Category Archives: Tibetan Culture & History

Offering Everything that is Good

Women of Lubrak, Mustang symbolically offering the entire internal and external universe to the places of refuge. Photo credit: Unknown.

“EMAHO!

To the great, unmatched lama possessing characteristics,

I present unequaled external, internal, and secret offerings.

Externally, I offer the environment and the beings within it.

Furthermore, I offer my own body and its vitality as an ornament.

I present these offerings with non-attachment.

Internally, I offer the arising of my mental and physical aggregates.

I offer my accumulated realization that whatever arises as subject and object is illusory.

Furthermore, I present these offerings within the vast space of self-liberation.

Secretly, I offer the natural radiance of my unborn mind, which is

unceasing and understands whatever arises as enlightened manifestation and wisdom.

Furthermore, I present these offerings within a completely vast and all-pervasive space.”

— Extract from Offerings for the Lama

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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The Monastery of Blissful Meditation: Déden Samten Ling

Samling Temple complex. Photo credit: Unknown

The high altitude temple of Déden Samten Ling, or simply Samling, has been significant in the preservation of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition.  The main temple was established more than 900 years ago by Yangtön Gyaltsen Rinchen in a remote and mountainous region of Dolpo, Nepal near the Tibetan border.  Since that time, this monastery, as well as others in Dolpo, has been maintained by a hereditary line of lamas within the Yangtön family. (For more information about the prestigious Yangtön family lineage, see previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2017/05/27/yangton-sherap-gyaltsen/)

map of dolpo copy

According to a text of the Yangton family lineage, some time during the 13th century Yangtön Gyaltsen Rinchen was staying near Mt. Tisé in Western Tibet (a.k.a. MT. Kailash) when he was visited in a dream by the Bönpo sage and great lama Drenpa Namkha.   The Yangtön lama was instructed to travel to Dolpo and build a temple.  Traveled the distance to Dolpo and having searched throughout its rugged terrain, Yangtön Gyaltsen Rinchen had a series of auspicious dreams while staying in the area of Bijer that convinced him that he had finally found the proper place to construct a Yungdrung Bön temple.

Chortens of Samling. Photo credit: Unknown.

Yangtön Gyaltsen Rinchen was the first of many Yangtön lamas at Samling who collected and preserved sacred texts.  Because of this, many volumes of texts have been throughout the course of many centuries. It was during a trip to Samling Monastery in 1961 that Dr. David Snellgrove discovered a copy of the Zi Ji, a hagiography of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap. He subsequently wrote and published one of the first English language translations of a Yungdrung Bön text, The Nine Ways of Bön.  The Zi Ji text that he consulted for his translation was estimated to be approximately 400 years old.

Left: H.E. Menri Ponlop Yangtön Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche, Center: H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoche, Right: Yangtön Lama Sherap Tenzin Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown.

Currently, Lama Sherap Tenzin Rinpoche is the head of the monastery.  He was born in 1953 and has received extensive religious training and has been trained in the science of Tibetan medicine.

The Sharp Point of Wisdom

Monks debating at Nangzhig Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

Fire Offering for the Holy Physical Remains of a Realized Being

Some of the many Fire Offering Ritual items to be burned with the holy remains. Photo credit: Menri Monastery

During the early morning hours of October 2, 2017, the holy physical remains of His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoche will be cremated during an elaborate fire offering ritual at Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. For the past five days, concluding at 3:30 a.m. prior to the beginning of the actual cremation ceremony, the monks have been performing the Kün Rik Le Zhi Gyü Nga, The Full Cycle of the Four Activities and the Five Tantras with cycles for each of the four kinds of enlightened activity which are classified as peaceful, expansive, powerful and wrathful.

Cremation chorten for HH 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche at Menri Monastery. Photo credit: Lee Hartline

In preparation for the cremation, a special cremation chorten has been constructed near the gompa and the butter lamp house. This cremation chorten (Sanskrit: stupa), built under the guidance of Khedup Gyatso who is a treasure of knowledge in the Yungdrung Bön community and a relative of His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche, will be where the holy remains will be taken for cremation. This chorten has been constructed exactly to the dimensions of the sand mandalas of the Kün Rik cycle that will be burned with the holy remains. After the cremation ash has been collected, this chorten will be torn down.

Extensive offerings for the fire offering ritual for HH 33 Menri Trizen Rinpoche. Photo credit: Menri Monastery

The Kü Dung, or holy physical remains, will take up to three hours to burn. After that, it will take an additional day to offer and burn the vast array of offerings that are housed inside the gompa at Menri Monastery. Everything is made clean through prayer, and cleansing with pure water and incense. Among the many offerings are prayers of aspiration that have been written in pure gold and silver and placed upon tall wooden boards that will be read aloud and then offered to the sacred fire. This vast array of offerings are not given as a support for His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche.  Rather, his sacred activity of having attained realization is taken as an auspicious opportunity to generate great benefit for all sentient beings.

Prayers of aspiration written in precious gold and silver.

During the time of the Fire Offering Ritual, lay people continuously circumambulate the sacred site. It will take many days for the cremation ashes to cool. At that time, the monks will collect the sacred ash and also look for kü dung ringsel. These kü dung ringsel, or relics of the holy physical remains, can appear in the cremation ash of realized beings and take many forms including the appearance of sacred images on small bone fragments or small, pearl-like spheres. The cremation ash will be made into tsa tsa and placed within a special memorial chorten dedicated to His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche.

Some of the many offerings for the Fire Offering Ritual dedicated to His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche. Photo credit: Menri Monastery

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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