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Great Enlightened Mother & Protector, Queen of the Universe: Sipé Gyalmo

Dzok Ku manifestation of the enlightened protector Sipe Gyalmo known as Ugya Chaktong who has a hundred heads and a thousand arms.

From the primordially pure and vast space of Küntu Zangmo, spontaneously manifests Sipé Gyalmo, Queen of Existence. Arising in a wisdom form that is without inherent existence, she has the ability to manifest in any way that is needed to help sentient beings. This includes peaceful, magical, or powerful manifestations in addition to her more well-known wrathful manifestations who protect the religious tradition of Yungdrung Bon and its practitioners. She protects the external container which is the environment of universes, galaxies, planets and stars as well as the inner contents which are the inhabitants of these environments. Her wrathful manifestations display a fierce and fearless form which symbolize her ability to conquer any obstacle without exception.

‘Having performed Mother Sigyal’s practice in successive previous lifetimes,

you have lovingly protected me like a mother protects her very own child.

Like the body with its shadow, you surround me with your love and affection.

I supplicate to you single-pointedly from my heart!

Never being separated and through your loving compassion,

protect me well with your four kinds of peaceful, expansive, powerful and wrathful activities!

Without hesitation and with no exceptions, please act to accomplish whatever goal or intention that I wish for!’

Sigyal’s Entrusted Activity composed by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche and translated from the Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood

“Manifesting from the essence of space, the state of the unmoving nature of mind of Küntu Zangmo,

for the purpose of protecting the enlightened teachings of the Yungdrung Bön,

is the lord of the boundary between past and future, the Queen of Existence Sipé Gyalmo.

You are Dédro Sangwé Yum, the secret Mother who guides beings to bliss.

Your Body emanations are the wrathful goddesses of the six times.

Your Speech emanations are the four queens who rule over the four seasons.

Your Mind emanations are the female demons who are the nyen queens of existence.

…I offer praise together with the pure and respectful prostrations of my three doors.

I openly admit everything that I have done which contradicts your mind”

— From The Complete Accomplishment of Golden Libations for the Assembly of Bön Guardians and Protectors composed by H.H. the 23rd Menri Trizin Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche and contained within the forthcoming book Sacred Smoke: The Ritual Practice of Fumigation and Offering in the Yungdrung Bön Religious Tradition by Raven Cypress Wood

The manifestation of Sipe Gyalmo who rides a red mule.

According to the Yungdrung Bön religious calendar, there are specific days set aside for the practice of Sipé Gyalmo who manifests riding a red mule. These dates are according to the lunar calendar and vary according to the month. During the 1st month of each season, which is the 12th, 3rd, 6th, and 9th lunar months, her practice day is the 8th lunar day. During the middle month of each season, which is the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th lunar months, her practice day is the 4th lunar day. During the final month of each season, which is the 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th lunar months, her practice day is the 5th lunar day. In 2020, the next corresponding date on the Western calendar is December 19th. This will be the 5th lunar day of the 11th month.

“EMAHO!

Mother of Space, the primordially pure, unconditioned Body of Bön,

in order to establish the teachings of Bön in the Land of Snow,

regardless of wherever I am, Supreme Mother Sipé Gyalmo,

through my merely calling out to you, please come!”

— From The Alphabetical Praise of Sipé Gyalmo translated from the Tibetan by 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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Anniversary of The Saint Gongdzö Ritro Chenpo Rinpoche

The Saint, Me’u Gongdzo Ritropa Rinpoche.

The 4th lunar day of the 10th lunar month is the celebration of the founder of the A TRI dzogchen lineage, Me’u Gongdzö Ritro Chenpo Rinpoche. In 2020, this date coincides with November 18th on the Western calendar. Born into the Me’u family in 1038, he is often referred to simply as “Dampa” meaning “The Saint.” The A TRI teachings are one of the three primary lineages of the Great Perfection teachings within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. In addition to material he collected from other sources for the A TRI scripture, he also added his own gong ter, or mind treasure, to the collection.  He organized the practices of the A Tri into 80 meditation sessions. Later in the 13th century, other lamas condensed the practice into 30 sessions, and then later it was further condensed into 15 sessions of practice as it is taught today.

When Gongdzö Ritropa was very young, his parents arranged for him to be married. Later as a youth, he had some realization of impermanence and yearned to leave worldly life. He asked his wife if they could separate so that he could practice the spiritual life but she refused. Feeling despondent, he made a plan. He burned some brush and mixed the ash with poison and yogurt. He rubbed this mixture onto his hands and arms. Soon afterwards his skin reacted in such a way that it looked as though he had contracted leprosy. He then went to his wife and family and showed them. He told them that he was afraid that he would spread the disease and he asked his wife if he had permission to go away. Alarmed, the wife and the rest of the family agreed. He rejoiced that he was now free to follow the spiritual path.

He received teachings from nine different teachers including the founder of Yungdrung Ling Monastery, Dru Yungdrung Lama. Deciding that he would be of greater benefit as a monk rather than a scholar, he requested ordination. At first, he was refused but upon the positive dream of the lama, he was given the vows of a monk. The lama advised him to live as a hermit and to be diligent in his meditation practice. Therefore, at the age of twenty-four, he became a monk and began a life of living as a reclusive yogi.

He exhibited many signs of accomplishment such as flying through the sky and leaving his hand and foot prints in stone. Although his primary focus was upon his meditation, he also wrote a number of texts. The A Tri lineage of dzogchen teachings was closely associated with the Dru family.  From the founder of Menri Monastery Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoche until HIs Holiness 4th Menri Trizin Kunzang Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the A TRI lineage was passed down through the abbots of Menri Monastery.  However, after Künzang Gyaltsen Rinpoche the lineage split away from the line of Menri Abbots.

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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Advice for Spiritual Practitioners from the Renowned 8th Century Master, Drenpa Namkha

20th Century mural in Bhutan depicting Drenpa Namkha.

“There are three things that a spiritual practitioner must have in order to attain the state of the Three Enlightened Bodies.

  1. The Seven Things to Meditate Upon 
  2. The Three Applications 
  3. The Three Detachments 

The Seven Things to Meditate Upon:

  • Impermanence
  • The difficulty of acquiring a precious human birth
  • The faults of cyclic existence
  • The truth of cause and effect
  • Compassion
  • Refuge and Generating the Mind of Enlightenment
  • Emptiness

The Three Applications:

  • Having understood the faults of cyclic existence, one must apply the practice of refuge.

    “Wherever one is born within cyclic existence, there remains suffering and misery. From that realization, may I gain renunciation!”                                                                                                                                                                                 

    — From An Ocean of Instructions Regarding the Teachings of AH by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

  • Having understood the truth of cause and effect, one must apply the avoidance of non-virtuous actions.

    “The infallible result of both good and bad actions is certain. May I be watchful about what to accept or reject!”                         

    — From An Ocean of Instructions Regarding the Teachings of AH by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

  • Having practiced loving kindness and compassion, one must act to benefit other sentient beings.

    “Without exception, suffering and misery arise from wanting happiness for only myself. However, a perfect buddha arises from the mind that focuses on benefiting others.”                                                                                                                                    

    —From Forty-three Trainings for an Enlightened Mind by H.H. the 22nd Menri Trizin Sonam Lodro Rinpoche, also known as Sherap Gongyal

The Three Detachments:

  • Having understood impermanence and the faults of cyclic existence, one should detach from this life.

    “When thinking of death, I am instantly without distraction, but then I become lazy and procrastinate. 

    How sad! Bless me that the realization of impermanence will arise in my mind-stream!

    Bless me to be mindful of death!

    Bless me to overcome deep attachment!

    Bless me that renunciation will arise in my mind-stream!

    Bless me to recognize everything as illusion!”                                                                                                                         

    — The Truth of Impermanence from the Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung

  • Having experienced great compassion, one should detach from self benefit.

    “The sentient beings of the three worlds have the same nature as my mother and father. What benefit is my own happiness when they are suffering? Because of that and in order to liberate the limitless sentient beings from the ocean of suffering and misery, I generate the mind of enlightenment.”                                                                                                                                

    —From Forty-three Trainings for an Enlightened Mind by H.H. the 22nd Menri Trizin Sonam Lodro Rinpoche, also known as Sherap Gongyal

  • Having meditated on emptiness, one should detach from grasping things as inherently existing.

    “From this day forward, having recognized everything as self-energy and self-appearance, may I have no attachment to cyclic existence!”                                                                                                                                                                                       

    — From Aspiration Prayer of Giving and Receiving by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

Free, publicly available English translations of The Truth of Impermanence prayer and Aspiration Prayer of Giving and Receiving have been made available for personal use. For the links to download these prayers, go to the Publications page of this website: https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

For more information about the great spiritual master Drenpa Namkha, go to this previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/05/06/practice-of-the-great-lama-drenpa-namkha/

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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Bringing Experiences Outside of Meditation to the Spiritual Path

Inside the temple of Triten Norbutse Monastery in Nepal. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Ripening and loosening the mindstream through mind training and meditation are essential for being able to liberate oneself from the turbulent winds of the five poisons and the continuation of cyclic existence. Additionally, there are many methods for integrating the experiences between meditation sessions into spiritual practice. For those individuals who have a higher capacity, His Holiness the 22nd Menri Trizin Rinpoche has given this tenfold advice for training the mind by bringing experiences outside of meditation practice to the spiritual path. 

  1. Bringing Deprivation and Oppression to the Path: For anyone who takes all of my food and wealth, even though they carry away everything, just like a mother for her child generates a mind of caring, I will dedicate my virtue of the three times for them.
  2. Bringing Destruction to the Path:Without any fault of my own, even if someone is cutting off my head or destroying my body and life force, I will compassionately accept their wrongdoing onto myself and I will guide them along the path of enlightenment.
  3. Bringing Slander and Disregard to the Path:Even though someone continually expresses unpleasant things about me to the entire world, I will maintain a mind of kindness and speak about their good qualities.
  4. Bringing Criticism and Blame to the Path: Even though someone in the midst of a group of many people blames and insults me even though I am blameless, remembering that I practice virtue, I will resolve to respectfully feel happiness towards them.
  5. Bringing Mistreatment from Family Members to the Path:Even though the people that I love such as my mother, father, and children always treat me like an enemy, I will love them with a special kindness like one has for a child that has been stricken with an illness.
  6. Bringing Mistreatment from Strangers to the Path:Even though a person that is equal to me insults and disrespects me because of the influence of their pride, I will be respectful towards them just like the spiritual master that I hold at the crown of my head would act towards them.
  7. Bringing Disadvantages to the Path:Even though I have used up all of my food, money, and possessions, and I am in bed with sickness throughout my body, I will not blame anyone for the happiness of others or my own suffering. Without any [negative] actions in the past, suffering and misery would not exist for me.
  8. Bringing Wealth to the Path:Even though my fame pervades the three thousand-fold universe, I am respected by many people, and I have prosperity like that of a wealth deity; if I do not know that worldly possessions are without essence, I will discern that nothing can fill an empty mind.
  9. Bringing Restraint to the Path:If I do not subdue the enemy of my own five poisons, the enemies from outside will increase. Therefore, with the great abiding nature and the army of compassion I will subdue the illusory enemies of my mind.
  10. Bringing Attachment to the Path:The qualities of desire and attachment are comparable to salty water. No matter how much you drink, thirst only increases. Having immediately renounced whatever material things are desired or yearned for, I will know that what I have is enough and feel content.

— Translated by Raven Cypress Wood from The Forty-three Trainings for an Enlightened Mind composed by His Holiness 22nd Menri Throneholder Sonam Lodro Rinpoche, also known as Sherap Gongyal. 1784-1835

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 Importance of Mindful Speech

The sacred texts are considered a manifestation of enlightened speech and are respected in the way that they are created, handled, and stored. Scriptures are written with ink of gold, silver, copper, turquoise, or other precious substances.

From the point of view of the Yungdrung Bön religious philosophy, there are three doors through which we act: through the door of the body, through the door of speech, and through the door of the mind. Therefore, all actions whether positive, negative, or neutral are performed through these three doors. From this knowledge, spiritual practitioners apply the guidance of the Ten Virtuous Actions of Body, Speech, and Mind.

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 authentic teachings 

The importance of mindful speech is emphasized by it having four guidelines for behavior when the body and mind have only three. According to the esteemed spiritual master Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche in his Most Profound Sky Treasury:

“The conceptual mind is like a king and speech is like his minister. The minister accomplishes the king’s commands but the king alone is useless to do anything.

Similarly, having stopped countless offenses by restraining speech through mindfulness, the negative faults of the mind are never established.”

According to the 22nd Menri Trizin Sonam Lodro Rinpoche, also known as Sherap Gongyal, in his 43 Trainings for an Enlightened Mind:

“Even for someone who has entered into the Great Vehicle, the most superior practice,

if they talk a lot, their concentration can become deluded.

Without commenting on the good or bad of self or others, contemplate what is inexpressible and unmodified.”

And further,

“When harsh words are used to destroy the mind of others,

it will degenerate the practice of generating the mind of enlightenment.

Because of that, it is improper to destroy the mind of others with rough speech.

Therefore, renounce the use of harsh words.”

And his advice for bringing slander and disregard to the spiritual path:

“Even though someone continually expresses unpleasant things about me to the entire world,

I will maintain a mind of kindness and speak about their good qualities.”

The Tibetan syllabary is thought of as sacred rather than just an ordinary alphabet since these are the syllables used to record the guidance and teachings of the buddhas. Because of the sacred nature of the Tibetan syllabary, it is used as a mantra in practices that purify the previous negative expressions of speech as well as bless and empower present and future expressions of speech. Having transformed one’s self into the enlightened deity of speech, Chetak Ngomé, the Tibetan alphabet, known as the ALI KALI or the vowels and consonants, is recited while visualizing the syllables spinning on the tongue while both radiating and receiving wisdom light which purifies and blesses every aspect of speech.

“This ALI KALI destroys the negativities of speech and increases the power of mantra recitation 100,000 times.  In the morning when the crow leaves its nest, recite it 21 times.  In the evening when the crow returns to its nest, recite it 21 times.  Do this recitation continuously and as isolated speech [without interrupting it with ordinary speech]. There is immense power in doing a million recitations.  By doing this, the power and capacity of Lishu Taring blazed.”

— From The ALI KALI, the Cause for Enlightened Words and Source of the Scriptures

Having completed the recitation of any mantra, if the ALI KALI is recited three times at the end, it is said that it will increase the power of the mantra by 100,000 times. Similarly, it is traditional that at the conclusion of any kind of recitation of prayers or mantras, Bönpos will recite the mantra OM DHAR MA BHI SHU DHÉ TSA TRA HUNG PÉ and then blow upon their trengwa, or mala. This specific mantra is said to then empower the ordinary speech of the day with the positive qualities of the recitations.

These are only a few examples of the advice and methods given by the enlightened ones and spiritual masters that teach the importance of mindful speech and how to purify and bless speech in order to support our spiritual development.

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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