Each year during the 23rd-29th lunar days of the 5th month, members of the Menri Monastery ordained community undergo a retreat for Jamma Chenmo, the Great Loving Mother. This year, those lunar dates coincide with July 21st-27th, 2022 on the Western calendar.
Sherap Jamma, the Wise Loving Mother, is a Buddha who manifests as a loving mother to care for each and every sentient being as though they were her only child. In her manifestation as one of the four primary Buddhas of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, she is called by the Zhang Zhung name Satrik Érsang.
The Heartdrop of Jamma, Jamma Nying Tik, is an aural transmission given by Khandro Sherap Lopelma, an emanation of Sherap 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 Jammatogether as a family every evening after dinner. This evening recitation continues to this very day among many Bönpo families.
In this practice, every part of the physical body, consciousness, and mind become the manifestation of Buddha Sherap Jamma and her retinue through the potent power of her mantra. In this way, our attachment to our solid, imperfect body that reinforces our worldly identity is decreased and our wisdom, realization, and positive qualities increase.
I pray to the Venerable Five Manifestations of Jamma. Single Mother for everyone who is without refuge or a protector remove external, internal, and secret obstacles, which are enemies along the path! Grant your blessings that my wishes will be spontaneously accomplished!
— Extract from prayer of supplication within The Heartdrop of Jamma
Text of The Heartdrop of Jamma handwritten by Barlé Rinpoche
“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!”
This book includes annotated, color or black and white images of Jamma along with her five wisdom manifestations and her eight manifestations that protect from fear. Additionally, there is a brief biography of H.H. 22nd Menri Trizin Sonam Lodro. Additionally, the book concludes with the translation of Removing Obstacles from the Path, Bar Ché Lam Sel, another aural transmission of Khandro Sherap Lo Pélma that is often practiced as a daily recitation in the Bönpo community and is considered a powerful means of protection and support.
Khandro Sherap Lo Pelma, wisdom khandro that increases the intellect
The lunar 13th day of the 4th month is the anniversary of the parinirvana and the attainment of the rainbow body of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche. In 2022, this date coincides with June 12th. Shardza Rinpoche was a Yungdrung Bön monk, teacher, scholar, and realized practitioner of the modern age. Born in 1859 in Kham, Tibet, at the age of nine an esteemed lama told his parents that he should become a monk. Being their only son, the parents refused. Shardza soon became quite ill. Seeing that their son was not recovering, the parents agreed to allow him to take ordination. At this, Shardza quickly recovered. He was the attendant for his root lama, Tenzin Wangyal, for many years. At the age of eighteen, he took the full vows of a Yungdrung Bön monk from the abbot of Yungdrung Ling Monastery.
Throughout his life, Shardza Rinpoche was known for a disciplined adherence to every vow that he had taken throughout his life. Although his view and practice were vast and high, he maintained diligence in performing virtue and avoiding the smallest non-virtue. He continually performed the preliminary practices and recited many millions of mantra, especially the SA LÉ Ö mantra. He composed many concise practices for purifying negativity and accumulating merit and wisdom, such as his Aspiration Prayer of Giving and Receiving. (For the publicly available English translation and explanation of the prayer, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2020/01/31/an-aspiration-prayer-of-giving-and-receiving-gift-translation/ )
“For those with a great deal of negative actions in this lifetime, having requested a remedy because they will certainly ripen during future lifetimes, the remedy of performing virtue is very powerful. Having ripened negative actions, the mere exhaustion of that karma (through pain and/or illness), enlightenment is certain. Therefore, this pain and illness of yours is very amazing when it is voluntarily accepted!
Even now, whenever more pain or illness arises, continuing to persevere with your religious practices, venerations, and acts of pure virtue would be incredibly amazing!
When you imagine that there will be no unhappiness in the future (due to this negative karma being exhausted), supremely praise the emptiness of that particular pain or illness.
Be inspired by the power of this antidote, even when what you don’t want arises.
Take the suffering and misery of others onto yourself by adopting others’ happiness and suffering through the practice of giving and receiving.”
Shardza Rinpoche’s advice to the female practitioner Khandro Wangi Dronma.
He taught a multitude of disciples, organized the reconstruction of temples, went on pilgrimages, and spent a great deal of time in isolated retreat. A prolific writer, he wrote at length on subjects such as Bön history, instructions for the practice of Tibetan yoga, preliminary practices for Dzogchen, condensed summaries of each of the None Ways of Bön, and detailed instructions for the advanced practice of inner heat, known as Tummo. When Shardza Rinpoche was 75 years old, his disciples noticed that his behavior changed. He seemed more casual and became delighted when playing with children. He was seen doing miraculous things such as walking without his feet touching the ground or setting his bowl down in space.
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 a tent and forbid any of his disciples to open it. The next day, rainbow lights began appearing above and around the tent. After three 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 as an object of veneration and inspiration, opened the tent. He found Shardza’s body enveloped in rainbow light, levitating in midair, and shrunken to the proportional size of a one year old child. The area around his heart was still warm but most of the nails of the hands and feet had fallen onto the seat below. For the next forty-nine days, a multitude of disciples came to pay their respect and receive blessings. 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 reliquary chorten.
In 1842, His Holiness the 23rd Menri Trizen Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche [1813-1875 C.E.] composed The Chronology of the Buddha, A Necklace of Amazing Jewels. The chronology begins at the start of the current eon when the lifespan of human beings was 100,000 years and Buddha Nangwa Rangjung Tükjé had appeared in order to guide sentient beings. Moving forward in time, he details the appearance of each buddha until reaching Buddha Tönpa Shenrap who was born in the land of Tazik when the human lifespan had deteriorated to be only 100 years long. The chronology then lists his major life events and teachings. Such as,
“For three hundred years after taking monastic vows until the Wood Dragon year of his 34th shen year, he performed the three kinds of hardships in order to set an example for his disciples. Through meditative stabilization which is like the sky, he demonstrated the way to actualize buddhahood.”
Excerpt from The Chronology of the Buddha, A Necklace of Amazing Jewels
According to Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche’s calculation, 6,731 years after the parinirvana of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap in the Wood Rat Year of1136 B.C.E, the otherworldly being of Nyatri Tsenpo is chosen to be Tibet’s first king in order to unify the minor kingdoms into a single principality. During this time, the teachings of Yungdrung Bön flourish. Elsewhere in 1136 B.C.E. and during the 12th century B.C.E., the ten-year-long Trojan war occurs, Babylonia is a newly established sovereign state, and the Olmec civilization of Mesoamerica begins to flourish. (For more information about the kings of Tibet, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/12/11/tibetan-kings-of-the-yarlung-dynasty-the-yungdrung-bon/)
In the Wood Dragon Year of 1076 B.C.E., the great yogi, scholar, and translator Tongyung Tüchen is born in the ancient land of Zhang Zhung. He is known as one of the four scholars. The son of the 8th Tibetan king who suppressed Bön ascends the throne as the 10th Tibetan king and requests the help of Tongyung Tüchen to perform the necessary rites in order to restore harmony in Tibet and reestablish the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. Tongyung Tüchen translates over 10,000 texts from the language of Zhang Zhung into Tibetan, and spreads many of these teachings throughout Tibet. Some sources state his lifespan was 537 years. Other sources state that it was much longer. Elsewhere in 1076 B.C.E. and during the 11th century B.C.E, the Zhou Dynasty rules China, and the Phoenician alphabet is developed.
In the Fire Garuda Year of 683 B.C.E., the 8th king of Tibet, Drigum Tsenpo, begins the first suppression of the Yungdrung Bön religion. Elsewhere in 683 B.C.E. and the 7th century B.C.E, Athens holds the 24th Olympic Games, the empire of Japan is established, and Babylon becomes the largest city in the world.
In the Earth Monkey Year of 552 B.C.E, the great yogi and scholar Lishu Taring brings over 10,000 Yungdrung Bön texts from Tazik to Tibet.He accomplishes this by using his magical powers to enlist the help of birds such as vultures and cranes to carry the texts. At that time, he is 1,200 years old. He passes away at the age of 2,500 years. Elsewhere in 551 B.C.E. and the 6th century B.C.E., the Chinese philosopher Confucius is born, Cyrus the Great establishes the Persian Empire and goes on to conquer Babylon, and Shakyamuni attains enlightenment and establishes Buddhism in India.
In the Earth Ox Year of 749 C.E., King Trisong Detsun begins persecution of Yungdrung Bön. Scriptures and images are destroyed. Yungdrung Bön practitioners are given the choice of execution, suicide, exile, or conversion to Buddhism. In order to protect the teachings, scriptures and sacred objects are either hidden or sent to outlying regions. Elsewhere in 749 C.E. and the 8th century C.E., vikings from Scandinavia are raiding the European coasts, and the Maya Civilization begins to decline. Japan is in the midst of the Nara period characterized by the common people following the Shinto religion while the upper classes aspire to emulate Chinese culture and are therefore adhering to Chinese Buddhism.
In the Iron Garuda Year of 913 C.E., three Nepali acharyas who have traveled to Tibet in search of gold find a heavy box in the temple of Samyé and carry it away. Discovering it is not gold and instead filled with Yungdrung Bön texts, they trade the box for food. Eventually, the box finds its way to Bönpo lamas. The box is said to contain 340 different Bön texts. Because these texts were found and distributed in the Northern regions, they became known as the Northern Treasures. This discovery and distribution of texts begins a widespread revival of Bön and rediscovery of texts during a time when Buddhism’s influence was declining. Elsewhere in 913 C.E. and during the 10th century, Byzantine forces capture Crete, vikings settle in northern France, and lions become extinct in Europe.
In the Fire Monkey year of 996 C.E., the renowned tertön Shenchen Luga is born into the Mu Shen lineage of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap. He was prophesied as being an emanation of Tongyung Tüchen. He becomes the main revealer of hidden texts in the Yungdrung Bön tradition. He passes away in 1035 C.E. Elsewhere in 996 and during the early 11th century, the Norse colonize Greenland and Newfoundland, France invades Burgundy, and the Normans conquer England.
In the Fire Monkey year of 1776 C.E., the esteemed scholar Sherap Wangyal Rinpoche becomes the 19th abbot of Menri Monastery. Elsewhere in 1776 C.E. and during the 18th century, the United States declares independence from the British Empire, the Russian and Swedish empires are at war, and the mercury thermometer is invented.
In the Iron Horse year of 1810 C.E., the esteemed scholar Sonam Lodro Rinpoche becomes the 22nd abbot of Menri Monastery. He is renowned for his knowledge, realization, and many compositions. He is the root lama of the author of this chronology, His Holiness the 23rd abbot of Menri, Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche. Elsewhere is 1810 C.E. and during the beginning of the 19th century, the Napoleonic wars begin, Mexico gains independence, and Andrew Jackson begins a military campaign against the Creek Nation in the Southeastern United States which leads to the Indian Removal Act and their forced relocation to Oklahoma.
Recently, I have heard from many people who are curious about what translations and projects I am working on at the moment. So, I thought that it would be beneficial to post an update for everyone who is interested, especially for the many people who have offered donations of support. First, a few words about what has recently been completed. In November 2021, Sacred Smoke: The Ritual Practice of Fumigation and Offering in the Yungdrung Bön Religious Traditionwas published by Sacred Sky Press. This book was close to publishing when Covid-19 arrived. So, it has been especially satisfying to see it become available. It is available both on Amazon and through LuLu. See the Publications page of this website for more information about this and other publications.
Due to the pandemic, my translation of the healing practice of Sigyal Drak Ngak entitled The Heartdrop of Si Gyal that is All-pervasive and Clears Away Afflictive Emotions and Illness was published and made available for purchase for those with the transmission. This healing practice is especially effective for protecting against contagious illnesses and primarily uses mantric water. This has also been translated into French and is currently being translated into Portuguese. These translations are now being used by lamas and practitioners worldwide. If you have the transmission for this practice and you would like to order a copy of the translation, contact me and I can provide the order link.
I continue to translate prayers and practice texts for both Yungdrung Bön lamas and individuals. For example, His Eminence Menri Pönlop Yangtön Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche will be teaching in Poland soon and I was happily able to provide him with translations for each of his events related to practices of the Medicine Buddha, Mawé Sengé, and the longevity practice of Tséwang Rikdzin.
Currently, I am working on two books. First, I am translating select chapters from The Precious Lamp that Shakes the Depths of Cyclic Existence. This is a tantric text associated with the MA TRI mantra of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. Some years ago When H.E. Menri Ponlöp Yangton Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche was giving the empowerment for the MA TRI, he suggested to me that it would be of great benefit to translate the chapter from this text entitled, The 32 Benefits of the Recitation Practice of the Precious Lamp. It begins with the story of how Buddha Tönpa Shenrap himself gave the MA TRI teachings and spoke about the special qualities of the mantra.
“For ordinary men and women, when their awareness becomes free from its physical container, if they remember this mantra when the four elements of their body disintegrate, that alone will keep them from falling into the condition of a lower rebirth and they will attain a blissful place of liberation.”
Extract from The 32 Benefits of the Recitation Practice of the Precious Lamp
This book will contain information regarding the historical source and lineage of the MA TRI mantra, translations for the yidam retreat, the daily practice, the MA TRI longevity practice, and the MA TRI practices for the intermediate state after death, as well as illustrations of each of the syllables and deities. These practices are profound and direct. My goal is to have this book ready for copy editing by the Autumn of 2022.
The second book that I am working on is about the process of dying and death as it relates to the philosophy and ritual practices of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. I am writing this for both Yungdrung Bön practitioners and also for ordinary people who want to support a loved one who is a Bön practitioner. It is being written as a support for those who want to prepare for death during life through spiritual practice, for those experiencing the dying process, and for their loved ones. This book began as a pamphlet after a dear sangha sister had passed away. Years later, that pamphlet has grown into many chapters, translations, and many, many hours of research. One of the texts that I am translating for this book is the yogi Lishu Taring’s A Small Lamp that Clarifies the Signs of Death. This text gives detailed information about the signs of death and how to extend the lifespan if possible in order to enable the practitioner to prepare for the final moment of dying.
“I respectfully bow and offer prostrations to the place of great bliss, Kuntu Zang!
I, Lishu Taring, have written The Lamp that Clarifies the Signs of Death. Regarding that, there are two kinds of death. Untimely death and death from exhaustion of the elements. The examinations in order to know the time of death are of three kinds: (1) the examination regarding the external aggregates, (2) the examination regarding the internal winds, and (3) the examination regarding the secret awareness.”
Extract from A Small Lamp that Clarifies the Signs of Death
I have heard from many people, both religious practitioners and non-religious individuals, who are in need of guidance regarding the process of dying, and how to support both themselves and others. In this book, I plan to offer information regarding the physical, mental, and spiritual process of dying and death together with the associated translations of the prayers and ritual practices that can be performed by the dying person and their loved ones.
It is my hope that both of these books will be of far-reaching benefit. In order to be sure that the translations are as clear and accurate as possible, much time is spent in research, cross-referencing, and talking with scholar monks who are familiar with the material. After the initial translation, time is spent in editing and annotation in order to make the material both true to the original texts while also making it as clear as possible for an English-speaking audience. Then, there is the formatting and copy editing of the written material. So, this work takes a large commitment of time. Because this work is not funded by grants or trusts, I am able to continue devoting time to this work, including the continuation of the website, because of the continued kind generosity of donors. Therefore, from the depths of my heart, I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and interest in Nine Ways. I am committed to continuing this work for as long as possible. we are all so fortunate to have encountered these authenticate teachings of wisdom during this lifetime. may we all have abundant health, joy, and prosperity! And ultimately, may we all attain the fruit of our practices!
Raven Cypress Wood
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In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, the Queen of Existence Sipé Gyalmo is one of the primary protectors of the religious doctrine and its followers. She is an enlightened being who manifests in countless ways. In her Dzogku form, she manifests with a dark blue body, in a fierce stance with three faces, one hundred heads of various animals, thousands of arms holding weapons and other wrathful objects, hundreds of legs, and surrounded by unimaginable blazing flames.
Her body emanations are the six goddesses who watch over existence throughout the day and night. These manifestations are (1) the white goddess who watches over existence during dawn, (2) the golden goddess that watches during sunrise, (3) the red goddess that watches during midday, (4) the maroon goddess that watches during sunset, (5) the black goddess that watches during evening, and (6) the dark blue goddess that watches over existence during midnight.
“Especially, 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.”
Her tülku manifestations appear with a dark blue body with three faces, six arms and riding either a black mule or a red mule. She can manifest in whatever way is necessary to give her protection and support.
Beginning on May 11, 2022 and continuing for one week, Menri Monastery in India will perform the extensive ritual of One Hundred Thousand Offerings to the Queen of Existence, Sipé Gyalmo. (See previous post for details: https://ravencypresswood.com/2022/04/23/100000-offerings-for-the-queen-of-existence/ ) During this ritual, Sipé Gyalmo is requested to bestow her blessings of protection and to support the development of the spiritual practice of Bön disciples. There is still time to donate towards this profound and meaningful activity.
To make a donation towards the ritual for Sipé Gyalmo, follow this link: http://kwling.org/bon/bum-tsok-offering/ This is the North American center for His Eminence Menri Lopon Yangton Trinley Nyima Rinpoche. The full amount of every donation will be sent to Menri Monastery and designated for the ritual. This donation can be dedicated for those that are ill, in danger, have recently passed away, or for yourself. If you are unable to donate monetarily, by rejoicing in the donations of others and the performance of the ritual, you also receive merit. One can also participate by engaging in Sipé Gyalmo practice, mantra recitation, engaging in virtue and avoiding acts of non-virtue during the week-long ritual.
Mother of the vast expanse of the Bönku, which is primordially pure and free from elaboration,
in order to establish the Bön teachings in the Land of Snow,
merely by calling out to you Single Mother Sipé Gyalmo, wherever you are,
Excerpt from The Alphabetical Praise of the Supreme Mother Sipé Gyalmo within Sacred Smoke: The Ritual Practice of Fumigation and Offering in the Yungdrung Bön Religious Tradition by Raven Cypress Wood