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Anniversary of the Passing Away of Nangtön Dawa Gyaltsen Rinpoche

Nangtön Dawa Gyaltsen. Photo credit: Unknown

The anniversary of the passing away of Nangtön Dawa Gyaltsen Rinpoche is the 8th lunar day of the 11th month. On the Western calendar in 2020 this date coincides with December 22nd. He was born during the Fire Dragon year of 1796 and founded Ralak Yungdrung Ling Monastery on the bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo River in 1834. This monastery developed into one of the largest and most prestigious centers for learning within the Yungdrung Bön tradition. It was known for its extensive library and the fact that it had its own woodblocks to print texts. It contained many golden statues including a gilt-copper image of Nampar Gyalwa that was two-stories high.  It also contained reliquary stupas enshrining the remains of previous abbots. In 1965 during the cultural revolution, the monastery was burned to the ground. In 1982, two monks who had been in residence prior to its destruction began the process of reconstruction.

Ralak Yungdrung Ling Monastery in Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown.

Supplication Prayer to the Lord of Refuge Dawa Gyaltsen

“You, a teacher born into the Amdo family lineage of Nangzhik, you spread the unrivaled Bön teachings of the White AH throughout your homeland.

You embody the essence of all buddhas by having having perfected the exalted qualities of the major and minor characteristics.

To the Buddha who manifested in human form, I supplicate!”

— Translated from the Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood

Reliquary containing the sacred relics of Nangtön Dawa Gyaltsen. Photo credit: Unknown

At the age of sixty-seven during the water dog year of 1863 on the auspicious 8th lunar day of the middle winter month at mid-day, the warmth of his body and his consciousness concentrated at the center of his heart. HIs eyes looked straight ahead, unmoving. After the third sound of “Pé!” of the transference of consciousness practice, he left the guest house of the physical body for the great bliss space of absolute reality.

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9837th Anniversary of the Buddha’s Twelfth Deed: Demonstrating How to Pass Beyond Suffering

Lord Buddha lying in the sleeping lion posture and obtaining parinirvana in the presence of gods, humans and lu.

On the new moon day of the first Winter month (10th lunar month), Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché demonstrated the truth of impermanence by leaving behind the container of his physical body. This date coincides with December 14, 2020 on the Western calendar. This is a powerfully auspicious day. Any virtuous activity that is performed through the body, speech or mind is greatly multiplied.

“Although the body of a Victorious One is without birth and death,

in order to show an example of the impermanent character of phenomena,

you demonstrated the way of passing beyond suffering into the space of the essence of Bön, and manifested within the vast expanse of the true nature which is like the sky.

I prostrate to you, Fully Accomplished One!”

At the age of eighty-two shen years (8,200 human years), the enlightened Lord Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché began to illustrate the truth of impermanence for sentient beings by allowing the constituents of his physical body to become weak and manifest an illness. Alarmed, his disciples performed rituals and administered medicine. In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of these methods according to relative truth, the Buddha temporarily recovered.

However, after a little time had passed, he caused his physical condition to again weaken. This provided an opportunity for the Buddha to give teachings to his disciples regarding the process of death. At dusk on the new moon day of the first Winter month at the nine-leveled yungdrung mountain, Lord Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché adopted the posture of the sleeping lion and demonstrated the accomplishment of passing beyond suffering. After cremation of his physical body, the relics from the ash were distributed among the gods, the humans and the lu [Sanskrit: naga] as objects of faith and devotion.

The parinirvana of Lord Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché is observed each year by monks, nuns. and lay practitioners worldwide. Photo credit: Unknown

One year later, an assembly of thirteen yungdrung sempa [Sanskrit:bodhisattva] compiled the teachings of Lord Buddha. Time passed, and the era of being able to rely upon the physical presence of the Buddha drew to  a close. Thus began the era of relying upon the Buddha’s speech. Lord Tönpa Shenrap’s successor, Mucho Demdruk, descended from the sky into Olmo Lungring and began to turn the wheel of Yungdrung Bön for gods and humans. Among his disciples were “the six intellectual ornaments of the world.” These six scholars translated the teachings of Lord Buddha into their respective native languages of Tazik, India, China, and Trom and therefore were able to spread the teachings of enlightenment in every direction.

“You are the king of the teachings and the glorious guide through cyclic existence.

You are the illuminating light that overcomes all darkness.

You are the primary medicine that dispels the torment of ignorance and disease.

You are a King of the Mu clan, an extraordinary being who took human form.

With an army of great fire that dries up the ocean and mire of the five poisons,

You are a luminous, holy man who possesses the marks and characteristics of an enlightened being.

Having undertaken a multitude of hardships, You completed a multitude of enlightened activities.

Through both the four valid means of cognition and the six valid thoughts, and with great loving kindness, you liberate the beings within cyclic existence.

I prostrate to the manifested enlightened Body of Tönpa Shenrap!”

—From Praise and Homage for the Compassionate Teacher 

Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. All translations by the author. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.

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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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