Category Archives: Translation

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.

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Two Accumulations to Purify Two Obscurations

A Yungdrung Bön monk at Menri Monastery in India makes offerings of golden liquor. Photo credit: Geshe Sherap Gelek

In general, there are two types of obscurations that block or obscure our realization and wisdom. These two are what prevents us from realizing complete liberation from the suffering and misery of cyclic existence.

  1. The Obscuration of Emotional Defilements
  2. The Obscuration of Knowledge

According to the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the obscuration of emotional defilements is easy to understand and experience directly. Using the emotional defilement of anger as an example, when anger and hatred arise in the mind, it obscures wisdom and positive qualities such as loving kindness. Emotional defilements range from gross to subtle. The feeling of agitation is a more subtle manifestation of anger. These obscurations arise because of grasping the ego, or identity and believing it truly exists. They obscure realization and are a cause for suffering. Additionally, they diminish the ability to completely receive blessings or the ripening of positive karma such as attaining a positive rebirth.

The obscuration of knowledge is the result of having pride or attachment to spiritual knowledge and power. This obscuration is more difficult to recognize and can become a strong block to realizing the true nature of the mind and ultimately for the attainment of enlightenment.

Without purifying these two obscurations even though we can receive blessings and have meditative experiences of wisdom and the true nature, these experiences are generally weak and do not become stable. By purifying the two obscurations, our mind gains a greater capacity for realization, wisdom and blessings. Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche has given the advice to engage in the two accumulations as a skillful method to purify and thereby remove the two obscurations.

HIs Eminence Menri Pönlop Yangtön Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche offers a traditional mandala offering to His Holiness the 34th Menri Trizin Lungtok Dawa Dargyal Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown

There are two types of accumulations:

  • The Accumulation of Merit
  • The Accumulation of Wisdom

Ultimately, the purpose of accumulating merit and wisdom is to gain the capacity to fully realize the true nature of the mind and to attain complete enlightenment. Prior to this ultimate realization, engaging in the two accumulations removes obstacles and increases our wisdom and ability to completely receive and retain blessings. The accumulation of merit involves engaging in virtuous actions of body, speech, and mind such as reciting prayers and mantra, making prostrations, circumambulating sacred objects, and engaging in any kind of spiritual practice such as the ten perfections. These virtuous actions are further divided into two types: contaminated or impure virtuous actions and uncontaminated or pure virtuous actions. Contaminated virtuous action are such because they arise from a mind of duality that still grasps the identity of the self as inherently existing. These virtuous actions purify our emotional defilements and increase our positive qualities but do not have the same power as uncontaminated virtuous actions. Uncontaminated virtuous actions are actions performed from the true nature of the mind which is free from self-grasping and integrated with the realization of emptiness.

“Through virtuous actions both with characteristics and without characteristics, may I complete the two accumulations of merit and wisdom!”

— From An Ocean of Instructions Regarding the A Tri Teachings composed by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

The accumulation of wisdom is essentially the realization of emptiness and the true nature of the mind. We accumulate wisdom by becoming more and more familiar and stable with these experiences. This purifies the obscuration of knowledge and allows for the full realization of enlightenment.

Students meditating at a Yungdrung Bön Day School. Photo credit: Unknown

A common activity that is used for the accumulation of merit and wisdom is the making of offerings to the four objects of refuge. By making offerings without attachment, pride or any other emotional defilement, we accumulate merit. By making offerings with the realization of the empty nature of the offering, the one making the offerings and the one receiving the offerings, we accumulate wisdom. The offering of light, water, flowers, incense and food is the practice of the five daily offerings. For more information about this practice in the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2017/01/14/the-five-daily-offerings/

A primary focus for a spiritual practitioner which naturally accumulate both merit and wisdom is the continual engagement with the ten perfections. It is said that sincerely and continually practicing these ten perfections is the best way to prepare for the process of dying and death, and to create the circumstances for a positive rebirth. For more information about the ten perfections, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2015/10/23/the-ten-perfections-of-the-yungdrung-bon/

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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Bringing Experiences Outside of Meditation to the Spiritual Path

Inside the temple of Triten Norbutse Monastery in Nepal. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Ripening and loosening the mindstream through mind training and meditation are essential for being able to liberate oneself from the turbulent winds of the five poisons and the continuation of cyclic existence. Additionally, there are many methods for integrating the experiences between meditation sessions into spiritual practice. For those individuals who have a higher capacity, His Holiness the 22nd Menri Trizin Rinpoche has given this tenfold advice for training the mind by bringing experiences outside of meditation practice to the spiritual path. 

  1. Bringing Deprivation and Oppression to the Path: For anyone who takes all of my food and wealth, even though they carry away everything, just like a mother for her child generates a mind of caring, I will dedicate my virtue of the three times for them.
  2. Bringing Destruction to the Path:Without any fault of my own, even if someone is cutting off my head or destroying my body and life force, I will compassionately accept their wrongdoing onto myself and I will guide them along the path of enlightenment.
  3. Bringing Slander and Disregard to the Path:Even though someone continually expresses unpleasant things about me to the entire world, I will maintain a mind of kindness and speak about their good qualities.
  4. Bringing Criticism and Blame to the Path: Even though someone in the midst of a group of many people blames and insults me even though I am blameless, remembering that I practice virtue, I will resolve to respectfully feel happiness towards them.
  5. Bringing Mistreatment from Family Members to the Path:Even though the people that I love such as my mother, father, and children always treat me like an enemy, I will love them with a special kindness like one has for a child that has been stricken with an illness.
  6. Bringing Mistreatment from Strangers to the Path:Even though a person that is equal to me insults and disrespects me because of the influence of their pride, I will be respectful towards them just like the spiritual master that I hold at the crown of my head would act towards them.
  7. Bringing Disadvantages to the Path:Even though I have used up all of my food, money, and possessions, and I am in bed with sickness throughout my body, I will not blame anyone for the happiness of others or my own suffering. Without any [negative] actions in the past, suffering and misery would not exist for me.
  8. Bringing Wealth to the Path:Even though my fame pervades the three thousand-fold universe, I am respected by many people, and I have prosperity like that of a wealth deity; if I do not know that worldly possessions are without essence, I will discern that nothing can fill an empty mind.
  9. Bringing Restraint to the Path:If I do not subdue the enemy of my own five poisons, the enemies from outside will increase. Therefore, with the great abiding nature and the army of compassion I will subdue the illusory enemies of my mind.
  10. Bringing Attachment to the Path:The qualities of desire and attachment are comparable to salty water. No matter how much you drink, thirst only increases. Having immediately renounced whatever material things are desired or yearned for, I will know that what I have is enough and feel content.

— Translated by Raven Cypress Wood from The Forty-three Trainings for an Enlightened Mind composed by His Holiness 22nd Menri Throneholder Sonam Lodro Rinpoche, also known as Sherap Gongyal. 1784-1835

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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Ripening the Mind-stream with the Practice of Realizing Impermanence

A traditional offering of butter lamps for the deceased. Photo credit: Unknown

In the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the practice of realizing impermanence is used as a method to ripen the mind-stream of an individual in order to prepare a solid foundation for further spiritual development. By reflecting upon the truth of the impermanent nature of all worldly phenomena, the wild mind that craves entertainment and distraction, and constantly seeks things to acquire or posses, is tamed. When the truth of impermanence is deeply realized rather than merely understood intellectually, the mind has a more open and relaxed relationship with worldly phenomena. Positive experiences such as love and joy are more appreciated since they are understood to be fleeting. Patience with discomfort and suffering is easier knowing that it too will not last. For the spiritual practitioner, the realization of the truth of impermanence turns the mind away from meaningless distraction and towards the spiritual path.

Traditionally, in order to deeply realize impermanence, the practitioner would reflect upon worldly phenomena. For example, thinking about how each season has come and gone since childhood, or the constant changing of the weather. Often the practitioner would go to the cremation ground or cemetery and reflect upon the fact that no matter how powerful, rich, famous, or adored a human being has ever been, no one has been able to live forever. In modern times, the truth of impermanence can be seen throughout the world.

As a support for the practice of realizing impermanence, the English translation of The Chanted Verse of Impermanence from the Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung is being made publicly available for personal use. While undergoing the practice of realizing impermanence as a foundational practice, this prayer is chanted before and/or after a fervent period of reflection. Once impermanence has been realized and the mind has been tamed, this prayer can be chanted daily as a reminder and motivation to remain focused upon meaningful activities of body, speech and mind. The translation can be downloaded from this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/146WL9uyT8u842TVHKnmXJH60CHr5dHJz/view?usp=sharing

“Even though all phenomena change, I alone expect to be permanent.

How sad!

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

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!”

—From The Chanted Verse of Impermanence

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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3rd Anniversary of the Parinirvana of H.H. the 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoché

Menri Monastery shrine dedicated to H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoché. Photo credit: Khenpo Nyima Künchap Rinpoché.

On the 24th day of the 7th lunar month in the Western year 2017, His Holiness the 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoché displayed his realization by passing into nirvana from his physical body. In 2020 this date coincides with September 11th. On this day, Yungdrung Bön religious centers worldwide will recognize this auspicious day with special prayers and rituals.

Golden statue of HH 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoché in his home village.

Supplication Prayer to H.H. the 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoché

“The omniscient wisdom of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions is condensed into a single essence in you, Highest One.

You carry out the enlightened activities of spreading the vast and profound teachings of Tönpa Shenrap.

To you, Lungtok Tenpé Nyima, I supplicate and pray.”

“EMAHO!

To the lama who is the embodiment of all of the Victors and spiritual masters,

who acts principally through the accomplishment of Bön for sentient beings who are as limitless as the sky,

I offer prostrations with my body, prostrating with my arms, legs and head!

I prostrate with my speech, chanting with a joyous and inspired melody!

I prostrate with my mind, prostrating with single-pointed motivation and devotion!

May the negative actions and defilements of my three doors become purified!”

— 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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