Endangered Ancient Tibetan Text Finds a Home in the West

The following article is from the Autumn, 2003 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.




Western students of dharma may be surprised to find a Tibetan tradition with a practice and doctrine essentially the same as the spiritual teachings of the four well-known Tibetan Buddhist schools but which does not trace its lineage back to the Indian Prince, Shakyamuni. But Bon is just such a tradition. It traces its spiritual roots to the Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche. According to the Bon histories. Tonpa Shenrab was an enlightened being who first taught in a land called Olmo Lungring. The Bon teachings are preserved in the volumes of texts that comprise the Bon Canon.

There was a time in recent history when the survival of the Bon Canon was in jeopardy. During the Cultural Revolution that ravaged Tibet, the last complete set of the Canon was hidden in a small village where a group of devoted Bon practitioners risked their lives to keep it safe. All the other known collections of the Canon had been destroyed. Later, this collection was secretly taken to Nepal and then to India.

On July 10th of this year, one of the few newly published sets of the complete Bon Canon, derived from that hidden and preserved copy, was received and safely installed at Serenity Ridge, Ligmincha's Bon retreat center in Shipman, Virginia.

New Presentation of Dzogchen Teachings

With the desire to make Bon dzogchen teachings accessible to Western students and simultaneously maintain the purity of the transmission, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, founder of Ligmincha, is offering several teachings. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche is the author of Healing with Form, Energy and Light: The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra and Dzogchen; and Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep.

Part 1, the Ngondro, presents an integrated series of nine preliminary practices which tame the mind and turn it towards the path, purifying illnesses, obstacles, and mental obscurations in order to reveal the primordially perfected nature of the practitioner's mind. Khen Rinpoche, head teacher at Triten Norbutse Monastery in Kathmandu, will teach this retreat. Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche will teach Part Two: Introduction to the Nature of Mind and Part Three: The View, Meditation, Behavior and Result of Dzogchen at the 2003 Winter Retreat at Serenity Ridge.

For more information contact: Ligmincha Institute, 313 Second St., S.E., Charlottesville, Virginia 22902; 434-977-6161, http://www.ligmincha.org/html/bon_canon.html; ligmincha@aol.com.

Images: Gabriel Rocco, Geshe Nyirna Oser, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, and sangha members carry the texts to Garuda House; Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Geshe Nyima Oser with the complete set of texts; Khenpo Tenpa Yung; Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. (Photos by Mary Ellen McCourt)

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