Category Archives: Tonpa Shenrap

Traditional Anniversary of the Human Birth of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché

Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Mowoché. 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 (See previous post for more information: https://ravencypresswood.com/2020/02/08/anniversary-of-the-human-birth-of-lord-tonpa-shenrap-miwoche/ ), it remains 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 2020, this date coincides with March 9th.

Praise and Homage for the Compassionate Teacher

King of the Teachings and a glorious guide through cyclic existence,

You are the illuminating light that overcomes all darkness!

The primary medicine that dispels the torment of ignorance and disease,

You are a King of the Mu clan, an extraordinary being who took human form!

With an army of great fire that dries up the ocean and mire of the five poisons,

You are a luminous, holy man who possesses the marks and characteristics of an enlightened being!

Having undertaken a multitude of hardships, You completed a multitude of activities!

Through both the four valid means of cognition and the six valid thoughts,

and with great loving kindness,

You liberate the migrating beings within cyclic existence!

I prostrate to the manifested enlightened body of Tönpa Shenrap!”

— Written by the great lama Drenpa Namkha and translated from the Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood

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.

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

The Lotus Hat of the Yungdrung Bön

Religious festival at Menri Monastery 2015. Photo credit: Unknown

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the lotus hat is worn by those who have received the full ordination of a renunciant. The shape of the hat resembles a full, blue lotus. In general, it represents the purity of perfecting the rules of completely pure discipline. It is surrounded by either four, six or eight lotus petals that represent purification throughout the four directions. The thread which holds the lotus petals to the hat represents the activity of subduing throughout the intermediate directions. The twenty-five pleats represent the enlightened state of the five buddha families. At the crown of the head, there is an opening to attach the crown ornament which extends from the hat towards the sky.

Tönpa Tritsuk Gyalwa.

The founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche showed the path of renunciation by becoming a monk at the age of 31. This was his ninth deed. (For more information about the Buddha’s ninth deed, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2017/06/24/buddha-tonpa-shenraps-ninth-deed/ ) At his ordination, the six kinds of garments for a Yungdrung Bön renunciant fell from the sky. One of these garments was the lotus hat.

HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche wearing a lotus hat with the strips of cloth hidden underneath. Photo credit: Unknown

The long, thin strips of cloth that hang from the base of the hat near the ears are not mentioned within the texts. Therefore, the esteemed Yungdrung Bön spiritual master and scholar His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche has stated that although it has become traditional to add them to the hat, they are not needed. Because of this, he sometimes takes these strips of cloth and places them inside the hat before putting it on.

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.”

The Fifth Way: In the Service of Virtue

Central Figure of the Tibetan Thangkha Painting Related to The Fifth Way

Within the Nine Ways of Bön, the Fifth Way is called The Way of the Virtuous Lay Practitioners and specifies the proper conduct and commitments of a lay person taking vows. This Fifth Way is the first of the Nine Ways classified as ‘Ways of the Result’ or ‘Bön of the Fruit.’ In the Tibetan language, a lay practitioner is called ‘gen nyen’ [Tib. dge bsnyen] which literally translates as ‘one who serves virtue’ or ‘one who draws near to virtue.’ When asked the meaning of these concepts, the enlightened all-knowing teacher, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwo answered,

“Virtuous means without negative actions. This is one who is committed to serve virtue through their body, speech and mind. Service means serving without holding contradictory views and properly remaining steadfast in service to virtue.”

In general, the lay practitioner commits to practicing the ten virtuous actions and renounces the ten non-virtuous actions of body, speech and mind.  Buddha Tönpa Shenrap defines this kind of renunciation as 1) not performing the actions, 2) not requesting or encouraging others to perform them and 3) not feeling pleased that others have performed the negative actions. Similarly, one commits to 1) acting according to the ten virtuous actions, 2) encouraging others to participate in these activities and 3) feeling joy that others have performed virtuous actions. This is the inner practice.

The Three Virtuous Actions of the Body:

  1. Rather than killing, protecting the life of other beings.
  2. Rather than stealing, practicing generosity.
  3. Rather than engaging in sexual misconduct or causing others to break their vows, keeping one’s own vows and respecting the vows of others.

The Four Virtuous Actions of Speech:

  1. Rather than lying, speaking the truth.
  2. Rather than creating discord, speaking in a way that brings people together.
  3. Rather than using hurtful speech, speaking gently and kindly.
  4. Rather than gossiping or mindlessly talking, speaking in a useful way or reciting prayers.

The Three Virtuous Actions of the Mind:

  1. Rather than coveting the possessions and accomplishments of others, being generous and open.
  2. Rather than wishing harm to others or feeling resentful, cultivating the desire to help others.
  3. Rather than holding wrong views, practicing the teachings of Yungdrung Bön and establishing a true and authentic view.

When asked to teach the outward form of the lay practitioner, The All-knowing Teacher, Tönpa Shenrap first instructed the gathered assembly to construct the first Elegant Yungdrung Chorten [Sanskrit: stupa] according to his detailed instructions. Once completed, he consecrated the chorten and then began teaching the outer forms and behavior of a gen nyen or lay practitioner.

Elegant Yungdrung Bon Chorten edit

The Elegant Yungdrung Chorten which represents the stages of enlightenment

The practitioner must go before a pure lama who guides disciples and take the appropriate vows. According to a commentary written by the 23rd abbot of Menri Monastery, His Holiness Nyima Tenzin Rinpoché:

“As for the vows of a gen nyen: There are five kinds of lifetime vows.  To abandon killing, to abandon taking what is not given, to abandon impure, wrong kinds of sexual conduct, and to abandon false speech are four.  Abandoning one of the four kinds of food is the fifth.  Some people have taught abandoning alcohol as a branch vow.

This is the gen nyen of completely renouncing according to the five kinds of established laws.  Because of that, the gen nyen of pure behavior has renounced the basic kinds of impure activity.”

As for killing, one must abandon killing in anger especially another human being. One must abandon stealing, especially when it is driven by desire. One must avoid sexual contact that is damaging or abusive, one must avoid harmful speech especially if it creates a division within the spiritual community, and one must avoid lying especially about one’s spiritual experiences and attainments. As for the fifth which is a branch vow, one renounces either one of the four kinds of food. In this context, the four kinds of food are 1) meat, 2) garlic, 3) solid food after the mid-day meal, and 4) intoxicants such as drugs and alcohol. Regarding drugs and alcohol, the deeper meaning is the renunciation of intoxication which is an obstacle to mindfulness and incites negative behavior.

According to Buddha Tönpa Shenrap in The Nine Ways of Bön,

“As for the lifelong inner rules, one must abandon killing due to the influence of anger, abandon taking what is not given due to the influence of desire or attachment, abandon acting secretly to get what one wants without consideration of cause and effect due to the influence of ignorance, abandon performing unclean work due to the influence of pride, and abandon rough and abusive speech, meaningless talk, and telling lies. One must apply one’s self to their opposites.”

The Buddha goes on to describe the outer practices.

“As for the five intermediate principles, one should perform pure water-cleansing rites, perform prostrations and circumambulations with devotion and aspiration, create and place tsa tsa, and offer torma. Presenting offerings is a branch of gathering the [two] accumulations.”

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.”

Praise to the Unsurpassed Teacher!

The enlightened Lord Tonpa Shenrap Miwoche. Photo credit: Khedup Gyatso.

“EMAHO!

Even though he had gathered the two accumulations of merit and wisdom over three incalculable eons and had become omniscient and an unsurpassed teacher,

and although he had perfectly fulfilled renunciation and realization and had manifested as an enlightened being,

he mercifully perceived migrating beings and set the intention to be born as a son to King Mugyal Thökar in order to guide sentient beings.

I pay homage to the deed of accepting rebirth!”

— Excerpt from Praise of the Twelve Deeds of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché

For more information about Buddha’s deed of being born, see the previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2013/09/19/buddha-tonpa-shenraps-1st-deed-birth/

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.”

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: https://ravencypresswood.com/2019/01/19/passing-beyond-worldly-existence/

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.”

The Ninth Way: The Unsurpassed Way

The Tibetan syllable AH surrounded by the five lights in a field of dark blue is often used as a meditative support in dzogchen training.

Among the Nine Ways of Bön, The Ninth Way is the highest. It is the practice of dzogchen, the great perfection. Here, everything is spontaneously perfected and there is no activity to be performed. The view is unbounded and beyond subject and object. Because everything is spontaneously perfected and complete, it is beyond needing the effort of a generating stage and perfection stage. It is beyond the extremes of existence and nonexistence, and without beginning or end. Although it is ineffable, the enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap has given guidance using words for those disciples who need instruction. Therefore, this Way is often classified and explained in three parts: the foundation, the path, and the result, or the view, the meditation, and the behavior.

According to the Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche:

“If it is divided into each separate aspect, it has 84,000 elaborations. Condensed inward, it is one essence, a single tiklé.”

Furthermore:

“It cannot be lost. It is not created from a cause, nor is it destroyed by circumstance.”

Although the dzogchen view is the highest and is beyond the dualistic concepts of good and bad, the dzogchen practitioner is not beyond these concepts until they have completely realized the fruit of the teachings, which is buddhahood. Therefore, even if a disciple has a vast and high view, Lord Tönpa Shenrap advises that they maintain behavior according to the path of the two accumulations of virtue and wisdom.  Although dzogchen is about knowing and being aware rather than performing any particular behavior or ritual, there are specifics practices that are prescribed  to be applied to whatever cause or condition is blocking or interrupting awareness. Central to the practice of dzogchen is the development of the mind of enlightenment, doubtless refuge, and indestructible devotion to one’s root lama who points out the true nature of the disciples mind and gives them advice along the path.

Raven Cypress Wood© 2018

 

 

Celebrating the Sacred

HE Menri Lopon Trinley Nyima Rinpoche lights candles on a cake celebrating the birth of Lord Tonpa Shenrap Miwoche. Photo credit: Unknown

Buddha Tönpa Shenrap’s Ninth Deed: The Deed of Complete Awareness

Lord Tonpa Shenrap Miwoche after becoming a monk and assuming the renunciant name of Tritsuk Gyalwa

Because Lord Tönpa Shenrap possessed complete awareness of the suffering of cyclic existence, and out of compassion for sentient beings, he demonstrated a skillful method for sentient beings to release themselves from suffering and misery and to attain liberation.  This method was the path of renunciation.  Being an enlightened being, he did not need to do this for himself but chose to demonstrate this path as an example for his followers of Yungdrung Bön.  Therefore, at the age of 31 (according to shen years which equal 3,100 human years), he announced to his family and disciples that he would leave worldly activities behind and devote himself completely to the path of renunciation.

He removed his jewelry and silk robes, and then cut off his hair with a sword.  Leaving behind all of his possessions, he went to a higher realm in order to receive ordination from a disciple of the Enlightened One of the previous eon.  Returning to earth, he devoted himself to the practice of fasting, disciplined behavior, and teaching the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind to various groups of demons.  After this, he retired to the nine-storied yungdrung mountain in order to practice in solitude.  Upon entering into the path of renunciation, many of his disciples abandoned him and his teachings and returned to their worldly activities.  However, a few disciples of greater capacity remained with him on the mountain, and to them he taught the highest view, the Great Perfection.

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.”

 

 

Buddha Tonpa Shenrap’s Eighth Deed: The Deed of Being Completely Victorious

Buddha Tonpa Shenrap manifests as the Completely Victorious One, Nampar Gyalwa

The reincarnation  of a great king was born a prince by the name of Gya Kongtse Trulgyi Gyalpo.  At a young age, this prince had great faith in the teachings of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap and performed many acts of devotion.  At the age of twenty-five, he decided to build an exquisite temple in the ocean surrounding Olmo Lungring in order to accumulate merit for his next life.  Because human beings were unable to work in this condition, he subdued one hundred demons who each vowed to complete the construction of the foundation within fifteen days as long as the prince kept their involvement a secret.  And so, after fifteen days, the solid stone foundation of the temple rose above the surface of the ocean.

Before leaving, Prince Kongtse Trulgyal had told his mother that he would be away at the ocean for a month and that she must keep it a secret.  However, as the days passed, the prince’s wife began to worry about him and tried to get information from his mother.  Unable to withstand the constant questioning any longer, his mother finally told the prince’s wife the truth.  Stunned and angry that she had been kept in the dark, she took the children and went in search of her husband, Prince Kongtse Trulgyal.  Arriving at the ocean and crossing a small bridge to the newly constructed temple foundation, the family saw a large group of workers who all looked like the prince.  Having been discovered, the demons, all of whom had taken on the likeness of the prince, immediately fled and construction of the temple came to a halt.  In despair, Prince Kongtse Trulgyal enlisted the help of a bodhisattva who recruited the assistance of a group of water spirits in order to complete the temple’s construction.

Upon completion, the temple was truly majestic.  However, the demons who had built the foundation for the temple became jealous and began attacking the temple intent upon destroying it.  Prince Kongtse Trulgyal cried out for help from Buddha Tönpa Shenrap.   Knowing of all of these events through his perfect omniscience, the enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap instantly manifested in the sky in his wrathful form as the Completely Victorious One Nampar Gyalwa, and together with five thousand five hundred bodhisattvas, he completely subdued the group of jealous demons.  Descending from the sky to the temple, he then spoke according to the Yungdrung Bön teachings and installed representations of his enlightened Body, Speech and Mind in the temple in the tangible aspects of statues, scriptures and chortens.

Raven Cypress Wood ©2016 All Rights Reserved.

 

%d bloggers like this: