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Lunar Calendar: The Practice of Tséwang Rikdzin

Mural of Lama Tsewang Rikdzin from Yanggon Monastery in Dolpo, Nepal. Photo credit: Unknown.

According to the lunar calendar of the Yungdrung Bön, the 10th lunar day of each month is the day for the practice of the three sages: the great lama Drenpa Namkha and his two twin sons, Tséwang Rikdzin, and Péma Tongdrul. This coincides with April 3, 2020. This day is set aside specifically to pay homage and make offerings to these lamas, as well as to recite the mantras associated with their respective practices.

“You are like the embrace of a thousand cloudless suns upon the very white, snow mountain, Mount Meru.

A hundred praises to the deathless Tséwang Rikdzin, who overcomes the darkness of the suffering of sentient beings during this degenerate time!”

— From The Sword that Cuts the Noose of Death found within the Tséwang Jarima, The Teachings of Tséwang given at Jarima

Indestructible: The Longevity Practice of Lama Tséwang Rikdzin.  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SacredSky

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Book: Calm Breath, Calm Mind

Calm Breath, Calm Mind, written by Lama Geshe Yongdong Losar, is a book that acts as a clear and straight-forward manual for using the breath to strengthen and heal the body and energy, to cultivate peace and happiness, and to support spiritual development. The book includes  descriptions of both the gross and subtle breath, their functions, and how to mindfully use them. From that basis of understanding, Geshe Yongdong guides the reader through breathing and movement exercises that are often accompanied by line drawings. Each chapter beautifully begins with a few lines of verse.

“Butter is always within the milk. Without churning, it won’t appear.

Wisdom and healing can happen when awareness and vital energy are generated.”

— Extract from Calm Breath, Calm Mind

With thirteen chapters within 108 pages, the sections are clear and direct in their instructions and highlighted with brief anecdotes. The material is presented in such a way as to be accessible and inviting to everyone. Here are a few examples of sections included within the book:

  • Body-Mind Connection
  • Mindful Breathing Changes the Brain
  • Energy Loss Through the Nine Doors
  • Two Types of Meditation
  • Calm Abiding Breathing Exercises
  • The Healing Power of Middle and Lower Breath
  • The Five Root Tsa Lung Exercises

“From my tradition and my experience, meditation using the breath is one of the simplest and most effective practices for health and healing for anyone, regardless of cultural or religious background. We all breathe the same air.”

“I have written this book to provide clear instructions for simple, relaxing, efficient exercises using the breath to heal the mind and emotions, and bring balance into the energy channels of the body. These exercises have been passed down to me by masters of the ancient Tibetan Bön tradition. They can be used by anyone, anywhere, anytime.”

— Lama Geshe Yongdong Losar Author of Calm Breath, Calm Mind

The book Calm Breath, Calm Mind can be ordered from this link: https://sherabchammaling.com/product/calm-breath-calm-mind-a-guide-to-the-healing-power-of-breath/

Lama Geshe Yongdong Losar was born in Amdo, Tibet in 1969. At the young age of seven years old, his mother passed away. In the days immediately following her death, he encountered a young monk near his own age among a group that was chanting prayers and performing rituals on behalf of his deceased mother. He was so moved by this, that he was immediately inspired to devote himself to a spiritual life. However, his family had planned for him to join the family business and objected to his desire to become a monk. Six years later when his grandmother passed away, the family finally relented and agreed that he could take vows. In 1982 at the age of 13 years old, he entered Nangzhig Yungdrung Bön Monastery. At 15, he began studying and at 16 he received monk’s vows. At 24, he was awarded a geshe degree, the equivalent of a doctorate in science and religion.

In 1992, along with a small group of Tibetans, he walked for 10 days in order to escape Tibet. Arriving in Dharamsala, he met with H.H. 14th Dalai Lama and eventually began studying at the Geluk Monastery of Sera and later, at Tashi Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. In 1999, he moved to B.C. Canada and eventually founded Sherap Chamma Ling Yungdrung Bön Practice center in 2003. In 2007, he received his Canadian citizenship. Currently, he teaches worldwide and is the author of many books and has recorded a cd of chants and prayers of the Yungdrung Bön tradition.

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The Thirteen Yungdrung Bön Activities for a Meaningful Human LIfe

Khenpo Nyima Künchap Rinpoche reciting scripture. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

The Thirteen Yungdrung Bön Activities are practices that perfect the two accumulations of merit and wisdom. These activities develop our positive qualities and diminish negative tendencies, and provide a way to take advantage of our precious human life. Engaging in these activities also has the benefit of protecting the mind from fear, anxiety and obsessive thoughts by focusing upon sacred actions of body, speech and mind.

  1. Writing the sacred syllables
  2. Reading sacred books
  3. Reciting the scriptures
  4. Turning the wheel of Bön
  5. Presenting offerings and prostrations
  6. Stopping ordinary speech and maintaining silence
  7. Reflecting upon the meaning of the words
  8. Listening to the sacred teachings for one’s self
  9. Teaching the sacred teachings for others
  10. Meditating upon the actual meaning
  11. Practicing towards a goal
  12. Exerting one’s self in performing virtuous activity
  13. Exerting one’s self with the causes to obtain a precious human body

Instructions for writing the Tibetan syllable AH. The syllables are drawn from the top downwards and from left to right.

“To the embodiment of all the places of refuge, the root lama,

I pay homage, admit my wrongdoing, present offerings, and supplicate!

Please pacify all obstacles, and guide me along the path of liberation!

Bestow your blessings that my wishes will be spontaneously fulfilled!

Through the force and the power of this, wherever I am, may the labels “illness,” “hunger,” “weapons,” “conflict,” and “disharmony” not even exist!”

— Extracted from The Spontaneous Wish-fulfillment of Removing Obstacles from the Path, The Oral Transmission of Khandro Shérap Lopélma

For the full English, Spanish, or Portuguese translation of The Spontaneous Wish-fulfillment of Removing Obstacles from the Path, The Oral Transmission of Khandro Shérap Lopélmafollow this link to the Publications page of this website. https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/ This prayer is commonly recited each day within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition.

A young monk making an offering of light at Menri Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown.

Present and Future Refuge

The Great Lama and yidam deity, Drenpa Namkha

“Now, during this negative time, infectious diseases and epidemics occur,

heat and cold within the body are reversed, and medicine doesn’t help.

You are surrounded by the Medicine Buddha and his retinue.

I pray to the Great Lama and his two sons, to the subduer of demons, Drenpa Namkha: completely overcome infectious diseases and epidemics!

Look upon me with your unbiased compassion morning and night, during the past, present, and future! Turn back both seen and unseen enemies!

My present and future refuge and protector bless me to accomplish all of my intentions!”

— Extracted from The Prayer of Fourteen Stanzas to Drenpa Namkha translated by Raven Cypress Wood

In general, there have been three separate manifestations of Drenpa Namkha. Each was a reincarnation of the previous manifestation. There was the Drenpa Namkha of the ancient kingdom of Tazik, Drenpa Namkha of the ancient kingdom of Zhang Zhung, and Drenpa Namkha of Tibet. Drenpa Namkha of the ancient kingdom of Zhang Zhung was a prince who lived during 914 BC. He married an Indian Brahman girl and had twin sons, Tséwang Rikdzin and Péma Tongdrül, who were born in the year 888 BC.

Drenpa Namkha of Tibet was born in the year 753 AD in Southern Tibet.  During this time, the kingdom of Tibet was ruled by King Trisong Detsen who had many Bön priest in his court, including Drenpa Namkha. When the king decided to convert the kingdom to the new Indian religion of Buddhism, he began to drive out the Bön priests and to destroy their texts. The Bön lamas were given the choice of exile from the kingdom, suicide, or conversion to the new religion.  Many lamas chose to escape with texts and to try and preserve the teachings elsewhere. Drenpa Namkha chose to stay and protect the teachings and the texts from within Tibet. So, at the age of 31, he cut his own hair with a blade of gold and ordained himself a Buddhist.

After his conversion, he had many YUngdrung Bön texts hidden within chortens, statues and columns at the monastery of Samyé. He continued to compose texts and to teach. Among his many students was the king himself, Trisong Detsen. Years later, the king allowed him to openly return to his practice of the Yungdrung Bön teachings.

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Developing Knowledge & Wisdom with the Lion of Speech

White emanation of Mawé Senge, Lion of Exposition.

After the Tibetan New Year celebrations, students at Menri Monastery in India enter into an intensive retreat to cultivate the qualities of the wisdom deity Mawé Sengé, Lion of Exposition. This retreat begins on the 24th lunar day of the 1st month and concludes on the 30th lunar day. In 2020, these dates coincide with March 17th – March 24th on the Western calendar. The intention of this retreat is to develop and sharpen the student’s intellect to support their upcoming studies. The practice of Mawé Sengé is performed many times each day and the mantra of the deity is recited as much as possible throughout the retreat with a minimum accumulation of 100,000 recitations.

“I go for refuge to the wisdom deity for the intellect.

I generate the supreme mind for the benefit of vigorous training in the highest wisdom.

Having compassionately purified all karmic obscurations without any exception,

please bestow the attainments of an increased intellect, useful knowledge and a divine voice!”  

— From The Short Practice of Mawé Senge. Tibetan translation: Raven Cypress Wood

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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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Celebration of the Second Buddha: H.H. Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché

The 5th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan lunar calendar is the celebration of Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché also known as the second buddha. In 2020, this date coincides with  February 28th on the Western calendar. Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rnpoche was a reincarnation of Yikyi Khye’u Chung, one of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche’s sons. He was responsible for uniting the three transmission lineages of sutra, tantra and dzogchen as well as founding one of the largest Yungdrung Bön monasteries in Tibet, Tashi Menri Ling.

Born in 1356 in the region of Gyalrong into the Dru lineage, as a child, he could recite mantra and read scripture without having studied.  At the age of ten, he decided to become a monk.  In 1387 at the age of 31, he entered the prestigious Yeru Wensaka monastery and eventually became its abbot.   During a journey to Eastern Tibet, Yeru Wensaka was destroyed by flooding and mudslides.  After returning, he searched the ruins of the monastery for artifacts.  He took these and established Tashi Menri Monastery further up the same valley.  It was now 1405 and he was 50 years old.

H.H. Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché was known throughout Tibet as a great scholar and prolific writer on the many varied subjects within the Bön scriptures.  He also exhibited many miracles and signs of his spiritual realization.  Twice, he flew up into the sky.  During one of these flights, he burned his hat with the rays of the sun.

Nyamme Sherap Gyaltsen handprint

Nyamme Sherap Gyaltsen’s hand print in stone

In 1415 at the age of 60, he passed away.  His body levitated high into the air, but due to the many heartfelt prayers of his disciples, the body came back down.   During the cremation, rainbows appeared and an eagle circled three times around the cremation area before disappearing into the West.

Today,  Bönpos will spend the day with their eyes looking skyward.  If you are lucky enough to be visited by a vulture on this day, it is said to be an auspicious sign of having received the blessings of the lama known as the Second Buddha, the Unequaled One, Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché.

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Losar Tashi Delek Pün Sum Tsok! Happy Tibetan New Year!

Today begins the year of the Metal Rat.  For more information, see previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2020/02/01/the-twelve-animals-of-tibetan-astrology-the-rat/

Traditionally, today is spent either at home or visiting monasteries to make offerings or perform religious practice. Tomorrow begins a time of visiting friends and sharing with them all of the special food for the holiday. The 1st month of the new year is especially good for activities that strengthen and develop the positive forces that support health, success and harmony. Hanging prayer flags is one such activity.

Nine Ways is offering special Yungdrung Bön prayer flags. For more information about the benefit of prayer flags or to place an order, see previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2020/02/15/the-immeasurable-benefit-of-raising-prayer-flags/

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