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Celebration of the Second Buddha: Nyamme Sherap Gyaltsen

The 5th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan lunar calendar is the celebration of the birth and cremation of Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen.  In 2019, this date in the Western calendar is February 9th. Within the Yungdrung Bön tradition, Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen is often referred to as the Second Buddha.  He was a reincarnation of Yikyi Khye’u Chung, one of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche’s sons. Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen 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.

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.

Lama Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen 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.

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Gathering of Power

His Eminence Menri Lopon Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche leads the community during a tantric ritual at the Yungdrung Bon monastery of Menri in India

 

Spiritual Leaders of Our Time

HH 33rd Menri Trizen and HH 17th Gyalwang Karmapa at Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India 2013

The Field of Accumulation: Abbots of Menri Monastery

Tsok zhing according to Menri

The Yungdrung Bon Merit Field of the Menri Tradition

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the place where the deities and objects of veneration are gathered is called the “Tsok Zhing”, the “Field of Accumulation”.  It is also sometimes translated as the “Field of Merit” or the “Merit Field” because what is being accumulated by paying homage and making offerings to this place is merit, or virtue.  The Merit Field consists of the images of the enlightened deities and protectors which represent Enlightened Body, chortens which represent Enlightened Mind, and scriptures and the sound of mantra which represent Enlightened Speech.  The lower section of the Merit Field also contains unenlightened but powerful and worldly protectors that are oath bound to protect the Yungdrung Bön.  There are many different depictions of the Merit Field according to different lineages.  However, the most well-known image is the Merit Field according to the tradition of Menri Monastery.   The Merit Field is depicted in a very specific way and this is the proper guide for a practitioner’s visualization. 

Merit Field Outline Guide 1-34

Because this Merit Field is based upon the Menri tradition, the central figures are primarily associated with the Menri Monastery.

1. The glorious teacher who has blessings and who has the nature of all of the collective Victorious Ones, the all-good essence of the kind root lama, Shenlha Ökar.  He has the 25 mudra of the Perfected Enjoyment Body.  He wears the  13 peaceful ornaments and has the 9 ways of purity.  He has the 32 major marks and the 80 minor marks.  He has the 40 items of nobility and he radiates forth a million rays of light.

2-34 are the abbots of Menri Monastery.  Beside each of the names is the year in which they became abbot of Menri Monastery.

2. The one who united the three transmissions, the Second Buddha, Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen.  He has the appearance of a fully ordained monk.  He held the knowledge of the doors of Bön without any exceptions.  He was the abbot of the prestigious Yeru Wensaka Monastery in Tsang, Tibet.  It was destroyed by a flood and mudslide in 1386.  In 1405, he established Tashi Menri Monastery according to the Bön Dru lineage with artifacts that he had recovered from the ruins of Yeru Wensaka.  At its height, Tashi Menri Monastery could house over 300 monks and had four colleges.  It was completely destroyed during the Chinese invasion in 1966.

3. The regent of the Guide who was the Second Buddha, Rinchen GyaltsenHe became abbot in 1415.

4. The great abbot, Namkha Yeshé, 1446

5. Künzang Gyalten, 1464

6. Tenzin Rinchen Gyaltsen, 1485

7. Tsultrim Gyaltsen, 1511

8. Sonam Yeshé, 1532

9. Sonam Yundrung, 1575

10. Shétsu Drungmu, 1610

11. Shérab Özer, 1647

12. Yungdrung Gyaltsen, 1662

13. Shérab Lodro, 1677

14. Shérab Özer, 1686

15. Tsukpü Özer, 1697

16. Yungdrung Tsultrim, 1706

17. Rinchen Özer, 1722

18. Rinchen Lhundrup, 1735

19. Sherap Tenzin, 1760

20. Shérap Wangyal, 1776

21. Yungdrung Wangyal, 1789

22. Püntsok Namgyal, 1805

23. Sonam Lodro, also known as Sherap Gong Gyal, 1810

24. Nangton Dawa Gyaltsen, also known as Sonam Gyaltsen.  In 1834, he founded the renowned Yungdrung Ling Monastery.

25. Nyima Tenzin, 1836.  He was also one of the main teachers of Yungdrung Ling Monastery.

26. Sonam Püntsok,

27. Shérap Yungdrung

28. Sangye Tenzin

29. Tenzin Tsultrim

30. Püntsok Lodro

31. Gyalwa Lodro

32. Tenpa Lodro

33. Nyima Wangyal

34. Sherap Lodro.  He is the first abbot of Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. 1968.  Upon ordination as the 33rd throne-holder of Menri Monastery, he was given the name Lungtok Tenpé Nyima.

The 33rd Holder of the Golden Throne of Menri Monastery, His Holiness Lungtok Tenpe Nyima Rinpoche

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Birthday of the Head of the Yungdrung Bon

(Photo credit: Unknown)

July 12th is the celebrated birthday of His Holiness the 33rd Throne holder of Menri Monastery and Leader of all Yungdrung Bon, Lungtok Tenpe Nyima Rinpoche.  He was born in Amdo, Tibet in 1929.  At the age of 25, he received his Geshe degree.  The next year, he underwent the arduous task of traveling and collecting Yungdrung Bon scriptures in order to print copies and therefore preserve the ancient knowledge.  After that, he studied at the renowned Tibetan monasteries of Menri and Yungdrung Ling.  In 1959, he fled Tibet for Nepal.  Arriving at the ancient Bon monastery of Samling, he collected many of their rare texts and woodblocks in order to again print texts for the preservation of knowledge.  Eventually traveling to New Delhi, he worked with E. Gene Smith for the copying, printing and preserving of numerous Bon texts.  In 1962, he traveled to the University of London after having received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. During his time in London, a permanent camp for Bon refugees was established in Dolanji, India on land chosen by Yongdzin Tendzin Namdak Rinpoche.

In the mid 1960’s, he was living in Norway and working with the Tibetan scholar Per Kvaerne and teaching Tibetan history and religion at the University of Oslo.  It was while he was in Norway, that he learned that he had been chosen to become the 33rd Menri Trizen, or throne holder, of all Yungdrung Bon.  In 1969, he assumed his duties as Menri Trizen and began his tireless effort to rebuild the destroyed Menri Monastery of Tibet at the location in Dolanji. 

Currently, Menri Monastery has many temples, a library, a medical center, dormitories, and a nunnery.  In addition to the monks and nuns in residence, there are over 350 children living at the Bon Children’s Center who gives them an education as well as providing for all of their needs.  In all of these activities, His Holiness Lungtok Tenpe Nyima Rinpoche has worked with great effort and kindness in order to protect and strengthen the culture, knowledge and spiritual activities of the ancient tradition of the Yungdrung Bon.

The Next Generation

Young nuns at Rayna Menling Nunnery in Dolanji, India

Young nuns at Rayna Menling Nunnery in Dolanji, India

Monastery Shrine for the New Year

Losar Altar at Menri 2013

Shrine for the Tibetan New Year, or Losar, and other celebrations at the Yungdrung Bon Monastery of Menri in Dolanji, India

The Precious Lama Returns

HE Menri Lopon Rinpoche returns to Menri 2

HE Menri Lopon Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche returns to Menri Monastery after traveling the world to give teachings

His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Menri Monastery

Dalai Lama on throne at Menri

His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the throne at Menri Monastery, the spiritual seat of the Yungdrung Bön.  Here, he wears a Bön lama’s hat and holds the chakshing which is a symbol of the Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché.

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