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The Precious Spiritual Guide

His Eminence Menri Lopon Yangton Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche participating in a Yungdrung Bon offering ritual. Photo credit: Unknown

“The holy lama is the source of everything.  With body, speech and mind one should respectfully cultivate faith and zeal.” Founder of the Yungdrung Bön spiritual tradition, the Enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché

 

Sacred Scripture

This old, illustrated scripture begins with the phrase, “In the language of the sacred Yungdrung…”

The Illustrated Scripture

Illustration of the Supreme Deity Sangpo Bumtri from an old Yungdrung Bon text

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.

Consecrating a Sacred image

statue with group photo of lamas

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 supreme tulku of Dangri Do Ngak Shedrup Gyaltsen

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.

Official Consecration Ceremony for the Sacred Image of Lachen Drenpa Namkha

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.

Countless blessed and sacred items to be placed inside the sacred image

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

 

Liberation Through Touch

Tibetan ga'u

A Tibetan style locket called a ‘ga’u’. Photo credit: Transhimalayan Heritage Arts

Because of the Enlightened Teacher Tonpa Sherap’s immeasurable compassion, there are teachings and methods of help available according to each individual’s ability and capacity.  Included are methods of liberation using each of the five senses such as the well known “Liberation through Hearing” texts.  Similarly, there are sacred things that are meant to be held or worn close to the body and liberate through touch.  Often, mantras and texts such as these are carried on the body within a special container.

Sounds of Space

Tibetan ltrs assoc with space element     Each of the letters of the Tibetan alphabet are associated with one of the five elements according to their inherent sound.  The letters associated with the space element are AH, KA, KHA, GA NGA, and HA.

The Fifth Way: Committing to the Path of Virtue of Lay Practitioners

Central Figure of the Tibetan Thangkha Painting for The Fifth Way

Within the Nine Ways of Bön, the Fifth Way is called The Way of the Virtuous Lay Practitioners and specifies the proper conduct and commitments of a lay person taking vows. This Fifth Way is the first of the Nine Ways classified as ‘Ways of the Result’ or ‘Bön of the Fruit.’ In the Tibetan language, a lay practitioner is called ‘ge nyen’ [Tib. dge bsnyen] which literally translates as ‘one who serves virtue’ or ‘one who draws near to virtue.’ When asked the meaning of these concepts, the enlightened all-knowing teacher, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwo answered,

“Virtuous means without negative actions. This is one who is committed to serve virtue through their body, speech and mind. Service means serving without holding contradictory views and properly remaining steadfast in service to virtue.”

In general, the lay practitioner commits to practicing the ten virtuous actions and renounces the ten non-virtuous actions of body, speech and mind.  Buddha Tönpa Shenrap defines this kind of renunciation as 1) not performing the actions, 2) not requesting or encouraging others to perform them and 3) not feeling pleased that others have performed the negative actions. Similarly, one commits to 1) acting according to the ten virtuous actions, 2) encouraging others to participate in these activities and 3) feeling joy that others have performed virtuous actions. This is the inner practice.

The Three Virtuous Actions of the Body:

  1. Rather than killing, protecting the life of other beings.
  2. Rather than stealing, practicing generosity.
  3. Rather than engaging in sexual misconduct or causing others to break their vows, keeping one’s own vows and respecting the vows of others.

The Four Virtuous Actions of Speech:

  1. Rather than lying, speaking the truth.
  2. Rather than creating discord, speaking in a way that brings people together.
  3. Rather than using hurtful speech, speaking gently and kindly.
  4. Rather than gossiping or mindlessly talking, speaking in a useful way or reciting prayers.

The Three Virtuous Actions of the Mind:

  1. Rather than coveting the possessions and accomplishments of others, being generous and open.
  2. Rather than wishing harm to others or feeling resentful, cultivating the desire to help others.
  3. Rather than holding wrong views, practicing the teachings of Yungdrung Bön and establishing a true and authentic view.

When asked to teach the outward form of the lay practitioner, The All-knowing Teacher, Tönpa Shenrap first instructed the gathered assembly to erect the first Elegant Chorten of the Yungdrung Bön according to his detailed instructions. Once completed, he consecrated the chorten [Sanskrit: stupa] and then began teaching the outer forms and behavior of a gen nyen or lay practitioner.

Elegant Yungdrung Bon Chorten edit

The Elegant Chorten of the Yungdrung Bön

The practitioner must go before a pure lama who guides disciples and take the appropriate vows. According to the written commentary of the 23rd abbot of Menri Monastery, HH Nyima Tenzin,

“As for the vows of a gen nyen: There are five kinds of lifetime vows.  To abandon killing, to abandon taking what is not given, to abandon impure, wrong kinds of sexual conduct, and to abandon false speech are four.  Abandoning one of the four kinds of food is the fifth.  Some people have taught abandoning alcohol as a branch vow.

This is the gen nyen of completely renouncing according to the five kinds of established laws.  Because of that, the gen nyen of pure behavior has renounced the basic kinds of impure activity.”

As for killing, one must abandon killing in anger especially another human being. One must abandon stealing, especially when it is driven by desire. One must avoid sexual contact that is damaging or abusive, and one must avoid harmful speech especially if it creates a division within the spiritual community and avoid lying especially about one’s spiritual experiences and attainments. As for the fifth which is a branch vow, one renounces either one of the four kinds of food. In this context, the four kinds of food are 1) meat, 2) garlic, 3) solid food after the mid-day meal, and 4) intoxicants such as drugs and alcohol. Regarding drugs and alcohol, the deeper meaning is the renunciation of intoxication which is an obstacle to mindfulness.

According to Buddha Tönpa Shenrap in The Fifth Way,

“As for the lifelong inner rules, one must abandon killing due to the influence of anger, abandon taking what is not given due to the influence of desire or attachment, abandon acting secretly to get what one wants without consideration of cause and effect due to the influence of ignorance, abandon performing dirty work due to the influence of pride, and abandon rough and abusive speech, meaningless talk, and telling lies. One must apply one’s self to their opposites.”

The Buddha goes on to describe the outer practices.

“As for the five intermediate principles, one should perform pure cleansing rites, perform prostrations and circumambulations with devotion and aspiration, create and place tsa tsa, and offer torma. Presenting offerings is a branch of gathering the [two] accumulations.”

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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Learning Zhang Zhung: Mutsuk Marro!

The phrase “Mutsuk Marro!” is from the Zhang Zhung language and means ‘Auspiciousness and good health’.  Here, it is written using the Tibetan script.  In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, this phrase often occurs at the conclusion of a text as an aspirational ending.

Shardza Hermitage

Shardza Ritro

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.

Shardza Ritro gompa

(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.

Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen statue with blue background(Statue of the famous yogi, scholar, and lama, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen)

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 place of Shardza's rainbow body(The actual holy place at Shardza Hermitage where Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen attained the rainbow body of light.)

Gyaltsab Thutop Namgyal

The current successor of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen at the hermitage is Gyaltsab Thutop Namgyal.

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