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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Birth Anniversary of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap’s First Born: Tobu Bumsang

Depiction of the birth of Prince Tobu Bumsang.

Although Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche was already a fully enlightened being and therefore has no worldly lineage, in order to continue the royal Shen lineage into which he was born and in order to benefit sentient beings, he had ten children.  The first born was his son, Prince Tobu Bumsang, who was born on the fifteenth lunar day of the second month. In 2020, this coincides with April 8th on the Western calendar.

Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché entrusted the teachings of the Tantra of the MA TRI mantra to Tobu Bumsang after he made a formal request for the teachings.

“To the Lord who is the compassionate protector of sentient beings, Sovereign of the teachings who is the principal deity of gods and humans, to the One who is ornamented with the clear, unobscured light of knowledge and is all-knowing, I bow and offer prostrations. 

What is the teaching? Who is included in the lineage?  How many benefits are there of this recitation practice?  Please bestow the oral transmission as well as the quintessential instructions.” 

Tobu Bumsang made this request for the benefit of sentient beings in cyclic existence.  Shenrap and Tobu Bumsang spoke in accordance with the hearing lineage. Then, from the completely pure mouth of Shenrap these words were spoken.

“O listen! 

Fortunate Son of a noble lineage, this Precious Lamp is the heart mantra of all of those who have gone beyond bliss. 

As for the lineage, those who have purified lower rebirths and shaken cyclic existence from the very depths are included within the lineage. 

As for this practice, it is mainly to rely upon trusting in the enlightened ones who have trained in the three kinds of emptiness. 

As for the benefit, so that sentient beings at the end of the eon, when their lifespan has become shorter and there is less morality, will not need to accomplish visualization and meditation, I will speak about the benefits of this recitation practice.

This recitation practice is the extracted heart essence of all of Those who have gone beyond bliss and is the fundamental essence of the entire collection of sacred teachings. 

It is the quintessential essence of all Bön.  It is the ultimate of all recitations. It is the heart elixir of the princpal teachings. It is a sacred connection for sentient beings during a dark time.”    

— Extracted from Benefits of the Recitation Practice of the Precious Lamp, the MA TRI Mantra

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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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.

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

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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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