Throughout the ten directions of the immeasurable three thousand-fold universe,
are a variety of butter lamp goddesses.
Through the lighting of these bright offering lamps, the fire of the lamps clears away darkness and obscurations, and radiates throughout the vast, clear space of the sky.”
An extract from Raising a Victory Banner of Butter Lamps
Translation from the Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood ©2017. A full translation of the prayer will be included in her forthcoming book detailing support for death and dying according to the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition.
Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, one of the primary guardians who removes external, internal, and secret obstacles for both practitioners and the religious tradition is the Queen of Existence, Sipé Gyalmo [Tibetan srid pa’i rgyal mo]. She is an enlightened being who is uniquely a protector and also a yidam, or meditational deity. She is one of the principal female deities, and her invocations and offerings are performed daily in Yungdrung Bön Monasteries. She protects from enemies, danger, illness, misfortune, and confusion.
Sipé Gyalmo has countless manifestations and emanations. She manifests with different characteristics in order to meet the varied needs of sentient beings. She manifests riding a red mule, riding a black mule, and standing with a hundred heads and thousands of arms and legs. Her Body emanations are the Six Manifestation of Day and Night. Each of these six manifestations arise during a particular cycle of time during every twenty-four hour period. These six manifestations are White Sipé Gyalmo of Dawn, Golden Sipé Gyalmo of Sunrise, Red Sipé Gyalmo of Mid-day, Maroun Sipé Gyalmo of Sunset, Black Sipé Gyalmo of Evening, and Dark-blue Sipé Gyalmo of Midnight.
According to the Yungdrung Bön religious calendar, there are specific days set aside for the practice of Sipé Gyalmo 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.
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. Translation by Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved
With the devotion of my body, speech and mind, I pray to the essence of the three Enlightened Bodies, the kind root lama.
Please bestow upon me right now the realization of my own enlightened mind and the meaning of the view, realization and behavior.
May I recognize my natural mind, without modification and free of extremes.
May I recognize the brilliantly clear power of the wisdom of self-awareness.
May the many kinds of unceasing mental perceptions arise as self-appearances.
May I recognize my own enlightened mind, I pray.
Bless me that I may see my true face!
Bless me that self-awareness will arise for me!
Bless me to recognize my own true nature!
Bless me to see my own enlightened mind!
Lama, think of me! Lama, think of me! Lama, think of me!
Hold me, and all other sentient beings, in your compassion, I pray!
Protect us with your compassion, I pray!
Lead us with your compassion, I pray!
A Powa Prayer written by Lord Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen and included in his Kalong Gyatso, An Ocean of Instructions. Translation by Raven Cypress Wood ©2015 All Rights Reserved.
“This heart mantra pacifies suffering and misery. Having overturned the depths of the lower realms of cyclic existence, may all beings be liberated into the space of absolute reality!”
From Praise of the DU TRI SU Mantra
Translation: Raven Cypress Wood
On November 9th in Washington Depot, Connecticut, His Eminence 7th Kündrol Namkha Trinley Wangyal Rinpoche will bestow the long-life empowerment of Drenpa Namkha. From November 6th – 8th, the public is invited to view the ritual creation of The Accomplishment of Longevity of Drenpa Namkha sand mandala by a small group of monks from Menri Monastery. This mandala will be an external support for the sacred presence of Drenpa Namkha and Öden Barma during the empowerment. On November 10th, the empowerment ritual will conclude with the ceremonial dissolution of the sand mandala and the traditional sacred Dance of Victory of the religious protector, Sipé Gyalmo, the Queen of Existence.
A long-life empowerment, when joined together with the faith of the participants, is a method to repair and restore the lifespan, vitality, health, and prosperity. Because the long-life ritual involves the restoration and balance of each of the five elements that constitute our body, energy, and mind, it therefore also restores and strengthens the soul. Receiving this kind of blessing also removes external obstacles such as danger and accidents, internal obstacles such as illness, and secret obstacles such as confusion and unhealthy thought patterns. By receiving the empowerment, the mandala of the deity is ‘opened’ to the practitioner. Because of that, they can now receive blessings and develop the enlightened qualities of the deity through formal practice of the deity, recitation of the specific mantra of the deity, or by making offerings and supplications to the deity.
Drenpa Namkha was a realized Dzogchen practitioner who also exhibited great power and skill due to his mastery of tantra. In this ritual, he is practiced as a yidam for his quality of gaining mastery over his lifespan. (See previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/05/06/practice-of-the-great-lama-drenpa-namkha/ )Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the 10th lunar day of each month is designated as a time to perform practice and make offerings to Drenpa Namkha and his two sons: Tséwang Rikdzin and Pema Tongdrol. According to Tibetan astrology, the ages of 1, 9, 13, 25, 37, 49, 61, 73 and 81 are considered obstacles years, and therefore, an ideal time to receive long-life empowerments.
Creating a mandala for an empowerment is necessary in order to have a proper support for the deity and their retinue during the ritual. It is a kind of sacred architecture with dimensions and details described in the sacred texts. Although enlightened beings are beyond form, because of their compassion, they manifest in form with specific aspects so that we can more easily connect with them. According to the scriptures, all mandalas are to be made of sand. However, because this is not always possible, using painted images of mandalas became a substitute. During the ritual, the lama visualizes the mandala arising from the five elements as an immeasurable palace. In this way, every mandala has three dimensions: 1) the actual mandala realm, 2) the visualized mandala realm, and 3) the symbolic mandala realm represented by sand or paint. At the conclusion of the ritual, the mandala is dissolved and the sand is returned to the environment, often placed in a river, in order to bless it with the energy and power accumulated during the ritual.
For more information about this event, or to register, go to the link below:
Among the Nine Ways of Bön, The Ninth Way is the highest. It is the practice of dzogchen, the great perfection. Here, everything is spontaneously perfected and there is no activity to be performed. The view is unbounded and beyond subject and object. Because everything is spontaneously perfected and complete, it is beyond needing the effort of a generating stage and perfection stage. It is beyond the extremes of existence and nonexistence, and without beginning or end. Although it is ineffable, the enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap has given guidance using words for those disciples who need instruction. Therefore, this Way is often classified and explained in three parts: the foundation, the path, and the result, or the view, the meditation, and the behavior.
According to the Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche:
“If it is divided into each separate aspect, it has 84,000 elaborations. Condensed inward, it is one essence, a single tiklé.”
“It cannot be lost. It is not created from a cause, nor is it destroyed by circumstance.”
Although the dzogchen view is the highest and is beyond the dualistic concepts of good and bad, the dzogchen practitioner is not beyond these concepts until they have completely realized the fruit of the teachings, which is buddhahood. Therefore, even if a disciple has a vast and high view, Lord Tönpa Shenrap advises that they maintain behavior according to the path of the two accumulations of virtue and wisdom. Although dzogchen is about knowing and being aware rather than performing any particular behavior or ritual, there are specifics practices that are prescribed to be applied to whatever cause or condition is blocking or interrupting awareness. Central to the practice of dzogchen is the development of the mind of enlightenment, doubtless refuge, and indestructible devotion to one’s root lama who points out the true nature of the disciples mind and gives them advice along the path.
Raven Cypress Wood© 2018
On the 17th day of the 8th Tibetan Month, Western date September 27, 2018, the esteemed dzogchen master and scholar, Chogyal Namkha’i Norbu Rinpoche passed away. Although he was a Nyingma lineage holder, he had close ties with many Yungdrung Bön lamas. Through his years of research, he often verified the validity of Bönpo religious and historical accounts. In 1983, he and a group of his students traveled to Dolanji, India and received teachings and transmissions of the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyü from His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. In 1988, having been invited by Namkha’i Norbu Rinpoche to his Merigar Retreat Center in Italy, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche taught his first dzogchen retreat to Westerners.
Namkha’i Norbu Rinpoche was a prolific writer and authored many books, including the well known “The Crystal and the Way of Light,” and “The Cycle of Day and Night.” He also wrote a three volume study of Zhang Zhung and Tibetan history which has been eloquently translated and edited by Donatella Rossi entitled, “The Light of Kailash, A History of Zhang Zhung and Tibet.”
When a realized lama passes, it is appropriate to fervently practice guru yoga, imagining the master merged with all masters and enlightened beings, to perform aspiration prayers, to perform acts of virtue, and to sponsor the performance of tsog offerings by the monastic community. For students, it is especially important to purify and renew commitments they have made with the master, and to zealously apply the master’s spiritual guidance until achieving realization for themselves and others.
Raven Cypress Wood ©2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: https://ravencypresswood.com/2018/07/21/a-chorten-for-barle-village/) 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.
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.
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.
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: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/12/25/buddha-tonpa-shenraps-eighth-deed-the-deed-of-being-completely-victorious/
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.