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Book: Nangshig – A Tibetan Bönpo Monastery and its Family in Amdo


Nangshig: A Tibetan Bönpo Monastery and its Family in Amdo is a 146 page study of the largest Yungdrung Bön monastery in Tibet as well as the family and reincarnation lineages associated with it. The chapters are short, concise and dense with information. It is written by Tsering Thar from information gathered during his fieldwork in Amdo that he performed on behalf of the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan.

In the eleventh century, Do Phak Yönten Gyaltsen, a.k.a. Do Phak Chenpo, established a hermitage in Eastern Tibet in a region now known as Amdo. In 1168, this hermitage was expanded by his oldest son, Nyima Dzin, into Nangzhig Monastery. For over two centuries, Bön was the only religion in the area and the entire population were followers of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition.

This book touches on the subject of Nangzhig’s history as both a religious temple and a center for education, the associated reincarnation and family lineages, the ritual services that are regularly performed, and the hierarchy and succession systems of the monastery. Although not an exhaustive study, it is broad enough in its scope to provide a solid overview of one of the most important Yungdrung Bön monasteries that continues to thrive to the present day.

“Nangzhig monastery is the largest monastic university of the Bön religion in the Tibetan cultural area. monastic education was by far the prevalent educational system in Tibet, and this system produced the great masters and scholars in Tibetan history. Even today, it continues to play a very important role in Tibetan education, especially in maintaining traditional culture. Monastic education in the Bön religion is an important and influential part of Tibetan monastic education. Its lineal succession system and method of teaching also influenced Tibetan Buddhism.”

— Extract from Nangshig: A Tibetan Bönpo Monastery and its Family in Amdo

Published and distributed by Vajra Books.

For more about Nangzhig Monastery, see previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2019/05/18/nangzhig-largest-yungdrung-bon-monastery-in-tibet/

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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Anniversary of the Birth of H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoché

H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoché. Photo credit: Unknown

H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoché was born in Tibet on the 15th day of the 5th lunar month in the Western year 1929 in the village of Kyongtsang in the far eastern province of Amdo. In 2020, this date corresponds with July 5th on the Western calendar.

When he was eight years old, his father took him to the nearby monastery of Phuntsok Dargyé Ling where he learned to read, write and chant. He completed his Geshé Degree at 25 under the guidance of Lopön Tenzin Lodro Gyatso Rinpoché. The following year he traveled South to the Bön province of Gyalrong, where he printed copies of the Bön Kanjur from traditional woodblocks. After gathering a vast amount of material and using mules to carry more than 100 volumes of the sacred texts, he made an arduous six-month journey back to his monastery.

In 1969, after extensive preparatory initiations, he assumed his duties as the 33rd Abbot of Menri Monastery and began leading the effort to re-establish Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. After many years of indescribable and tireless efforts on behalf of the Yungdrung Bön tradition as well as the worldwide Bön community and all sentient beings, he displayed the truth of impermanence and passed into nirvana on the 27th day of the 7th lunar month in the Western year 2017.

The anniversary of his birth is a powerful day to engage in virtuous practice, recite prayers and mantra, and especially renew spiritual vows. In honor of the  extraordinary life and enlightened activity of His Holiness the 33rd holder of the golden throne of Tashi Menri Monastery Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rinpoché, this Words of Truth Aspiration Prayer has been translated and is being made publicly available to the worldwide Yungdrung Bön community for their personal use. Follow this link to the Publications page and scroll down for the download link: https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

 

Words of Truth Aspiration Prayer

“Through these unerring and interdependent words of truth,

may the banner of the teachings of sutra and mantra of the lords of the Land of Snow, the Menri Conquerors, be elevated, and may they remain for a very long time, until the end of existence!

The embodiment of all of the conquerors of our time is Nyammé Sherap Gyal

who was endowed with the three-fold trainings and the happiness of holding the yellow robe.

May the auspiciousness of your profound and wondrous enlightened activity increase in every direction like the waxing moon!

May the extraordinary sunlight of the Victor’s teachings radiate throughout hundreds of directions!

May the victory banner of Bön be properly established, and may the teachings blaze for a very long time!

Mother Sipé Gyalmo, Protector Midü and brother and sister protectors who act to accomplish whatever kind of enlightened activity to uphold the white hat tradition,

may you raise the banner of the teachings! Oh listen!

Thus, this secret mantra Words of Truth Aspiration Prayer was composed by the distinguished Yungdrung Gyaltsen.

Virtue!”

— Composed by H.H. 11th Menri Trizin Yungdrung Gyaltsen Rinpoché

All translations 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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Aspiration Prayer for the Continuation of the Yungdrung Bön Teachings: Publicly Offered Translation

Lighting a candle offering at Menri Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

The practice of making aspirational prayers is one of the ten perfections. The Tibetan word for this is mönlam, wylie: smon lam. This is a compound of the two words “mön” meaning aspiration or wish, and “lam” meaning path. The mönlam is a kind of spiritual mission statement that invokes the truth of the words of the buddhas and the truth of the ultimate nature of reality. These aspirations can spontaneously manifest as we purify our obscurations and develop our wisdom and positive qualities.

The Aspiration Prayer for the Continuation of the Teachings, also known as the Tengyé Mönlam, is a well-known and commonly practiced aspiration prayer within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. It is especially sung at the conclusion of special events and gatherings at Tashi Menri Monastery in India, the mother monastery of the Yungdrung Bön community.

“May the lotus feet of the incomparable lamas who hold, sustain and increase the tradition remain steadfast!

May the completely upright community flourish, and may great, resounding acclaim for them fill the land!

Depending upon these aspirations and although having eliminated all illness, hunger and violence for all migrating beings who are as vast as the sky,

and a hundred thousand auspicious suns of benefit and happiness having arisen,

ultimately may everyone have the auspiciousness of attaining complete buddhahood!”

— Extract from Aspiration Prayer for the Continuation of the Teachings

The English language translation of the prayer can be downloaded from this page: https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

To hear this prayer sung by His Eminence Menri Pönlop Yangtön Thrinley Nyima Rinpoché, click on the link below. He begins the prayer at approximately 13:10.

https://cybersangha.net/prayer-for-pandemic/

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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Transforming Body and Mind with the Wise Loving Mother

Sherap Jamma, the Wise Loving Mother, is a Buddha who manifests as a loving mother who cares for each and every sentient being as though they were her only child. The Heartdrop of Jamma is an aural transmission given by Khandro Sherap Lopelma, an emanation of Jamma, to His Holiness 22nd Menri Trizin Sonam Lodro Rinpoché. Lama Tsultrim Nyima, the abbot of the 1st Yungdrung Bön temple in exile in Dhorpatan, Nepal, advised the Bönpo refugees to recite The Heartdrop of Jamma together as a family every evening after dinner. This evening recitation continues to this very day among many Bönpo families.

This text is the heart essence of Buddha Sherap Jamma’s qualities of perfected wisdom and complete realization. In this practice, every aspect of the mind, consciousness and physical body are transformed into a manifestation of Buddha Sherap Jamma through the power of the syllables of her essence mantra. In this way, our wisdom, realization and positive qualities increase and our attachment to a rigid, self-focused identity decreases.

Links to purchase the complete English and Spanish language translations of The Heartdrop of Jamma are available on this page: https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

“From the É MA at the twenty fingers and toes manifests the outer retinue.

I prostrate to the thirty-two Mothers!

From the sixteen letters HO at the soles of the feet,

the palms of the hands,

the two forearms,

the two shins,

the two thighs,

the upper arms,

and inside the four organs manifests the four outer, four inner, four secret, and the four innermost secret doorkeepers.

I prostrate to the manifestations who open the doors to realization, methods of practice, abiding, and to the path!”

— Extract from The Heartdrop of Jamma

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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The Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi Ritual: Restoring Environmental Peace & Harmony

Mandala palace for the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi ritual.

At Triten Norbutse Monastery each year during fourth lunar month from the 12th – 16th lunar days the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi ritual is performed. In 2020, these dates coincide with June 3rd-6th. This ritual is performed in both monasteries and households throughout Tibet and His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoché has established this ritual as part of the yearly religious calendar at Triten Norbutsé Monastery. It is more commonly referred to by its shortened name “Nye Lam Dé Zhi” and monks often refer to it simply as “the Summer ritual.” The literal English translation of “Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi” could be rendered as “the four kinds of shortcut to the sadak.” The term “sadak” means rulers of the earth and the ritual primarily addresses four specific groups of sadak within this broad category: 1) the lu [Sanskrit: naga] who are associated with bodies of water, 2: a subgroup of sadak that are associated with the earth and soil 3) nyen who are associated with open fields and the sky, and 4) tö who are associated with boulders and cliffs especially red boulders and rocks. The purpose of the ritual is to appease, restore and cleanse all the worldly spirits due to disturbances caused by humanity. Thereby, it restores harmony between us and heals the natural environment and its elements of earth, water, fire, and wind. The Nye Lam Dé Zhi text that is used for the ritual was discovered as a terma, or hidden treasure, by Pönsé Khyunggö Tsal in the 12th or 13th century at Mt. Tisé [a.k.a Mt. Kailash.]

The Nye Lam Dé Zhi ritual includes prayers of apology to the four groups of worldly spirits for disturbing them by cutting trees, interfering with the natural course of waterways, digging into the earth, destroying or moving rocks, and generally causing the destruction of the natural environment. Our manipulation and control of these natural systems causes imbalances and disharmony between the elements and becomes a source of disruption, illness and upset for these worldly spirits. Therefore, we are subjected to epidemics, droughts, failing crops, increasing violence and military conflicts, as well as natural disasters from the elements such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and landslides.

Namkha and offerings for the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi. Photo credit: Unknown

Through their acceptance of our offerings and our heartfelt words of apology during the Nye Lam Dé Zhi ritual, we request that they stop causing or supporting the occurrence of epidemics, natural disasters, droughts, military conflicts, accidents, and misfortune etc. This ritual action combined with meditative focus has the power to pacify the vengeful and aggrieved minds of these spirits and therefore avert any further harm or injury caused by them. Additionally, these spirits will act to support and increase our prosperity, protect and increase crops and domestic animals, protect us from danger and accidents, and generally act on our behalf.

In general, it takes many monks for four full days to complete the preparations for the size of the ritual performed at the monastery. The construction of the dö, which represents the entire universe, begins with the creation of a sand mandala which is an architectural representation of the immeasurable palace within which the enlightened deities and worldly deities will be ritually invited to reside and stay during the ritual presentation of the offerings.

Yungdrung Bön monks creating the sadak nyelam sand mandala at Gyalshen Institute. Photo credit: Unknown.

In the center of the mandala upon four petals are the four seed syllables of the four principal enlightened lords of the Yungdrung Bön tradition: 1) Satrik Érsang, 2) Tönpa Shenrap, 3) Sangpo Bumtri, and 4) Shenlha Ökar. (For more information, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/08/20/the-four-principal-enlightened-ones/ ) Just beyond that is the four seed syllables of the four principal ones that subdue the four kinds of worldly spirits and the seed syllables for the four subduing garudas. Beyond that in the outer corners of the mandala are the seed syllables for the four kinds of worldly spirits which are the primary focus of the offerings and recitations. Beyond that are the four gateways in each of the four directions which are the entrances into the mandala palace. This palace is then filled with thread-crosses and torma that act as a support for the presence of the deities and worldly guests. It is then ornamented with greenery, grains, and other precious substances. Surrounding it are the various offerings that will be presented.

The actual ritual begins with the usual preliminaries which purify and consecrate all of the offerings, ritual implements and participants. Then, a brief ritual is performed in order to ask the earth goddess, Sayi Lhamo, for her permission and blessing to perform the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi. Then, a ritual boundary is established that will remain until the conclusion of the ritual. These preliminaries are only necessary at the beginning and will not be performed again in the following days. After the preliminaries, the enlightened deities are invited to take their seats within the mandala palace, their respective mantras are recited and offerings are presented to them. Similarly, the subduers and the worldly spirits are invited. This too only needs to be performed once. Now that the presence of the deities is within the mandala palace, no one is allowed to come near the ritual dö unless it is to present offerings or pay homage. Much of the rest of the ritual recitations such as praising the qualities of the deities and the respective prayers for presenting each type of offering are repeated throughout the course of each of the days of the ritual. In conclusion, the four groups of spirits having become completely satisfied and happy with the ritual are asked to return to their respective homes. Then, prayers of aspiration for health, happiness, prosperity and good fortune are recited with the final prayer being that of dedicating the merit of the virtuous ritual activity for the benefit of all suffering beings. During this multi-day ritual performance, the specific texts associated with the lu, sadak, nyen and tö [Lu Bum, Sadak Bum, Nyen Bum, and Tö Bum] are continually recited by groups of monks in ancillary rooms.

In addition to the elaborate ritual of the Sadak Nye Lam Dé Zhi, there is much guidance and skillful methods for our interactions with the worldly spirits within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. Following these instructions prevents us from disturbing the spirits within the environment or creating an imbalance of the natural elements while still providing for ourselves from the earth’s resources. For example, before beginning the construction of a building, it is important to examine the characteristics of the land in order to locate the appropriate place to dig into the earth. Traditionally, areas of land are seen in the form of a turtle. If you build upon the turtle’s ‘head’, then the spirit of the land will die and the soil will become barren and empty. The best is to build within the area of the turtle’s ‘stomach’ because there is more empty space in this area and no ‘major organs’ will be disturbed. Once the appropriate location has been determined, it is then important to communicate with the spirits residing at that location and to assure them that you mean no harm to them and that you apologize in advance for any disturbance created by the construction. In this way, we maintain a harmonious relationship with the environment and its inhabitants while also mindfully providing for our needs as human beings.

A ritual often used for groundbreaking is entitled Nang Sa Nang Gyé Düs Pa and referred to simply as Nang Sa, Permission for the Land. 

“AH OM HUNG

To the gods above, the lu below, and the nyen in-between, 

to the thirty nyenpo above, the nine kinds of yen töpo in-between and the eleven greater yen upon the earth,

to the local spirit owners of this mountainous area and to the eight classes of gods and demons of this isolated place,

accept this torma made of the essence of grain together with this golden drink.

Now, because of my melody and offering this precious torma, whatever my activities upon this land or wherever I travel in any direction upon this land, don’t become jealous or upset.”  

— Condensed extract from Permission for Using Land from the Eight Classes of Gods and Demons

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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Dispelling the Darkness

 

Butter lamp offering at Menri Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

“How wonderful!

Within these small, circular containers is placed a wick of twisted gauze.

They are filled with clarified melted butter which is a divine, concentrated essence.

By lighting these bright offering lamps, the fire of the lamps clears away darkness and obscurations, and radiates throughout the vast, clear space of the sky.

Performing these activities mainly for our kind mothers and fathers who are the sentient beings within the three realms of cyclic existence,

and with compassion for those who have passed away into the realm between this life and the next,

may all of them be liberated from cyclic existence!”

— Extract from Raising a Victory Banner of Butter Lamps

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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A Wheel of Sound

Dra Khor at the entrance to the temple of Triten Norbutsé Monastery near Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition there is a style of poetry that is considered an advanced art and is often used to praise spiritual masters or states of realization. The poetic verse is written in a kind of graph in which each syllable is written within its own geometric space often in contrasting colors that form patterns or images. These syllables then intersect with other lines of poetry or verse. The arrangement of syllables must be made in such a way that they must make sense with each intersecting syllable.

There are easier and more difficult versions of this poetic style. The easier style can be read left to right and top to bottom. The more difficult styles can be read left to right, top to bottom, diagonally, and from bottom to top. This style of poetry is called Künzang Khorlo་or the short form Kün Khor, Wheel of All Goodness. However, it is also often referred to simply as dra khor, a wheel of sound.

Examples of dra khor styles created by graduates of the Gyalrong Dialectic School. Originally published at: https://www.himalayabon.com/news/2018-04-16/1250.html

The top image of a dra khor in this article hangs in the entrance way of Triten Norbutsé Monastery located near Kathmandu, Nepal. This dra khor praises the founder of Menri Monastery and the realized master who is considered the second buddha, His Holiness Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché. The well-known “De Chen Gyalpo” prayer in his honor is featured within the yellow, diagonal squares.

“De chen gyal po kün zang gyal wa du,

mi jé zung den sherap ma wé seng,

dzam ling bön gyi tsuk gyen nyam mé pa,

shé rap gyal tsen zhap la sol wa deb.

 

King of great bliss, embodiment of Küntu Zangpo 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!”

The first line begins with the syllable “de” inside the yellow square located in the top left corner and reads diagonally downward to the center. Moving the Bön way, counter-clockwise, the second line begins with the syllable “mi” inside the yellow square in the bottom left corner and reads diagonally upward to the center. The third line begins with the syllable “dzam” inside the yellow square in the bottom right corner and reads diagonally upward to the center. The fourth and final line begins with the syllable “shé” inside the yellow square in the top right corner and reads diagonally downward to the center.

When the top line is read straight across, the first syllable “de” in the top left corner now becomes part of the word “dewar” “blissfully” and the line praises the realization of Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoché.

“You are the very essence of the three bodies of those who have blissfully gone; with unobscured, exalted knowledge, you embody the entirety of Bön.”

Examples of dra khor styles created by graduates of the Gyalrong Dialectic School. Originally published at: https://www.himalayabon.com/news/2018-04-16/1250.html

To begin a dra khor, the number of boxes needed is determined by the number of syllables in the poem. Once a design is determined and the boxes are drawn, a single syllable is drawn inside each box. Each dra khor can contain either a single poem or multiple poems or verse relating to a single subject or theme. These dra khor are often placed in the entrances of temples as they are considered to be objects of auspiciousness and blessing.

Examples of dra khor from the collected works of Mawang Kunga Rangdrol Rinpoche.

Beginning with the first establishment of a Yungdrung Bön dialectic school in exile in 1978 at Tashi Menri Ling, His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoché reformed the curriculum to include subjects originally taught in the renowned dialectic school of Yeru Wensaka and to also include subjects that were previously taught individually rather than as an organized part of the studies. In this way, he aimed to preserve traditional knowledge that was in danger of being lost. One of the subjects added to the mandatory curriculum was poetry. The current dialectic school teaches poetry according to three aspects: 1) style and meaning, 2) rhyming and meter and 3) symbolic meaning.

The complete Dra Khor inside the temple of Triten Norbutsé Monastery near Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

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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Fierce Protection: The White Umbrella Goddess of Yungdrung Bön

White Umbrella Goddess of the Five Families.

Throughout Tibet, it is common to see sacred images of a white-colored female protector, standing, with many arms and legs, wearing a skirt, and holding an umbrella. This is Duk Kar or Duk Karmo, White Umbrella Goddess. She is also called Tsuktor Barma, Blazing Crown Protuberance Goddess. She is revered in both Buddhism and Bön. The images of both religions are depicted quite similarly although they do have differences. However, the essence is the same: absolute and fierce protection from a base of compassion.

“Fear of an age of epidemics,

fear of violent epidemics,

fear of epidemics that last a day, a week, a month, or a year;

eliminate all of these as well as any other poison of unhappiness!

Destroy them with your phurba!”

— Extract from The Secret Sutra of White Tsuktor

And

“With the intense devotion and aspiration of my three doors to the Victorious Mother, Goddess of great love, Duk Kar, I Ioffer this request.

Reverse the discordant conditions for the 404 kinds of diseases, especially the 18 kinds of plagues!

Reverse all the waves of infectious diseases and epidemics!

Turn back all infectiouse diseases, violent illnesses and harm doers that damage the lifespan and the vitality!”

— Extract from The Complete Accomplishment of Aspirations Through Tsuktor Duk Kar’s Protection and Reversal of Interferences

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, she manifests is three primary forms: White Umbrella Goddess of the Five Families, White Umbrella Goddess of Longevity, and White Umbrella Goddess of Prosperity. Among these, the principal deity is White Umbrella Goddess of the Five Families. In this form, she is called Tsuktor Rikngag Duk Karmo, White Umbrella Goddess who has the Five Families as a Crown Ornament. She stands in the midst of kalpa-destroying blazing flames, upon a throne of a sun, moon, and above intertwined arrogant demons. Her body is white and she has a thousand heads each with crown protusions and the face of Satrik Érsang. She has a thousand arms each holding a weapon with which to protect sentient beings. The right hand in front of her body holds a precious umbrella and the left hand holds a sharp blade (some images depict the left hand holding a vase.) Her 500 left legs are extended and suppress dü, srin, and gyalpo. Her 500 right legs are bent and overpower the groups of dön. She has eyes on the palm of each hand and the soles of each foot. She is adorned with crystal necklaces and wears a precious silk skirt.

“Emaho! How wonderful!

The essence of space, the Bönku is Sherap Jamma.

Complete resources and qualities, the Dzok ku is Lha Shen Sipa.

The emanation, the Tülku is Tsuktor Duk Kar Lhamo.

I supplicate to the three states of these perfect buddhas!”

— Extract from Spontaneous Accomplishment of the Purpose of Supplicating the Lineage of Duk Kar

In the East, North, West, South are her manifestations associated with the Yungdrung, Jewel, Lotus, and Wheel Buddha Families. Each have the body-color associated with their respective direction, stand upon a cushion of a sun, moon and lotus in the midst of blazing flames, have five faces, six arms with the middle two arms holding a sword and a phurba, four legs standing atop various demons and evil-minded beings, and wear an ornamented skirt.

Duk Karmo text with depictions of the deity and the terton Kündrol Drakpa. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

“Extend the lifespan that has been depleted and produce good fortune where it has deteriorated!

Bring healing where the radiant complexion has faded away and increase longevity, prosperity, merit, and friends and family!

Please bestow favorable conditions for an abundance of auspiciousness, and pacify unfavorable conditions and obstacles!

Manifesting as a protector within our world, act so that bad years and epidemics do not arise!

Bring peace where there is warfare!

Bring timely rainfall, continual harvests, and auspiciousness!

Goddess, through your compassion, act on behalf of the peace, happiness, and prosperity of all sentient beings of the world!”

— Extract from The Practice of the White Umbrella Goddess, Source of the Crown Protuberance of All Those Who Have Gone Beyond Bliss

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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Protecting and Blessing the Mind with The Great Mantra

The MA TRI mantra at Gonggyal Monastery in Nya Rong, Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown

OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition the eight-syllable mantra OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU is known as the great mantra and is commonly referred to as the MA TRI mantra. It is the Essence Mantra of the Dzok ku, the enlightened state that embodies all perfected positive qualities and wisdoms. The sound and power of this essence mantra gives rise to the enlightened qualities and blessings of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché and Buddha Sherap Jamma as well as the six buddhas who offer guidance to liberation for the the six kinds of sentient beings within cyclic existence: hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, demi-gods, and gods.  Each year around the time of the Tibetan New year in Dolpo, Nepal, this mantra is recited continuously without any interruption for 15 days. It is one of the three essence mantras of the Yungdrung Bön tradition that is recited a minimum of 100,000 times as a preliminary practice in order to prepare the student’s mind for further spiritual practice. The benefits of reciting this mantra are vast and beyond the imagination.

OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU

Alas! Fortunate Ones Listen!

The long flowing river of birth is the first.

The thunderous waterway of aging is the second.

The raging whirlpool of illness is the third.

Death that has no escape is the fourth.

These four are the demon rivers from which there is no escape.

Noble ones who wish to cross over those rivers, proclaim the melody of the MA TRI MU YÉ!

 

OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DU

Alas! Fortunate Ones Listen!

The excellent means of accomplishment is the first.

Discovering the stairway to higher states is the second.

The blissful stairway of gods and humans is the third.

Traveling upon the stairway of joyful effort is the fourth.

These four are the four stairways to travel for the path of liberation.

Noble Ones who wish to ascend those stairways, proclaim the melody of the MA TRI MU YÉ!”

— Excerpt from Inspirational Verses Regarding the MA TRI written by the 13th century Tulku Loden Nyingpo.

The MA TRI mantra above a doorway. Photo credit: unknown

“This mantra is the heart elixir of the princpal teachings. It is a sacred connection for sentient beings during a dark time.  It is a key to the collection of sacred teachings  It is a lamp that clears away the darkness of ignorance.  So that sentient beings during the 500 years-long time of darkness will not have to exert themselves in meditation and accomplishment, this mantra recitation is the practice advice.

This recitation practice of the MA TRI is a precious lamp. Whoever goes before an esteemed lama or sacred support such as a shrine, chorten, or sacred statue, if they recite the mantra while performing prostrations and circumambulation and making prayers of aspiration, whatever they wish for will be quickly accomplished.”

— Extract from 32 Benefits of the Recitation Practice of the Precious Lamp

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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