Category Archives: Uncategorized

Homage to the Spiritual Master

Monks at Menri Monastery welcome HH 34th Menri Trizin Rinpoche upon his return to the monastery. Photo credit: Unknown.

“Above the crown of my head upon a throne of a lotus, sun and moon is the essence of all victorious ones, my kind lama.

I pray to those who have the ability to lead beings out of cyclic existence. Grant your blessings so that I may effortlessly accomplish benefit to self and others!”

— Extract from Tsa Lung Sol Dep, Supplication Prayer for the Practice of the Channels and Winds written by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

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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Anniversary of the Parinirvana of HH 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoche

Memorial Chorten at Menri Monastery for His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpe Nyima Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown

On the 24th day of the 7th lunar month in the Western year 2017, His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoche displayed his realization by passing into nirvana from his physical body. On the Western calendar of 2019, this date coincides with September 23rd. On this day, Yungdrung Bön religious centers worldwide will recognize this auspicious day with special prayers and ritual.

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

Supplication Prayer to H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin

“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!”

— Extract 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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Iconography: Animals Under a Throne

Sherap Jamma with lions underneath her seat as painted by Lama Kalsang Nyima. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Iconography is the use of images and symbols to convey meaning or concepts especially in a spiritual context. The iconography within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition is detailed within many volumes of scriptures. Symbolic meanings are specific and often complex depending upon the context. Meaning is attributed to includes composition, proportions, color, hand objects, clothing, ornamentation, etc.  Sometimes, a few of these details are left to the interpretation of the artist but they are most often prescribed within the sacred text.

Elephant throne

A throne depicting elephants under the main figure

The Tibetan thangkha is a painting on canvas that is framed in brocade and has dowels at the top and bottom to enable the painting to be hung and also rolled like a scroll.  These paintings are rolled from the bottom towards the top.  There are often ties at the top that are used to fasten the rolled painting and allow it to be easily carried.

Horse throne

A throne depicting horses under the main figure

An example of the use of iconography within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition is demonstrated by the images of animals depicted underneath the throne of enlightened deities. This position symbolizes that the deity tames or transforms the quality associated with the animal. According the oral teachings of the preeminent scholar and spiritual master His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, the five common animals depicted in this way symbolize the following:  the lion symbolizes anger, the elephant symbolized ignorance, the garuda symbolizes desire, the horse symbolizes jealousy, and the dragon symbolizes pride.

Garuda throne

A throne depicting garudas under the main figure

For example, although the buddha Sherap Jamma has all of the perfected qualities, emphasis is placed on her teaching sentient beings to transform anger and hatred into love and kindness.  This is symbolized by lions being depicted on the throne underneath her as she sits peacefully.

Throne with all 5 animals

A throne depicting each of the five animals.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 Mind of the Lama

HE Menri Ponlop Yangton Trinley Nyima Rinpoche helps a student during an exam at Menri Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown.

“EMAHO!

Enlightened Ones of the ten directions who appeared in the past,

Enlightened Ones of the ten directions who appear in the present,

Enlightened Ones of the ten directions who will appear in the future,

the Mind of the lama is the embodiment of all these Enlightened Ones of the three times.”

— Extract from The Spontaneous Wish-Fulfillment of Removing Obstacles from the Path

For more about this important Yungdrung Bön prayer, see https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

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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May We Be Protected from External, Internal & Secret Obstacles!

The protector temple at Tashi Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. Photo credit: Unknown

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, Sipé Gyalmo, The Queen of Phenomenal Existence, is an enlightened being that principally acts to guard and protect the tradition and its followers. Being an enlightened being, her wisdom and compassion are without either limitation or bias. As a protector, she appears wrathful and fierce in order to show her power and fearlessness in conquering any obstacle or perceived enemy. These include external obstacles such as danger from external forces including natural disasters, internal obstacles such as illness, and secret obstacles such as anger and greed. Ultimately, she aids the practitioner in conquering the most secret obstacle which is ignorance of the true nature of the mind.

Each month of the lunar calendar there is a day designated especially for the practice of Sipé Gyalmo who appears riding a red mule. During the 7th lunar month of each year, it is the 4th day. During 2019, this date coincides with September 3rd.

Sipé Gyalmo, the Queen of Phenomenal Existence, who rides a red mule. 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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Daily Practices: The Cleansing Water Rite

H.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche offers cleansing water to a monk at Triten Norbutse Monastery in Nepal. Photo credit: Samaya Producciones.

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, there are many rituals to imbue water with the power to wash away contaminations and defilements. Because they pollute our individual forces of good luck, vitality, power, etc., they can attract negative circumstances or illness, they can decrease our longevity and increase circumstances of disharmony and conflict. Contaminations and defilements are created through many kinds of behavior and environmental factors such as breaking one’s vows or encouraging others to break their vows, interfering with the spiritual practice or virtuous activity of others, negative astrological constellations, etc. Therefore, each morning upon rising, it is traditional for monks, nuns, genyen, and even ordinary practitioners to perform a cleansing water rite. When the rite is performed by a lama for others, the water is poured onto the crown of the head and then a small amount of the water is given to drink. Having done so, the practitioner imagines that even the most subtle obscurations, contaminations and defilements are completely washed away.

“Anyone affected by contaminated energy, latent karmic potentialities, misfortune or defilements, having recited the mantra into clean water and ritually washed, even karmic defilements will be purified.”  

—From Benefits of the Recitation Practice of the Precious Lamp (The MA TRI Mantra)

The MA TRI mantra on a cliff face in Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown.

“Having washed with this water, I clearly imagine that any remaining contamination is washed away because of this medicine.

Without exception, any migrating being will be released from all suffering and misery, and illness and injury will be pacified. 

Obstacles along with their causes will be overcome. Both the lifespan and virtuous merit will increase. 

Glory and fame will spread, and the ripening of karma will be purified.”

—From The Cleansing-Rite Mantra of Nampar Jompa

“If you recite the mantra to good quality water mixed with powdered, medicinal incense and then cleanse with that water, all illness and sickness caused by negative forces will be pacified and all defilements and contaminations will be purified.”

—From The Heartdrop of Jamma

(For more information about The Heartdrop of Jamma and its translation, see previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2019/07/20/the-practice-of-jamma-chenmo-the-great-loving-mother-2/

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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Compassionate Refuge and Protection

The Great Lama Drenpa Namkha.

The 10th lunar day of each month is the time to practice Drenpa Namkha and his two sons, Tséwang Rikdzin and Pema Tongdrol according to the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. August 10th 2019 is the 10th day of the 6th lunar month. Drenpa Namkha was an historical figure who realized complete liberation and is revered as both a great lama and also a yidam, or meditational deity.

“EMAHO! 

May the collective, compassionate blessings of the Victorious Ones of the 10 directions come for the welfare of sentient beings in this world. 

I pray for uninterrupted blessings from the subduer of demons, Drenpa Namkha.

Now, during this negative time, the forces of good are lost and the forces of evil rule the land. 

You are surrounded by the gods and goddesses of the earth and their retinues. 

I pray to the Great Lama and his two sons, to the subduer of demons, Drenpa Namkha,

may the forces of good have power to act in this world!

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

— Extract from the Fourteen Verse Supplication to the Subduer, Drenpa Namkha

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 Monastery of Blissful Meditation: Déden Samten Ling

Samling Temple complex. Photo credit: Unknown

The high altitude temple of Déden Samten Ling, or simply Samling, has been significant in the preservation of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition.  The main temple was established more than 900 years ago by Yangtön Gyaltsen Rinchen in a remote and mountainous region of Dolpo, Nepal near the Tibetan border.  Since that time, this monastery, as well as others in Dolpo, has been maintained by a hereditary line of lamas within the Yangtön family. (For more information about the prestigious Yangtön family lineage, see previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2017/05/27/yangton-sherap-gyaltsen/)

map of dolpo copy

According to a text of the Yangton family lineage, some time during the 13th century Yangtön Gyaltsen Rinchen was staying near Mt. Tisé in Western Tibet (a.k.a. MT. Kailash) when he was visited in a dream by the Bönpo sage and great lama Drenpa Namkha.   The Yangtön lama was instructed to travel to Dolpo and build a temple.  Traveled the distance to Dolpo and having searched throughout its rugged terrain, Yangtön Gyaltsen Rinchen had a series of auspicious dreams while staying in the area of Bijer that convinced him that he had finally found the proper place to construct a Yungdrung Bön temple.

Chortens of Samling. Photo credit: Unknown.

Yangtön Gyaltsen Rinchen was the first of many Yangtön lamas at Samling who collected and preserved sacred texts.  Because of this, many volumes of texts have been throughout the course of many centuries. It was during a trip to Samling Monastery in 1961 that Dr. David Snellgrove discovered a copy of the Zi Ji, a hagiography of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap. He subsequently wrote and published one of the first English language translations of a Yungdrung Bön text, The Nine Ways of Bön.  The Zi Ji text that he consulted for his translation was estimated to be approximately 400 years old.

Left: H.E. Menri Ponlop Yangtön Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche, Center: H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoche, Right: Yangtön Lama Sherap Tenzin Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown.

Currently, Lama Sherap Tenzin Rinpoche is the head of the monastery.  He was born in 1953 and has received extensive religious training and has been trained in the science of Tibetan medicine.

In the Language of Zhang Zhung: Gyer


The ancient land of Zhang Zhung had a written language with multiple scripts and practiced the Yungdrung Bön teachings.  Many Yungdrung Bön texts were originally written in the Zhang Zhung language and later translated into Tibetan, Sanskrit, Chinese, etc. as the teachings dispersed to other countries due to political circumstances. Each Zhang Zhung king had a personal Yungdrung Bön lama that would perform the necessary prayers and rituals as well as act as a spiritual guide.

In the Zhang Zhung language, “gyer” literally means “to recite or to chant with a melody” and it is equivalent to the Tibetan word “bön.” “Gyer ro” means “priest” or more literally “the one who recites” and is the equivalent to the Tibetan word “bönpo.” “Gyer pung” means “lopön” and refers to an educated lama who teaches the scriptures. “Gyer ngor” means “shenrap.”

Gyer Pungs Nangzher Lopo

The great 8th century scholar, Yungdrung Bön lama, and royal priest to the Zhang Zhung king was Gyer Pung Nanghzer Lopo. He is an important lineage holder of the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyü, the Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung. Among Yungdrung Bön texts, this scripture was protected by Gyer Pung Nanghzer Lopo and therefore never needed to be hidden due to the political persecution of the Yungdrung Bön religion. Because of that unique circumstance, there was never a gap in these teachings being handed down directly from teacher to student.

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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