The 13th day of the 4th month on the Tibetan lunar calendar is the anniversary of the rainbow body of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen. Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen was a Yungdrung Bön monk, teacher, scholar and realized practitioner of the modern age. In 1934, he attained the rainbow body, Tibetan jalu, which is a sign of high realization in the practice of Dzogchen. Essentially, the practitioner has purified their karma and realized the ultimate state of mind such that at the moment of death, the five elements which construct the physical body dissolve into pure light rather than degrading. In this way, over the course of a few days, the physical body proportionally shrinks and, in some cases, completely disappears leaving only the hair and nails.
Throughout his life, Shardza Tashi Gyalstsen was known for stringent adherence to the many hundreds of vows that he had taken throughout his life. Additionally, he taught a multitude of disciples, organized the reconstruction of temples, went on pilgrimages, and spent a great deal of time in isolated meditational retreats. A prolific writer, he wrote volumes on the subjects of Bön history, instructions and guidance for the practice of Tibetan yoga, and detailed instructions for the advanced practice of inner heat, known as Tummo, among many other subjects.
In 1934 at the age of 76 during an offering ceremony, he began to spontaneously sing songs of realization. A few days later, he sewed himself inside of a tent and forbid any of his disciples to open the tent. The next day, rainbow lights began appearing above and around the tent. After 3 days, the ground shook. By the 4th day, rainbow-colored mist was seen coming through the seams of the tent. On that 4th day, Shardza’s disciple Tsultrim Wangchuk, afraid that his lama’s body would completely disappear and leave nothing for veneration, opened the tent. He found Shardza’s body enveloped in rainbow light, levitating in midair, and shrunken to the proportional size of a 1 year old. The area around the heart was still warm but most of the nails of the hands and feet had fallen onto Shardza’s seat below. For the next 49 days, disciples paid their respect. After that, the precious remains were placed into a reliquary chorten. From time to time, many people have reported seeing clear or rainbow-colored light emanating from this chorten
Over 18, 000 years ago, in the ancient realm of Olmo Lungrik, the founder of the Yungdrung Bön spiritual tradition was born. The enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche was born into the human realm as a prince. He later adopted the life as a monastic in order to display the path of renunciation to his followers. However, prior to this, he was married and had sons and daughters. The direct descendants of this Shen lineage have continued until this very day. Currently, there are two sons who are direct descendants of Lord Tönpa Shenrap.
In November of 2014, His Holiness, the supreme 33rd Menri Trizen Lungtok Tenpé Nyima offered prayers to both descendants.
Prayer of Stability for the Shen Heir, the Supreme Tsukpu Namdrol Gyaltsen
Highest praise for the best of crown ornaments,
Storehouse of the ocean of sutra, tantra and unsurpassed division of teachings,
From the proper understanding of the profound meaning of the innermost essence,
May the victory banner of liberation and realization be established!
Prayer for the Shen Heir, the Supreme Murik Shen Yungdrung Rangdrol Nyima
Essence of the king of doctrines, the supreme Yungdrung Bön,
Distilled essence of the teachings of renunciation, transformation and liberation,
Having raised a stronghold through the dynamic energy of self-liberated awareness,
May the sun disc of realization and liberation eternally appear!
Composed by 33rd Menri Trizen Luntok Tenpé Namdak Rinpoche on the Western date of 11/26/2014
Translated by Raven Cypress Wood
The original article first appeared on the Tibetan language website Himalayan Bön and can be viewed here: http://www.himalayabon.com/article/poem/2015-01-02/518.html
Within the Nine Ways of Bön, the Sixth Way is the Way of the Fully Ordained. Or, literally translated, the Way of the Straight and Righteous. This involves accepting the renunciation vows of a monk or nun and living accordingly. A novice receives 25 vows that form the basis of taking the further vows of the fully ordained. For monks, there are 250 vows for full ordination. For nuns, there are 360 vows. According to the words of the enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap:
“In front of the abbot, the teacher and the witness, accept the vows with joy, faith and devotion. Abandon the karmic tendencies of the three poisons.”
During Lord Tönpa Shenrap’s time in the human realm, he demonstrated the path of monastic discipline by becoming a monk. At that time, he was known as Tritsuk Gyalwa.
“Don’t hate enemies or turn and go the other way. Don’t be attached to friends and relatives. Don’t cherish wordliness. Body and mind should be single-pointed and at ease. In your outer conduct, don’t act in an agitated manner. In your inner ethics, don’t wander in to laziness.”
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Sipa Sangpo Bumtri, Deity of Phenomenal Existence, is one of the Four Transcendent Lords of the Yungdrung Bön. The other three are The Great Deity Shenlha Ökar, The Great Mother of Space Satrik Ersang and Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche. These Four Deities are traditionally displayed together in every Yungdrung Bön temple and are often surrounded by the 1,000 Enlightened Beings.
On September 1, 2014 in Amdo, Tibet, an official consecration ceremony was held for the newly erected statue of the Lord of the teachings, the Great Lama Drenpa Namkha. The sacred image was erected at the Yungdrung Bön monastery of Gamal Gomchen which is the largest in the area. The consecration was performed by the great abbot Sherap Yungdrung Wangyal Rinpoche, Ponlop Menri Geshe Sherap Tharchin, the supreme tulku of Dangri Do Ngak Shedrup Gyaltsen and many other lamas and monks from the five main monasteries and the thirteen branch monasteries. Additionally, there were many well known and respected Yungdrung Bön practitioners present.
The sacred statue was erected by the supreme tulku of Dangri, Do Ngak Shedrup Gyaltsen, for universal benefit and especially for the benefit of the Amdo region. This is the first time that such a statue of the Great Lama Drenpa Namkha has been erected in this area of Tibet.
The sacred image was empowered with countless sacred and blessed objects from knowledge holders and superior beings of the past from both Zhang Zhung and Tibet. In particular, these countless sacred objects included a collection of objects of support for enlightened Body, Speech, and Mind from the great masters of this area of Amdo.
The original article appeared on the Tibetan language website Himalayan Bon. You can read the full article and see more photos by following the link:http://www.himalayabon.com/news/2014-09-05/451.html#jtss-fb
This mountain hermitage was founded by the great master Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen in 1890 at the age of 33. It is located in the Kham region of Tibet on the Northeast bank of the Dzachu river and is inaccessible by vehicle. The place where Shardza lived and meditated is located further up the mountain and referred to as the ‘upper hermitage’, or Dechen Ritro, the mountain hermitage of great bliss. Below, is the ‘lower hermitage’ consisting of the temple where he taught his disciples as well as a small printing house.
(The temple at Shardza Hermitage)
During Shardza’s lifetime, the hermitage only housed a few of his disciples. Now, however, it is a famous pilgrimage place for both Bönpo and for Buddhist. It is also a place for personal retreat, especially long-term. Because it is a hermitage rather than a monastery, retreatants provide for their own food and necessities although laypeople do offer some donations of meat and roasted barley flour, or tsampa, a traditional Tibetan food.
In 1934 at the age of 76, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen attained the rainbow body as a sign of his great realization. Rainbow light was seen coming from the tent where he had retreated, and upon entering the space, his disciples discovered that his body had shrunk to the proportional size of a 1 year old and that it was levitating above his meditation seat. His remains were placed in a reliquary chorten which has been seen to emit rays of clear or rainbow colored light.
The current successor of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen at the hermitage is Gyaltsab Thutop Namgyal.