Category Archives: Prayer and Ritual

Eight-branched Aspiration Prayer: Publicly Offered Translation

Yungdrung Bön nun circumambulating and turning prayer wheels. Photo credit: Mary Ellen McCourt

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition there are many aspiration prayers. These kinds of prayers are called mönlam [Tibetan: smon lam]. Monlam literally translates as “path of aspiration” or “path of intention.” In this way, the purpose of aspiration prayers is to plant seeds that will mature and ripen into positive results. Once these seeds of aspiration encounter supportive secondary causes, they naturally ripen into the result. These supportive secondary conditions include cultivating faith and devotion along with the four immeasurable qualities, developing the ten perfections which include patience, generosity, and skillful means among others, offering the prayers without attachment to the result, and offering them for the benefit of all migrating beings that experience suffering and misery, and so on.

When offering the prayers, we imagine that all the countless other sentient beings are offering the prayers in unison with us. This limitless group of beings includes humans, nonhumans, unseen spirits, those we consider “enemies” or “demons,” with no exception whatsoever. All sound is the sound of the prayer being recited. The aspirations are without limit and inconceivable. And the vastness of space is filled with buddhas and bodhisattvas that are delighted and whose compassion is spontaneously activated by the virtuous activity of these countless sentient beings. By offering the prayers in this way, they have great power. By offering the prayers on auspicious days such as the four auspicious lunar days each month: 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 30th, multiplies this power exponentially. Then, by dedicating the virtue of the practice for the welfare and benefit of all sentient beings, the benefit is sealed and can never be destroyed.

This Eight-branched Aspiration Prayer, Mönlam Yenlak Gyepa, was written by the 1st Menri Trizin His Holiness Nyammé Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and is commonly recited. The English language translation of the complete prayer is being made publicly available for personal use and can be downloaded at the link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZwQt1udCby_Ifjt9zzxMPSF8dhTtybBM/view?usp=sharing

The Branch of Aspiration Prayers

Having purified all negative actions and pacified all obstacles, through whatever power I have accumulated through this virtue, may I have harmonious circumstances that support the attainment of leisure and fortune!

Having the quality of skillful means and having relied upon the highest lamas, may I continuously train the mind-stream of knowledge through study, reflection, and meditation together with the practice of completely pure virtue!

Never being separate from the divine places of refuge and having brought together the causes and conditions of faith and compassion, may I generate the mind of enlightenment for the benefit of all migrating beings!

With the establishment of mindfulness as well as a vast and pure renunciation, and through the four kinds of miraculous abilities along the path of accumulation, and because of these roots of virtue in accord with the path of liberation, may my mind-stream become ripened!

Through the force of the sense powers, and having meditated upon the five kinds of contemplation,
may I fully travel the path to meditative heat, the supreme blaze! And instantly having perceived the clearly manifest meaning of the essential nature, which is nondual clarity and emptiness,
may I be free from the activities of this world and obtain the ground beyond a mere taste!

Unwavering from the state of pure space and having accomplished benefit for others through the unsurpassed ten perfections, may I proceed along the path of meditation and fulfill the two accumulations!

Having fully attained the three Bodies upon the final ground, may I have the eye of knowledge towards whatever is perceived and exists! And may I accomplish everything for the benefit of migrating beings through the four kinds of activity!

Having fully held to these aspirations just like the compassionate and praiseworthy ones,
I pray that I might quickly accomplish, without exception, these intentions according to this aspiration prayer!

The Branch of Dedicating

Through this virtue, for however many migrating beings exist, having fully completed purification of the two obscurations and the collection of the two accumulations,
may they all attain a state of goodness, complete perfection, and total knowledge!”

— Excerpt from the Eight-branched Aspiration Prayer

Tibetan translations by Raven Cypress Wood

Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.

Don’t want to miss a post? Scroll to the bottom and click “Follow this blog.”

Want to join the mandala of Nine Ways supporters? Follow this link https://ravencypresswood.com/donate/

665th Birth Celebration of the Second Buddha: H.H. the 1st Menri Trizin Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché

Shrine display at Menri Monastery honoring HH 1st Menri Trizin Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown

The 5th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan lunar calendar is the birth celebration of His Holiness the 1st Menri Trizin Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché also known as the second buddha. In 2021, this date coincides with  February 16th on the Western calendar and is the 665th year. H.H. Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché was a reincarnation of Yikyi Khye’u Chung, one of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche’s sons. He was responsible for uniting the three transmission lineages 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.

H.H. Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché 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, H.H. Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché.

Tibetan translations by Raven Cypress Wood

Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.

Don’t want to miss a post? Scroll to the bottom and click “Follow this blog.”

Want to join the mandala of Nine Ways supporters? Follow this link https://ravencypresswood.com/donate/

Happy Tibetan New Year! Losar Tashi Delek Pün Sum Tsok!

Tibetan prayer flags at Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

“May the life force and vitality increase!

May the body’s strength increase!

May personal power and influence increase!

May the force of good luck be well developed!

May the soul and prosperity increase!

May the life force, vitality, health, personal power, soul, and lungta be well developed!

May all lungta, soul, and prosperity that have been diminished become well developed!

Essence of the three jewels and a supreme rarity, kind root lama, please think of me!

May external, internal, and secret obstacles be cleared!

May these wishes bring the accomplishment of all goals and intentions!”

— Prayers from a Yungdrung Bön lungta prayer flag

Tibetan translations by Raven Cypress Wood

Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.

Don’t want to miss a post? Scroll to the bottom and click “Follow this blog.”

Want to join the mandala of Nine Ways supporters? Follow this link https://ravencypresswood.com/donate/

Anniversary of the Human Birth of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché

Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché. Photo credit: Khedup Gyatso

The 15th day of the 12th lunar month, January 28, 2021 on the Western calendar is the 18,038th birth anniversary of the founder of the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the Enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwo Künlé Nampar Gyalwa.  Already an enlightened being, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche chose to be born into this world in order to guide beings from suffering to liberation.  He was born into the royal Mu lineage in the kingdom of Tazig Olmo Lungring.

Traditionally, the anniversary of his birth has been celebrated on the 15th day of the 1st month of the lunar calendar.  However, based upon research by the renowned Yungdrung Bön scholar and supreme lama, His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, the actual date is believed to be the Full Moon day of the last month in the Tibetan lunar calendar.  This is a powerful and auspicious day for performing virtue or spiritual practice.  The benefits of these activities are greatly multiplied.

“Namo!  You are the supreme teacher, one who has gone beyond bliss, an authentic and completely enlightened being, a manifested buddha and teacher, Tönpa Shenrap Miwo. 

You have the wisdom of omniscience and possess both great compassion and skillful means.  You are without emotional afflictions and have ceased all defilements.  You have power and clear self awareness.  A marvelous emanation, you have cleared all obstructions and destroyed the door to birth into cyclic existence.  

Your face is like the sun and moon, and you see throughout the ten directions.  100,000 light rays emanate from your divine body.  You are adorned with ornaments which are like rainbows and your divine body is so beautiful that one does not know how to look away. 

In your right hand, you hold a golden chakshing painted with a turquoise yungdrung which shows that you are lord of the 3,000-fold universe and conqueror of this world system.  Your left hand holds the mudra of equipoise which shows that you have destroyed the door to birth into the cyclic existence of lower rebirth. 

May the cycle of manifested teachings completely turn, I pray!  Please hold us within your compassion myself and all other sentient beings without exception! 

I feel remorse for everything immoral and improper that has been experienced because of the power of the afflictive emotions.  I feel regret!  

Through this open admission of wrongdoing, please agree to cleanse and purify me, I pray! 

Free me from the ocean of suffering and misery of cyclic existence, I pray! 

AH OM HUNG SÉ LA GYER RO HRUN PUNG YÉ SOHA”

— Extracted from Homage to the Enlightened State of the Omniscient Tûlku

According to the text, today is a particularly auspicious day to recite The Tséwang Mönlam, Tséwang’s Precious Mala of Beneficial Aspiration Prayers. This prayer has been translated into English by Raven Cypress Wood and made publicly available for personal use. To find the download link for the translation, go to the Publications page of this website or click https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/ and scroll down.

Tibetan translations by Raven Cypress Wood

Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.

Don’t want to miss a post? Scroll to the bottom and click “Follow this blog.”

Want to join the mandala of Nine Ways supporters? Follow this link https://ravencypresswood.com/donate/

Protecting the Mind with Mantra

The benefits of reciting mantra [Tibetan: nyén pa] are vast and without measure. Although there are thousands of mantra within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, there is one mantra known as The Great Mantra. It is commonly referred to as the MA TRI mantra. This mantra has eight syllables: OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU. In general, the power of a mantra is in the sound and vibration of each syllable. They are like a vibrational seed of energy that gives birth to a specific energy and power. For this mantra, the first two syllables are the seed syllables of a male and female buddha. The remaining six syllables are the sound of the six buddhas that guide sentient beings out of suffering and misery caused by the five poisons of anger, attachment, jealousy, pride, and ignorance.

From Thirty-three Benefits of the MA TRI Mantra:

“This is the heart mantra of all the buddhas. It is of benefit for sentient beings at the end of the eon when their lifespan has become shorter and there is less morality.”

And,

“The recitation of this mantra is enough. It is the fundamental essence of the entire collection of sacred teachings. It is the ultimate of all recitations. It is the innermost essence of all meditations. It is a sacred connection for sentient beings during a dark time.”

— Words from the mouth of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché

The great mantra has many profound benefits and meanings. However, it is not necessary to be familiar with the thousands of pages of teachings and commentary devoted to the MA TRI mantra. In order to receive benefit from the mantra, it is enough to recite it with openness and trust. A mantra can be recited anytime, anywhere, out loud or silently if necessary. Especially when the mind is disturbed by inner or outer circumstances, focusing on the recitation of mantra has the immediate effect of protecting the mind from negativity and increasing a positive and beneficial state of mind.

“OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU

Alas! Fortunate Ones Listen!

Right here and now, because of our ignorance and delusion we have not attained mastery of the experience of awareness, and we wander throughout cyclic existence. We take on the magical illusion of solid flesh and undergo many kinds of suffering and misery.

There is no final escape. How sad!

Noble Ones who wish to travel the path of liberation in order to escape from that suffering and misery and arrive at a place of bliss, proclaim the melody of the MA TRI MU YÉ!”

And,

“OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU

Alas! Fortunate Ones Listen!

The many troops of mental dullness are the first.

The mighty coat of armor of pride is the second.

The trained army of envy is the third.

The sharp weapons of anger and hatred are the fourth.

These are the four frightening enemies that come from behind.

Noble Ones who wish to be delivered from those enemies, proclaim the melody of the MA TRI MU YÉ!”

— From Inspirational Verses Regarding the MA TRI written by the tertön Tülku Loden Nyingpo

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.

Don’t want to miss a post? Scroll to the bottom and click “Follow this blog.”

Want to join the mandala of Nine Ways supporters? Follow this link https://ravencypresswood.com/donate/

%d bloggers like this: