Category Archives: Pilgrimage

Happy Tibetan New Year

raising lungta at Nangzhik monastery

Tibetan New Year fumigation offering at Nangzhik Yungdrung Bön Monastery Eastern Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown

The first day of the first lunar month is the royal Tibetan New Year’s Day. In 2022, this date coincides with March 3rd. This is an auspicious day to arise early, put on new clothes, place new offerings on the shrine, visit temples and holy places, and to make offerings and pay respect to one’s spiritual master. It is a day for making aspirations and strengthening positive qualities. This year, due to the passing of Shensé Norbu Wangyal Rinpoche, the Yungdrung Bön community will observe but not celebrate the New Year. Rather, more time will be spent with spiritual practice and recitations.

New Year’s day begins with the ritual of fumigation and offering through smoke known as the sang, sang sol, or lha sang. This practice removes defilements and obstacles, delights the enlightened ones, and satisfies the worldly spirits. In this way, a foundation for harmony, positive conditions, and prosperity is created. For more information about this important ancient ritual within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, see previous post:

“Having engaged in this sacred activity and prayer,

for us practitioners as well as our friends and companions,

please pacify obstacles related to our present circumstances and act to bring about supportive and harmonious conditions!

Support the success of our goals and intentions!

Eliminate harm and obstacles from bitter enemies!

Support the spread of the buddhas’ teachings!

Act on behalf of the happiness and perfect satisfaction of every sentient being!”

— From Sacred Smoke: The Ritual Practice of Fumigation and Offering in the Yungdrung Bön Religious Tradition by Raven Cypress Wood

Traditionally on the 2nd and 3rd days of the New Year, it is traditional to not work and instead to spend the days visiting friends, sharing food, and being joyful together. The 4th and 5th days are the celebration of the birth of His Holiness Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoche who is know as the second buddha. At this time in the monasteries, the main prayer flag for the year is raised and there is a return to strict monastic discipline after the relaxed celebratory atmosphere of the previous few days.

Nangzhig: Largest Yungdrung Bön Monastery in Tibet

Nangzhig Monastery edit

Nangzhig Monastery’s formal name is Nangzhig Gyaltsen Puntsok Ling, Marvelous Land of the Buddha’s Teachings which Destroys Appearances.  It is also known as Nangzhig Tashi Yungdrung Ling, Land of the Auspicious Yungdrung which Destroys Appearances.  It is located in the Amdo Ngawa region and is the largest Yungdrung Bön monastery in Tibet.  The monastery was founded by Yönten Gyaltsen in 1108.  Similar to many other monasteries, Nangzhig Monastery was destroyed during the cultural revolution that began in 1959 and many of its religious articles were hidden away.  In 1980 when the People’s Republic of China began to allow more religious practice, reconstruction and reinstallment of religious artifacts was organized by Gya ‘Ob Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

Nangzhig monastery complex cropped

The monastery complex is quite extensive and includes multiple temples, multiple dormitories for monks and living quarters for senior lamas, and three large chortens among other structures.   During large festivals, the monastery has the capacity to house two thousand monks.

Nangzhig students

Nangzhig Monastery has both a dialectic college and a meditation college.  There are approximately a thousand monks living there and more than two hundred new students arrive each year.  Being a major center for learning and educational exchange in Tibet, the monastery has multiple copies of the Bön canon and over two thousand blocks for printing the texts.  Monks attending the dialectic college must attend classes and debate every day except Sunday and during retreats.  Once the students of the dialectic college have completed ten years of study and successfully passed their final examinations, they receive the degree of Geshe, which is similar to a doctorate of philosophy and religion.  Monks attending the meditation college must complete a three-year retreat based upon the A Tri teachings.

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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Homage to Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché!

Homage to Tonpa Shenrap painted on rock

“I prostrate to Shenrap Nampar Gyalwa, the Precious Wish-fulfilling Jewel!”

The 15th day of the 1st lunar month has traditionally been the day for Bönpos to celebrate the human birth of Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché, founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. In 2019, this date coincides with February 19th on the Western calendar.

However, in recent times, the scholar and Yungdrung Bön master H. E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche has discovered through his research that the actual date is the 15th day of the 12th lunar month. See previous post:

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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The Lama Returns

His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen returns to Menri Monastery August 13, 2017. Photo credit: Unknown

Sacred Signs

Handprint in stone of the one known as the Second Buddha, the 1st Menri Trizen, Nyamme Sherab Gyaltsen. Photo credit: Unknown

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