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One Hundred Years of Learning

Nangzhig Monastery celebration Amdo, Tibet. Photo credit:Unknown

On September 19, 2018 in Amdo, Tibet, the Nangzhig Yungdrung Bon Dialectic School celebrated its One Hundred year anniversary. During the celebration, a framed photo of the newly enthroned His Holiness 34th Menri Trizen Rinpoche was ceremoniously brought into the temple and installed upon a high throne. The ceremony was attended by more than 4,000 monks.

Ceremony at Nangzhig Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

Celebration at Nangzhig Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

A Mandala of Offerings

His Eminence Menri Ponlop Yangton Trinley Nyima Rinpoche being offered the mandala in Kham, Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown.


Grand Enthronement of His Holiness 34th Menri Trizen

HH 34th Menri Trizen Dawa Dargye Rinpoche with Dr. Lobsang Sangye. Photo credit: Unknown

The grand enthronement ceremony of His Holiness 34th Menri Trizen Dawa Dargye Rinpoche was attended by the president of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dr. Lobsang Sangay. During the event, Dr. Sangay gave a speech and also presented the 34th Menri Trizen Rinpoche with a mandala offering.

A Thousand Prostrations to our Spiritual Father!

His Holiness 34th golden throne holder of Tashi Menri Monastery, Dawa Dargye Rinpoche, leader of the Yungdrung Bon religious tradition. Photo credit: Unknown

On September 6th 2018 at Tashi Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, Dawa Dargye Rinpoche will be formally enthroned as Holder of the Golden Throne, the 34th Menri Trizen, Spiritual Leader of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition and its disciples.


In a place where even the name of precious Bön could not be heard, teachings and realizations blossomed in the garden of lotuses of the spiritual leader, following the enlightened activities of the previously manifested Sun.

May these prayers go to the leader who is the manifestation of the perfect Moon.”

This prayer for HH 34th Menri Trizen was requested by HE Menri Ponlop Yangton Trinley Nyima Rinpoche and written by HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche March 25, 2018.

This translation of the first of two stanzas is offered by Gyalshen Institute.

Sacred Sign: Anniversary of the Parinirvana of HH 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche

Rainbow at Tokden Monastery upon the passing into nirvana of HH 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche

On the 24th day of the 7th lunar month in the Western year 2017, His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen Lungtok Tenpé Nyima Rnpoche displayed his realization by passing into nirvana from his physical body. Tashi Menri Monastery, the seat of the leader of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, as well as multiple other monasteries and meditation centers, will commemorate this one year anniversary on the 23rd and 24th days of the 7th lunar month, Western dates September 3rd and 4th 2018.

Golden statue of HH 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche in his home village.

Supplication Prayer

The omniscient wisdom of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions is condensed into a single essence in you, Highest One.

You carry out the enlightened activity of spreading the vast and profound teachings of Tönpa Shenrap. To you, Lungtok Tenpé Nyima, I pray.

Rab jam chok chu gyal wa se che kyi

khyen tsé yé shé ngo wo chik dü pa

zab gye shén ten pél wé trin lé chen

Luntok Tenpé Nyimar sol wa dep

Silver statue of His Holiness 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown.


The Holy Presence of the Lama

His Eminence Menri Ponlop Yangton Trinley Nyima Rinpoche being welcomed at Gangru Dargye Monastery in Kham, Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown.

Ritual for Communal Harmony and Prosperity

Murig Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche leads a Sherap Jamma ritual for the Yungdrung Bon community in the Dolpo capital of Dunai, Nepal. Photo credit: Unknown.

A Rich Tradition: Barlé Gonpa

Murig Geshe Nyima Kunchap bestowing an empowerment of longevity at Barle Gompa 2018. Photo credit: Unknown.

A twenty minute walk from the village of Barlé in Dolpo, Nepal is the Barlé gonpa called Yungdrung Shuk Tsal Ling. The main part of the temple located next to the lama residence is said to be over 500 years old. The surrounding area is very green in Summer and the village residents rely heavily upon agriculture. Although the village is a mix of both Bön and Buddhist families, they visit each other’s temples and sacred sites.

Left: Barle Rinpoche Right: Barle Rinpoche with Geshe Kunchap Rinpoche

The Barlé gonpa was renovated by the father of Barlé Lama Tsukphü Gyaltsen, who assisted in the work. Although most of the Barlé lamas have been ngakpas, or householder lamas, Barlé Lama Tsukphü Gyaltsen did not want to follow this lifestyle and instead received monk’s vows at the age of eighteen. He traveled to Samling and stayed there for three years. He received teachings and initiations from Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche as well as from Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche. Eventually, he returned to the village of Barlé and immediately began to look for a proper place for secluded meditation.

The cave hermitage of Barle Rinpoche. Photo credit: Geshe Nyima Kunchap

A thirty minutes walk from the gonpa, up a steep cliff, he found the spot that he was looking for. The nearby rock formation naturally resembled a chorten and there was a stone painting of the enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap nearby. Here, he began to construct Drak Gön hermitage, literally “Stone Temple Hermitage.” The first part was completed in 1962. For thirty years, from 1970-2000, he remained in retreat at the hermitage. On the 27th lunar day of the 4th month in the Western year 2000, his outward breath stopped. His body remained in the five-fold meditation posture for three full days.

Recently erected chorten overlooking Barle village. Photo credit: Geshe Nyima Kunchap.

After the passing of Barlé Rinpoche, his nephew Lama Lhakpa assumed the duties of the main lama of Barlé. He was a householder and lived in the lama residence. He unexpectedly passed away in 2015 and his son took up the duties of being the village lama.

Murig Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche with the residents of Barle at the newly erected chorten. Photo credit: Unknown

Both a relative and student of Barlé Lama Tsukphü Gyaltsen Rinpoche, Murig Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche was born in the village of Barlé. At the age of eight, he began learning the Tibetan language and thangkha painting. At the age of fourteen, he learned to make torma and practiced the ngondro, or foundational practices. Strongly wanting to become a monk, he left the village of Barlé and made his way to India where he received renunciate vows from HH 33rd Menri Trizen Rinpoche and HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. Completing his studies in the dialectic program, he received his doctorate of Geshe in 1994. Subsequently, he worked as the Bön department chairmen at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Varanasi. He founded and acted as president of the Dolpo Bon Society and founded the Dolpo Bon School for girls and boys. Although he travels worldwide teaching and performing rituals of the Yungdrung Bön tradition, he regularly returns to the village of Barlé. Most recently, he personally sponsored the construction of a sacred chorten in the village. (See previous post: In these ways, he continues to preserve and expand the rich Yungdrung Bön traditions of his lineage for the benefit of the Barlé residents, and beyond.

Geshe Kunchap Rinpoche leading the consecration ritual for the newly erected chorten in Barle village. Photo credit: Unknown

The tulku of Barlé Rinpoche was recognized at an early age in the village of Barlé. He naturally showed the signs of being familiar with the life of his previous incarnation, Barlé Lama Tsukphü Gyaltsen Rinpoche.

Barle Tulku, Tsewang Rigdzin Gyaltsen. Photo credit: Unknown

Although a difficult decision for his mother, she agreed to have him go to Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India in order to receive the proper training.Geshe Nyima Kunchap has taken personal responsibility to ensure his well being and education.

Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche and Tulku Tsewang Rigdzin Gyaltsen. Photo credit: Unknown.


Complete Victory Over Negativity

Shenrap Nampar Gyalwa

At Tashi Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, the 22nd-29th of the 6th Tibetan month (Western date August 4th-10th 2018), is the time for the practice of Shenrap Nampar Gyalwa. This is the wrathful form of the founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché. In order to protect the construction of a temple, he spontaneously manifested as Nampar Gyalwa, the Completely Victorious One. See previous post:

As one of the nine foundational practices in the Yungdrung Bön tradition, practitioners will recite the mantra of Nampar Gyalwa, known as the 100-syllable mantra, 100,000 times while imagining the purification of all negativity of the three times including every action of body, speech, and mind arising from anger, greed, jealousy, pride, and ignorance.

Ancient Lineage

Menri Ponlop Rinpoche Yangton Trinley Nyima meets with the Shen lineage holder and direct descendant of Lord Tonpa Shenrap, Gyalwa Shense Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown.

For more information about the descendants of Lord Tönpa Shenrap and the sons of Gyalwa Shensé Rinpoche, see previous post: 

A Chorten for Barlé Village

Chorten in Barle Village Dolpo, Nepal. Photo credit: Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche.

In the village of Barlé located in Dolpo, Nepal and approximately 185 miles from Kathmandu, a new Yungdrung Bön chorten (Sanskrit: stupa) has been erected by Murig Geshe Nyima Künchap as a gift to the village residents. The chorten is located near the Barlé gompa. From July 22nd to July 28th, Geshe Künchap Rinpoche will perform the full consecration of the chorten.

Inside Barle stupa. Photo credit: Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche

Inside the chorten above the doorways, it is ornately painted with sacred Yungdrung Bön images. In the four directions, are the Four Principal Enlightened Ones: Satrik Érsang, Shenlha Ökar, Sangpo Bumtri, and Tönpa Shenrap. As is traditional, each of these enlightened ones is surrounded by two hundred fifty Buddhas for a total of one thousand Buddhas. (For more information about the Four Principle Enlightened Ones, see previous post: ) On the ceiling above are nine mandalas whose purpose is to act as an appropriate dwelling place for the related enlightened qualities. In the center is the mandala of the Sutra of the Indestructible Vast Expanse (Tib. mdo g.yung drung klong rgyas). Then, beginning in the East (middle left) and continuing counter-clockwise, are the mandalas of: The Peaceful AH that Clears (Tib: zhi ba a gsal),  Red Garuda (Tib: khyung dmar), The Stages of Walsé (Tib. dbal gsas las rim), the Great Mother Jamma (Tib: rgyal yum byams ma), Complete Space (Tib: Kun dyings), the Precious Lamp of the MA TRI (Tib: ma tri rin chen sgron ma), Shenrap Nampar Gyalwa (Tib: gshen rab rnam rgyal), and The Lamp that Purifies Obscurations and Removes the Darkness (Tib: sgrib sbyong mun sel sgron ma).

Geshe Kunchap preparing a ritual palace for the lu spirits. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Murig Geshe Nyima Künchap Rinpoche was born in the village of Barlé and spent many years as a student of his root lama, Barlé Rinpoche. In 1982, he received ordination as a monk from HH 33rd Menri Trizen and HE Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. In 1994, after many years of rigorous study, he received his geshe degree from Menri Monastery. He is a master of sutra, tantra, and dzogchen. However, he is considered a ritual specialist. Of the 360 rituals given by the Enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche, it is believed that only 68 remain. Geshe Künchap Rinpoche holds the transmission, empowerment, and teaching for each of these 68 rituals.

Murig Geshe Nyima Kunchap Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown

Raven Cypress Wood ©2018

Receiving Blessings and Protection

Various types of protection cords. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, there is the custom of lamas giving their disciples so called “protection cords.” The Tibetan name, sung dü [Tib. bsrung mdud], literally translates as “knot of protection”. This refers to the special knot at the center of the string, or strip of material, that holds the protection.

The special knot of a Yungdrung Bon protection cord. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

The string, or strip of material, can be of any of the five colors: white, green, red, blue, or yellow. It can also be of all five together. However, some practices specify the use of a particular color for the construction of a protection cord. For example, at the conclusion of the seven-day longevity retreat of Lama Tséwang Rikdzin, the text instructs the practitioner to create a sung dü using a white cord or string, and tying twenty-one of the special knots together with the recitation of the longevity mantra of Khandro Tukjé Kündrol.

Protection cord of the five colors of the elements. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood.

These special square knots are tied as a mantra is blown onto them, and therefore act to hold the blessing and protection of the mantra. They are created only by those who have actually accomplished the power of the mantra through extensive practice according to the scriptures. These knots should never be opened. These sung dü are most often worn around the neck, or placed in a ga’u, or special locket. The area of the body above the waist is considered higher and more respectful than the area below the waist. Therefore, keeping a blessing cord in a pocket below the waist is not ideal. Sometimes, they are worn on the wrist, but there should be mindfulness to keep the protection cord uncontaminated.

Upon receiving a protection cord, it should be worn for at least three nights. After that, it can continue to be worn, placed in a respectful and sacred place such as a shrine, or burned as a respectful method of disposal. As with any sacred object, it should be kept off the floor or other unclean places. It should never be thrown in the trash or mindlessly discarded.

Raven Cypress Wood ©2018

The Practice of Jamma Chenmo: The Great Loving Mother

At Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, during the 23rd-29th of the 5th lunar month, monastery residents will be undergoing the practice of Jamma Chenmo, the Great Loving Mother. These lunar dates correspond with the Western calendar dates of July 6th-12th, 2018. Jamma Chenmo, also known as Sherap Jamma, the Wise, Loving Mother, is a fully enlightened being who is practiced as a yidam deity. There are many volumes of scriptures dedicated to her teaching and practice. From the commentary entitled The Sky Ladder of Freedom,

“She is the source of the essence of wisdom, as well as the source of the natural mind of all the Enlightened Ones.  She is the empty aspect of space in which everything is arising, everything is abiding, and everything is dissolving.  She is the essence of absolute reality.  In order to lovingly care for all sentient beings like a mother cares for her only child, she engages in supreme activity by teaching in the manner of a goddess.”  

During this seven-day retreat at the monastery, the monastic community will be performing many sessions of practice each day and accumulating a total of at least one hundred thousand recitations of Jamma’s essence mantra.

Translation Raven Cypress Wood ©2015


Birthday Celebration of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama

HH 14th Dalai Lama with HH 34th Menri Trizen. Photo credit: Unknown.

July 6th is the day to celebrate the birth of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama, head of the Geluk tradition, leader of the Tibetan people, and world renowned spiritual guide.

Prayer for the Long Life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Gang ri ra wé kor wé zhing kham su
In a heavenly realm, surrounded by a chain of snow mountains,

Pen dang dé wa ma lü jung wé né
The source of all happiness and help for beings

Chenrezik wang Tenzin Gyatso yi
Is Tenzin Gyatso, Chenrezik in person.

Shyap pé kal gyé bar du ten gyur chik
May his life be secure for hundreds of kalpas!

Cycles of the Elements and Time: The Namchu Wangden

The symbol for The Ten-fold Powerful One, the Namchu Wangden.

The Namchu Wangden, or The Ten-fold Powerful One, is a symbol of great protection within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. It contains the seed syllables for seven hundred and twenty deities.

According to an explanation written by the 23rd Menri Trizin Nyima Tenzin Rinpoche:

“From the tantra, The Cycle of the Elements and Time, found within the 100,000 glorious scriptures of the indestructible, great vehicle, is this ten columns and nine letters of the Namchu Wangden, which contains the seed syllables of Enlightened Mind. AH is the seed syllable for Yungdrung Yéwang Gyalpo, the earth deities, their body color is golden. YANG is the seed syllable for Kündrol Yingjuk, the wind deities, and they are green in color. RAM  is the seed syllable for Künrik Barwa, the fire deities, and they are red in color. MANG is the seed syllable for Künjom Gyalpo, the water deities, and they are blue in color. KHAM is the seed syllable for Kündü Chenpo, the iron deities, and they are white in color. DRUM is the seed syllable for the immeasurable tent of protection, and the four nyémjé ma, and they are golden in color. HUNG is the seed syllable for the queens of the four times at the inner door. At the middle door, are the four guardians. At the outer door, are four fierce ones who are dark-blue in color. OM on the right,*  is the seed syllable for the grandfather of primordial, phenomenal existence, Sangpo Bumtri and the Four Families, and they are white in color. DU on the left,* is the seed syllable for the four mothers of cause and the eight shen, and they are golden-red in color. In brief, this symbol includes the seed syllables for the seven hundred and twenty deities of the Five Families. It is said that the Namchu Wangden destroys all fear!”

*Right and left are according to the point of view of the object not the subject.

The Namchu Wangden of Yungdrung Bon being consecrated in Amdo, Tibet. Photo credit: Unknown.

Displaying this image protects from destruction by the five elements, as well as protects the life-force, health, personal power and lungta.  It gives protection from the eight classes of beings, as well as from astrologically negative events. Traditionally, this image is placed at the entrance to the home as a means of protection. In modern times, the Namchu Wangden protection amulet is commonly placed in cars as well.

Protective amulet, or sung khor, of the Namchu Wangden. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

Tibetan Translation Raven Cypress Wood©2018

Lunar Calendar: The Practice of Tséwang Rikdzin

Mural of Lama Tsewang Rikdzin from Yanggon Monastery in Dolpo, Nepal. Photo credit: Unknown.

According to the lunar calendar of the Yungdrung Bön, the 10th lunar day of each month is the day for the practice of the three sages: the great lama Drenpa Namkha and his two twin sons, Tséwang Rikdzin, and Pema Tongdrul.   For the Western month of June 2018, that date is June 23rd. This is the day set aside specifically to pay homage and make offerings to these lamas, as well as to recite the mantras associated with their respective practices.

“You are like the embrace of a thousand cloudless suns upon the very white, snow mountain, Mount Meru. A hundred praises to the deathless Tséwang Rikdzin, who overcomes the darkness of suffering of sentient beings during this degenerate time.”

From The Sword that Cuts the Noose of Death found within the Tséwang Jarima, The Teachings of Tséwang given at Jarima

Tibetan Translation by Raven Cypress Wood©2012

Author of Indestructible: The Longevity Practice of Lama Tséwang Rikdzin.

For more information about Lama Tséwang Rikdzin, see previous post:




In the Language of Zhang Zhung: MU RA TA HEN

The Zhang Zhung language was a written and spoken language which predates the Tibetan language. In ancient times, the Yungdrung Bön scriptures were translated from Zhang Zhung into Tibetan, as well as many other language such as Chinese and Sanskrit.

There remains examples of the Zhang Zhung language throughout the texts. This Zhang Zhung language reference to Tönpa Shenrap Miwo, Buddha and founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, occurs twice within the commonly practiced one hundred syllable mantra.

Homage to the Saint, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Private collection of Raven Cypress Wood

The 13th day of the 4th month on the lunar calendar is the anniversary of the parinirvana and rainbow body of the Yungdrung Bön scholar and meditation master, Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche. See previous post:

Shardza Soldep. Calligraphy: HE Menri Ponlop Trinley Nyima Rinpoche.

“Fearlessly opening the door to a hundred treasuries of the heart of the Buddha’s stainless teachings,

Having the superior capacity of Mawé Senge,

Supreme guide to the self-radiant, self-arising, primordially pure awareness,

To Manga Werzhi* I pray.”

~Homage written in honor of Shardza Rinpoche, and often placed at the conclusion of the commonly used chöd practice written by him entitled, “Giving the Body, the Full Laughter of the Khandro.”

*Zhang Zhung name for Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche.

Tibetan translation: Raven Cypress Wood


Giving Support to the Dead

Nuns of Tsüngon Rayna Menling in Dolanji, India gather for a tea ceremony. Photo Credit: Khedup Gyatso

In the Yungdrung Bön tradition, when someone dies and enters the forty-nine day period of the intermediate state between death and rebirth, there are many ways to offer support for the one who has died. One of these ways is the Mang Ja , or large tea ceremony. During the tea ceremony sponsored by the family of the deceased, each nun is given tea, a snack, and a small donation. Afterwards, everyone participates in offering prayers for the deceased in order to alleviate their suffering in the transition between death and rebirth, and to support their liberation from cyclic existence. Traditionally, a tea ceremony is sponsored each of the seven weeks of the intermediate state, or bardo. However, if this is not possible due to the financial circumstances of the family, a tea ceremony during the first and seventh week, or at least the seventh week is sponsored. Through the offering of this donation and sustenance to the ordained, merit is generated on behalf of the deceased. This merit, together with the prayers, acts as a positive support to alleviate suffering, support the circumstances for a positive rebirth, and ultimately, lead to complete liberation.

The Indestructible Yungdrung Bön

Yungdrung Bon monks performing a ritual. Photo credit: Unknown.

“Like the sun rising at dawn, through uncontrollable power, may the teachings of Yungdrung Bön spread!”

From A Storehouse of Treasure, The Main Practice of Blue Dzambhala

Translation: Raven Cypress Wood

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