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Anniversary of the Birth of H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoché

H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoché. Photo credit: Unknown

H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoché was born in Tibet on the 15th day of the 5th lunar month in the Western year 1929 in the village of Kyongtsang in the far eastern province of Amdo. In 2020, this date corresponds with July 5th on the Western calendar.

When he was eight years old, his father took him to the nearby monastery of Phuntsok Dargyé Ling where he learned to read, write and chant. He completed his Geshé Degree at 25 under the guidance of Lopön Tenzin Lodro Gyatso Rinpoché. The following year he traveled South to the Bön province of Gyalrong, where he printed copies of the Bön Kanjur from traditional woodblocks. After gathering a vast amount of material and using mules to carry more than 100 volumes of the sacred texts, he made an arduous six-month journey back to his monastery.

In 1969, after extensive preparatory initiations, he assumed his duties as the 33rd Abbot of Menri Monastery and began leading the effort to re-establish Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. After many years of indescribable and tireless efforts on behalf of the Yungdrung Bön tradition as well as the worldwide Bön community and all sentient beings, he displayed the truth of impermanence and passed into nirvana on the 27th day of the 7th lunar month in the Western year 2017.

The anniversary of his birth is a powerful day to engage in virtuous practice, recite prayers and mantra, and especially renew spiritual vows. In honor of the  extraordinary life and enlightened activity of His Holiness the 33rd holder of the golden throne of Tashi Menri Monastery Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoché, this Words of Truth Aspiration Prayer has been translated and is being made publicly available to the worldwide Yungdrung Bön community for their personal use. Follow this link to the Publications page and scroll down for the download link: https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

 

Words of Truth Aspiration Prayer

“Through these unerring and interdependent words of truth,

may the banner of the teachings of sutra and mantra of the lords of the Land of Snow, the Menri Conquerors, be elevated, and may they remain for a very long time, until the end of existence!

The embodiment of all of the conquerors of our time is Nyammé Sherap Gyal

who was endowed with the three-fold trainings and the happiness of holding the yellow robe.

May the auspiciousness of your profound and wondrous enlightened activity increase in every direction like the waxing moon!

May the extraordinary sunlight of the Victor’s teachings radiate throughout hundreds of directions!

May the victory banner of Bön be properly established, and may the teachings blaze for a very long time!

Mother Sipé Gyalmo, Protector Midü and brother and sister protectors who act to accomplish whatever kind of enlightened activity to uphold the white hat tradition,

may you raise the banner of the teachings! Oh listen!

Thus, this secret mantra Words of Truth Aspiration Prayer was composed by the distinguished Yungdrung Gyaltsen.

Virtue!”

— Composed by H.H. 11th Menri Trizin Yungdrung Gyaltsen Rinpoché

All translations 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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Aspiration Prayer for the Continuation of the Yungdrung Bön Teachings: Publicly Offered Translation

Lighting a candle offering at Menri Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

The practice of making aspirational prayers is one of the ten perfections. The Tibetan word for this is mönlam, wylie: smon lam. This is a compound of the two words “mön” meaning aspiration or wish, and “lam” meaning path. The mönlam is a kind of spiritual mission statement that invokes the truth of the words of the buddhas and the truth of the ultimate nature of reality. These aspirations can spontaneously manifest as we purify our obscurations and develop our wisdom and positive qualities.

The Aspiration Prayer for the Continuation of the Teachings, also known as the Tengyé Mönlam, is a well-known and commonly practiced aspiration prayer within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. It is especially sung at the conclusion of special events and gatherings at Tashi Menri Monastery in India, the mother monastery of the Yungdrung Bön community.

“May the lotus feet of the incomparable lamas who hold, sustain and increase the tradition remain steadfast!

May the completely upright community flourish, and may great, resounding acclaim for them fill the land!

Depending upon these aspirations and although having eliminated all illness, hunger and violence for all migrating beings who are as vast as the sky,

and a hundred thousand auspicious suns of benefit and happiness having arisen,

ultimately may everyone have the auspiciousness of attaining complete buddhahood!”

— Extract from Aspiration Prayer for the Continuation of the Teachings

The English language translation of the prayer can be downloaded from this page: https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

To hear this prayer sung by His Eminence Menri Pönlop Yangtön Thrinley Nyima Rinpoché, click on the link below. He begins the prayer at approximately 13:10.

https://cybersangha.net/prayer-for-pandemic/

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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Transforming Body and Mind with the Wise Loving Mother

Sherap Jamma, the Wise Loving Mother, is a Buddha who manifests as a loving mother who cares for each and every sentient being as though they were her only child. The Heartdrop of Jamma is an aural transmission given by Khandro Sherap Lopelma, an emanation of Jamma, to His Holiness 22nd Menri Trizin Sonam Lodro Rinpoché. Lama Tsultrim Nyima, the abbot of the 1st Yungdrung Bön temple in exile in Dhorpatan, Nepal, advised the Bönpo refugees to recite The Heartdrop of Jamma together as a family every evening after dinner. This evening recitation continues to this very day among many Bönpo families.

This text is the heart essence of Buddha Sherap Jamma’s qualities of perfected wisdom and complete realization. In this practice, every aspect of the mind, consciousness and physical body are transformed into a manifestation of Buddha Sherap Jamma through the power of the syllables of her essence mantra. In this way, our wisdom, realization and positive qualities increase and our attachment to a rigid, self-focused identity decreases.

Links to purchase the complete English and Spanish language translations of The Heartdrop of Jamma are available on this page: https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

“From the É MA at the twenty fingers and toes manifests the outer retinue.

I prostrate to the thirty-two Mothers!

From the sixteen letters HO at the soles of the feet,

the palms of the hands,

the two forearms,

the two shins,

the two thighs,

the upper arms,

and inside the four organs manifests the four outer, four inner, four secret, and the four innermost secret doorkeepers.

I prostrate to the manifestations who open the doors to realization, methods of practice, abiding, and to the path!”

— Extract from The Heartdrop of Jamma

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: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/08/20/the-four-principal-enlightened-ones/ ) 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. 

“AH OM HUNG

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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Dispelling the Darkness

 

Butter lamp offering at Menri Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

“How wonderful!

Within these small, circular containers is placed a wick of twisted gauze.

They are filled with clarified melted butter which is a divine, concentrated essence.

By lighting these bright offering lamps, the fire of the lamps clears away darkness and obscurations, and radiates throughout the vast, clear space of the sky.

Performing these activities mainly for our kind mothers and fathers who are the sentient beings within the three realms of cyclic existence,

and with compassion for those who have passed away into the realm between this life and the next,

may all of them be liberated from cyclic existence!”

— Extract from Raising a Victory Banner of Butter Lamps

Tibetan translation 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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A Wheel of Sound

Dra Khor at the entrance to the temple of Triten Norbutsé Monastery near Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition there is a style of poetry that is considered an advanced art and is often used to praise spiritual masters or states of realization. The poetic verse is written in a kind of graph in which each syllable is written within its own geometric space often in contrasting colors that form patterns or images. These syllables then intersect with other lines of poetry or verse. The arrangement of syllables must be made in such a way that they must make sense with each intersecting syllable.

There are easier and more difficult versions of this poetic style. The easier style can be read left to right and top to bottom. The more difficult styles can be read left to right, top to bottom, diagonally, and from bottom to top. This style of poetry is called Künzang Khorlo་or the short form Kün Khor, Wheel of All Goodness. However, it is also often referred to simply as dra khor, a wheel of sound.

Examples of dra khor styles created by graduates of the Gyalrong Dialectic School. Originally published at: https://www.himalayabon.com/news/2018-04-16/1250.html

The top image of a dra khor in this article hangs in the entrance way of Triten Norbutsé Monastery located near Kathmandu, Nepal. This dra khor praises the founder of Menri Monastery and the realized master who is considered the second buddha, His Holiness Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché. The well-known “De Chen Gyalpo” prayer in his honor is featured within the yellow, diagonal squares.

“De chen gyal po kün zang gyal wa du,

mi jé zung den sherap ma wé seng,

dzam ling bön gyi tsuk gyen nyam mé pa,

shé rap gyal tsen zhap la sol wa deb.

 

King of great bliss, embodiment of Küntu Zangpo and Gyalwa Düpa,

You are like the wisdom deity Mawé Sengé,

Never forgetting what you have perceived,

You are the unequaled crown ornament of the Bönpo world.

At the feet of Sherap Gyaltsen, I pray!”

The first line begins with the syllable “de” inside the yellow square located in the top left corner and reads diagonally downward to the center. Moving the Bön way, counter-clockwise, the second line begins with the syllable “mi” inside the yellow square in the bottom left corner and reads diagonally upward to the center. The third line begins with the syllable “dzam” inside the yellow square in the bottom right corner and reads diagonally upward to the center. The fourth and final line begins with the syllable “shé” inside the yellow square in the top right corner and reads diagonally downward to the center.

When the top line is read straight across, the first syllable “de” in the top left corner now becomes part of the word “dewar” “blissfully” and the line praises the realization of Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché.

“You are the very essence of the three bodies of those who have blissfully gone; with unobscured, exalted knowledge, you embody the entirety of Bön.”

Examples of dra khor styles created by graduates of the Gyalrong Dialectic School. Originally published at: https://www.himalayabon.com/news/2018-04-16/1250.html

To begin a dra khor, the number of boxes needed is determined by the number of syllables in the poem. Once a design is determined and the boxes are drawn, a single syllable is drawn inside each box. Each dra khor can contain either a single poem or multiple poems or verse relating to a single subject or theme. These dra khor are often placed in the entrances of temples as they are considered to be objects of auspiciousness and blessing.

Examples of dra khor from the collected works of Mawang Kunga Rangdrol Rinpoche.

Beginning with the first establishment of a Yungdrung Bön dialectic school in exile in 1978 at Tashi Menri Ling, His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoché reformed the curriculum to include subjects originally taught in the renowned dialectic school of Yeru Wensaka and to also include subjects that were previously taught individually rather than as an organized part of the studies. In this way, he aimed to preserve traditional knowledge that was in danger of being lost. One of the subjects added to the mandatory curriculum was poetry. The current dialectic school teaches poetry according to three aspects: 1) style and meaning, 2) rhyming and meter and 3) symbolic meaning.

The complete Dra Khor inside the temple of Triten Norbutsé Monastery near Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo credit: 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 without direct permission from the author.

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Protecting and Blessing the Mind with The Great Mantra

The MA TRI mantra at Gonggyal Monastery in Nya Rong, Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown

OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition the eight-syllable mantra OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU is known as the great mantra and is commonly referred to as the MA TRI mantra. It is the Essence Mantra of the Dzok ku, the enlightened state that embodies all perfected positive qualities and wisdoms. The sound and power of this essence mantra gives rise to the enlightened qualities and blessings of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché and Buddha Sherap Jamma as well as the six buddhas who offer guidance to liberation for the the six kinds of sentient beings within cyclic existence: hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, demi-gods, and gods.  Each year around the time of the Tibetan New year in Dolpo, Nepal, this mantra is recited continuously without any interruption for 15 days. It is one of the three essence mantras of the Yungdrung Bön tradition that is recited a minimum of 100,000 times as a preliminary practice in order to prepare the student’s mind for further spiritual practice. The benefits of reciting this mantra are vast and beyond the imagination.

OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU

Alas! Fortunate Ones Listen!

The long flowing river of birth is the first.

The thunderous waterway of aging is the second.

The raging whirlpool of illness is the third.

Death that has no escape is the fourth.

These four are the demon rivers from which there is no escape.

Noble ones who wish to cross over those rivers, proclaim the melody of the MA TRI MU YÉ!

 

OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU

Alas! Fortunate Ones Listen!

The excellent means of accomplishment is the first.

Discovering the stairway to higher states is the second.

The blissful stairway of gods and humans is the third.

Traveling upon the stairway of joyful effort is the fourth.

These four are the four stairways to travel for the path of liberation.

Noble Ones who wish to ascend those stairways, proclaim the melody of the MA TRI MU YÉ!”

— Excerpt from Inspirational Verses Regarding the MA TRI written by the 13th century Tulku Loden Nyingpo.

The MA TRI mantra above a doorway. Photo credit: unknown

“This mantra is the heart elixir of the princpal teachings. It is a sacred connection for sentient beings during a dark time.  It is a key to the collection of sacred teachings  It is a lamp that clears away the darkness of ignorance.  So that sentient beings during the 500 years-long time of darkness will not have to exert themselves in meditation and accomplishment, this mantra recitation is the practice advice.

This recitation practice of the MA TRI is a precious lamp. Whoever goes before an esteemed lama or sacred support such as a shrine, chorten, or sacred statue, if they recite the mantra while performing prostrations and circumambulation and making prayers of aspiration, whatever they wish for will be quickly accomplished.”

— Extract from 32 Benefits of the Recitation Practice of the Precious Lamp

Tibetan translation 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 Blessing of Realizing Impermanence

Statue of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, realizing the truth of impermanence is one of the foundational practices that is performed again and again in order to prepare the student’s mind for the path of spiritual growth and development. Having realized the truth of impermanence, one is naturally less distracted by worldly things and seeks meaningful activities such as cultivating wisdom and loving kindness.

“O Listen!

Even though worldly phenomena are without essence, I believe them to be true. 

How sad! 

Bless me that the realization of impermanence will arise in my mindstream!

Even though worldly activities are without happiness, still, I continue in the deception and lack knowledge.

 How sad! 

Bless me that the realization of impermanence will arise in my mindstream!

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

How sad! 

Bless me that the realization of impermanence་will arise in my mindstream!

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 mindstream!

Bless me to be mindful of death! 

Bless me to overcome deep attachment!

Bless me so that renunciation will arise in my mindstream!”

— Extract from Chanted Verse of Impermanence from The Preliminary Practices of The Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung

 

May the impermanence of the external world and its inner contents be the cause for urgency to arise within my mindstream!

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

May eagerness and motivation arise towards the path of freedom and omniscience!”

— Extract from An Ocean of Instructions Regarding the Teachings of AH by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoché

Tibetan translation 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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How to Restore the Lifespan by Saving the Life of Other Beings

Azyl, a horse that was designated for slaughter, wearing the symbol of his protection in his mane after Geshe Gyatso performed the Tsé Thar ritual dedicated for the long life of H.E. Menri Pönlop Thrinley Nyima Rinpoché. Photo credit: Drenpa Namkha Foundation

In both the Yungdrung Bön and the Buddhist religious traditions, the ritual known as “Life Release” is widely practiced. In Tibetan, the short name is “Tsé Thar” which means “to save or free life.” The full name of the ritual is “Tsé Thar Tang Tap, The Skillful Method of Saving the Life of Beings and Setting Them Free.” Animals that are destined to be slaughtered for food or slaughtered for other purposes are rescued and then set free to live out the full length of their natural lifespan. A sponsor purchases the animals, has the appropriate rituals performed, and then releases the animals back into their natural environment. In the Himalayas, this practice is commonly performed for domestic herding animals or for fish. Herding animals are marked with a special tag or sign that indicates their protected status.

H.H. 34th Menri Trizin, Latri Kenpo Nyima Dakpa Rinpoché, and Khenpo Nyima Künchap Rinpoché performing the Tsé Thar ritual for a fish release. Photo credit: Angel R. Torres

The human lifespan can be weakened or cut unnaturally short due to the seeds of our negative karma meeting with secondary conditions and resulting in accidents, ill health and disease. In the same way, the seeds of our positive karma meeting with secondary conditions such as participating in the life release ritual brings results such as restoring our natural lifespan and removing obstacles that could cause accidents, illness or disease.

The Tsé Thar ritual is specifically used to restore and protect the lifespan. Traditionally, it is performed during the obstacle years during the ages of 1, 9, 13, 25, 37, 49, 61, 73 and 81, when someone is seriously ill in order to reverse any negative circumstances contributing to the illness, and it is performed in order to protect and extend the longevity of loved ones, spiritual teachers, etc.

In this way, the life release ritual not only benefits the animals that are rescued, it also benefits the sponsors, those performing the ritual, and those for whom the ritual is dedicated. Additionally, the ritual is a practice of the two accumulations of merit and wisdom, it develops our compassion and loving kindness, and it develops generosity and purifies greed through the act of giving safety and protection.

Azyl at his sanctuary. Photo credit: Drenpa Namkha Foundation

In 2018, a group of H.E. Menri Pönlop Thrinley Nyima Rinpoché’s students raised funds in order to rescue Azyl, a beautiful older horse that was destined to be slaughtered. He was moved to an animal sanctuary, the Tsé Thar ritual was performed and Azyl was given a symbolic badge of protection. Later, the Tsé Thar ritual was performed for all of the other animals living at the sanctuary. Azyl continues to live out his life at the sanctuary while being fed and cared for with funds donated by the worldwide Yungdrung Bön community. Some of these students have formed the Drenpa Namkha Foundation which funds Azyl’s care. Anyone can either be a one-time sponsor or ongoing sponsor of Azyl’s life release and dedicate that sponsorship for the longevity of one’s self, a loved one, or a spiritual teacher. Donations can easily be made through this link: http://drenpa-namkha.org/en/423/  You can contact the Drenpa Namkha Foundation here: e-mail kontakt@drenpa-namkha.org

“Through the blessings of saving the lives of these beings and setting them free, may the lifespan be undiminished!
May the lifespan be long!
May joy and happiness be accumulated!
May power and riches spread and flourish!
You, animals whose lives have been saved, having attained a precious human body in the future,
May you have the good fortune to practice the Yungdrung Bön!”

— Extract from The Skillful Method of Saving the Life of Beings and Setting Them Free

The ritual itself begins with the preliminary practices of cleansing with water and smoke, setting a boundary, going for refuge, generating compassion and the intention of enlightenment, as well as the admission of wrongdoing and purification. The main part of the Tsé Thar ritual begins with specific mantras to generate the power of longevity and then a blessing and consecration. After that, the animals receive the empowerment of the sacred syllable ‘A.’ In conclusion, prayers of aspiration, good fortune, and dedication are recited. To indicate that the animals are forever protected, a sacred badge containing the mantric syllables of the wisdom deity is affixed to the animals. In this way, animals destined for slaughter are forever protected and allowed to live out their natural lifespan while also having received sacred blessings and a connection to the teachings so that their future rebirth with be positive and they will have the opportunity to engage in spiritual practice.

Azyl after his life release ritual. Photo credit: Drenpa Namkha Foundation

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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