Category Archives: Tibetan Lunar & Religious Calendar

Feast Offering to the Deities of the Mother Tantra


Mother Tantra deities as painted by Lama Kalsang Nyima. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

On the 21st and 22nd lunar days of the 1st month, Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India will perform a feast offering to the deities of the Mother Tantra according to the Shen tradition. These dates are March 23rd and 24th, 2022 on the Western calendar. This kind of feast offering, known as tsok [Tibetan: tshogs] literally means “collection, accumulation, assembly.”

The source of the Mother Tantra within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition is the primordial Buddha Küntu Zangpo. It has three cycles: external, internal and secret. Each cycle has a root text and a commentary that was written by the sage Milu Samlek. The main yidam of the Mother tantra is Sangchok Tartuk and his consort Khandro Chema Ötso. Of the two types of either peaceful or wrathful, the tsok of the Mother Tantra is categorized as wrathful.

menri ma gyud tsok 2021

Tsok offerings for the principal deities and retinue of the Mother Tantra. Photo credit: Unknown

For those who have vows with a yidam deity, performing a tsok is an opportunity to repair broken vows or commitments related to the yidam practice and increase merit and wisdom. Having offered to the enlightened beings, we gain more power and energy. Additionally, past negative actions and the obstacles and imbalances of daily life are purified. Qualities such as health, longevity, prosperity, confidence, stability are enhanced. When undergoing a deity retreat, a tsok is performed during the final session of practice each day.

When performing a tsok, the ritual can be done in its condensed, medium-length, or extensive forms. This is determined by the purpose of the tsok, the sponsor, the circumstance, and the umdzé or ritual director of the feast offering. However, every tsok has a similar structure consisting of preparation, preliminaries, prayers related to the specific deity together with their retinue, and the concluding prayers.  In general, once the length of the tsok is determined the necessary sacred substances, offering torma, and food offerings are prepared. Everything must be clean, prepared according to the text, and placed in its proper position in the shrine area. The preliminary practices consist of the usual foundation of setting an boundary in order to keep out obstacles and to keep in the blessings, going for refuge, generating the mind of enlightenment for self and others and admission of wrongdoing and purification.

The tsok offerings are then ritually cleansed with water and incense. The tsok is then empowered through visualization and mantra and becomes delicious, containing the eight qualities of nutrition, as well as limitless auspiciousness and positive qualities. The principal deity are retinue are formally invited to tsok and asked to reside in the objects of support such as the yidam torma or image that has been centrally placed on uppermost level of the shrine. Now that the enlightened deity is present, prostrations are offered. One can also take this opportunity to confess any broken vows or commitments to the deity and receive purification and renewal of those vows.

wrathful tsok

A wrathful tsok offering. Photo credit: Unknown

The eight offering goddesses are imagined to present the eight external offerings to the assembly of deities. Then, rakta mixed with tea is offered and is symbolic of a blood offering. This represents offering the liberation of our desire and attachment. Next, the ritually prepared medicinal alcohol is empowered and presented to the yidam deities which represents offering our wisdom. The tsok is then liberated by being cut. The top-most portion is offered to the deities, and the next portion is offered to the lineage lamas of the practice being performed. The linga torma represents outer enemies and obstacles as well as the inner five poisons, wrong views etc. This torma is now presented to the yidam, liberated by cutting, and then offered while requesting the ordinary and supreme attainments of the practice. The Yungdrung Bön protectors are presented with offerings, the prayer of delighting the deities and the lineage with the tsok is performed, and the prayer of attainment is performed.

“Within this mandala where marvelous things arise,

there is a collection of enjoyable things such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, things to touch, ornaments, Bön treasures, etc.

Through this unsurpassed cloud of offerings, both actually set out and imagined,

may our sacred commitments be fulfilled!

Through the blessings of having fulfilled our sacred commitments to you,

may the enlightened teachings of the Yungdrung Bön spread!

Dispel into space all external, internal, and secret obstacles!”



This sacred food is the essence of spiritual attainment.

I will partake of it and receive both the ordinary and the supreme spiritual attainments!”

Then, by eating the tsok, we renew our vows with the yidam deities and receive their blessing and empowerment. We then share the leftovers of the tsok offerings as a charitable gift to those lower beings who are powerless to take part in the tsok and depend upon our generosity to receive its blessings.

The concluding practices include prayers of aspiration and auspicious followed by dedicating all of the virtuous activity performed during the tsok for the benefit of every sentient being within cyclic existence.

For more information about the cycle of Mother Tantra texts, see previous article:

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.

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Traditional Anniversary of the Human Birth of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché

Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Although in recent times the historical date of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap’s human birth has been stated to be the 15th day of the 12th month by the scholar His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoché, it continues to be a tradition to also celebrate the Buddha’s birth on the 15th lunar day of the 1st month which is the date that has been celebrated through countless generations. In 2022, this date coincides with March 18th on the Western calendar.

The following is an excerpt from one of the prayers traditionally chanted on this auspicious day.

Homage to the enlightened dimension of the All Knowing Tülku!


You are a 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 possesses both great compassion and skillful means. You are without emotional afflictions and have cut all defilements. You possess power and clear self awareness. A marvelous emanation, You have cleared all obstructions and destroyed the door to birth into cyclic existence. You clearly know the path to release. You have gone beyond suffering and cleansed all karmic potentialities. An ordained person who guides the way, you have the 32 major marks and the 81 minor characteristics. You have the 108 exalted qualities of excellence, and knowledge of the 40 letters and the 61 radiating lights. You possess the 80 good qualities of meditative stability, and are the source of the 61 wisdoms of knowledge and other qualities. These attributes are fully perfected and inexhaustible.

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 three thousand-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 cyclic existence.”

butter lamps close at angle

Prayer of Auspiciousness

“Throughout the countless universes and infinite realms, may the age of enemies, poison, weapons, and disease be pacified! May the blazing fire of rage and warfare not arise!

May happiness and goodness pervade everywhere!
May all auspicious circumstances of time and place constantly fall like a beautiful shower of rain!

May the four elements remain balanced throughout the four times!
May peace and happiness together with auspicious goodness pervade the entire phenomenal universe!

From the potency of blissful and harmonious conditions, may all goals which are in harmony with Bön be accomplished !

Through the wisdom light of the Bön teachings of enlightenment, which strongly blaze and never decline like the light of the sun and moon, may we reach the ultimate destination without hindrance!

Having engaged in all kinds of pure teachings, abandoned impure activities, purified karmic potentialities, and engaged in pure discipline, may we maintain the wisdom and purity of the three trainings!

Having completed the purpose of the three trainings and accomplished benefit for both myself and others, may I and others be inseparable from the state of the single sphere!

May our experience be the same as the expansive space of the Bön essence which is just like the vast, open sky!”

All translations and content by Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved.

No content in part or in whole is allowed to be used in any way without direct permission.

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Lunar Calendar: Time for the Practice of Nyammé Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoché

His Holiness the 1st Menri Trizin Nyammé Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoché

Every new moon, the monks and nuns of Menri Monastery perform the Nyammé La Drup, the lama practice of Nyammé Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoché who established Menri Monastery and brought together the scattered transmission lineages. This practice has its own preliminary prayers, main practice including a tsok offering, and concluding prayers such as prayers of blessing, aspiration and dedication. The next new moon coincides with Tuesday, February 1, 2022.

You are like a golden sunrise over the world

during the final 500 years of degeneration in this negative time.

From your great, thunderous river of Bön speech, 

your disciples’ afflictive emotions are washed clean at the very root.

Through the roar of your extensive knowledge of the three kinds of teachings,

you destroy the ignorant reasoning of variant tenet systems.

A majestic lion among men and leader of Menri,

I prostrate to you, crown ornament of abbots!

Homage to His Holiness the 1st Menri Trizin Nyammé Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoché

Tibetan translation and content 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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Advice for Spiritual Practitioners from the Renowned 8th Century Master, Drenpa Namkha

20th Century mural in Bhutan depicting Drenpa Namkha.

“There are three things that a spiritual practitioner must have in order to attain the state of the Three Enlightened Bodies.

  1. The Seven Things to Meditate Upon 
  2. The Three Applications 
  3. The Three Detachments 

The Seven Things to Meditate Upon:

  • Impermanence
  • The difficulty of acquiring a precious human birth
  • The faults of cyclic existence
  • The truth of cause and effect
  • Compassion
  • Refuge and Generating the Mind of Enlightenment
  • Emptiness

The Three Applications:

  • Having understood the faults of cyclic existence, one must apply the practice of refuge.

    “Wherever one is born within cyclic existence, there remains suffering and misery. From that realization, may I gain renunciation!”                                                                                                                                                                                 

    — From An Ocean of Instructions Regarding the Teachings of AH by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

  • Having understood the truth of cause and effect, one must apply the avoidance of non-virtuous actions.

    “The infallible result of both good and bad actions is certain. May I be watchful about what to accept or reject!”                         

    — From An Ocean of Instructions Regarding the Teachings of AH by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

  • Having practiced loving kindness and compassion, one must act to benefit other sentient beings.

    “Without exception, suffering and misery arise from wanting happiness for only myself. However, a perfect buddha arises from the mind that focuses on benefiting others.”                                                                                                                                    

    —From Forty-three Trainings for an Enlightened Mind by H.H. the 22nd Menri Trizin Sonam Lodro Rinpoche, also known as Sherap Gongyal

The Three Detachments:

  • Having understood impermanence and the faults of cyclic existence, one should detach from this life.

    “When thinking of death, I am instantly without distraction, but then I become lazy and procrastinate. 

    How sad! Bless me that the realization of impermanence will arise in my mind-stream!

    Bless me to be mindful of death!

    Bless me to overcome deep attachment!

    Bless me that renunciation will arise in my mind-stream!

    Bless me to recognize everything as illusion!”                                                                                                                         

    — The Truth of Impermanence from the Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung

  • Having experienced great compassion, one should detach from self benefit.

    “The sentient beings of the three worlds have the same nature as my mother and father. What benefit is my own happiness when they are suffering? Because of that and in order to liberate the limitless sentient beings from the ocean of suffering and misery, I generate the mind of enlightenment.”                                                                                                                                

    —From Forty-three Trainings for an Enlightened Mind by H.H. the 22nd Menri Trizin Sonam Lodro Rinpoche, also known as Sherap Gongyal

  • Having meditated on emptiness, one should detach from grasping things as inherently existing.

    “From this day forward, having recognized everything as self-energy and self-appearance, may I have no attachment to cyclic existence!”                                                                                                                                                                                       

    — From Aspiration Prayer of Giving and Receiving by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

Free, publicly available English translations of The Truth of Impermanence prayer and Aspiration Prayer of Giving and Receiving have been made available for personal use. For the links to download these prayers, go to the Publications page of this website:

For more information about the great spiritual master Drenpa Namkha, go to this previous article:

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 Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi Ritual: Restoring Environmental Peace & Harmony

Mandala palace for the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi ritual.

At Triten Norbutse Monastery each year during fourth lunar month from the 12th – 16th lunar days the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi ritual is performed. In 2020, these dates coincide with June 3rd-6th. This ritual is performed in both monasteries and households throughout Tibet and His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoché has established this ritual as part of the yearly religious calendar at Triten Norbutsé Monastery. It is more commonly referred to by its shortened name “Nye Lam Dé Zhi” and monks often refer to it simply as “the Summer ritual.” The literal English translation of “Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi” could be rendered as “the four kinds of shortcut to the sadak.” The term “sadak” means rulers of the earth and the ritual primarily addresses four specific groups of sadak within this broad category: 1) the lu [Sanskrit: naga] who are associated with bodies of water, 2: a subgroup of sadak that are associated with the earth and soil 3) nyen who are associated with open fields and the sky, and 4) tö who are associated with boulders and cliffs especially red boulders and rocks. The purpose of the ritual is to appease, restore and cleanse all the worldly spirits due to disturbances caused by humanity. Thereby, it restores harmony between us and heals the natural environment and its elements of earth, water, fire, and wind. The Nye Lam Dé Zhi text that is used for the ritual was discovered as a terma, or hidden treasure, by Pönsé Khyunggö Tsal in the 12th or 13th century at Mt. Tisé [a.k.a Mt. Kailash.]

The Nye Lam Dé Zhi ritual includes prayers of apology to the four groups of worldly spirits for disturbing them by cutting trees, interfering with the natural course of waterways, digging into the earth, destroying or moving rocks, and generally causing the destruction of the natural environment. Our manipulation and control of these natural systems causes imbalances and disharmony between the elements and becomes a source of disruption, illness and upset for these worldly spirits. Therefore, we are subjected to epidemics, droughts, failing crops, increasing violence and military conflicts, as well as natural disasters from the elements such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and landslides.

Namkha and offerings for the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi. Photo credit: Unknown

Through their acceptance of our offerings and our heartfelt words of apology during the Nye Lam Dé Zhi ritual, we request that they stop causing or supporting the occurrence of epidemics, natural disasters, droughts, military conflicts, accidents, and misfortune etc. This ritual action combined with meditative focus has the power to pacify the vengeful and aggrieved minds of these spirits and therefore avert any further harm or injury caused by them. Additionally, these spirits will act to support and increase our prosperity, protect and increase crops and domestic animals, protect us from danger and accidents, and generally act on our behalf.

In general, it takes many monks for four full days to complete the preparations for the size of the ritual performed at the monastery. The construction of the dö, which represents the entire universe, begins with the creation of a sand mandala which is an architectural representation of the immeasurable palace within which the enlightened deities and worldly deities will be ritually invited to reside and stay during the ritual presentation of the offerings.

Yungdrung Bön monks creating the sadak nyelam sand mandala at Gyalshen Institute. Photo credit: Unknown.

In the center of the mandala upon four petals are the four seed syllables of the four principal enlightened lords of the Yungdrung Bön tradition: 1) Satrik Érsang, 2) Tönpa Shenrap, 3) Sangpo Bumtri, and 4) Shenlha Ökar. (For more information, see previous article: ) Just beyond that is the four seed syllables of the four principal ones that subdue the four kinds of worldly spirits and the seed syllables for the four subduing garudas. Beyond that in the outer corners of the mandala are the seed syllables for the four kinds of worldly spirits which are the primary focus of the offerings and recitations. Beyond that are the four gateways in each of the four directions which are the entrances into the mandala palace. This palace is then filled with thread-crosses and torma that act as a support for the presence of the deities and worldly guests. It is then ornamented with greenery, grains, and other precious substances. Surrounding it are the various offerings that will be presented.

The actual ritual begins with the usual preliminaries which purify and consecrate all of the offerings, ritual implements and participants. Then, a brief ritual is performed in order to ask the earth goddess, Sayi Lhamo, for her permission and blessing to perform the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi. Then, a ritual boundary is established that will remain until the conclusion of the ritual. These preliminaries are only necessary at the beginning and will not be performed again in the following days. After the preliminaries, the enlightened deities are invited to take their seats within the mandala palace, their respective mantras are recited and offerings are presented to them. Similarly, the subduers and the worldly spirits are invited. This too only needs to be performed once. Now that the presence of the deities is within the mandala palace, no one is allowed to come near the ritual dö unless it is to present offerings or pay homage. Much of the rest of the ritual recitations such as praising the qualities of the deities and the respective prayers for presenting each type of offering are repeated throughout the course of each of the days of the ritual. In conclusion, the four groups of spirits having become completely satisfied and happy with the ritual are asked to return to their respective homes. Then, prayers of aspiration for health, happiness, prosperity and good fortune are recited with the final prayer being that of dedicating the merit of the virtuous ritual activity for the benefit of all suffering beings. During this multi-day ritual performance, the specific texts associated with the lu, sadak, nyen and tö [Lu Bum, Sadak Bum, Nyen Bum, and Tö Bum] are continually recited by groups of monks in ancillary rooms.

In addition to the elaborate ritual of the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi, there is much guidance and skillful methods for our interactions with the worldly spirits within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. Following these instructions prevents us from disturbing the spirits within the environment or creating an imbalance of the natural elements while still providing for ourselves from the earth’s resources. For example, before beginning the construction of a building, it is important to examine the characteristics of the land in order to locate the appropriate place to dig into the earth. Traditionally, areas of land are seen in the form of a turtle. If you build upon the turtle’s ‘head’, then the spirit of the land will die and the soil will become barren and empty. The best is to build within the area of the turtle’s ‘stomach’ because there is more empty space in this area and no ‘major organs’ will be disturbed. Once the appropriate location has been determined, it is then important to communicate with the spirits residing at that location and to assure them that you mean no harm to them and that you apologize in advance for any disturbance created by the construction. In this way, we maintain a harmonious relationship with the environment and its inhabitants while also mindfully providing for our needs as human beings.

A ritual often used for groundbreaking is entitled Nang Sa Nang Gyé Düs Pa and referred to simply as Nang Sa, Permission for the Land. 


To the gods above, the lu below, and the nyen in-between, 

to the thirty nyenpo above, the nine kinds of yen töpo in-between and the eleven greater yen upon the earth,

to the local spirit owners of this mountainous area and to the eight classes of gods and demons of this isolated place,

accept this torma made of the essence of grain together with this golden drink.

Now, because of my melody and offering this precious torma, whatever my activities upon this land or wherever I travel in any direction upon this land, don’t become jealous or upset.”  

— Condensed extract from Permission for Using Land from the Eight Classes of Gods and Demons

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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