The following article is from the Spring, 1997 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Head Lineage Master of the Bon Religion

His Holiness Lungtok Tenpa’i Nyima's

Visit to the U.S.A.



His Holiness Lungtok Tenpa’i Nyima, head of the Bon religion and Abbot of Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, visited the United States for the first time in June 1997. He is the most senior lineage holder of the Bon religion, and spiritual head of all Bon-po monasteries in Tibet, India, and Nepal, a position he has held since 1969.

Tibetan Buddhism, Menri Monks, attribution flickr irumge_

Monks in the main temple of Menri Monastery located in Dholanji, India.

During more than thirty years in exile, he has worked hand-in-hand with Lopon Tenzin Namdak, the lineage's most senior teacher, to rebuild both lay and monastic aspects of the Bon community. Together they created the Bon-po community in Dolanji, the heart of which is Menri Monastery, where they reinstituted a rigorous training for the monks who study philosophy, debate and rituals, among other subjects, as they pursue their Geshe degree (an equivalent to a Ph.D. and Th. D.).

In fact, it is there that Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, founder of Ligmincha Institute and its associated Khyung Dzongs and the only Bon-po Lama (teacher) who resides in the West, obtained his Geshe degree.

As in most locations, the Abbot imparts weekend-long teachings. Undoubtedly the major event of his visit was the three-week-long summer retreat, the fifth organized by Ligmincha Institute. This took place from June 30 to July 20, 1997 in Sunrise Springs, NM, only 15 miles away from Santa Fe, providing majestic views of the Sangre de Cristo and Sandia mountain ranges.

focus on the path of meditation from the Mother Tantra (Ma Gyu) of the Tibetan Ancient Bon Tradition. , . .

The teachings focused on the path of meditation from the Mother Tantra (Ma Gyu) of the Tibetan Ancient Bon Tradition, in particular on the Essence of the Elements and Phowa chapters. After the transmission of the practice, three different kinds of Phowa were explained:

  1. A Dzogchen form of Phowa
  2. The transference of consciousness of Dzok-ku, the body of perfection of the wisdom deities, which is a tantric form of Phowa
  3. The transference of consciousness of Chang-chub chen-bo, the Great Enlightenment, which is a sutric form of Phowa

The second and third weeks were devoted to the chapter on Essence of the Elements, explained through the principles of tsa, the channels of our body; lung, the energetic winds; thigle, the essential sphere or seminal essence; and yi-ge, the syllables. These practices utilize sacred syllables in order to open and purify the channels, heal diseases and cultivate wisdom.

sacred syllables are utilized in order to open and purify the channels, heal diseases and cultivate wisdom.

Also for the first time ever, Kyangtrul Rinpoche gave complete instructions on the sacred dance of the goddess Yeshe Walmo. And as in the past, instruction on Trul Khor (Magical Wheel), the physical yoga of the Bon tradition from the Zhang Zhung Nyan Gyud, will also be offered. These two practices will be taught throughout the three weeks.



His Holiness Lungtok Tenpa Nyima, the 33rd Abbot of Menri, Spiritual Leader of Bön