.

13. Anu Traktak practiced on Mount Tise (Kailash) and lived for two hundred fifty-five years.

14. Sené Ga’u was born in Zhang Zhung and had many teachers.  It is said that he could cure leprosy simply by looking at the patient.  He achieved the rainbow body of light.

15. Tami Teké lived for two hundred seventy-seven years and achieved supernatural powers.

16. Shebu Rakhuk lived for two hundred years and achieved supernatural powers.

17. Zingwa Tüchen was a Chinese practitioner and lived for two hundred sixty-one years.

18. Pébön Toktsé

19. Pébön Toktrul lived for one hundred thirty-five years.

The Four Great Scholars: 20-23 These four scholars translated many Yungdrung Bön texts from the Zhang Zhung language into Tibetan.

20. Tonggyung Tüchen

21. Shari Uchen was a previous manifestation of the modern day saint, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche.

22. Gyimte Machung

23. Chetsa Kharbu

24. Hripa Gyermé

25. Mutsa Gyermé gave the text Zi Ji to the 14th century master, Loden Nyingpo in a vision.

26. Drenpa Namkha was born in 753 AD.  In general, there are three Drenpa Namkha that are incarnations of the previous one.  1) Drenpa Namkha of Tazik 2)Drenpa Namkha of Zhang Zhung who was a prince and is commonly referred to as La Chen, the great lama.  It was this Drenpa Namkha that married an Indian Brahman girl and had twin sons, Tsewang Rikdzin and Pema Tongdrol.  3) Drenpa Namkha of Tibet who saved many Yungdrung Bön texts from destruction during the persecution of Bön by the Tibetan kind Trisong Detsen.  See previous post, “Practice of the Great Lama, Drenpa Namkha.”

ZZ Drenpa Namkha maybe

Lama Drenpa Namkha

27. Shenchen Luga 996-1035 was a manifestation of Tonggyung Tüchen and was a terton, or treasure discoverer, one who discovers texts and/or sacred objects that are hidden. He had many disciples who began religious centers in their respective home villages.

28. Germi Nyi Öd was born in Zhang Zhung and was a terton.  He lived for three hundred years.

29. Matön Sidzin was a terton who discovered many texts including a ritual invocation of the protector Sipe Gyalmo.

30. Yiltön Khyungö Tsal was born in 1198 and was a great terton who discovered many texts including the main ritual text for the protector and yidam Gekho,

31. Druchen Namkha Yungdrung

32. Wangden Zhuye Lekpo was one of Shenchen Luga’s main disciples and served him as an attendant. He founded the famous Ri Zhing Monastery.

33. Patön Palchok Zangpo was one of the final disciples to meet Shenchen Luga.

34. Me’u Lhari Nyenpo composed a summary of the long version of the Yungdrung Bön Prajnaparamita that was discovered as terma by Shenchen Luga.

35. Drusha Khyungi Gyaltsen was the son of Druchen Namkha Yungdrung.

36. Drusha Jetsun

37. Drutön Nyigyal

38. Yorpo Mépal 1134-1168

39. Nyi Tsultrim Gyaltsen

40. Drogön Dutsi Gyaltsen

41. Drogön Lodro Gyaltsen 1198-1263 was also known as Azha Lodro Gyaltsen.

42. Dulwa Gyaltsen

43. Drutön Gyalwa Yungdrung

44. Namkha Özer

45. Sonam Gyaltsen

46. Sonam Lodro

47. Namkha Sonam

48. Tsewang Gyaltsen

49. Namkha Rinchen

50. Namgyal Kara

51. Khedrup Rinchen Lodro

The Eight Auspicious Symbols

The Eight Auspicious Symbols displayed on a shrine before an image of Lord Tonpa Shenrap at Triten Norbutse Monastery. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the Eight Auspicious Symbols are displayed in order to bring good luck and increase positive circumstances.  In the Tibetan language, they are called Tashi Dze Gye.  Each symbol has a specific meaning and energy.

endless knot 2 largerThe Glorious Endless Knot, Tibetan: Pal Be’u, symbolizes the interdependence of all things.  It also represents activities and knowledge.

Conch shellThe White Conch Shell, Tibetan: Düng Kar, symbolizes the far-reaching sound of the Buddha’s teachings as well as melodious sound in general.

wheelThe Wheel, Tibetan: Khorlo, sometimes referred to as The Wheel of Dharma, symbolizes the Buddha’s teachings.  Each aspect of the wheel such as the rim, the hub and the spokes all have meaning according to the context within which the wheel appears.

Golden fishThe Golden Fish, Tibetan: Ser Nya, symbolize freedom and liberation, as well as skill with handicrafts and power in the hands for healers.

LotusThe Lotus, Tibetan: Pema, symbolizes purification.

Victory BannerThe Victory Banner, Tibetan: Gyaltsen, symbolizes victory over all obstacles, as well as gaining happiness.

VaseThe Vase, Tibetan: Bumpa, symbolizes wealth and virtues.

paraso 2lThe Parasol, Tibetan: Duk, symbolizes being protected from suffering as well as prosperity and good luck for the head.

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