Blog Archives

New Book Announcement: Escape from Darkness

Escape From Darkness tells the story of Buddha Tönpa Shenrap’s younger daughter, Shenza Nechung. Translated from the medium-length hagiography of the Buddha, the Do Zer Mik, this book chronicles the gripping journey of Shenza Nechung from princess, to prisoner, to spiritual leader among her father’s disciples. Lacking the power of true understanding and stable faith, she was led astray by delusion as a youth. Her mother gave her advice, but it was of no avail.

“My daughter Shenza Nechung was restless, and her mind was not steady. She even had an inauspicious dream. I asked her to pick flowers in the garden and make an offering of them to the temple along with prostrations. I sent her to pick flowers. Her return was taking too long, and when I went to the garden to look for her, she was not there. The garden was empty. I looked for her in the four directions, and she was nowhere to be seen. I called for her in the four directions, and there was not a single trace of her. Now all of you must search for her in the four directions.”

— Extract from Escape from Darkness: The Spiritual Journey of the Buddha’s Daughter, Shenza Nechung

Shenza’s story has been translated from the Tibetan into English for the first time by Sangmo Yangri, Ph.D. She received her Ph.D. in Bön and Buddhist studies in 2013 and has published various articles and taught at Ratna Menling Nunnery. Dr. Yangri is currently a teacher and translator for Lishu Institute in Northern India.

Escape from Darkness, published by Sacred Sky Press, can be purchased through this link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/sangmo-yangri/escape-from-darkness/paperback/product-24121255.html

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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Aspiration of The First Way

The tree of health and illness. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood.

Germinating and ripening,

like a blaze of good fortune within the realm of appearance and existence,

giving birth to the positive result of longevity, prosperity, and good harvests,

providing healing for the benefit and happiness of migrating beings in the world;

may we have the auspiciousness of The Way of the Shen of Prediction!*

—Excerpt from The Auspiciousness of the Stages of The Nine Ways

*For more information about The First Way, The Way of the Shen of Prediction, see previous post:

https://ravencypresswood.com/2013/03/27/1st-of-the-nine-ways-divination-astrology-and-medicine/

 

All content and translations 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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Sacred Purification

HH 34th Menri Trizin Lungtok Dawa Dargyal Rinpoche performs a water cleansing ritual. Photo Credit: Unknown.

“Having washed with this healing water, I clearly imagine that all contaminations are washed away because of this medicine.”

—From The Healing Waters Mantra of Nampar Jompa

Tibetan translation Raven Cypress Wood

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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Nangzhig: Largest Yungdrung Bön Monastery in Tibet

Nangzhig Monastery edit

Nangzhig Monastery’s formal name is Nangzhig Gyaltsen Puntsok Ling, Marvelous Land of the Buddha’s Teachings which Destroys Appearances.  It is also known as Nangzhig Tashi Yungdrung Ling, Land of the Auspicious Yungdrung which Destroys Appearances.  It is located in the Amdo Ngawa region and is the largest Yungdrung Bön monastery in Tibet.  The monastery was founded by Yönten Gyaltsen in 1108.  Similar to many other monasteries, Nangzhig Monastery was destroyed during the cultural revolution that began in 1959 and many of its religious articles were hidden away.  In 1980 when the People’s Republic of China began to allow more religious practice, reconstruction and reinstallment of religious artifacts was organized by Gya ‘Ob Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

Nangzhig monastery complex cropped

The monastery complex is quite extensive and includes multiple temples, multiple dormitories for monks and living quarters for senior lamas, and three large chortens among other structures.   During large festivals, the monastery has the capacity to house two thousand monks.

Nangzhig students

Nangzhig Monastery has both a dialectic college and a meditation college.  There are approximately a thousand monks living there and more than two hundred new students arrive each year.  Being a major center for learning and educational exchange in Tibet, the monastery has multiple copies of the Bön canon and over two thousand blocks for printing the texts.  Monks attending the dialectic college must attend classes and debate every day except Sunday and during retreats.  Once the students of the dialectic college have completed ten years of study and successfully passed their final examinations, they receive the degree of Geshe, which is similar to a doctorate of philosophy and religion.  Monks attending the meditation college must complete a three-year retreat based upon the A Tri teachings.

For more information or to make a donation to the monastery, http://www.nangzhig.org/

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 Next Generation of Female Practitioners

Young nuns of Tsüngon Rayna Menling in Dolanji, India. Photo credit: Dorrie Ameen

100,000 Offerings to Sipé Gyalmo

Manifestation of Sipé Gyalmo riding a red mule from within a Yungdrung Bön scripture. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

From May 11th – May 17th, Tashi Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India will conduct their annual ritual of offering 100,000 torma offerings to the primary guardian of the Yungdrung Bön, Sipé Gyalmo, as well as offering to her extensive retinue of manifestations and assistants. During this time both the monks and nuns will be simultaneously performing the offerings and recitations. Lay practitioners will be circumambulating the temples and reciting Sipé Gyalmo mantras.

For those unable to attend, it is an auspicious time to perform Sipé Gyalmo and Yeshé Walmo practice, mantra recitations and repair commitments with these protectors. Khyungdzong Wodsel Ling in California has been authorized by H.H. 34th Menri Trizin Rinpoche and H.E. Menri Pönlop Rinpoche to collect donations for the performance of the week-long ritual. Those who would like to donate can do so through this link: http://kwling.org/bon/bum-tsok-offering/

By donating to the ritual and/or performing Sipé Gyalmo practice, it is a powerful way of removing outer and inner obstacles and disturbances as well as strengthening the force of good fortune and health.

“Single Great Mother Sipé Gyalmo together with your retinue of nine hundred ninety thousand wrathful goddesses, please pay heed to me! 

We, practitioners together with our companions, request your sacred activity of guarding those close to us and reversing external circumstances that are hindrances and obstacles.

Guard the sacred teachings and assist us with your force and your power.”

Extract fromThe Concentrated Elixir of the External, Internal and Secret Sipé Gyalmo

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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Buddha Tönpa Shenrap’s Eleventh Deed: The Deed of Complete Liberation

The enlightened Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché taught his disciples that in order to quickly attain complete liberation, one should practice the highest view of the dzogchen teachings according to the ultimate truth. However, he emphasized that spiritual behavior is based upon the relative truth and should be practiced from the bottom to the top. The method for this practice is the Ten Perfections and the foundation is compassion. According to Lord Tönpa Shenrap, even though one practices the highest view, one should continually pay close attention to the details of behavior according to the relative truth.

The Ten Perfections are:

  • Generosity
  • Moral Discipline
  • Patience
  • Zeal
  • Power
  • Concentration
  • Compassion
  • Aspiration
  • Skillful Means
  • Wisdom

For a brief explanation of each of these perfections, see previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2015/10/23/the-ten-perfections-of-the-yungdrung-bon/

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Wisdom Water

His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche performs a water purification ritual. Photo credit: Unknown.

Essence Mantra of Yungdrung Bön: the MA TRI Mantra

The MA TRI mantra at Tokden Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown.

The MA TRI mantra is one of the three primary essence mantras of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. The syllable OM is the seed syllable of the buddha Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché. The syllable MA is the seed syllable of the buddha Sherap Jamma. The remaining six syllables are the seed syllables of the Six Subduing Shen, the buddhas who liberate each of the six kinds of beings from the suffering and misery of cyclic existence.

Lord Tönpa Shenrap and Sherap Jamma according to the practice of the MA TRI.

OM Upon cushions of a sun, moon and lotus and within a beautiful, jeweled palace is the victorious deity and his consort.*  I present this offering of the essence mantra to them along with their retinue.

I request that you receive me within your compassion.  May the defilements and karmic potentialities of both myself and others be purified!  Please bestow both the supreme and the ordinary accomplishments! OM MA TRI MU YÉ SA LÉ DÜ.”

— From Sending Out and Gathering Back with the MA TRI Mantra. Translated from the Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood

*This refers to Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché and Buddha Sherap Jamma.

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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Lineage of Ancient Wisdom

HH 34th Menri Trizin Dawa Dargye Rinpoche and HE Menri Ponlop Yangton Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche during a ritual at Menri Monastery in Dolanji, Inida. Photo credit: Unknown.

Giving Without Attachment

Mandala Offering at Tokden Yungdrung Bon Monastery. Photo credit: Unknown

“EMAHO!

To the great, peerless lama possessing characteristics, I present unequaled external, internal and secret offerings.

Externally, I offer the environment and the beings within it. I offer my own body and its vitality as an ornament. Furthermore, I present these offerings with non-attachment.

Internally, I offer the arising of my mental and physical aggregates. I offer my accumulated realization that whatever arises as subject and object is illusory. Furthermore, I present these offerings within the vast space of self-liberation.

Secretly, I offer the natural radiance of my unborn mind, which is unceasing and understands whatever arises as enlightened manifestation and wisdom. Furthermore, I present these offerings within a completely vast and all-pervasive space.”

—From Offerings for the Lama. Translated from the Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood

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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Sacred Offering of Flowers

Ritual flower offering of ornamented tsampaka being prepared. Photo credit: Jessica Gallego

Within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, flowers are one of the five daily offerings and an important offering during most rituals. Often tsampaka seeds are used to create an auspicious flower offering that never withers or fades in beauty. These seed pods grow on commonly found trees in the Himalayas and measure an average of 25 to 28 inches in length.

Left: tsampaka seed pod Center: tsampaka seed pod with seeds iinside Right: tsampaka seeds. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

As a ritual flower offering, the winged seeds are glued one above another to a small piece of wood or bamboo. The center of the seeds are then painted or otherwise decorated with the five colors of the five elements.

Tsampaka flower offerings for a Nampar Gyalwa Fire Ritual. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood.

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Accumulating Merit & Wisdom

Photo credit: Jana Kolarik

Through recitation of the sacred Yungdrung Bön texts, we accumulate both merit and wisdom. By making a commitment to recite a certain text every day or a specified number of times and then fulfilling that commitment, the power of our practice is amplified. Recitation of the sacred texts is also one of the thirteen Bön activities. See previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2018/01/14/the-thirteen-bon-activities/

As a support to the worldwide Yungdrung Bön community, Raven Cypress Wood has provided her translation of select Yungdrung Bön prayers on this website for the personal use of Yungdrung Bön practitioners. See the Publications page of this website at the link below for more information. https://ravencypresswood.com/publications/

“EMAHO!

Enlightened Ones of the ten directions who appeared in the past,

Enlightened Ones of the ten directions who appear in the present,

Enlightened Ones of the ten directions who will appear in the future,

the Mind of the lama is the embodiment of all these Enlightened Ones of the three times.

To the embodiment of all the places of refuge, the root lama,

I pay homage, admit my wrongdoing, present offerings, and supplicate!

Please pacify all obstacles and guide me along the path of liberation!

Bestow your blessings that my wishes will be spontaneously fulfilled!”

— From The Spontaneous Wish-fulfillment of Removing Obstacles from the Path:

The Oral Transmission of Khandro Shérap Lopélma

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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Uplifting Auspiciousness & Good Fortune

His Eminence Menri Ponlop Yangton Thrinley Nyima Rinpoche offering lungta papers to the sky during a ritual to increase good fortune. Photo credit: Unknown

“Having produced within my mind-stream a lack of desire or attachment towards this world, toward friends or enemies, towards material things or property and wealth; and having liberated the knots of greediness regarding subject and object, may I abide in the state of the unmoving, nature of mind!”    

—From the book Indestructible: The Longevity Practice of Tséwang Rikdzin. 

Lama Tséwang Rikdzin was born a human being as one of the twin sons of Lama Drenpa Namkha. But having realized the ultimate result of his practice and thereby transcending cyclic existence, he purified all obscurations and perfected all positive qualities and became an enlightened being. In this way, Lama Tséwang Rikdzin came to be practiced as a yidam deity. Although there are many longevity practices within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the practice of Lama Tséwang Rikdzin has become the longevity practice most commonly performed.

To learn more about the book: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SacredSky

Tibetan translation: 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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Yungdrung Bön Auspicious Days for Spiritual Practice

The Supreme Shen Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché.

According to the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, each month there are auspicious days which are determined by the teaching activities of the Supreme Shen Buddha Tönpa Shenrap. These are lunar dates according to the Tibetan lunar calendar.

30th Day of the Month, New Moon: On this day, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap taught the beings in the formless realm. This is a good day to purify wrong views. The power of any virtuous activity or meditation performed on this day is doubled. Also, because of its significance in the lunar cycle, it is one of the four monthly auspicious days to perform prayers and virtuous activities, and for those with genyen or monastic vows to avoid eating meat.

1st Day of the Month: On this day, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap taught the space gods in the highest and purest of places in the formless realm. This is a good day to purify greed and attachment and engage in acts of generosity.

8th Day of the Month: On this day, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap taught the clear-light gods. This is a good day to purify broken vows and to recite one of the three essence mantras of the Yungdrung Bön tradition. Also, because of its significance in the lunar cycle, it is one of the four monthly auspicious days to perform prayers and virtuous activities, and for those with genyen or monastic vows to avoid eating meat.

14th Day of the Month: On this day, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap taught the Gaden gods of the form realm. This is a good day to purify sexual misconduct and desire.

15th Day of the Month: On this day, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap taught the gods of the desire realm atop Mt. Meru. This is a good day to purify the killing of someone important such as a lama, a family member or another practitioner in either this or a previous life. Also, because of its significance in the lunar cycle, it is one of the four monthly auspicious days to perform prayers and virtuous activities, and for those with genyen or monastic vows to avoid eating meat.

16th Day of the Month: On this day, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap taught the four great gods of the desire realm and the four great kings. This is a good day to purify disagreements or misunderstandings with parents, a lama, or another practitioner from either this or a previous life.

19th Day of the Month: On this day, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap taught the Tsang Ri gods of the form realm. This is a good day to purify any accidental killing.

22nd Day of the Month: On this day, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap taught the demi-gods of the desire realm who reside on the sides of Mt. Meru. This is a good day to purify the killing of a human being or lying to the lama. Also, because of its significance in the lunar cycle, it is one of the four monthly auspicious days to perform prayers and virtuous activities, and for those with genyen or monastic vows to avoid eating meat.

29th Day of the Month: On this day, Buddha Tönpa Shenrap taught the lu [Sanskrit: naga] of the desire realm. This is a good day to purify stealing during this or a previous life.

The practice of the admission of wrongdoing and purification is a powerful and effective method to purify non-virtuous activities of body, speech and mind and repair our sacred vows and commitments. The efficacy of the practice relies upon the so-called “four powers.” These are 1) the power of witness, 2) the power of openly admitting without reservation the actions of wrongdoing and non-virtue, 3) the power of heartfelt remorse, and 4) the power of vowing to not repeat the negative activities.

“The infallible fruit of both good and bad actions is certain. May I be watchful to accept or reject situations! Having depended upon the practice of admitting wrongdoing by means of the four powers, may all karmic potentialities and defilements be purified!”

— From The Ocean of Instructions Regarding the A Tri Teachings by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche

For the power of witness, the practitioner goes before a sacred object of refuge such as a shrine, a real or visualized image of an enlightened being, or a chorten. Then, the practitioner connects with the actual presence of the enlightened beings in the sky before them. For the second power which is the admission of wrongdoing, the practitioner brings into their awareness all of the non-virtuous activities of body, speech and mind that have been committed in this life, as well as any unremembered activities from this or previous lives. This includes activities of direct or indirect involvement, as well as encouraging or celebrating the non-virtuous activities of others. For the third power, the practitioner generates an intense remorse for all of these actions. For the fourth power, the practitioner makes a firm commitment to not repeat these non-virtuous activities in the future and to instead engage in activities of virtue. In this way, the negative actions and their consequences are purified. At the conclusion of the practice, the practitioner imagines and feels the blessings of the enlightened beings completely purifying them in the form of pure, wisdom light.

“I openly admit to the gathering of buddhas all non-virtue that has arisen from the five poisons from beginning-less time until this very moment. I generate intense remorse for these actions of non-virtue and immorality that I have committed in the past.  I vow that from now on, I will not commit those acts again.  Instead, I will delight in accumulating virtue.” 

— From Homage to the Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwo

All translations from the Tibetan 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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Passing into Nirvana

The PongenThroneholder Tise Gyalwa Rinpoche in tukdam. Photo credit: Unknown

On the second day of the first lunar month, Western date February 6, 2019, the abbot of Pongen Yungdrung Dargye Ling Monastery in Kham, Tibet, Khyungkar Tisé Gyalwa Rinpoche entered into the state of tukdam. In general, tukdam refers to a state of meditative stability attained by meditation masters that continues after the external breath of their body has ceased but the internal breath, or winds, remain.  Therefore, the subtle channels through which these winds move remain stable. The area of the body containing the heart chakra remains warm to the touch.  The skin remains soft, and the face retains a glow of vitality. During this time, great care is taken to not disturb the body or interrupt the state of mediation.

Khyungkar Tise Gyalwa cremation day. Photo credit: Unknown

After an indeterminate number of days, the internal winds cease, the channels collapse, the physical body slumps, and the warmth dissipates from the heart center. At that time, chants related to the cleansing of the sacred body are recited while the physical remains are ritually bathed with water mixed with special herbs.  Sacred seed syllables are then written on the body and the body is wrapped in a pure white cloth.

Cremation stupa. Photo credit: Unknown.

On the 23rd day of the 1st lunar month, Western date February 27th, the physical remains of Tisé Gyalwa Rinpoche were ritually cremated during an elaborate fire ceremony. His skull and heart remained intact and have been kept as sacred relics.

Sacred relics of the Pongen Throneholder Khyungkar Tise Gyalwa Rinpoche. Photo credit: Unknown.

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Developing Knowledge & Wisdom

White emanation of Mawé Senge, Lion of Exposition.

After the Tibetan New Year celebrations, students at Menri Monastery in India enter into an intensive retreat to cultivate the qualities of the wisdom deity Mawé Senge, Lion of Exposition. This retreat begins on the 24th lunar day of the 1st month and concludes on the 30th lunar day. In 2019, these dates coincide with February 28th through March 6th on the Western calendar. The intention of this retreat is to develop and sharpen the student’s intellect related to their upcoming studies. The practice of Mawé Senge is performed many times each day and the mantra of the deity is recited as much as possible throughout the retreat, but at least a minimum of 100,000 recitations are completed.

“I go for refuge to the wisdom deity for the intellect.

I generate the supreme mind for the benefit of vigorous training in the highest wisdom.

Having compassionately purified all karmic obscurations without exception,

please bestow the attainments of an increased intellect, useful knowledge, and a divine voice.”  

—From The Short Practice of Mawé Senge. Tibetan translation: Raven Cypress Wood

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Feast Offering to the Deities of the Mother Tantra

Deities of the Mother Tantra. Painted by Lama Kalsang Nyima. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood.

On the 21st and 22nd lunar days of the 1st month, Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India will perform a feast offering to the deities of the Mother Tantra. These dates are February 25th and 26th, 2019 on the Western calendar. For those who have vows with a yidam deity, performing a feast offering is an opportunity to repair any broken vows and to request the blessings and power of the deity.

The source of the Mother Tantra within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition is the primordial Buddha Küntu Zangpo. It has three cycles: external, internal and secret. Each cycle has a root text and a commentary that was written by the sage Milu Samlek. The main yidam of the Mother tantra is Sangchok Thartuk and his consort Khandro Chema Ötso.

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Homage to Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché!

Homage to Tonpa Shenrap painted on rock

“I prostrate to Shenrap Nampar Gyalwa, the Precious Wish-fulfilling Jewel!”

The 15th day of the 1st lunar month has traditionally been the day for Bönpos to celebrate the human birth of Lord Tönpa Shenrap Miwoché, founder of the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. In 2019, this date coincides with February 19th on the Western calendar.

However, in recent times, the scholar and Yungdrung Bön master H. E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche has discovered through his research that the actual date is the 15th day of the 12th lunar month. See previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2019/01/19/passing-beyond-worldly-existence/

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Sacred Dance for the New Year

Monks perform the sacred dances for the Tibetan New Year at Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. Photo credit: Unknown

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