Birthday Celebration of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama

HH 14th Dalai Lama with HH 34th Menri Trizen. Photo credit: Unknown.

July 6th is the day to celebrate the birth of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama, head of the Geluk tradition, leader of the Tibetan people, and world renowned spiritual guide.

Prayer for the Long Life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Gang ri ra wé kor wé zhing kham su
In a heavenly realm, surrounded by a chain of snow mountains,

Pen dang dé wa ma lü jung wé né
The source of all happiness and help for beings

Chenrezik wang Tenzin Gyatso yi
Is Tenzin Gyatso, Chenrezik in person.

Shyap pé kal gyé bar du ten gyur chik
May his life be secure for hundreds of kalpas!

Cycles of the Elements and Time: The Namchu Wangden

The symbol for The Ten-fold Powerful One, the Namchu Wangden.

The Namchu Wangden, or The Ten-fold Powerful One, is a symbol of great protection within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. It contains the seed syllables for seven hundred and twenty deities.

According to an explanation written by the 23rd Menri Trizin Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche:

“From the tantra, The Cycle of the Elements and Time, found within the 100,000 glorious scriptures of the indestructible, great vehicle, is this ten columns and nine letters of the Namchu Wangden, which contains the seed syllables of Enlightened Mind. AH is the seed syllable for Yungdrung Yéwang Gyalpo, the earth deities, their body color is golden. YANG is the seed syllable for Kündrol Yingjuk, the wind deities, and they are green in color. RAM  is the seed syllable for Künrik Barwa, the fire deities, and they are red in color. MANG is the seed syllable for Künjom Gyalpo, the water deities, and they are blue in color. KHAM is the seed syllable for Kündü Chenpo, the iron deities, and they are white in color. DRUM is the seed syllable for the immeasurable tent of protection, and the four nyémjé ma, and they are golden in color. HUNG is the seed syllable for the queens of the four times at the inner door. At the middle door, are the four guardians. At the outer door, are four fierce ones who are dark-blue in color. OM on the right,*  is the seed syllable for the grandfather of primordial, phenomenal existence, Sangpo Bumtri and the Four Families, and they are white in color. DU on the left,* is the seed syllable for the four mothers of cause and the eight shen, and they are golden-red in color. In brief, this symbol includes the seed syllables for the seven hundred and twenty deities of the Five Families. It is said that the Namchu Wangden destroys all fear!”

*Right and left are according to the point of view of the object not the subject.

The Namchu Wangden of Yungdrung Bon being consecrated in Amdo, Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown.

Displaying this image protects from destruction by the five elements, as well as protects the life-force, health, personal power and lungta.  It gives protection from the eight classes of beings, as well as from astrologically negative events. Traditionally, this image is placed at the entrance to the home as a means of protection. In modern times, the Namchu Wangden protection amulet is commonly placed in cars as well.

Protective amulet, or sung khor, of the Namchu Wangden. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Tibetan Translation Raven Cypress Wood©2018

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 Pema Tongdrul.   For the Western month of June 2018, that date is June 23rd. This is the day 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 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

Tibetan Translation by Raven Cypress Wood©2012

Author of Indestructible: The Longevity Practice of Lama Tséwang Rikdzin.

For more information about Lama Tséwang Rikdzin, see previous post:




In the Language of Zhang Zhung: MU RA TA HEN

The Zhang Zhung language was a written and spoken language which predates the Tibetan language. In ancient times, the Yungdrung Bön scriptures were translated from Zhang Zhung into Tibetan, as well as many other language such as Chinese and Sanskrit.

There remains examples of the Zhang Zhung language throughout the texts. This Zhang Zhung language reference to Tönpa Shenrap Miwo, Buddha and founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, occurs twice within the commonly practiced one hundred syllable mantra.

Homage to the Saint, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Private collection of Raven Cypress Wood

The 13th day of the 4th month on the lunar calendar is the anniversary of the parinirvana and rainbow body of the Yungdrung Bön scholar and meditation master, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche. See previous post:

Shardza Soldep. Calligraphy: HE Menri Ponlop Trinley Nyima Rinpoche.

“Fearlessly opening the door to a hundred treasuries of the heart of the Buddha’s stainless teachings,

Having the superior capacity of Mawé Senge,

Supreme guide to the self-radiant, self-arising, primordially pure awareness,

To Manga Werzhi* I pray.”

~Homage written in honor of Shardza Rinpoche, and often placed at the conclusion of the commonly used chöd practice written by him entitled, “Giving the Body, the Full Laughter of the Khandro.”

*Zhang Zhung name for Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche.

Tibetan translation: Raven Cypress Wood


Giving Support to the Dead

Nuns of Tsüngon Rayna Menling in Dolanji, India gather for a tea ceremony. Photo Credit: Khedup Gyatso

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, when someone dies and enters the forty-nine day period of the intermediate state between death and rebirth, there are many ways to offer support for the one who has died. One of these ways is the Mang Ja , or large tea ceremony. During the tea ceremony sponsored by the family of the deceased, each nun is given tea, a snack, and a small donation. Afterwards, everyone participates in offering prayers for the deceased in order to alleviate their suffering in the transition between death and rebirth, and to support their liberation from cyclic existence. Traditionally, a tea ceremony is sponsored each of the seven weeks of the intermediate state, or bardo. However, if this is not possible due to the financial circumstances of the family, a tea ceremony during the first and seventh week, or at least the seventh week is sponsored. Through the offering of this donation and sustenance to the ordained, merit is generated on behalf of the deceased. This merit, together with the prayers, acts as a positive support to alleviate suffering, support the circumstances for a positive rebirth, and ultimately, lead to complete liberation.

The Indestructible Yungdrung Bön

Yungdrung Bon monks performing a ritual. Photo credit: Unknown.

“Like the sun rising at dawn, through uncontrollable power, may the teachings of Yungdrung Bön spread!”

From A Storehouse of Treasure, The Main Practice of Blue Dzambhala

Translation: Raven Cypress Wood

The Eight Branches of Divine Bön

Merit Field of the A Tri lineage.

The Eight Branches of Divine Bön are:

  1. The Branch of Prostrating
  2. The Branch of Making Offerings
  3. The Branch of Admitting Wrongdoing
  4. The Branch of Rejoicing
  5. The Branch of Requesting Enlightened Beings to Stay
  6. The Branch of Requesting Enlightened Beings to Turn the Wheel of Bön
  7. The Branch of Aspiration Prayers
  8. The Branch of Dedicating

The Branch of Prostrating is an antidote to pride.

“To the supreme speech of Tönpa Shenrap, which is ornamented with the magical letters,

To His scriptures that remain until the present day,

I prostrate with the devotion of my body, speech, and mind.” 

The practice of offering prostrations is one of the foundational practices within the Yungdrung Bön tradition. As a method of purifying the mind-stream, the practitioner performs one hundred thousand prostrations as part of the nine preliminary practices. By properly performing the physical movement of the prostration, one engages the devotion of the door of the body. By reciting prayers of refuge while prostrating, one engages the devotion of the door of speech. By visualizing the field of refuge filling the entire space and also imagining that all sentient beings join together in prostrating, one engages the devotion of the door of the mind.

Mandala offering at Menri Monastery March 2018. Photo credit: Unknown

The Branch of Making Offerings is an antidote to greed.

“Having set out this ornament of unsurpassed offerings,

and magically emanated offerings that fill the entire sky,

I present these clouds of unsurpassed offerings to the Enlightened Ones of the three times.”

Within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, there are many different kinds of offerings. These include the daily five offerings of butter lamps, pure water, food, flowers, and incense. There is also the four daily offerings of generosity which are the offering of smoke of purification, the water offering, the burnt food offering, and the offering of the body. Among the foundational practices is the practice of the mandala offering. In this practice, one imagines offering the entire three-thousand-fold universe and all of its contents to the field of accumulation. See previous post regarding the Five External Daily Offerings:

The Branch of Admitting Wrongdoing is an antidote to hatred.

“With my body: the acts of murder, stealing, and sexual misconduct,

with my speech: speaking lies, slander, and divisive speech,

with my mind: ignorance, and wrong views, etc.,

whatever wrongdoing that I have committed due to the three poisons,

in the presence of the Enlightened Ones, the loving protectors,

without concealing anything, and with regret and sorrow,

I openly admit my wrongdoing.” 

The practice of admitting wrongdoing depends upon four powers: the power of witness in the presence of the field of accumulation or other sacred objects, the power of openly admitting wrongdoing, the power of regret, and the power of purification. Through this practice, karmic negativities which obscure spiritual development and realization can be purified.

The Branch of Rejoicing is an antidote to jealousy.

“Whatever virtue that is performed by any migrating sentient beings in this world,

whatever merit is accumulated by any migrating beings,

I rejoice because of all of this merit.”

Rather than being jealous towards those who have greater circumstances for making offerings or donations, supporting lamas, attending retreats and empowerments, or performing other spiritual activity, the Yungdrung Bön practitioner rejoices in the good fortune and accumulation of merit of others.

The Branch of Requesting Enlightened Beings to Stay is an antidote to ignorance.

“From this time forward, as a result of accomplishment,

in order to completely destroy the doors of the three negative places of rebirth,

I pray to the Enlightened Ones to please not go beyond the places of the six destinies of migrating beings.”

By requesting the Enlightened Beings to stay and act for the benefit of sentient beings, rather than abiding in a state beyond cyclic existence, we activate their compassionate blessings.

Personal Library of the modern-day Yungdrung Bön Sage Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

The Branch of Requesting Enlightened Beings to Turn the Wheel of Bön is an antidote to wrong views.

“In order to empty cyclic existence of those who have been pulled into transmigration,

I request You to stay during this eon for the benefit of migrating beings,

and teach all the various scriptures of the Bön of truth,

the magical speech which opens the mouth which has been mute.” 

The Branch of Aspiration Prayers is an antidote to doubt.

“From the three doors of my body, speech, and mind,

continually forsaking the ten non-virtues,

like an ever-flowing river, may I continually perform the ten virtues!”

There are many aspiration prayers, or mönlam, within the Yungdrung Bön scriptures. One of the well-known and often recited aspiration prayers is the Tséwang Mönlam. This profound prayer is recited during the forty-nine day period after death for those who have died, on auspicious days, during eclipses of the sun or moon etc. By following the link below, a pdf of the English translation of the prayer is offered free for the personal use of Yungdrung Bön practitioners. The download link is located under “Freely Offered Translations.” It is free for personal use, but no publication of any kind is allowed.

The Branch of Dedication Prayers is an antidote to attachment.

“Whatever virtue has been accumulated through inviting the enlightened beings, prostrating, making offerings, admitting wrongdoing, requesting. and offering prayers of aspiration,

I share with all migrating beings.

Furthermore, in order to attain the unsurpassable result,

I dedicate it for the enlightenment of both myself and others.” 

All quotations extracted from “The Small Sutra of the Eight Branches of Divine Bön” found within Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen’s A Tri Ka Lung Gyatso, Guidance of A, an Ocean of Scripture.

Tibetan translation Raven Cypress Wood©2018

Spiritual Fathers

HH 34th Menri Trizin Rinpoche and Menri Ponlop Yangton Trinley Nyima Rinpoche at Menri Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown.

Removing Obstacles from the Path: Gift Translation

The wisdom deity, Shenlha Ökar, embodies all of the perfected qualities and represents the unification of all lamas.


Within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the practice of the Bar Che Lam Sel, or Removing Obstacles from the Path, is a powerful method for removing any kind of obstacle being experienced by the practitioner. From the notation within the text,

By reciting this “Spontaneous Wish-fulfillment of Removing Obstacles from the Path” a single time, obstacles of an entire year are pacified. By reciting it one hundred times, obstacles of one lifetime are pacified.” 

One does not need transmission or instruction in order to recite this prayer. However, if the practitioner is able to receive the oral transmission from a qualified Yungdrung Bön lama, the benefit of the prayer is greatly multiplied. Making a commitment to recite the prayer before a sacred image or shrine, and then fulfilling that commitment, increases the power of the practice by virtue of having fulfilled a sacred commitment. The prayer can be recited at any time, but especially during any experience of problems or obstacles, when starting a business or important endeavor, and during an astrologically calculated “obstacle year” which, according to Tibetan astrology, occurs during the ages of 1, 9, 13, 25, 37, 49, 61, 73 and 81. The prayer can also be taken as a daily practice, or recited for the benefit of others and dedicated to their release from obstacles.

This translation is offered to all Yungdrung Bön practitioners for their personal use. A link to download the pdf can be found at the end of this article. May we all be free from obstacles and have positive circumstances that support our continual spiritual practice and development!

The Google Doc link below will provide access to download the pdf of the translation.


Receiving Blessings

His Holiness 34th Menri Trizin Rinpoche receives blessings and transmissions from Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche at Triten Norbutse Monastery in Nepal March 2018. Photo credit: Unknown.

May Everyone have Success and Prosperity!

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the powerful wealth deities act to protect and increase the success, wealth, merit, health, and positive circumstances of Yungdrung Bön practitioners. Kubera, also known as Blue Dzambhala or Dzam Ngön, is one of these wealth deities. Along with propitiation and mantra recitation, Kubera is offered sang, smoke purification and offering, in the morning, and torma in the evening.

“In the midst of a mound of many kinds of wish-fulfilling jewels, and seated upon a magically emanated turquoise-colored horse, is the miraculously born Kubera.  His body is a brilliant, dark-blue color.  He wears a helmet of crystal upon his head, and a coat of armor upon his body.  In his right hand, he lifts a golden sword that rains down precious things, and clears away obstacles for Bön practitioners.  In his left hand, he holds a mongoose.  From the mouth of the mongoose, precious jewels overflow and come forth. Without exception, he clears away the suffering and misery of poverty for all sentient beings.  Above his right and left shoulders, two iron hawks soar and circle overhead.  Two tigers leap in front of him, and behind, two lions run.  His inner retinue consists of one hundred-thousand deities who resemble him, and his outer retinue consists of millions of deities who surround him.”

~From A Storehouse of Treasure, the Main Practice of Blue Dzambhala

According to the Yungdrung Bön religious calendar, the lunar dates each month that are specified for Kubera propitiation and practice are: 4, 8, 11, 13, 15,17, 27, and 30.

Tibetan translation by Raven Cypress Wood ©2015 All Rights Reserved

Great Generosity

Abbott of Triten Norbutse Monastery, Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche, offers a mandala of the universe to His Holiness 34th Menri Trizin Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown.

Buddha Tönpa Shenrap’s Tenth Deed: The Deed of Complete Solitude

Lord Tonpa Shenrap Miwoche in his role as an ordained monk with the name Tritsuk Gyalwa.

In order to give the example of how to practice, Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché retreated to the isolated Nine-leveled Yungdrung Mountain deep in the forest. His disciples followed him to the mountain and naturally formed two groups of practitioners. The first group was further divided into two groups led by Tsünpa Khyappa and the Buddha’s son, Tobu Bumsang. To these two groups, Lord Shenrap taught the highest view of the single sphere, dzogchen. This is like the sun that dawns and immediately dispels the darkness. Therefore, this is known as a direct path to realization.

The second group of practitioners were led by his eldest daughter, Shensa Nechen. To these practitioners, he taught the wisdom of awareness and the purification of obscurations. This is like the moon that increases by stages until it is fully illuminated. Therefore, this is known as a gradual path to realization.

Lord Shenrap gave instructions for these disciples to remain in solitude and practice in an undistracted and hidden way, like a wounded deer. In this way, the Enlightened Lord and his disciples remained in solitude on the Nine-leveled Yungdrung Mountain for many years.

Raven Cypress Wood©

Developing Knowledge

White emanation of Mawé Senge, Lion of Exposition.

Each year in the weeks after the Tibetan New year, students at Menri Monastery in India, enter into an extended retreat for the wisdom deity Mawé Senge, Lion of Exposition. The retreat begins on the 24th lunar day of the month and concludes on the 30th lunar day. This year that coincides with the Western dates March 10 through March 17, 2018. The intention of this retreat is to develop and sharpen the student’s intellect related to their upcoming studies. The practice of Mawé Senge is performed intensely each day, and the mantra of the deity recited as much as possible, but at least one hundred thousand times.

“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

The Sharp Point of Wisdom

Monks debating at Nangzhig Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

Homage to the Spiritual Father!

HE Menri Ponlop Rinpoche offers the mandala to HH 34th Menri Trizin during his enthronement ceremony at Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. Photo credit: Unknown

Celebration of the Second Buddha: Nyamme Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoche

The 5th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan calendar is the celebration of the birth and cremation of Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen.  In the Western calendar year of 2018, that date falls on February 20th.  Within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen is often referred to as the Second Buddha.  He was responsible for uniting the three transmissions of sutra, tantra and dzogchen as well as founding one of the largest Yungdrung Bön monasteries in Tibet, Tashi Menri Ling.

“King of great bliss, embodiment of Küntu Zhangpo 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.”

See previous post for more information about Naymme Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoche:

Happy Tibetan New Year

Traditional Tibetan Chemar for an Auspicious and Prosperous Year.

The Twelve Animals of Tibetan Astrology: The Dog

Tibetan astrological chart and symbols

In Tibetan astrology, there is a twelve-year cycle.  Each of these years is characterized by a different animal and associated with one of the five elements.  Therefore, a full cycle of the twelve animals being associated with each of the five elements is sixty years.  The twelve animals according to the Yungdrung Bön texts are the Rat, Elephant, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Horse, Snake, Sheep, Garuda, Monkey, Dog and Pig.  Each animal is associated with a specific element for its life-force as well as a specific direction which is determined by the life-force element.  Not only are these twelve animals associated with a particular year, they are also associated with particular months, days and hours.

Feb 16, 2018 begins the Tibetan New Year, or Losar, and the year of the Earth Dog.  People born during a Dog year will have an emphasis of the specific qualities associated with the symbol of the Dog.  (These years correspond with the Tibetan lunar calendar and begin sometime between late January and early April.)   In astrology, the element which governs the life-force of the Dog is Earth and its positive direction is Northwest.  So, if a Dog person wanted to strengthen their life-force, they would focus upon strengthening the element of Earth internally and externally.  Because the positive direction is Northwest, facing this direction while meditating, engaging in healing practices or just relaxing and taking deep breaths is beneficial.

In general as an astrological symbol, the Dog person is loyal, straightforward, and honest. Because of their desire to offer their help and support, they are diligent and responsible with tasks. The Dog person takes great care in all that they do and is methodical and precise. Because of this, they do not like to be rushed in completing tasks or making decisions. Others can become frustrated at the Dog person’s seeming inertia when actually they are diligently analyzing the situation in order to be certain in making the correct decision. This tendency towards analysis and judgement can be in excess and lead the Dog person to overly analyze situations and consequently fall into despair or pessimism. For this reason, the Dog person can be seen as quite serious. However, they do not take their loved ones for granted and their relationships are long-lasting.

The Dog’s soul day is Monday and its life-force day is Wednesday.  These are the best days for beginning new projects and activities that are meant to increase or develop something.  The obstacle day is Thursday.  This day is best for purification and letting things go.  It is not a favorable day for beginning new activities.

Dog years include: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018

Raven Cypress Wood© All Rights Reserved

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