Category Archives: Masters

Ani Sherab Wangmo

ASW

ANI SHERAB WANGMO is a nun from the Yungdrung Bön Tibetan Tradition, authorized instructor for the Lineage and practitioner for 16 years. Her name means “the nun initiated in Wisdom” and her Getsukma vows were granted by His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, Abott of the Menri monastery in India. In 2005 she went on a one month pilgrimage to sacred Zhang Zhung sites mainly in lake Dangra. One of the most important results of this pilgrimage was that she brought back relics and sacred offerings of the sacred sites, donations of Bonpo hermits, and relics from Triten Norbutse monastery in Tibet to be placed in the hearts of five different stupas: two in Dolpo, one in Torreón, Mexico, one in Valle de Bravo, Mexico and the last one in Shenten Darkye Ling in France.

Yongdzin Rinpoche is her Root Lama since 1999 and in different years she has had six month personal retreats in the main monasteries of the Tradition with the founding Teachers. She lives in La Paz, Mexico and coordinates one sangha there.

H.H. Menri Trizin 33rd Lungtok Tenpai Nyima Rinpoche

As 33rd Abbot of Menri Bon Monastery, H. H. Menri Trizin is spiritual head of the Tibetan Bon religion. He was born in Tibet in 1929, in the village of Kyongtsang, in the far eastern province of Amdo near the Chinese border, and was given the name Lama by the local priest. His mother died when he was a child, and he was raised by A-Nyen Machen, an elderly friend of his family.

HHMTRWhen Lama was eight years old, his father Jalo Jongdong took him to the nearby monastery of Phuntsog Dargye Ling, where he learned to read, write, and chant and where he began his lifelong study of the Bon religion. Devoting himself to spiritual practice and scholarship, he completed his Geshe degree in philosophy at 25 under the guidance of Lopon Tenzin Lodro Gyatso. The following year he traveled south to the Bon province of Gyalrong, where he printed copies of the Bon Kanjur from traditional woodblocks.

After gathering a vast amount of material, and using mules to carry more than 100 volumes of the sacred texts, he made an arduous, six-month journey back to his monastery. At 27, he set out on foot as a pilgrim, initially to China, where he visited a number of holy sites, and then continued on, by truck, to Lhasa. For the next several years he studied in Tibet at the Bon monasteries of Menri, Khana, and Yungdrung Ling, where he became known as Sangye Tenzin Jongdong.

He also lived for a time at Drepung Monastery in Lhasa. In 1959, he fled Lhasa for Nepal and met the Abbot of Yungdrung Ling in the province of Dolpo, where the renowned teacher was living in exile. It was also in Dolpo, at Samling Monastery, that he first encountered Tibetan scholar Professor David Snellgrove of the University of London.

In Dolpo, spurred by the urgent need to preserve Bon religion and culture, Sangye Tenzin collected many important Bon texts in both printed and woodblock form, which he subsequently took to India, once again using mules as the most available and reliable means of transport. In 1961, together with Samten Karmay and several other Bon monks, Sangye Tenzin made his way to New Delhi.

The Tibetan government invited world leaders and many high lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to join with H.H. 14th Dalai Lama in a ceremony at Bodhygaya India. Long life prayers for H.H. Dalai Lama and all Tibetan peoples were chanted.

In 1964 he returned to India to found a school funded by sponsors in England. His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked him to start the school in Massori, India and he staffed it with volunteer teachers from the West. He remained as head of the school for three years, teaching Tibetan grammar and history. Each month he sent his salary, three hundred rupees a month, to the refugee Bönpo lamas living in Manali, India for them to buy food. He also helped create a meditation center in Manali for the lamas and monks. Later the school that he had founded was moved to the south of India, where it became the first permanent Tibetan settlement in the region.

In 1965 Lopon Tenzin Namdak returned to India and with help of the Catholic Relief Service purchased land in Himachal Pradesh, India to found Dolanji, the home for the Tibetan Bönpo refugee community. In 1966 Geshe Sangye Tenzin Jong Dong traveled to the University of Oslo, Norway at the invitation of Per Kvaerne, where he taught Tibetan history and religion for two years.

On March 15, 1968 while in Norway he received a telegram from India which stated that the Protectors of Bön had selected him the 33rd Abbot of Menri, and spiritual leader of the Bönpos. The Abbot of Yung Drung Ling, Lopon Sangye Tenzin, Lopon Tenzin Namdak, and about then other Bönpo Geshes had prayed in the Drup Khang, or Protector’s temple, for fourteen days. The guardians then selected Geshe Sangye Tenzin Jong Dong from a group of ten Geshe monks eligible to be the new Abbot through a divination process.

Each of the Geshe’s names were written on a small piece of paper, each of which was enclosed in a small ball of ceremonial dough made from barley flour and holy medicine, and these balls were placed in a vase. After prayer and rituals lasting two weeks, the Abbot of Yung Drung Link shook the vase and three names came out, one by one, onto a special Mandala. All of the other names were removed from the vase and the three put back in, and the process began again. This time two names were shaken out, one after the other. The first held the name of who was to be the new Abbot, and this ball was used in initiation and rituals, and then opened in from of all the people present, who promised to honor him as the one true Abbot. The second man chosen would hold a very important position with the Bönpos as a lama and teacher.

On the night of March 14 in Norway, Geshe Sangye Tenzin Jong Dong had a dream that he and the man who was the second name to emerge from the vase were on the top of a temple, each holding a conch shell, used in the monastery to make music at special times. It became very windy and the second man was unable to hold his conch, and it blew out of his hand and broke on the ground below. Sangye Tenzin Jong Dong was able to keep his conch safe in his hand and play, despite the terrible storm. The next morning the telegram came inviting him to become the new Abbot.

So he returned to India and assumed his duties as the spiritual leader of the Bönpo at a very crucial time in their long history. Their world had been destroyed and their lineage almost lost, but he had to lead them to a new beginning. It would take a very strong and compassionate man to help them build new monasteries and schools, and to save their culture and religion in strange and new surroundings. Many lamas came from Tibet, Nepal and India to give him their initiations and teachings, and for over one year he intensively trained and practiced for his role as Abbot, the leader who would guide the Bönpo and hold all the teaching lineages.

Slowly over time he was able to build a new Menri monastery in Dolanji, and after that a Bön Dialectic School, which has now awarded thirty seven geshe degrees, with certification recognized by H. H. the Dalai Lama. He also founded an orphanage at the monastery for Bön children, called the Bön Children’s Welfare Center.

Today there are approximately four hundred Tibetans living in Dolanji, along with one hundred orphans and one hundred monks. Two hundred and fifty Bönpo children from all over India and Nepal attend the boarding school in the village. Dolanji has become a thriving center of Tibetan culture and religion under the guidance of His Holiness Lungtok Tenpei Nyima.

source from: Sherab Chamma Ling

H.E. Yongzin Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche

H.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche is the senior-most teacher of the Bon tradition and is considered the world’s foremost expert on Bon. Yongdzin Rinpoche was born in 1926 in Khyungpo Karru in the Khyunpo district of Kham province, eastern Tibet. At age 7 he entered Tengchen Monastery, a local monastery where his uncle served as chant leader. There he entered into an extensive course of education, and at age 14 he took his vows as a monk.

In 1940 at age 15, the young monk traveled with his uncle to Yungdrung Ling, a leading Bon monastery in central Tibet. From 1940 to 1942 he spent much time there helping to execute wall paintings, making use of his training since age 11 as an artist and painter. In late 1942 he went on pilgrimage in Nepal and western Tibet, returning to Yungdrung Ling in mid-1943 to begin his studies in philosophy.

he.yongzinjoFrom 1944 to late 1948 Yongdzin Rinpoche lived and studied with his tutor and master Gangru Tsultrim Gyaltsan Rinpoche, who had retired from 18 years of service as lopon (principal teacher) of Yungdrung Ling. Much of this period was spent in seclusion in a remote meditation cave at Juru Tso Lake in Namtsokha, northern Tibet, where Gangru Ponlob Rinpoche taught him grammar, poetics, monastic discipline, cosmology, and the stages of the path to enlightenment according to sutra, tantra and dzogchen. During this time, along with his busy schedule of scholarly pursuit on various profound subjects of philosophy and general Tibetan sciences, Rinpoche managed to complete 900,000 accumulations of the Ngondro practices as well as the dzogchen practices of trekchod and thogal with profound accomplishment.

At the conclusion of this time, in late 1948 he traveled to Menri Monastery in Tsang province, central Tibet, to complete his studies toward a geshe degree (the Tibetan equivalent of a doctorate in philosophy). His main teacher at Menri was Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche. In 1952 at age 27, he was awarded his degree, and that same year was elected to succeed his master as lopon (principal teacher) of the monastery. By 1957, conflict was escalating in central Tibet between native Tibetans and the encroaching Chinese Communists, at which time Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche retired from his activities as lopon. He traveled to Se-zhig Monastery on the Dang-ra lake in northern Tibet and remained in retreat there until 1960, just after the Lhasa uprising against the Chinese Communist occupiers.

Amid the violence and occupation, many famous living Tibetan masters of the time were forced to flee their homeland, among them H.H. the Dalai Lama and H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa. Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche attempted to escape on foot, along with group of lamas and monks of Menri including the 32nd abbot of Menri, his foremost disciple, carrying with them important texts and relics. But on the way south toward India he was shot by Chinese soldiers. Thinking him dead, the Chinese left the great master lying in the dirt. One of his close attending monks helped him to a nearby family, who took him into hiding.

In his escape Yongdzin Rinpoche was able to conceal the famous stupa of Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen together with statues, precious relics and other sacred objects in a cave at Lug-do Drag in the area of Tsochen, Tibet. When he had recovered enough to resume his travels, he carried with him volumes of texts to ensure their preservation. (These sacred objects are now safely restored in Menri Monastery, Tibet.)

For about 22 days the escape party traveled by night and hid during the day until they reached safe haven in Nepal along with the volumes of important texts. In Nepal, he stayed for some time at Najyin Monastery, Kathmandu. In 1961 he met the renowned English Tibetologist Dr. David Snellgrove of London University, who invited him to London along with Geshe Sangye Tenzin (the present H.H. Menri Trizin) and Geshe Samten Karmay.

Under a Rockefeller Foundation Grant in the visiting scholar program, Lopon Tenzin Namdak resided in England, first at the University of London, and then at Cambridge University. Thereafter he made a retreat at a Benedictine monastery on the Isle of Wight. His three years in England (1961-1964) and collaboration with Dr. Snellgrove culminated in the 1967 publication in English of The Nine Ways of Bon (Oxford University Press), the first scholarly study of the Bon tradition to be made in the West. In 1964 he returned to India where he republished precious Tibetan texts. There he also assumed the critical task of raising funds to establish a Bonpo settlement and monastery in northern India.

From 1964 to 1967 Lopon Tenzin Namdak strived desperately to keep the Bonpo people and their culture alive in exile. In 1967, with financial assistance from the Catholic Relief Service he bought a tract of land at Dolanji, near Solan in Himachal Pradesh, northwest India, and started a Tibetan settlement, school and monastery there. Following the 1963 death of Kundun Sherab Lodroe (the 32nd abbot of Menri), the abbot of Yungdrung Ling, H.H. Sherab Tenpai Gyaltsen, became temporary spiritual leader of the Bonpo community in exile.

By the leadership of H.H. Sherab Tenpai Gyaltsen and the inspiration of Lopon Sangye Tenzin and many other lamas, Yongdzin Rinpoche took responsibility for locating a successor to the deceased abbot.

In March 1968, Sangye Tenzin Jongdong (H.H. Lungtok Tenpai Nyima) was selected in the traditional way as Menri Trizin, throne holder of Menri Monastery; and thus became the spiritual leader of Bon. Together, Yongdzin Rinpoche and H.H. Menri Trizin worked to build the monastic community in Dolanji, which at the time was the only Bonpo monastery in India. In mid-1968 Yongdzin Rinpoche made a second visit to Europe and served as visiting scholar at the University of Munich. From 1969 to 1978 he continued his work at Dolanji, including writing, publishing, practicing, transmitting initiations and teaching the lamas and monks. Upon the death of Lopon Sangye Tenzin in 1977 after a protracted illness, he was given full responsibility for teaching the younger generation of monks. In 1978 a dialectic school was established and organized under his guidance. In 1986 the first class of monks graduated from the Dialectic School with their geshe degrees.

That year Yongdzin Rinpoche traveled to visit Tibet; and on his return via Kathmandu, Nepal, with his money and some loans he acquired a small piece of land where he would build the future monastery of Triten Norbutse. The monastery was formally founded in 1987 on its site at the foot of Nagarjuna hill to the west of the famous hill of Swayambhu at the far end of the Kathmandu Valley.

Triten Norbutse has since become one of the two main Bon monasteries outside Tibet, providing an extensive and rigorous comprehensive study of the broad spectrum of Bon teachings and traditions.

Today 170 resident monks study and practice there. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche maintained a regular teaching schedule there, while making numerous excursions to teach in the West. In 1993, Heart Drops of Dharmakaya, his commentary on Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche’s book of dzogchen practice, was published in English by Snow Lion Publications. Since 1995 Yongdzin Rinpoche has visited Europe regularly to give teachings, and has also frequently visited the United States at the invitation of his former student from Dolanji, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, as well as others. He has regularly taught retreats in France, where the Association Yungdrung Bon was set up by his Western students to facilitate his work in the West and in particular Europe. In 2005 Shenten Dargye Ling, a congregation legally recognized by the French government, was established in France for the preservation, research, teaching and practice of Yungdrung Bon.

The information in this account is drawn in large part from Bonpo Dzogchen Teachings according to Lopon Tenzin Namdak, transcribed and edited by John Myrdhin Reynolds. Kathmandu, Nepal: Vajra Publications, 2006; and was further revised for accuracy by Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche, the current abbot of Triten Norbutse Monastery.

source from: Ligmincha Institute

Ven. Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche

Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche is the abbot (khenpo) of Triten Norbutse Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, one of the two main Bon monasteries outside of Tibet. Khenpo Rinpoche was born in 1969 in Dhorpatan, a remote area of western Nepal that hosts a small Tibetan refugee settlement and a Bon monastery. Established with aid from the Swiss Red Cross, the Dhorpatan settlement is one of the earliest refugee camps for Tibetans in exile; most of its residents are Bonpos from western Tibet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe monastery in Dhorpatan, Tashi Gegye Thaten Ling, was founded by the 32nd Menri Abbot, Kundun Sherap Lodroe. Khenpo Rinpoche’s father, Lama Tsultrim Nyima, was an accomplished practitioner who dedicated his life to the welfare of the Dhorpatan community and the survival of the precious Yungdrung Bon tradition. It was a great loss to Khenpo Rinpoche and the community when his father passed away at a relatively early age. Khenpo Rinpoche expresses deep gratitude toward his mother, Nyima Choedon, who cared for him single-handedly for many years after his father died, and toward his uncle, who first taught him the Bon scriptures.

At age 11 Khenpo Rinpoche joined other students in studying with Lama Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the abbot of Tashi Gegye Thaten Ling. After completing an initial course of study of the Bon ritual texts and Tibetan calligraphy, he transferred with three other students to Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, for further studies. In order to reach Menri Monastery, the four young students, along with Lama Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche and a man named A-Gyam, spent eight days walking alongside a horse caravan and another three days traveling by bus. Says Khenpo Rinpoche, “Upon our arrival at Menri Monastery I had the golden opportunity to see both His Holiness Menri Trizin Rinpoche and Yongdzin (Lopon) Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. At that time they were living a simple life in terms of material possessions, but they were engaged in the great endeavor of reestablishing the Yungdrung Bon doctrine in the world.”

That month Khenpo Rinpoche and his fellow students were admitted to the dialectic school at Menri Monastery, bring the total number of students there to 26. For 13 years to come, Khenpo Rinpoche and other monks studied the complete Bon philosophical system of sutra, tantra and dzogchen; and the general Tibetan sciences including Tibetan grammar, poetics, white and black astrology, Sanskrit grammar, sacred geometry or arts, and general Tibetan medicine. Khenpo Rinpoche remembers with deep gratitude his teacher Gen Gyaltsen Choglek — affectionately known as Gen Samgha, or “happy hearted teacher” — and notes that his teacher’s immeasurable kindness served as a beacon for his studies and his success. A great practitioner, Gen Gyaltsen Choglek passed away at Triten Norbutse with incredible signs of realization in 2002.

In 1986, Khenpo Rinpoche began teaching philosophy and general Tibetan sciences to younger students. During this 13-year period he also participated in many ritual ceremonies and cultural and social activities. From 1989 through 1992 he served as accountant, treasurer, and then president of the school, and for a time he also served as the monastery’s ritual leader and discipline master. In 1994, having successfully completed the traditional 13-year course of study, Khenpo Rinpoche passed the 10-day final examination and was awarded his geshe degree (doctorate) with acknowledgment from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. At that time 101 students were enrolled in the dialectic school. “All of this was accomplished because of the infinite kindness of my root lama His Holiness Menri Trizin Rinpoche, my root lama His Excellence Yongdzin (Lopon) Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, Geshe Yungdrung Namgyal, and all of my other teachers,” says Khenpo Rinpoche. “Without their love, protection, guidance, and the gift of their wisdom, it would not be possible for me to have the good fortune to enjoy the benefit of the precious Yungdrung Bon teachings.”

After graduating, Khenpo Rinpoche went to Kathmandu to further his studies of tantra and dzogchen under the guidance of Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. In 1996 His Holiness Menri Trizin Rinpoche and Yongdzin Rinpoche appointed Khenpo Rinpoche as ponlob (principal teacher) of Triten Norbutse Monastery. Even though this was an unexpected and challenging assignment for a young lama, Khenpo Rinpoche says he strongly felt the blessings of His Holiness and Yongdzin Rinpoche and enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to serve the Bon community and its ancient teachings. Since then Khenpo Rinpoche has taught at the Yungdrung Bon Academy of Higher Studies at Triten Norbutse Monastery, under the blessings of Yongdzin Rinpoche.

In 2001, Rinpoche was appointed as khenpo (abbot) of the monastery by H.H. Menri Trizin Rinpoche and H.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. Triten Norbutse Monastery was founded by H.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche in 1987 for the preservation and development of the Yungdrung Bon tradition. This is one of the two main Bon monasteries outside Tibet, providing a comprehensive and rigorous study of the broad spectrum of Bon teachings and traditions. Today, 170 resident monks study and practice there.

Since 1998 Khenpo Rinpoche has been regularly traveling around Europe and America giving teachings, including leading retreats with H.E. Yongdzin Rinpoche. Since 2005, with guidance from H.E. Yongdzin Rinpoche and help from dedicated volunteer committees, Khenpo Rinpoche has taken the responsibility of establishing the congregation of Shenten Dargye Ling in Paris, France (www.yungdrung-bon.net ), for the preservation, research, teaching and practice of the Yungdrung Bon tradition.

source from: Ligmincha Institute

Khenpo Gelek Jinpa Rinpoche

Childhood: Khenpo Gelek was born 1967 into a family living from farming and keeping yaks in the Khyungpo area of Khams, Tibet. Already as a child and as a teenager he was instructed in Bön by Lama Bön Nying Rang Drol (a disciple of a disciple of Shardza Rinpoche).

ggrEarly monastic education: After a visit of Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche to his village in 1986, Geshe Gelek at the age of 19 became a monk and entered Thongdrol Ritröd monastery. He later stayed in Tsedrug Gompa for a year and studied philosophy with the renowned scholar Lopon Drangsong Yungdrung in Lungkar Gompa for two years. After a second meeting with Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, who visited Tibet again in 1992, Geshe Gelek decided to pursue a higher education and study for geshe degree. For this purpose he had to leave Tibet.

Geshe studies: Once in exile, he went to Triten Norbutse in Kathmandu, which, however, did not offer a shedra (geshe curriculum) at the time. So he went on to Dolanji in India and studied at Menri monastery under Menri Trizin Nymai Lungtok Rinpoche. When a year later, in 1993, shedra was established in Triten Norbutse, he returned there, studied under Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, and in 2001 obtained a geshe degree.

Tummo experiment in Normany: Also in 2001, a wealthy sponsor offered to buy a building for establishing a Bön center in Europe, on condition that Bonpos demonstrate measurable effects of their meditation techniques. Geshe Gelek Jinpa together with Lama Sangye Monlam and a third monk from Triten Norbutse practiced tummo in a laboratory setting observed by Harvard professor Benson. The outcome of the experiment was decisive and Triten Norbutse conregation received the chateau that has since become Shenten Dargye Ling.

Teaching: Since obtaining his geshe degree, Geshe Gelek has been teaching in Triten Norbutse and, increasingly, in Europe. He has taught Dzogchen, in particular from the Zhang Zhung Nyen Guyd and Gyalwa’i Chagtri, and also Tsa Lung and Tummo, repeatedly in Italy, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and the UK and regularly teaches courses in Shenten Dargye Ling.

Research and filmmaking: Doing research on the history of Bön, Geshe Gelek has travelled widely in Tibet and in Bönpo areas of Nepal like Dolpo and Mustang, sometimes accompanied by film makers. He has has rediscovered the ruins of a former large Bön monastery in Mustang and meditation caves of famous Lamas mentioned in texts, whose locations had been forgotten. He is collaborating with Oxford Tibetologist Charles Ramble. Films by or about Geshe Gelek Jinpa include “Sacred Landscape and Pilgrimage in Tibet In Search of the Lost Kingdom of Bon” (book and DVD by Geshe Gelek Jinpa, Charles Ramble, Caroll Dunham and Thomas Kelly) and “Hidden Treasure of Bon — Secrets of Mustang” (DVD published by Triten Norbutse, available in Shenten Dargye Ling).