Category Archives: Tibetan Lamas

Lunar Calendar: The Practice of Tséwang Rikdzin

Mural of Lama Tsewang Rikdzin from Yanggon Monastery in Dolpo, Nepal. Photo credit: Unknown.

According to the lunar calendar of the Yungdrung Bön, the 10th lunar day of each month is the day for the practice of the three sages: the great lama Drenpa Namkha and his two twin sons, Tséwang Rikdzin, and Péma Tongdrul. This coincides with April 3, 2020. This day is set aside specifically to pay homage and make offerings to these lamas, as well as to recite the mantras associated with their respective practices.

“You are like the embrace of a thousand cloudless suns upon the very white, snow mountain, Mount Meru.

A hundred praises to the deathless Tséwang Rikdzin, who overcomes the darkness of the suffering of sentient beings during this degenerate time!”

— From The Sword that Cuts the Noose of Death found within the Tséwang Jarima, The Teachings of Tséwang given at Jarima

Indestructible: The Longevity Practice of Lama Tséwang Rikdzin.  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SacredSky

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Present and Future Refuge

The Great Lama and yidam deity, Drenpa Namkha

“Now, during this negative time, infectious diseases and epidemics occur,

heat and cold within the body are reversed, and medicine doesn’t help.

You are surrounded by the Medicine Buddha and his retinue.

I pray to the Great Lama and his two sons, to the subduer of demons, Drenpa Namkha: completely overcome infectious diseases and epidemics!

Look upon me with your unbiased compassion morning and night, during the past, present, and future! Turn back both seen and unseen enemies!

My present and future refuge and protector bless me to accomplish all of my intentions!”

— Extracted from The Prayer of Fourteen Stanzas to Drenpa Namkha translated by Raven Cypress Wood

In general, there have been three separate manifestations of Drenpa Namkha. Each was a reincarnation of the previous manifestation. There was the Drenpa Namkha of the ancient kingdom of Tazik, Drenpa Namkha of the ancient kingdom of Zhang Zhung, and Drenpa Namkha of Tibet. Drenpa Namkha of the ancient kingdom of Zhang Zhung was a prince who lived during 914 BC. He married an Indian Brahman girl and had twin sons, Tséwang Rikdzin and Péma Tongdrül, who were born in the year 888 BC.

Drenpa Namkha of Tibet was born in the year 753 AD in Southern Tibet.  During this time, the kingdom of Tibet was ruled by King Trisong Detsen who had many Bön priest in his court, including Drenpa Namkha. When the king decided to convert the kingdom to the new Indian religion of Buddhism, he began to drive out the Bön priests and to destroy their texts. The Bön lamas were given the choice of exile from the kingdom, suicide, or conversion to the new religion.  Many lamas chose to escape with texts and to try and preserve the teachings elsewhere. Drenpa Namkha chose to stay and protect the teachings and the texts from within Tibet. So, at the age of 31, he cut his own hair with a blade of gold and ordained himself a Buddhist.

After his conversion, he had many YUngdrung Bön texts hidden within chortens, statues and columns at the monastery of Samyé. He continued to compose texts and to teach. Among his many students was the king himself, Trisong Detsen. Years later, the king allowed him to openly return to his practice of the Yungdrung Bön teachings.

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Celebration of the Second Buddha: H.H. Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché

The 5th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan lunar calendar is the celebration of Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché also known as the second buddha. In 2020, this date coincides with  February 28th on the Western calendar. Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rnpoche 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, Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché.

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The Parinirvana of Drupchen Namkha Gyaltsen

 

Drupchen Namkha Gyaltsen Rinpoché visiting with HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoché. Photo credit & copyright: Christophe Moulin 2007. Used with permission.

On the 21st day of the 12th lunar month, February 14th 2020 on the Western calendar, the greatly accomplished Yungdrung Bön yogi Drupchen Namkha Gyaltsen Rinpoché passed into nirvana at Pal Shenten Dargyé Tashi Ling Monastery in Nyarong. Drupchen Namkha Gyaltsen was a famous ascetic who lived many years in solitary retreat. On the day of his passing, auspicious signs manifested such as rainbows in the daytime sky. This news was kept secret until February 19th. And due to the current restrictions related to the prevention of spreading infectious disease, there was no traditional public gathering or presentation of offerings.

Drupchen Namkha Gyaltsen at Tsédruk Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

Born in 1956, the accomplished dzogchen master Namkha Gyalstsen became a well-known yogi, or naljorpa, who was respected for his incredible strength and fortitude while enduring hardships. He continuously observed the vows to abstain from meat and from eating food later in the day. From the renowned Tsukpü Ösal he received the teachings and transmissions for the preliminary practices and the primary practices of meditation. He then stayed within his own hermitage at the Tsédruk monastery. His focus was mainly upon the external, internal and secret doors of Bön contained within Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen’s Five Treasuries including the practices of ngöndro, meditation, tsa lung, rushen, chulen, etc. Applying the key points of these practices, he had many experiences of accomplishment.

He continuously practiced difficult austerities. For example, he traveled to Mount Tisé (Mount Kailash) and Bönri and  performed 100 full-length prostrations during his circumambulations. Also, from 1986 until 2002, like a wounded deer, he stayed by himself in solitary retreat and completely focused his mind upon practice. He led meditation retreats for male and female yogis who showed signs of accomplishment including signs of heat. After 2002, he traveled to other remote retreat places including the hermitage of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoché where he continued his meditation, study, and disciplined practices. The quality of his meditation and his ascetic practices become legendary.

Rainbow light appeared in the sky on the day of his passing. Photo credit: Unknown

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Yungdrung Bön in Mongolia

His Eminence Menri Ponlop Yangtön Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche officiates the opening of Thegchen Zhidé Dargyé LIng. Photo credit: Unknown

On December 19, 2019 a new Yungdrung Bön temple was officially inaugurated by His Eminence Menri Ponlop Yangtön Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche upon the request of its founder, Khenpo Menri Geshe Zöpa Gyatso Rinpoche. The temple is named Thekchen Zhidé Dargyé Ling, Land of the Great Vehicle where Peace and Happiness Flourish. On December 15th, His Eminence performed the rituals for consecrating and opening the eye for the new deity statues for the temple. On December 16th, His Eminence met with special guests and those who helped to establish the new temple.

The public looks on as HE Menri Ponlop Rinpoche officially opens the new temple in Mongolia. Photo credit: Unknown

Beginning on December 17th, HE Menri Ponlop Rinpoche gave the oral transmission for the practice of Sherab Jamma and Laughter of the Khandro to a gathering of monks and laypeople. On December 19th, His Eminence officially opened the new Yungdrung Bön temple, Thekchen Zhidé Dargyé Ling. In attendance were representatives of the Jonang Religious tradition, the Nepal Zhang Zhung organization, the Nepal Bönpo organization, and the Dolpo Tapihritsa School. After His Eminence cut the ribbon, the guests entered the new temple. Representations of enlightened body, speech and mind were presented which was followed by the ritual of the great lama Drenpa Namkha. After the ritual had concluded, each of the representatives had an opportunity to give a short speech.

Afterwards, HE Menri Ponlop Rinpoche spoke about the spread of Yungdrung Bön into Mongolia in the distant past. In 888 A.D., the Mongolian slave Sokpo Trel Lakchen received full ordination as a Yungdrung Bön monk from Muzi Salzang. At that time, he received the ordination name Tribar Tsultrim. Afterwards, Bön declined in Mongolia. Therefore, this is not the first spread of Bön into the country. However, through Khenpo Menri Geshe Zöpa Gyatso Rinpoche the Bön teachings are being restored in Mongolia.

He also relayed a message from His Holiness 34th Menri Trizin Rinpoche that he offered his full support and blessings and gifted the temple a golden statue of Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen. From Yongdzin Mawé Wangpo Rinpoche, the temple was gifted both scriptures and a large thangkha. HE Menri Ponlop Rinpoche gifted the temple a golden statue of the great lama Drenpa Namkha.

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Yungdrung Bön in Thailand

HH 34 Menri Trizin Rinpoche, Khen Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche and the founder of Himalaya Zhang Zhung Dzogchen Ling, Khen Akarpa Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown

On December 12, 2019, Himalaya Zhang Zhung Dzogchen Ling celebrated their 10 year anniversary with special guests His Holiness 34th Menri Trizin Lungtok Dawa Dargye Rinpoche and His Eminence Khenchen Lungtok Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche. This Yungdrung Bön center was founded in Bangkok, Thailand in 2009 by Khen Rinpoche Akarpa Chime Lozang. Some of the events to mark the special occasion included a talk on the subject of Mawé Sengé, performance of the Three-fold Practice of the Mother Tantra, the sacred dance of the enlightened protector Yeshé Walmo, and offering the body through the practice of chod. Khen Akarpa Rinpoche gave a talk on the view, meditation and conduct according to the unsurpassed vehicle of the great perfection.

HH 34th Menri Trizin Rinpoche presents Khen Akarpa Rinpoche with a thangkha of the successive Menri abbots. Photo credit: Unknown

Khen Rinpoche Lungtok Tenpa Yungdrung spoke about the history of the great perfection teachings of The Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung including the five-fold advice of Lama Dawa Gyaltsen. His Holiness 34th Menri Trizin Lungtok Dawa Dargye Rinpoche presented Himalaya Zhang Zhung Dzogchen Ling with a thangkha of the successive abbots of Menri Monastery whose central figure is the saint His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoche.

Performance of the sacred dance of the protector Yeshe Walmo. Photo credit: Unknown

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Lunar Calendar: The Day to Practice Drenpa Namkha & Tséwang Rikdzin

Drenpa Namkha edited(As a meditational deity, Drenpa Namkha is most often depicted in a semi-wrathful form, blue in color and holding a yungdrung in his right hand.)

According to the lunar calendar of the Yungdrung Bön, the 10th day of each month is the day set aside for the practice of the three sages: Drenpa Namkha and his two twin sons, Tséwang Rikdzin and Pema Tongdrul.   On this day, it is appropriate to pay homage and make offerings to these lamas as well as to recite the mantras associated with their respective practices. During the month of November 2019, this day is November 6th.

“Now during this negative time, instances of virtue decrease and the opportunities for good fortune, prosperity and nutrition for the destitute diminishes.  You are surrounded by the wealth deities and their retinues.  I pray to the Great Lama and his two sons, to the subduer of demons Drenpa Namkha, bestow a treasury of riches and prosperity!

Look upon me with your unbiased compassion morning and night during the past, present and future.  Turn back both seen and unseen enemies! My present and future Refuge and Protector, bless me to accomplish my intentions!”

~From the Prayer of Fourteen Stanzas to Drenpa Namkha, translated by Raven Cypress Wood

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Compassionate Refuge and Protection

The Great Lama Drenpa Namkha.

The 10th lunar day of each month is the time to practice Drenpa Namkha and his two sons, Tséwang Rikdzin and Pema Tongdrol according to the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. August 10th 2019 is the 10th day of the 6th lunar month. Drenpa Namkha was an historical figure who realized complete liberation and is revered as both a great lama and also a yidam, or meditational deity.

“EMAHO! 

May the collective, compassionate blessings of the Victorious Ones of the 10 directions come for the welfare of sentient beings in this world. 

I pray for uninterrupted blessings from the subduer of demons, Drenpa Namkha.

Now, during this negative time, the forces of good are lost and the forces of evil rule the land. 

You are surrounded by the gods and goddesses of the earth and their retinues. 

I pray to the Great Lama and his two sons, to the subduer of demons, Drenpa Namkha,

may the forces of good have power to act in this world!

My present and future refuge and protector, bless me to accomplish all of my intentions!”

— Extract from the Fourteen Verse Supplication to the Subduer, Drenpa Namkha

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Anniversary of the Birth of the 33rd Menri Trizin

His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoche

The 15th day of the 5th month on the lunar calendar this year coincides with July 16th on the Western calendar. This is the birth anniversary of the 33rd Throne Holder of Menri Monastery, His Holiness Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoche. This is a powerful day to engage in virtuous practice, recite prayers and mantra, and especially renew spiritual vows.

“You, my Lama, who has brought cyclic existence and nirvana under your power,

I and your other followers request,

please bestow benefits that are as limitless as the sky to migrating beings!

Please grant our wishes to be continuously without separation from your presence!

Continuously hold us with your unequalled compassion, I pray!”

— Excerpt from Offerings to 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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