Category Archives: Translation

Supplication Prayer to Jamma, the Loving Mother

Jamma, the Loving Mother

” Hri!

Within a completely pure self-manifested realm,

just by paying homage and offering this supplication to the state of Yümchen Tükjé Jamma,*

please bring victory over the eight fears!”

Translated from the Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood

Audio for the Tibetan language chanting has been kindly recorded and posted to Facebook by Geshe Yongdong, president and spiritual director of Sherab Chamma Ling. Check his page for the recording.

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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

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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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Anniversary of the Human Birth of Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché

Lord Tonpa Shenrap Miwoche. Photo credit: Khedup Gyatso.

The 15th day of the 12th lunar month, February 9th, 2020 on the Western calendar is the 18,037th birth anniversary of the founder of the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the Enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwo Künlé Nampar Gyalwa.  Already an enlightened being, Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche chose to be born into this world in order to guide beings from suffering to liberation.  He was born into the royal Mu lineage in the kingdom of Tazig Olmo Lungring.

Traditionally, the anniversary of his birth has been celebrated on the 15th day of the 1st month of the lunar calendar.  However, based upon research by the renowned Yungdrung Bön scholar and supreme lama, His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, the actual date is believed to be the Full Moon day of the last month in the Tibetan lunar calendar.  This is a powerful and auspicious day for performing virtue or spiritual practice.  The benefits of these activities are greatly multiplied.

“Namo!  You are the 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 possess both great compassion and skillful means.  You are without emotional afflictions and have ceased all defilements.  You have power and clear self awareness.  A marvelous emanation, you have cleared all obstructions and destroyed the door to birth into cyclic existence.  

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 3,000-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 the cyclic existence of lower rebirth. 

May the cycle of manifested teachings completely turn, I pray!  Please hold us within your compassion myself and all other sentient beings without exception! 

I feel remorse for everything immoral and improper that has been experienced because of the power of the afflictive emotions.  I feel regret!  

Through this open admission of wrongdoing, please agree to cleanse and purify me, I pray! 

Free me from the ocean of suffering and misery of cyclic existence, I pray! 

AH OM HUNG SÉ LA GYER RO HRUN PUNG YÉ SOHA”

— Extracted from Homage to the Enlightened State of the Omniscient Tûlku

Tibetan translation by Raven Cypress Wood

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An Aspiration Prayer of Giving and Receiving: Gift Translation

The modern-day saint Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche depicted as both a yogi and a scholar.

As a gift to the world-wide Yungdrung Bön sangha in order to support their spiritual practice, Nine Ways is offering a free and publicly available download for the English translation of the prayer Tonglen Mönlam: Aspiration Prayer of Giving and Receiving written by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoché. The Tibetan word tonglen [Tib. gtong len] literally means to give and to receive. In general, this practice is used to develop an unbiased and unlimited quality of compassion.

The sutric practice of tonglen supports practitioners to develop the wisdom of equanimity and the quality of compassion towards all other sentient beings that are suffering and seeking happiness without restrictions towards those considered strangers or enemies. From that openness and having generated an authentic heart-felt compassion, the suffering of others is accepted through the inhalation of the breath. With the exhalation, whatever is needed or wanted for their happiness is sent to them. When beginning the practice, it can be supportive to begin with sentient beings for whom there is a natural openness and kindness and then to expand to those for whom there are neutral feelings and then to those for whom there are uncomfortable or negative feelings. This same perspective can be used for one’s own suffering and feelings of discomfort.

In this prayer, the realized saint Shardza Rinpoché begins by taking refuge in the three jewels and relying upon the truth of the teachings. He then prays to ripen both the suffering and the happiness of sentient beings. This line is further explained near the end of the prayer in the phrase “having liberated both happiness and suffering into the space of the primordially pure base…” These lines point out that the ultimate nature of both happiness and suffering is the same pure space from which everything arises and everything dissolves. Therefore, when breathing in the suffering of others, it is with this realization that the suffering liberates into the pure, primordial space of wisdom.

The translation if offered for free but is restricted to personal use only. The download link for the English translation of the prayer can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cTqrSneJpPCnsjxqOClkDU5euRfaxmHY/view?usp=sharing

For other free translations and publications of Yungdrung Bön texts, go to the Publications page of this website or click on this link: https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

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

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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.

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The Meaning & Benefit of Offering Torma

100,000 torma offering to the enlightened protector Sipé Gyalmo. Photo credit: Unknown

The offering of torma is a common practice within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. The Tibetan term “torma” [gtor ma] literally means “something that is thrown, tossed, or strewn.” This refers to the action of many kinds of torma being tossed into the sky as an act of offering. However, not every torma is offered in this way. External torma can be offerings of the three white things: butter, milk, and salt-free cheese, and the three sweet things: honey, crystallized sugar, and dark sugar such molasses or maple syrup. External torma are also commonly made from roasted barley flour called tsampa which is mixed with sacred substances and shaped according to the particular kind of offering being made. In general, peaceful offering torma of this kind have a round base and wrathful torma have a triangular base. One of the many kinds of daily offering torma within the Yungdrung Bön tradition is the water torma which is one of the four daily offerings of generosity.

Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché was born into the human realm in the ancient land of Tazik. He only traveled into the country of Tibet one time. During this brief visit, his teachings to the Tibetan people were centered around compassion and the use of torma as offerings as a substitute for killing animals to use as offerings.

Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche and Geshe Tenzin Yeshe Rinpoche prepare to perform the daily water torma offering. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Every kind of torma offering has three parts: the preparation, the main practice and the conclusion. The specifics of these are according to the particular practice being performed and the kind of torma being offered. In general, When preparing the torma, the hands and utensils are washed and any container or plate used to present the torma must be clean and without any defect or damage. After being properly made and arranged, it must be ritually cleansed with incense and water. Having generated an intention of compassion and generosity, the torma is offered to a clean place. When possible, the torma are tossed onto roofs as being a place free of the defilement of having been walked upon and also being a higher place to offer to higher beings. For offering to lower beings, the torma are placed upon the ground in a clean place.

“Come here now and keep your protection vow! Accept these offerings of smoke and torma! Act as a companion to me! Expel the causes for harm and obstacles! Act to accomplish this entrusted activity!” 

— Extract from The Invocation of Chammo Lamlha, Goddess of Travel

Various peaceful and wrathful torma offerings. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

The recipients of the torma offerings are both the enlightened beings as well as the six kinds of beings within cyclic existence. The recipients can be classified in many ways. They can be classified into four categories known as “The Four Guests.” These are 1) the guests of reverence which are the enlightened beings, 2) the guests of exalted qualities which are the powerful, worldly protectors, 3) the guests who are among the eight classes of spirits and demons, and 4) the guests of compassion or charity. We offer to the enlightened beings to purify our sacred commitments with them, elicit their blessings and protection, and to develop our positive qualities of devotion and generosity. We offer to the worldly protectors in order to elicit their powerful and magical protection. We offer to the eight classes of spirits and demons in order to repay any karmic debts that we might owe to them so as to pacify any feelings of revenge or harm that they might harbor against us. And we offer to the guests of charity to alleviate their suffering and misery.

Torma offerings for the lu. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

“I offer this inexhaustible, decorated torma to the twenty-five classes of lu* who are surrounded by millions of friends and associates. Because we dig the earth, break the rocks, chop down trees, drain the ponds and streams, create contaminated smoke, and commit immoral acts near the homes and places of the lu; they faint, go mad, become angry, or grow weak.

Regardless of whatever violence, disagreements, or ill will have occurred in the past, because of offering this torma of nectar, may the diseases of the lu be pacified! May their hopes and wishes be fulfilled!”

— Extract from The Ritual of Regularly Giving Torma to the Lu

*Lu [Sanskrit: naga]

In general, the offering of torma increases wealth and resources. Secret torma is the offering of the body such as in the practice of chod. This conquers the view of the self as inherently existing. Ultimately secret torma is maintaining the view without self-grasping. This increases realization and is the greatest of all torma offerings.

Additionally, by offering torma we naturally practice six of the ten perfections.

  1. By giving food and water, we engage in the practice of perfecting generosity.
  2. By ensuring that everything is clean, we engage in the practice of perfecting discipline.
  3. By offering charity without greed or resentment, we engage in the practice of perfecting patience.
  4. By putting forth the effort to continually offer torma, we engage in the practice of perfecting joyful effort.
  5. By abiding in meditation, we engage in the practice of perfecting concentration.
  6. By understanding the emptiness of the giver, the recipient and what is given, we engage in the practice of perfecting wisdom.

The ritual specialist Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche offering a water torma to the lu. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

By offering torma we engage in the vow of individual liberation through our act of generosity and therefore eliminating the mind of harming other beings, and we engage in the bodhisattva vow through offering to the guests of charity. Additionally, our longevity, merit, good fortune and personal power increase. And we purify the causes to be reborn into the lower realms.

Yidam torma of the lama, yidam and khandro of the Mother Tantra. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

It is important to note the difference between “offering torma” and “yidam torma.” Although both are referred to as “torma” they serve very different purposes. A yidam torma is also prepared from tsampa mixed with sacred substances and has a specific form and attributes according to the associated meditational deity or yidam. However, the purpose of the yidam torma is to act as a sacred support for the presence of the deity during empowerments and meditation upon the yidam. This kind of torma is not offered. Once it has been consecrated, it is placed in the highest position upon the shrine and treated as the sacred abode of the deity.

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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Now is the Time

“Just like interested bees circle around lotuses that contain nectar, the faithful who have clear understanding circle around a genuine person who has good qualities.

Just like the nature of foul smells cannot remain near a sweet-smelling medicinal tree, conditions of harm and injury cannot remain near a person of good character.

Wise and excellent persons, now is the time to engage with virtue. If you do not plant in time, you will feel regret when the harvest is scarce.

If you practice according to the instructions now, then it will be impossible to have a disappointing result. Just like planting barley seeds, it is impossible for them to arise as any other grain.”

— Extracted verses from Good Sayings for the Stages of the Path written by His Holiness 8th Menri Trizin Sonam Yungdrung Rinpoche. He became leader of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition in 1575.

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The Power of Aspiration

Yungdrung Bön nun circumambulates. Photo credit: Mary Ellen McCourt

“Never being separate from the divine places of refuge and having brought together the causes and conditions of faith and compassion, may I generate the mind of enlightenment for the benefit of all migrating beings!

With the establishment of mindfulness as well as a vast and pure renunciation, and through the four kinds of miraculous abilities along the path of accumulation, and because of these roots of virtue which are in accord with the path of liberation, may my mind-stream become ripened!

Instantly having perceived the clearly manifest meaning of the essential nature which is non-dual clarity and emptiness, may I be free from the activities of this world and obtain the ground beyond only having a mere taste of experience!

Unwavering from the state of pure space and having accomplished benefit for others through the unsurpassed ten perfections, may I proceed along the path of meditation and fulfill the two accumulations!”

— Extract from The Eight-branched Aspiration Prayer

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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