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The Tibet Journal

a publication for the study of Tibet

Bon Religion of Tibet


Per Kva:rne

GUEST EDITOR
Gyatsho Tshering
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Thupten K. Rikey
MANAGING EDITOR

Riika f. Virtanen
ASSISTANT EDITOR

WINTER

VOL. XXIII NO.4

Foreword

1998
3

ARTICLES
The Early Spread of Bon
Namgyal Nyima Dagkar

Bon zhig khyung nag and the Rig pa gcer mthong Tradition
of rDzogs chen
Jean-Luc Achard

28

The Monastic Lineage of sNang zhig dgon pa in


Amdo rNga ba
Donatella Rossi
Two Figures in the Early Creat Perfection
Todd Gibson

58

72

Cracking the Mirror: A Critical Genealogy of Sehol arship


on Tibetan Bon and the "Canonical" Status of The Crystal Mirror
of Doctrinal Systems
Zeff Bjerken

92

REVIEW ARTICLE
Dnmg, De'li and B(in: Narrations, Symbolic Languages and
the Bon Tradition in Ancient Tibet by Namkhai Norbu,
translated into English from Italian by Andrew Lukianowicz
Dan Martin

108

Bon zhig khyung nag and the Rig pa geer mthong


Tradition of rDzogs ehen*
Jean-Luc Achard
Among the numerous rDzogs chen (Great Perfection) teachings to be
found in the Bonpo tradition, there is a cycle entItled sNyan rgyud nn po
che rig pa geer mthong which could be translated as "The Precious Oral
Transmission through which one sees Awareness in its Nakedness." It has,
to my knowledge, never been used in any tibetological paper or mono
graph. We shall therefore turn to a brief study of the life of its discoverer
and to an analysis of its main themes and contents. It is hoped that this
small contribution will attract the interest of scholars in this field.
The Bon tradition of rDzogs chen has recently known a great impulse,
essentially due to the publication of two important works: Heart Drops of

Dllarmakaya by Lopon Tenzin Namdak and Richard Dixey and Wonders of


the Natural Mind by Geshe Tenzin Wangyel. The first impulsion was
however given by Prof. D. Snellgrove with his Nine Ways of B011 and by
Prof. P. Kvaorne with his still up-to-date study of the A khrid lineage and
practices. The cycle which is the object of the present article is not one of
the major ones such as A khrid, Yang rtse klong chen or Zhang zhung snyan

rgtJud but it nevertheless represents a form of Bonpo Great Perfection


instructions which dates back to the early 12th century and whose antig
uity makes it worth studying. It belongs to the category of orally transmit
ted texts (snyan rgyud) of which the most famous was certainly sTan pa
gShen rab's biography known as the gZi brjid. Such orally transmitted
texts are close to the dgollgs gter genre which was to enjoy considerable
popularity from at least the 14th century onwards.

I BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG-HIS LIFE AND REVELATIONS


To express the main data of Bon zhig's life, I have made use of two
primary sources included in the cycle itself.' The first text is simply
entitled BOil zhig khyllllg nag gi main thar, that is "The biography of Bon
zhig khyung nag" (pp.367-385). The second one recalls the story of the
whole cycle and is entitled sNy"" rgtJlId rig pa geer Inthong gi yid ches bla

lila hrgylld po'i 10 'Xi'liS gsal bar byed pa, "The Clarifications on the history
of the masters' lineage [intended to provide] confidence in the Oral Trans
mission through which one sees Awareness in its Nakedness" (pp.7-24).
* I \vouJd like to lhank Mr. Cristopher Teague for
correcting my English and
.
.
.
Per Kvzerne [or hiS numerous correct,ons and
suggestlOns

conlent and style of this paper .

Prot

lo Improve the

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG

29

It also includes material concerned with some of the followers of the


lineage that w e shall present in the next section.'
CONCEPTION AND BIRTH

Bon zhig khyung nag' was born 1103 in a village of the Nyang stod
province known as Nyang ro chu bzang (or zangs). His father was called
gShen g.yung drung 'khor 10 and his mother Bre za bsod dge mao The
latter had known a bla m a called Lo ro zhig po who, after he had died,
entered bSod dge rna's womb, producing in her wonderful dreams:' She
indeed dreamed that she ate the sun, that she found jewels of great value,
that she rode on a Garu<;la (khyung), the king of all birds, and that six
wings had appeared on her back, enabling her to fly in the sky and so on.
Such extraordinary signs are common features in hagiographies and are
intended to show the holiness of the future child. At one time in her
dreams, a Garu<;la appeared in front of her and told her: "You are going
to have a child soon: give him the name Bon zhig khyung nag!" When
she woke up at dawn the next morning, she felt a pleasurable sensation
in her whole body. As soon as. La ro zhig po entered her womb, she
heard the embryo saying:
I am lhe Great Primordial Wisdom;
I enjoy a solid Eternal Body
And I am the best among the Blazing Wrutbful Gods;
I am the mighty one, born immortal!

Nine months later, she gave birth to a dark skinned boy with globular
eyes, black hair and other strange signs. At the very moment of his birth,
the sky was filled with lights and rainbows, the earth shook and trembled
repeatedly while at the same time melodious sounds reverberated all
around. Then, the master Mes sgom zhig po came to the child's house
and, following the prophecies bSod dge ma had previously received, he
gave him the name Bon zhig khyung nag after which he bestowed on him
initiations and recited prayers of aspiration for the future.
EDUCATION AND VISIONS

Still a very young child, Bon zhig nevertheless had visions of deities and
heard, among other things, prophecies from Ye shes dbal mo and Khro bo
dbang chen, as well as from gTso mchog mkha' 'gying. Between the age
of two and three, he mastered reading without even learning it and
samiidhi (ting nge 'dzin) spontaneously arose in him.
Thereafter, from the age of twelve onwards, he began serious studies
under the guidance of Mes sgom zhig po and when he reached the age
of seventeen, he met Zhu sgom 'khrul zhig ' and both felt very pleased to

30 THE TIBET JOURNAL


meet each other. Bon zhig paid his respects to the master and requested
instructions from him. Zhu sgom proposed to him to be instructed in two

ways: either he would be taught mind train ng

(bl sb ong) i n an external

manner or he would study teachings dealmg WIth mner matters. The


master let him make his choice and, as one would expect, Bon zhig asked
to be instructed according to the second, way.
Zhu sgom thus confronted him with the natural state

sprod)

(pias lugs no

in the following manner: he exhorted Bon zhlg to Identify hIS

instantaneous and present consciousness, saying that there is no other


means of confrontation to his mind's wisdom

0Je shes)

than this one.

Thereafter, the master gave him the instructions of the cycle called

Rin

chen kun 'dus.


Then, in 1123, at the age of 21, Bon zhig met the master Kun dga' zhig
po at sMan chu mkhar in Nyang roo Bon zhig requested instructions from
him and the latter confronted him with the Clear-Light

('ad gsal ngo sprod).

He told Bon zhig that the mind shines naturally and that its inherent
voidness expresses the essence of the mind's wisdom, the whole symboliz
ing one's present consciousness

(da /ta'i shes pal.

Bon zhig went into

solitude to practice and he reached a level of realization in which internal


winds and mind mixed together. This produced in him a strong feeling of
renunciation. He had many Clear-Light experiences and obtained the heat
signs of right absorption.'
Then, in 1127, at 25, he went into the cave of sKyin mkhar sngo phug
and practiced according to the sPyi spungs doctrines, engaging himself in
the completion of the Development and Perfection stages

(bskyed rdzogs).

As his practice went on, he received some signs that caused him to remain
in a very strict retreat. One evening, he heard someone calling him by his
name from the outside and, thinking that answering would break his
'speech retreat', he remained silent inside. Once again, the voice said
"Come here!" so he went onto the roof of his cell where a frightening
hairy woman stood. Her body was elongated and she had brown skin,
wearing clothes of black silk. She offered him some amrta from a human
skull hanging around her neck, and while he drank it. Bon zhig felt it had
many different flavors. Then, the woman gave him teachings on the
practice of channels, winds and essences

(rtsa rlung thig Ie) as well as


instructions on the intermediate states (bar do) which were all sufficient in
themselves (gcig chad). She then disappeared after having given him some
prophecies. Following this rather strange meeting, he got rid of all the
defects of his practice such as drowsiness and dullness and he had lasting
experiences of realization through which the five poisons appeared to him
as ornaments of his being.

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG 31


Then, Bon zhig went to the monastery ot master Ra dmar ri khrod pa
who confIrmed that the meetmg he had had with the dark-brown woman
meant that the goddess Las kyi dbang rna had given him the accomplish
'
ments. His past karma and obscuration were then all washed away to
such an extent that he was naturally immersed in a continual absorption.
For three whole days, he experienced the absorption into Reality

nyiti) tree

from all elaborations

(spras bral). He

(bon

thereafter conceived a great

sorrow tor worldly matters and his attachment to saqlsara was reversed
while he became totally confident in the law ot cause and result

(rgyu

'bras).
When Bon zhig went back to his master Mes sgom zhig po, the latter
told him that his signs were bad ones and that they were simply wonders
ot a contrary nature. Mes sgom gave him initiations into the man<,lala of
the 64 Wrathful Kings

(khra rgyal)

and thereafter formulated vows for his

disciple. Accordingly, the signs that appeared next indicated that Bon zhig
should take up ordination to work for the welfare of all beings. After
wards, Mes sgom who ws by then 75 years of age, showed his passing
into Nirvfu:ta and an intense blessing entered Bon zhig's heart after his
master's passing. For a whole month, the Clear-Light of Reality (bon nyid
'ad gsaI) shone in his mind. Bon zhig therefore penetrated his own Aware
ness (rig pal and he also had marvellous signs of accomplishment such as
telepathy and the ability to see through solid forms and objects.
Following a former prophecy of his master, Bon zhig went to Central
Tibet (dBus) to spread Bon teachings there. On his way, he had strange
signs again but this time they indicated that he had brought his winds
and mind under control. Near a place called gZar rna stong shod, he got
rid of all limitations and showed miracles such as walking on a lake.
Many people from sKyid shod assembled around him and he taught them
extensively. As time went by, his experiences deepened greatly but once,
as he was finishing giving instructions to a great crowd of people, a
frightful woman with reddish skin appeared at the same place. She had
her hair loosely tied and her eyes closed upwards like those of a bird. She
handed Bon zhig a human skull tilled with honey and had him drink it
after which she disappeared. Thereafter, Bon zhig was able to have power
over manifestations' A karmic link he had from a previous life made him
meet with a yoginl named

)0

smyon rna mDog gsal rna who became his

consort. Before his own death, Bla rna Lo ro (Bon zhig's previous embodi
ment) had foretold he would meet a <,Iakinl at the age of 25. As the master
died, his disciples who had assembled around him remembered the
prediction and recognized Bon zhig to be the right embodiment ment
ioned in the prophecy so that he was invited to sTag lung monastery. Bon
zhig began to teach extensively but this aroused tl,e jealousy of the

32 THE TIBET JOURNAL

of them also
Buddhist monks around and they tried to poison him. Some
the divine
planne d to kill him by means of weapons. Bon zhig genrated
d faIth
arouse
whIch
pride of the wrathful gods and engaged in a dance
in all the people assembled there. However, the poison he had ingeste d
was very active and he had to follow a treatment that some d,vme woman
gave him before disappearing.
.
Again, a fearful naked <;Iakinl appeared riding on a dark wmd who gave
him rice and seeds. Bon zhig ate them and thereafter recovered deflmt
ively. To prevent obstacles from his entourage, his way and his practices,
Bon zhig dressed himself in white clothes and tied a bow and arrows on
his back. Thus he created the auspicious circumstances for the alleviation
of all obstacles.
THE MEETING

WI'I1-1 HIS ROOT-MASTER, ZHIG PO KUN DGA'

Then, Bon zhig went back to Nyang stod, at sTag mtshal rdo sngon where
his future root-master, Zhig po kun dga', lived. He prepared lots of wealth
and offerings for his master and presented them to him when they finally
met. Bon zhig made prostrations and requested instructions which he
readily received. Thereafter he proceeded towards Bo dong bon gnas
where he followed the teachings on logic of sPrul sku gShen ba. After
that, gShen gyi drang srong Zhon bla requested him to preach Bon i n
Central Tibet again aIld B o n zhig proceeded towards the highlands of Nyi
rna byang. While he was residing in the Tsing lding temple, new wonders
happened, occurring as visionary experiences. At dawn, the Clear-Light
pervaded his mind and he Saw the whole world and existence without
any obstructions.
REVELATION OF THE ORAL TRANSMISSION

Then, while he was residing at Sa dkar monastery, a fearful black WOman


with loose hair appeared to him, handing him a skull full of a boiling

mixture. She ordered Bon zhig to drink it and the latter found it had
several flavors with perfect taste_ After this new vision, Bon zhig obtained
several signs indicating his level of realization and this culminated in a
vision of Ye shes dbal mo who gave him many oral transmissions (s11yan
brgyud), instructions (gdams pal and prophecies. Following this vision, Bon
zhig came to experience the Great Bliss (bde chen) in his practice and
obtained power over his own Awareness (rig pal. He then remained i n
holy and solitary places, blessed b y the masters of the past, and, i n order
to dispel obstacles of all kinds, he intensively indulged in practice. The
text here recalls that he was also a master with tantric abilities of some
sort as he was able to bring demonic forces under his power. One day, he
.
had a vIsIon of all the masters of the rDzogs chen lineage from gShen

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG

33

Tshad med 'od ldan down to his days' masters and, following this, his
body blazed with bliss, and his speech with power, while total realization
arose in his mind. At this very moment, the whole region he was residing
in resounded with the A dkar sa Ie 'ad formula. Bon zhig was exhorted by
Srid pa'i rgyal rna" not to spread the instructions of the Oral Transmission
(snylll1 brfSlJud) to anybody and not to write them down. In another vision
however, h e was authorized and encouraged by Ye shes dbal rna to reveal
them to a suitable disciple and to write them down for the sake of future
generations. Then, in 1183, after having extensively worked for the spread
of the Bon teachings, he departed at the age of 81, showing the eternal
truth of impermanence, amidst such wonderful sings as rainbows, rains
of flowers, displays of lights etc.
II THE LINEAGE 0]' THE RIG I'A Gem MTHONG
Apart from Bon zhig himself, the biographies of only the first four mas
ters of the lineage are given in the Lo rgyus gsal byed (pp.14-23) and in
most places these accounts are very schematic, insisting on the description
of visions and accomplishments instead of pure historical facts. In any case
we must admit that it was definitely not the intention of its compiler who
obviously aimed at hagiographical eulogies.
1. '!(HRUL

ZI-UG LOOM BUJO

He was born on the slope of a mountain range near the banks of the rMa
chu. His father was called 'Tshe'u dge skyabs and his mother, dBal mo
mtsho, lady of the Ber clan. He was the oldest of two brothers. As a child,
he knew the language of gods and gNyan deities; his senses were pure
and his intelligence sharp. From the age of eleven onwards, he became a
student of a master named Nyi ma rgyal mtshan with whom he trained
himself in the different branches of Bon learning. He extensively indulged
in tantric practices and thus had visions of his tutelary deity (yi dam).
According to the tradition recorded in this cycle, he really became pro
ficient in tantric matters and was able to bind and subdue demons of all
kinds.
At the age of 31, he heard of some of the deeds of the master gShen
sgom chen po (Bon zhig khyung nag) and he was so deeply moved that
tears spontaneously came to his eyes. He therefore decided to proceed to
Central Tibet where the master lived in the valleys of sKyid shod. As he
inq uired about the precise place where the master lived he was told that
gShen sgom resided on the glacier of the Sham po range. He arranged
some wealth and presents and offered them to Bon zhig who told hIm:

34 THE TIBET J OURNAL


o

fortunate son of good family! 1 believe that the fact that you came up here
from down there will bring happiness.

As soon as he heard the master's voice, 'Khrul zhig was penetrated by his
blessings and felt full of joy. He had an experience in which he reillized
the natural voidness of his mind: he tasted the flavor of Greilt Blis., (lide
c/1el1) and non-duality and all of his discursive thoughts were liberated
into their own state (rang sar grol).
According to this rather short biographical account preserved in the
cycle, 'Khrul zhig followed the master for three years, but no date is given
here. I presume that one should understand this as "he followed him for
three years, until the master died" because the author, whoever he is, says
that he had a vision of Bon zhig who gave him what obviously appears
to be his testament. If that hypothesis is correct, this would have hap
pened in 1183 which seems to be Bon zhig's year of death. " So their
meeting might have occurred in 1181l. As we saw above, 'Khrul zhig was
31 at that time, that is, according to western computations 30 years old.
From this, we can infer that he was born around 1150.
'Khrul zhig Idom bu faithfully followed and diligently practiced his
master's precepts; after the latter's death, he thought of proceeding to
Khams (Eastern Tibet) but one morning he had a vision of Bon zhig,
standing in the air, one cubit above the ground. The master appeared
naked to him, in a self-arisen Body (rang 'bylll1g sku). At first, Bon zhig
told him: "Well, fortunate son of good family! When your Awareness (rig
pal shines forth at dawn, direct it upwards and it wil1 shine further on!"
Then 'Khrul zhig prostrated and circumambulated him after which he
formulated prayers and relluested further teachings. The master hence
transmitted to him his last precepts and told him, as his last will:
o

fortunate son of good family!

This Oral Transmission through which one sees Awareness in iL'i nakedness
(slIynll rg.'J"d rig gw IIlthollg)
Is the essence of surTlsjric <lnd nirVa(lic phenomena.
It is the elL,>;ir of the Heart of Lineage Wisdom Holders (rig
The blood froll) Ye shes dbal mo's heart,
The lamp that d ispels darkness,
The hook that guides being, [therefore]
Many fortunate ones plac it in the middle of their heart!

'dzin),

Bon zhig gave him the final injunction to keep the Oral Transmission
secret for three years and thereafter he would be authorized to put it
down in writing. If we are to accept this as historical fact it undoubtedly
bnngs us to the provisory conclusion that the cycle did not exist in writ
ten torm before at least 1186. After this vision, 'Khrul zhig went to Khams

BON ZHlG KHYUNG NAG

35

where he lived in solitary places. H e nevertheless had numerous disciples,


both male and female, among whom the foremost was Dam pa g.yu zhig.
No information i s to be found in the text regarding the year of his pass
ing away.
2. DAM PA G.YU ZHIG

Dam pa g.yu zhig was born i n a place called rTsi gang ring mo. His father
was Me'o mkhar of the g.Yu clan and his mother was called sKyid ma,
from the Khyung clan. From the age of nine onwards, he studied the
basics of reading and writing with his uncle and he quickly became
proficient i n these two subjects.
From the age of fifteen onwards, his religious education took a decisive
turn with his receiving of extensive initiations, as well as many tantras (in
the sense of tantric practices, not tantras belonging to the system of
rDzogs chen). He thoroughly studied them with great zeal and was able
to experience the power of the blessing of the lineage.
When he was 21, he received some Great Perfection teachings but here
the texts do not give any further precision and we have to be content
with this scanty information. However, shortly afterwards, he met 'Khrul
zhig Idom bu who told him that by then everybody had a doctrine that
could enable one to reach enlightenment in a single lifetime," adding that
he had one which nobody but he had received from his own master."
This obviously refers to the Rig pa geer mthong cycle through the practice
of which one can reach buddhahood without meditating (ma sgam sangs
rgya)." Its principle was such that the true meaning of the doctrine was
conveyed in only a very few words. Its practice was described as easy and
brin!,ring swift results. So the next morning, at dawn, 'Khrul zhig gave
him the confrontations (ngo sprod)I' and authorized him to set them down
on paper.
Due to the troubles caused by the Hor (Mongols) invasions at that time,
he had to hide in the solitude of high plateaus. He finally proceeded
towards rGyal rna rang and settled at the monastery of Rang stod brag
nag where h e "planted the seed of Bon teachings" for the welfare of
beings and where he gathered many disciples, mostly yogis.
At the end of his life,16 he demonstrated his passing into Nirvalla and
displayed many signs of accomplishment which were clearly witnessed by
his dose disciples and other people who happened to be there.
3. ZIG PO KUN DG ,\,17

Zhig po kun dga's father was Lha bon be ngan and his mother, Be ri A
'bol za. When he was around nine years old, he received instructions from
his father and these became decisive in his education in so far as he came

36 THE TIBET JOURNAL

to realize the nature of his mind while still at a very young age. There
after, he studied with many scholars and highly advanced yogis.
He proceeded towards rGyal mo rong in southern A mdo where h e had
the opportunity to meet Dam pa g.yu zhig who was to become his root
master. IX Dam pa must have recognized him as a suitable vessel in giving
Zhig po the complete oral transmission of the Rig pa geer mthul1g. His
accomplishments must have been of a high level because Zhig po rapidly
attracted many students, both monks and lay practitioners to whom h e
taught extensively, spreading the Bon teachings i n the four directions.
He travelled to Hor (presumably not Mongolia but Hor in Khams)
where he found donors and he also went as far as sTod. " It is recorded
that atthe time of his.passing away, numerous extnlOrdinary signs occur
red and that they were witnessed by all the people assembled there.
4. LDONG SGOM ZHIG po"
IDong sgom was born in a place called Chu skyur klong i n the eastern
part of mDo smad. I-Ie belonged to the !Dong clan and more precisely to
its sub-family named dBang yag. His father was called Klu bu stor yag
and his mother, Kho za A bcun. He was the elder of two brothers and his
first name was sMon pa rgyal21 Although still very young, his intelligence
was very sharp and his knowledge bright. At the age of eight (which is
indeed quite late), he mastered reading and writing.
When he reached the age of fourteen, his paternal uncle who was a dge
bshes had him sent to the monastery of Khyung 'phags tshangs. This
would have apparently occurred after the birth of his younger brother. At
the monastery, he received ordination from Khyung 'phags rCyal b u bla
ma and the abbot gZhon nu me tog who gave him the name Nam mkha'
rgyal mtshan. I-Ie studied there meticulously for four years and when he
reached the age of eighteen, he went to listen to the teachings of a Bud
dhist master." After this short Buddhist interlude, !Dong sgom went back
to study with his master.
Then, when IDong sgom was 21, his guru B1a rna Khyung 'phags died
and he felt so sad that he decided to go back home. Whilst proceedin g
towards upper Khams (mDo stod), he met up with 'Cro mgon Zhig po
kun dga' becoming his disciple and for several months the latter bestowe d
on him all the instructions of the Oral Transmission (s/lyan brgyud) to
gether With ancillary precepts. Thereafter, !Dong sgom practiced extens
Ively nd realized the nature of his own Awareness. He did
many travels
'd pilgrImages among which some of the most important
were Moun t
Kailash (Gangs dkar tt se), several holy places in Central
Tibet (both in
dBus and gTsang) and mNga' ris (Western Tibet), the
temple of Lho brag
mkhar chu, the Treasure site of sPa ro stag tshan
g in Bhuta n, the

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG 37

mountains of Tsa ri, Tsa gong, Yar Iha sham po, gNyan chen thang Iha,
rMa chen spom ra and others. In all these places, he remained in solitary
hermltnges and on his travels h e took advantage of listening to many
masters from whom h e received many secret instructions. Among these
lamas, there were fifteen that he considered as his root-masters.
Towards t he end of his life, h e attracted many disciples and on reaching

the age of 83, a strange phenomenon occurred: his body rejuvenated as


if h e was more or less twenty. This enabled him to reach the age of 119

at which time he passed into N"lrv3Q3 amidst extraordinary signs such as


rainbows filling the sky.
Ill. THE GENERAL. STRUCTURE

1.

OF THE CYCLE

TilE ROOT REVELATION

The Rig pa geer mthong, which is also known as the Dri med Ihail skyes kyi
bon (The I m m a c u l a te and Co-emergent Teaching), is in its modern edition"

divided into 32 texts, most of which deal with rDzogs chen practices and
philosophy. However, according to the rJes gl1ang gsal bar gsal byed (p,35)
which otherwise strictly dea ls with tan tric matters of initiation," the
whole cycle is described as comprising 21 sections, namely:

(1-3)
(4-6)
(7-9)
(10-12)
(13-18)
(19-20)

the three Clarifications (gSaI bycd);"


the three Mirrors (Me long);'"
t he three Precepts (Man ngag);"
the three Lamps (sCrnn ma);"
the six Favorable Circumstances (Cha rkyen);'"
the two Special Instructions (Kl1yad par gda",s pa)'u
and

(21)

the Treatise of Oral Transmission (sNyal1 rgyud gzlwl'lg),


that is, t he root text of the cycle."

2. SECONDARY TEXTS
One must add two sets of ancillary texts that are to be linked up with the

above m entioned works which thus apparently constitute the basic revela
tion. This complementary' material is intimately related to the basic cycle
as it represents the oral teachings of Bon zhig khyung nag of which one
part m u st have been set down in writ'lI1g probably by one of his disciples.
It also seems t h a t some of the;;e texts (e.g., the dCongs nyams 'pill'lll gyi Ide
mig) enjoyed a n oral transmission before being written down by a later
practitio ner of th e lineage." At this stage of research, it is impossible to

determine when these two sets were added to the cycle. I believe they
were handed down both orally and in a certain written form, at least until
the time of a master n a m ed Khyung chen rtogs Idan who gave a thorough

38 THE TIBET JOURNAL


])

'

bzan g po. I n Its rnad ern


exposition of the cycle to his disciple Shes rab
shed by the Bonp o
g
publication, the available Rig pa gcer mt/lOn pubh
or less the edltlOn
settlement in India is thus in a certam respect more
on , or rather his
traditi
his
ents
compiled by Shes rab bzang po. It repres
texts could be
version and it is not impossible that other related
given
in the rIes
tion
informa
the
from
eventually found. Be that as it may,
No.lO of the
gnang mentioned above and from the rTsis byang (Text
been handed
has
On
revelatI
basIC
the
that
secondary texts), one can admit
down to our time in its entire form and that the two sets of ancillary texts
are not

(l

part of it.

IV THE MAIN CONTENTS Of. THE ORAL TRANSMISSION

We will not focus here on a particular text but rather we will try to give
a general overview of this transmission as well as the description of
particular practices which have retained our attention. So in no way does
the following exposition pretend to be an overall analysis of the whole
cycle-which remains to be done-but rather an introduction to its main
themes.
A. LINEAGE
We will not return to this as it has been the subject of the first section of
this article but it is worth noting that such texts as the Treatise o f the Oral
Transmission through which One sees Awareness in its Nakedness (sNyan brJ51jud
rig pa geer mtilOng gi gzhung) insist on the fact that before being transmit

ted to Bon zhig, the cycle enjoyed a direct transmission from Kun tu
bzang po, the Absolute Body (BOil sku), to some circles of Wisdom-Holders
(rig 'dzil1) and accomplished masters (grub Ihob). Usually, masters of the
grub thob type are considered to have been persons residing on the Ema
nation Body (spml sku) level, that is, they have lived on this plane of
existence and not necessarily on a higher plane, at least initially. This
would mean that the transmission was in a certain way handed down to
men at a time prior to Bon zhig but unfortunately n o names in this
lineage are given.YI So the main chain of transmission remains the one that
passes from Ye shes dbal mo/Srid pa rgyal mo to Bon zhig khyung nag.
The cycle is also characterized as containing teachings to be sealed, that
is, hidden from unfortunate disciples whose minds are infested with
wrong views (log Ita).
B.

PRELIMINARIES

These preliminaries are t he common practices known in nearly every


cycle, be it Buddhist or Bonpo, tantric or rDzogs chen. It should neverthe
less be noted that they are not specifically rDzogs chen preliminaries but

BON ZI-lIG KHYUNC NAG

39

ordinary practices that regula rly open a session of practice. The first of
the
three preliminaries described here is a prayer to the master requesting his
benedictions to free oneselt trom the samsliric flows as he himself did and
to guide one to the ocean of Bliss. This is followed by the second and
third preliminaries, namely the refuge (skyabs 'gm) and the generating of
"
the Mind of Enlightenment (sems bsklfed).

C. THE DIFFERENT SYSTEMS OF CONFRONTATIONS

(ngo sprod), often defined here as external (pllyi),


(nang) and secret (sallg ba), are a much discussed theme of the
cycle. They indeed form the major part of the root text (sNyan rgyud rig
pa geer mtlwng gi gzhung, especially the section on ppAll-442) but the
The confrontations
internal

system exposed in this text is very complex and would deserve a mono
graph in itself or another paper. In any case, this system can be reduced
and this has actually been done in other texts of the cycle-to sets of
three confrontations.

1.

OBJECTS, MIND ,\ND THEIR INDIFFERENTIATION

The first of these confrontations is concerned with external objects


All external forms, sounds, smells, flavors, and touchable things

(Jut).

(reg pal

are described as the primordial space of Kun tu bzang po. Thus the five
elements forming our external body as well as our mind expressing our
"internal form"

(nang gi gzugs) constitute the Absolute Body (bon skll). All

external manifestations are then expressed as Kun tu bzang po's Essence

(kun

111

bzang po'; ngo bo) in which there has never been anything to be

rejected or adopted. The same considerations apply to the other constitu


el1ts of our dimension such as sounds, smells, etc.
This is followed by a confrontation on the mind itself
knower of the grasping
salvific means

(sems), as the
(,dz;n mkhan). With the initial part of it based on

(thabs), the disciple is asked to look at the sky while at the

same time he should investigate who is this consciousness that is engaged


in this sky contemplation. Thus, material causes to be contemplated upon
disappear and this is defined as the Contemplation of the Enlightened
(sangs rgyas kyi dgongs pal. Then, the matter should il1troduce the last

One

part of this confrontation based, this time, on knowledge (shes rab). The
disciple is thus introduced in a direct way to his present consciousness (da

ita'i shes pal which does not differ from Enlightened Mind (byang chub
sems).
This set of primary confrontations is followed by the introduction to the
non-differentiation of objects and mind (yul sems dbyer /ned). In other

contexts, this refers to the non-duality of manifestations (snal1g bn) and


mind (sems) and here this non-duality is simply designated as the

40 THE TIBET JOURNAL


a matter of realizing it through
Absolute Bodv (bon sku). This is not only
be a lived-through experience
intellectual r cognition but rather it must
because mind is itself p rt of
that goes far beyond the limits of the mind
and object (mamfestatIOns)
that experience in which both subject (mll1d)

.
are lived and felt as totaI umty. ]6

2. EMPTINESS, AWAI<ENESS AND THE nmEE BODIES

OF ENLIGHTENMENT

This second set of confrontations is based on the notions of Essence (ngo

bo), Nature (rang bzhin) and aspects of forms (1"11a m pal, the last of these
triadic elements being the obvious correspondent of the more usual term
CompassionlEnergy (thugs rje) used in the Upadesa-type series of rDzogs
chen (Man ngag sde)."
The idea of mind's Essence (sems kyi ngo bo) is linked to Emptiness, that
is, to the Absolute Body (bon sku) of Reality. To experience it, one leaves
one's present consciousness

(da

Ita'i shes pal in a clear state in which one

does not look at concepts and thoughts so that one finds one's mind in
its absence of color, form, matter. and so on. So one realizes that it stands
beyond any kind of limitations or elaborations (spros pal and that it cannot
be designated as being this or that. One can not just show it and say this
is it. So it expresses itself from a point of view in which it is never ob
structed by any concept whatsoever and this is defined as its natural
Clarity (gsal bal. This absence of all characteristics that could help to
describe it implies that it has no limited nature of its own and so it is
fundamentally empty (stong pal. Hence, in this decisive experience, one is
naturally established in an even state in which Clarity and Emptiness are
undifferentiated (gsaI stong dbyer med) and this is simply called "Absolute
Body

"

(bOIl ?;I}i sku).

The mind's Nature (sems kyi rallg /1zllil1) is related to the notions of
Clarity (gsal ba) and Perfect Body (rdzogs sku)" and is intimately linked

with the state described above. Indeed, the experience of Emptiness felt
in this state is not "unaware" of itself but in it Awareness (rig pal is
spontaneously present in a luminous manner and this is defined and
designated as being the Perfect Body (rdzogs sku).

In this context, the confrontation to the Emanation Body (sprul sku) and
its manifold aspects (mom po du mal also appears intimately linked with
the above-mentioned experience. This means that the Emptin
ess of mind's
Essence is stimulated by a dynamism (rtsal) that acts
as a multifaceted
p esence (drml 1'0)39 which is not obstructed in any
way and which con
. defme
stItutes what IS
d as the Emanation Body (sprul sku). Thus one is
Introduced to the confrontations of one's presen
t consciousness as the
three Bodi s of Enlightenment. Consequent
ly, one realizes that no event,
be It matenal or mental, goes beyond this
tl1feefold state so that all these

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG

41

events are lived through as emerging in the perfect purit"y of the realms
j. m
of these three B o( les.

D.

MAIN MEDITATIONAL PRACTICES

Such confrontations belong to the level of klnegs chod type of practice,


which is itself the cultivation of the Natural State (gnas lugs). This is to be
stressed because the whole cycle i s centered around them or implies their
effective accomplishment as the necessary introductions to the main
practice.

1.

THE NATURAL STATE OR BASIS

(GZHl)

This state is discussed here in terms of the View (Ita

lin)

according to

which all phenomena and the whole of SaTflsara-Nirv31Ja are our mind,
that is, projections of our mind in so far as it is still permanently engaged
in projections. Thus, apart from mind, there is nothing which exists out
side, as an external and individual thing. The text is indeed clear on this
point and goes as for as saying: ""II composed phenomena of Samsara and
Nirvana are our mind" ('khor ba dang mya ngan las 'das pa'i bsdus pa'i bon

"
thams cad rang gi sems su yin no)" but this is to be understood as "projec
tions of our mind" since one cannot say and prove that Samsaric or
Nirvar).ic is our mind but rather that our mind projects sarpsaric or nirva!J
ic manifestations and apprehends them as such. Mind's utter Essence is

in reality free from such elaborations: it displays itself as a pure Clarity


and can only be compared to the limitless sky. In so far as one does not
have h-vo or three minds in oneself, this very mind, which can thus be
equalled with the Universal Basis (kun gzhi), is our present consciousness

(da Ita shes pal expressed as a pure Emptiness cum Clarity (stong gsal), free
from all grasping, luminous and devoid of any concepts whatsoever. As
the sky, it does not fall into partial and individual distinctions nor is it
produced by primary or secondary causes (rgtJu and rkyen). It presents
itself as a natural dynamism without obstructions and this is known as
the "Contemplation of the Enlightened One" (sangs rgyas kyi dgongs pal
which was discussed above i n the first set of confrontations" When such

a state is realized, one has simply attained liberation: one's Awareness has
been mastered so that one has experienced it as immovable. Such an
experience is called the Instantaneous Freedom in/of the Natural State

(gnas lugs skad gcig la ;'701)."

2.

AWARENESS

"

(RIG PAl

This experience is further defined as the Absolute Body which is itself


styled as unborn (skve med), free from elaborations (spros braI) and so on.
It is the non-dual

iived-through

experience of Clarity and Emptiness

42 THE TIBET JOURNAL


which constitutes the Absolute Space (boJ1 dbyiJ1gs) in which the display
of the five Wisdoms (ye shes) occurs. Now, one should try to clarify the
nature of this Space and that of these Wisdoms, keeping i n mind their
fundamental non-duality:" Space acts on the side or level of the Universal
Basis (kllJ1 gzili) which one could style as the object while Wisdom oper
ates on the subject side, that is Awareness (rig pal. In allegorical examples,
they are respectively compared to the sky and the sun with their natural
unity always stressed. In this perspective, they are the Single Circle of our
mind (sems thig Ie ,.,yag gcig), defined as such because the Essence o f Our
mind is lived as a unity which does not, on this Essence (rlgo bo) level,
know the fragmentation of diversity. It is the Unborn (skye med) which
stands above such fragmentalion while at the same time it displays in its
dynamism a multi-leveled spread that comes out of this Unborn:l. ; It
nevertheless remains in the state of the mirror, not altered by any of its
reflections.
This double experience of Space (dbyirlgs) and Awareness (rig pal has
given rise to the key concept of dbyings rig in rDzogs chen thought.'"
Several such definitions are given i n a row in the Lamp of the Experie/1ce Of
View and Meditation:
What is called Space is Emptiness and
What is called Awareness is its Clarity aspect.
Or, "Space" is the Unborn while
Awareness" is without obstr uction.
Again, "Space" is the Expanse and
17
"t\wnrL'ness" is the sky:
II

Neither Space nOr Awareness are the objects of such thoughts as "Now,
am engaged ill meditation" because they do not pertain to the dual
notions of an object to be meditated upon ('gam bya) and the action of
meditation (sgol11 l!lled). They reflect a pure experience of the natural state,
limpid as the sky without clouds, and mirror without rust or a lake with
out waves:IH

Texts such as the Clarifications on the Oral Transmission (sNyan rgylld gsal
bnr gsnl byed, (pp.39 seq.) expose different types of methods to bring one
to the knowledge of this natural state of Awareness (rig pal. Accordin g to

one such method, the disciple should fix a white letter A and concentrate
upon it during several meditation sessions for a duratio n of two
or three
days, until signs occur." If no sign appears, he should divide
his session s
111 the tollowing way: in the morning session
, he will keep the white A as
the support ot meditation while in the afternoon he
should engag e i n
co'templatlOn on .the form o f t h e master (bin ma'i sku
gzugs); t h e evening
seSSlOn shoul d be dedIcated to the contemplatio
n of butter lamps (mnr me)

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG

43

and this last exercise anticipates practices such as tiw! rgal. Other methods
\vould imply the chanting of such syllables as I-him, 1-11';' A and OllI,"
practices which clearly recall the usual exercises of fixing the mind (SOilS
'dzin) the aim of which is actually the same, that is, entering the state of
contemplation.
SKY GAZING PRACTICE
As for the section o n confrontations described above, the text proposes
several methods for entering and remaining in cuntemplation_ Some of
them are rather simple ones-not simplistic. They involve such notions as
freedom from effort ('bad rlsal med pal and do not demand difficult yogic
exercises. Thus, according to the Clarifications Oil tlze Oral Transmission
(pp.44-4S), to enter the state of evenness, one should sit in the cross
legged posture with the back straight and visualize one's body as a god.
Then, using the Gaze of the Eternal Mind-Hero (g.yung dnmg scms dpa'i
ita stangs) directed towards the sky above oneself, one should simply let
the eyes look unblinkingly into the sky and remain in a state of utter
clarity, devoid of any distraction or thought whatsoever. If one does not
get distracted during this contempl ation, then One will have the exper
ience of Clarity and Emptiness (gsal stong), that is of the Self-arisen
Wisdom (rang 'byung ye shes).
As soon as this Wisdom of Clarity and Emptiness occurs, one should
remain free from distractions and, whatever one does at this time, con
template everything through the natural nakedness of one's Awareness.
Thus one does not become the prey to feelings and events which are all
purified into one's unborn essence. Consequently, one should be able to
easily integrate this state with the actions of one's three doors (body,
speech and mind).
In the text entitled Precepts for the experiences of View and Meditation (ITa
sgam nyams kyi man ngag), 51 this practice is defined as "stabilizing with the
Peaceful Gaze what was not stabilized" (ziti ba'i ita stangs kyis mi gnas pa
grlas par byed pal. It is combined with an exercise styled "progressing with
the Wrathful Gaze in the experience of calm free from intellect" kIm) bo lIa
stangs kyis gnas pa'i nyams blo bral du 'bog 'don pal. Its method is not really
different from the previous one but it differs in its main aim. Indeed, once
one has obtained the experience of calm (gnas pal as described in the
Peaceful Gaze technigue, one should destroy (bshig pal it to enter a state
devoid of such dual notions as an object to be meditated upon (the calm
state) and the action of meditating (the method itself): this definitely
generates an experience which is naturally born without depending on
the mind. In short, the Peaceful Gaze produces an experience of calm that
enables the yogi to get rid of gross discursiveness whereas with the
3.

44 THE TIBET JOURNAL

e gets rid of subtle


Wrathful Gaze, this experience i s destroyed so that h
related manif estatio n s.
thoughts and attachment to experience and theirc o
he cultIvates
Finally , he is established i n an unartif icial absorptIOn WhICh
f
without effort and i ntegrates easily so that he lIberates for himsel all
dll
Whi
med
cad
llimns
phenomena into their absence of foundation (bon
"
grol).
4. CLEAR-LIGHT ('00 CSIlL)
As one progresses ill these practices and becomes familiar with them, one

will be confronted with the emergence of the Clear-Light which is said to


be of three types: natural Clear-Light (rang bzhin 'od gsaI), Clear-Light of
the consciousness (shes pa'i 'od gsaI) and Clear-Light of the subtle channels
(rtsa'i 'od gsaI).
The first concerns the visi onary experience and all natural manifesta
tions (or one's own manifestations, rang snang) which are devoid of
individual nature. It consists of an external Clarity (phyi gsaI) and an
i nternal one (nang gsaI), collectively designated as Pel lucidity (zang thaI).
Ihe Clear-Light of consciousness is compared to the moon shining
during the night or to sitting under

tent made of white cotton. When

it emerges, one does not distinguish any longer between day and night
and everything felt through its brilliance and luminosity. Even one's body
and i nternal constituents (elements and organs) are perceived as luminous
and such phenomena are eventually accompanied by the emergence of
fore-knowledge such as knowing the future birth of beings or other
people's thoughts.
The Clear-Light of the channels is produced by the inner glow (mdangs)
of the five Wisdom shining in the Empty-White-and-Soft Nerve (dkar 'jam
klwg I'a stong I'a'i 'tsa) although until its awakening by the practice, this
Clear-Ijght I'emains i nvisible and obscured by the body's karmi c im
pregnations. It is thus described as J butter lamp placed in a sealed vase
which will shine forth due to certai n circumstances (rkyell): it will spread
forth when practices of the above-described type are accomplish ed or
when the time for the separation of body and mind happens. At these
moments, one's Awareness (rig pal is displayed as lights shining i n the sky

but i f these become objects of attachment, one will wander i n Samsara


i ndefinitely. Indeed, these visionary and luminou s experiences ar not
some kind of wonders produced by someone or somethi ng else: they are
the outward glow (dangs) of our own Awareness and are to be identifi
ed
as our own manifestations (nmg snang). When this is lived i n experie
nce,
the power of the karmic winds (las kyi rIling) is broken and
one exper
';onces the dlssolvll1g of Clarity into Clarity (saI bn In gsaI ba
thim), of
Emptll1ess into Emptiness (stong I'a Ia stong I'a thim)
so that one's

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG

45

Awareness is definitively "conquered" (zin) and that the Bardo cities (bar
do'i grong kllyer) are sealed, that is closed for us."
E. SECONDARY P[(ACT1CES

According to the text entitled The Mirror of the key points of enhancement
into practice (Bog 'don gnad kyi ine long) (pp.51-91), there are special meth
ods to be applied when none of the experiences of Void, Bliss or Clarity
(bde gsal Ini rtog pal have been felt by the practitioner. Some of these
methods are concerned with prayers directed to the master (pp.52-58) or
the development of compassion towards sentient beings (pp.5S-61). More
yogic-oriented methods involve practices like the inner heat (gtum 1110,
pp.61-63) although it is not named as such. According to two sentences
credited to an anonymous source which might have been Bon zhig him
self, it is said on this subject (p.61):
When winds and mlnd

(rhmg scms) enter the central c hannel, the special ex


('mf rlog ]'0) arise

periences of Bliss (bde), Clarity (gsaJ) and Nondiscursiveness

the continuum. So it is said that when \vinds and mind enter this ccntrul
(rig pn mngon riu
Ita).
in

channel, this is called "contemp lating Awareness concretely"

This practice involves the visualization of the subtle body system of


channels (rlsa), bindus (Illig Ie) and wheels ('khor 10). It is conducted as it
is usually done in other cycles, with the visualization of the syllable A
and HAM respectively in the navel and head cakras. A fire blazes from the
A syllable and burns the letter HAM, making it melt down in drops. The
prdlQ exercise that accompanies this visualization requires pressing down
the upper wind (steng riling) while pulling up the lower one ('og rhl11g).
In this manner, all the winds enter the central channel, thereby generating
the triple experience of Void, Bliss and Clarity.'' As is indicated in the title
of the text and its contents, such practices are mainly aimed at "progres
sing" (bog 'don pal, that is, achieving some kind of experience that has not
been obtained through the usual practice. To practices of this kind, one
should add the very lengthy text called "Precepts for the visualization of
illnesses and demons" (Nad gdon dmigs pa'i mal1 I1gag), (pp.nS-l72) in
which illnesses are defined as caused by ignorance (rna rig pal. The arising
of this ignorance sets off the display of all passions which act as active
secondary causes to all kind of illnesses. This detailed exposition is fol
lowed by special yogic means aimed at curing specific illnesses. Again,
these exercises are accomplished as secondary yogic methods and are not
to be confused with what is the aim of the main practice, that is, En
lightenment, not simply good health or the display of magical tricks.

46 THE TIBET JOURNAL


SfER
F. BAlmO TEACH INGS AND Ti l E PRACTICE OF TRAN

( 'PliO BA)

RAYS
1 . CONFJ(ONTAI'JCJN S WITH SOUND S, LIGHTS AND
do not necessarily de
The teachings on the intermediate state (bar do)
be done 111 thIS bfe:
to
es
exeros
only with after-death but also with

states: 1) the Inter


Indeed , the cycle describes six types of intermed i a te
do), 2) the Inter
bar
kyl
gnas
bzhin
mediate state of natural existence (rang

diate
mediate state of absorption (ting nge 'dzin gyi bar do), 3) the interme
life
of
and
state
iate
intermed
the
4)
state of dreams (nni lam gyi bar do),
death (sklje shi'i bar do),

5)

the intermediate state of Clear-Light of Reality

(bon nyii 'od gsal gyi bar do) and 6) the intermediate state of becoming (srid
pn bar do). "
In fact, the teachings on these states are divided into practices accompl
ished during this life, practice.s done at the time of death and practices to
be done in the after-death states. The first ones are concerned with ex
perience and integration of Awareness (rig po) while the second ones are
a continuation of the first. This practically means that one should remain
in the cross-legged posture with the eyes staring at the sky, leaving the
mind in its natural state of Clarity (gsal ba), without clinging to any
thought whatsoever. Then, when the breath naturally stops with the end
of this life, one will be able to enter the bardo of Clear-Light of Reality

(bon nyid 'od gsal bar do). This is a period i n which the non-discursive
Wisdom (rtog med ye shes) instantaneously appears to all beings. At the
time it is possible to identify this state as the Absolute Body (bon sku),
Awareness (rig pal and Emptiness-Clarity (stong gsal). On an experiential
level, it is fel t as the sun shining i n a sky free from all clouds a n d its

recognizing constitutes fl" 1 l buddhahood (mngrJrl sangs "grias).


Exercises for yogis of medium capacities involve a btlsic system of three
confrontations (ngo 'prod) which I shall describe here in broad outline.
First one has to realize the il lusory nature of appearances and to consider
them as dreams (rmi lam), that is as illusions with no reality of their own.
I n this manner one is freed from all grasping and dual perceptions of
subject and object. This initial confrontation is followed by another one
aiming at the recognition of sounds (sgra), lights ('od) and rays (zer)-the
basic manifestations to which any appearance can be brought back-as
one's own natural manifestations (rang silang). The yogi is thus invited to
press the eyes and to contemplate the displays of fivefold lights and
colours which are indeed the visionary experiences and appearing at the
time of death. In this manner, he is directly confronted with these visions
as his own manifestations (rang snang) and he can therefore recognize
them for what they are when they appear to him at the time of death. The
pressing of the eyes is the means used for both confrontations to lights

('od) and

rays (zer) . For sounds (sgra), obviously, the ears will be pressed

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG

47

so tha t the yogi w i l l h e a r his n a tural sound the same sound he will hear
in the bard o of deilt h:"
2. CONl'IWNT,\TION TO Ti lE NATURE OF T[-J I, MIND

If one does not know the natural state of one's m i nd, one will not be able
to experi ence the Self-arisen Wisdom as described in the above-ment ioned
practi ces." This s i m ply means that one still does not di ffe,-en tiate mind

(sems)- the process of fragmentMio n of our unitary nature or the con


tinual discursive thought process-from the nature of the mind or mind
itself (sem5 11l/id). The former, w i t h its ever-flowing deluded conceptions
and analysis, d iffers from M i n d i tself i n 50 far as the latter is pure from
the very begi n n i ng, u n bo'rn, that is, not produced from causes or condi

tions, displayed in such a way that it e mbraces the whole of Sam"lra and
Nirvana. I n texts a n d in the oral transmission, it can be called several

names w h i ch are a l l synonymous; among the most frequently used are


"Universal Basis of Primeval E n l ightenment" (ye sangs rb/as pll 'i kun gzhi)
"Natural S tilte of the Cre"t Vehicle" (tlleg pa cllen I'o'i gnas lugs)," "Self
arisen Wisdom" (rang 'byungye shes), "Essence of one's natural Awareness"
(I'Img rig pa 'i nga bo), "Emptiness-c1l11l-Clarity" (stong gsal), "Absolute Body"
(bon sku), etc.'o

Its sanctuary i s situated i n one's heart (tsi tn)," described here i n rDzogs
chen context as the Carne l i il n Brown Tent (mchong sur smug po) which is
external ly shaped l i ke a triangle a n d internally as a square.'" It i s traversed
by the crystal- l i ke vital-nerve (smg rtsa) which divides itself i n the head
into two branches that open through the eyes. I t is explicitly defined as
a channel that l i n ks the heart to the eyes (mig dang snying du 'brei ba'i
rtsa)"' and i t is the same as the Empty-White-and-Soft Nerve (dkar 'jam
khog pa stong pa'i rtsa) mentioned e"rlier i n tllis paper. I t is in this s"nc

tuary that ones Awareness resides, "expressed as the nature of the En


lightened Mind's deep bl ue light" (byang chub kyi sems 'od mtlling nag gi
rang bzlzin dll gnas so)'" a n d endowed w i th four characteristics: Emptiness
(stong pal, Clarity (gsa I bal, Bliss (bde ba), and Non-discursiveness (mi rlog
pal. As such i t is called with specific terms such as "Immaculate Body" (dri
lila

med pa'i sku) o r "Mind, the self-arisen gShen Cod White Light" (sans

rang 'byung gi gslzel1 llza 'od dkar). So, once this confront"tion has been

given by the m aster a n d after one has truly realized it as one's own
Aw"reness (ral1g rig) expressed as Kun tu bzang po, if one practices it so
as to i n tegrate i t definitively, one w i l l not pass through the intermediate
states of death ilnd w i l l achieve perfect buddhahood in this very life.
Hence, a ll deluded m a nifestations w i l l naturally appear as the display of
the five Wisdom a n d sounds, l i g h ts a n d rays will be perceived as one's
own natural sounds, lights and rays."

48 THE TIBET JOURNAL


3. PRACTICES AT THE TIME

Of

DEATH.

There exist many signs indicating the imminence of death

""
( 'chi rtags) but

one of the characteristics of this cycle is to present them in a fivefold


manner. The first one is styled in an allegorical way as "the break of Sun
and Moon's light circles"

(nyi zla 'od dkor Ilyams pal: this refers to the

pressure exerted on the eyes, that is, if one does not see the lights pro
duced by such pressure, either upwards, downwards or on the sIdes of
the eyes, this is a definite death sign. The second is called "the inter

d eternal sound" (g.yung drung gi sgra chad pal: if one no longer hears

rupte

the sound resulting from the pressure on the ears, this indicates imminent
death. The third is entitled "break between the Tibetan and Indian trans
lators"

(rgya bod kyi 10 tswa chad pal, that is, if the volume of one's tongue

diminishes and one cannot talk anymore, this is a sign indicating death.
The fourth is styled "to fall down near a fruit tree"

(rtsi shing dnmg nas


'gye/ ba), that is i f the hair of one's body and head remain smoothed

down, this is a sign of death. The fifth and last sign is described as "ap
peasing strength with constellations"

"'
(?rgyll skar gyi ngar zhi ba), that is,

if one no longer feels one's own body even by touching it, this indicates
definite death. These signs are to be checked up from time to time and
must be investigated after the receiving of instructions and confronta
6S
tions.
If some of these signs are inevitable, two modes of dissolution of mani
festations will occur. First, the objects of our perceptions will dissolve into
each other in the following manner. Form

(sgm),

(gzugs) will dissolve into sound

that is one will not see far-away things and some of our own

sensations will not be felt anymore. Then sound will dissolve into smell

(dri) so that one will not hear them any longer. One after the other, all
our perceptions stop and smell dissolves into flavour (ro) and flavour into
tactile perception (reg pal. Following an analogous pattern, our internal

eJements-e<lrth, water, etc.-dissolve gradually into one another until air


(rlung) dissolves into consciousness (mam shes), thus producing the ulti
mate and definitive interruption of breath .'" The experience that follows
is known as the separation of body and mind and it is accompa
nied by

different kinds of visions, depending on the individual. Some


will for
example have the impreosion of a rain of blood sensation
which is due to
the power or dynamism

(rlsal) of passions and poisons.


For the excellent practitioner (rnb), when the mind
separates from the
body, Awareness (rig pal enters the White-and-so
ft Nerve and is elevated
by the Wisdom wind lve shes kyi rlung). It then
travels through this nerve
untll lt reaches the upper end of the nerve
where it will shoot forth from
the Brahma-opening at the summit of the
head. According to the capaci
tIes of the practitioner, it can also go furth
er in the nerve and shine forth

BON Zf-IIG KHYUNG NAG 49


through the eyes .'o Actually, it means that if one has been confronted
with one's own Awareness (rang rig) a n d if the realization of i t is effective,
one can gain buddhahood at the time of death and one will not enter the
diffe rent after -de ath state s .'1
After the burst of Awaren ess through the eyes, yogis of mediulll capaci
ties will enter t h e i n termediate state of Clear-ligh t ( 'od gsal gyi bar do)
which is characteri zed by the display of colourful lights and rainbows. [I'

they have become fam i l i ar with such visionary experiences d u ring their
life, they w i l l encounter no impedimen t to recognize them as the display

of their own Awareness and will thus be liberated. The practi tioner of
lower capacities and ordinary beings wil! be projected in the intermediate
states by the power of their past actions and the Clear-Light of the first
after-death state w i l l last only for a very short time. However, this mo

ment can be the opportun i ty for them to apply the instructions on the
transfer ( 'ph a

ba)

i n to this C lear-Light.

4. SPECIAL PRACTICE OJ; TI JE TI(ANSFE1(


So, once the breath has stopped, one i s confronted w i lh the Clear-Light

of Reality (ball nyid 'ad gsal), that is to say, a period when visions of the
Clear-Light afe d i splayed a n d which is known as the moment when the
dynamism of sounds, l ight and rays is perfected (sgm 'oei zer SSt/III gyi rlsai

rdzogs pa'i dus). At that time, someone should approach the ear of the
dying person a n d explain to h i m that these visions do not come from the
outside or from somethig else: they are his own manifestations (rang

snang) a n d they are displaying the Space of Reality (bun IIyid dbyiilgs). So,

the person i s i n v i ted to go toward these visions and to enler the great

Clear-Light ( 'od gsal chen po). For those who have done m uch tantric
practice d u r i n g their life, the rays wil! appear as the Blissful Ones' Body

(bder gshegs !.yi sk!l), sound as their Speech (gSlli1g) and the fivefold l ights
as their M i n d (thugs).
The practitioner of greater abilities will accomplish a transfer styled

"withou t attributes" (mts]1i11l med kyi 'plio

{",)

whereas the ones just de

scribed were "with attribu tes" (mtslian bcas). According to this method, one
should sit i n the usual meditation posture ancl leave the eyes fixed on the
sky. Then, o n e should leave the upper wind in its

known place while

pulling u p the lower one Cog rilmg), thus enabling one's Awareness to

burst out from the s u m m i t of one's head. One will hence remain in a state
described as "the lake or a lamp not disturbed by the wind." One's

Awareness w i l l thus be naturally established on the Base (gzhi), that is,


One w i l l have reached Kun tu bzang po's level of realization and will no

lon ger take reb irth n

50 THE TIBET JOURNAL

At this stage a realization, the Basis (gzhi), the Way (lam) and Fruit ('bras
bu) are perfected as an utter unity (the Single Circle, thig Ie nyag gcig)
which is full buddhahood. In rDzogs chen thought, this i s not something
that is produced by causes but this is rather a whole process which is
based on self-liberation (rang gral) and specific practices. The most im
portant things remain the knowledge of the natural state (gnas lugs) and
the way i t presents itself in visionary and luminous experiences. In the
present cycle, the given instructions clearly belong to the khregs chod type
as well as confrontation (ngo sprod) to this state. It is around this main
body of practice that the cycle is constructed. As a whole it appears com
posed of coherent and inter-related works-often referrin g to one another
or borrowing whole passages from each other-which can be character
ized as devoid of any ritualistic tantric element. In a certain way, the
absence of explicit ti10d rgal practices might have caused it to be over
looked when compared to other oral transmission-type of works such as
the Zhang zhung snyan rgyud or Treasures cycle (gter mal like the rDzags
chen gser b/i yang zhun of bsTan gnyis gling pa but its still living tradition
proves the effectiveness and popularity it enjoyed in Bon po circles from
the 12th century onwards. Indeed, it contains some of the clearest exposi
tion of khregs chod instructions and related methods that somehow stands
between Emptiness (stong pa, khregs chod) and Clarity (gsal ba, thad rgal)
practices.

Notes
"I. The information given in Karmay's Treasury of Good Sayings on this personage
(pp.]68-]69) is of little interest for our present study. In this book, Shar rdza
rill. po che contented himself with a very short notice on Bon zhig and so is
the one conlutncd in sPa bsTan rgyal bzang po's bsTan pa'i rnam bshad dar
'xyas gsal uai sgll'" me (pp.l97-198). This latter source has simply the fol
lowing information: "Srid I pa'i] rgyal I mo] gave prophecies to Bon zhig
khyung nag Iwho! transmitted the cycle of the Dr" med IIlan skyes to 'KhruJ
zhig Idam bu Ifrom whom! it was [ then! diffused" (bon zhig khyUllg 11ag la grid
rgyal gyis lung llslan pal dri med Ihm! skyes kyi skor! 'khrul zhig Idam bu Ia brgyud
de dar

ro).

As we shall sec, the Dn med [han skycs is another name of the Rig

pa geer "'thong cycle.

2. This hagiographical lext is part of a triad of works known as the "three


Clarifications" (gsal byed gSIlW; See below n.20 for their references). It was
apparentl writt n by a unnamed disciple of IDong sgom zhig po, the last
one mentlOned in the lme of patriarchs. This probably puts it in the last
decdes of the :3th century. On the other hand, 110 element prevents its
havmg been wntten much later though the omission of later masters would
be surprising.

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG 51


3. He is also known as gShen sgam zhig po (rNam Ihar, p.368).
4. There is conflicting information around this incarnation and these can be
resumed to two lineages which are in fael given together at the end of the
Khyad par gdams po Ishig bzhi pa'i skor nges don bka ' rgya ma (pp.487-488). These

lineages do not have any masters in common apart from Bon zhig himself
and I thus presume that they evolved from two distinct traditions. Inleresting
enough are the names of the eighth century Buddhist translator Vairocana
(which is not indeed a surprise) and Dam pa rgya gar, that iSt Pha dam pa
sangs rgyas (the celebrated master of the Zhi byed system who died around
1 1 17) whose d ates hardly fit with those of Bon zhig (l J03-1183). If this
colophon is not simply an incidental addition existing only in this version of
the eyele, it shows that these lineages Were arranged at a later stage of the
compilation of the cycle. Anyhow, on pp.487-488 we read: it is said that "this
precious master, gShen sgom, was an emanation of the Blissful ones and that
he came for the welfare of beings," so this proves he was a true buddha. In
this prophecy, Sad ne ga'u predicted: "[You will be) said to be an emanation
of Khe nan yo phya, that is: you Khye'u nan tsho, the emanated one, you
will be called dMu tsha gyer med (the text has erroneously Gyer mi nyi 'od
who comes afterwards). Then, you will transmigrate from this birth and will
be known as Vairocana (Bhe ro tsa na). Thereafter, you will be Gyer mi nyi
'od. Then, i n the region of mOo smad, you shall appear under the name of
'Phags pa drung mu. Then in the central region of Tibet (dBus) , you will
appear as gShen sgom zhig po (Bon zhig khyung nag) and you will complete
the welfare of beings with a teaching that has no limits," Then, the compiler
of this colophon juxtaposed another set of prophecies that provides con
flicting data with the one translated above: "sPa thog Ise said: Then I will
transmigrate from this hfe and the lineage of the place of rKong rings will be
broken. Then I will become Ya Ise rgyal po and thereafter I will have the
name of Dam pa rgya gar. Then, I will be La ro ras pa (this is evidently the
same personage as La ro zhig po). Then I will have the name Bon zhig
khyung nag and [finally) I will appear in the central region of Tibet where
I will complete my wish of working for the welfare of beings under the name
of Don Idan smad gshen." (bla Inn rin po ehe gshen sgom 'di nil bder gshegs spTul

po 'gro ba'i dan 10 byanl ees songs rgyas dngos yin cingl lung bslan sad ne ga 'lI zhal
nasi khe nan yo phya'i sprul po gsung slel spml po'! khye'u nan Isho khyod/ dmu

Isha gyer mi nyi 'od zhes kyong byal 'di nas skyes po phas gyur )lnsl bhe ra Iso no
bya bar byung/ de nas gyer nyi 'od dol de nos mdo smad khams su yang/ phag pa
drung mu mlshan du 'byungl de nos bod yul dbus Sll yangl gshe/l sgam zhig po bya

bar byung/ dpag med bslan pa'i 'gro don rdzags ees dangl spa Ihog Ise'i zhal nasi
bdag ni 'di nos skye pa 'pho 'gyur nil rkong rings gnas kyi brgyud bead/ de nos yo
Ise rgyal por gyurl de nas dam pa rgya gar mlshanl de nos 10 ru ,-as pa'ol de nas bon

zhig khyung nag mlshan/ de nas bod yul dbus riu 'byungl mlshan ni don Idan smad
gshenl 'gro don Ihugs kyis rdzogs mdZ11d do/)
5.

A biography of this master is to be found in Sources for


pp.390-437.

Hislory of Ron,

52 THE TIBET JOURNAL


6.

\vas ,vel! conducted,


DnJd rIngs arc generally signs indicatin g that the practice
by various kind of
anied
accomp
resulting irl ,1 kind of mystic heal (elrod)
i()rcknowledge.

7.

Gmil pn. This simply means in this context that he received the transmission

i mm the guddess.
8. This mC<lllS lhat he received some siddhi Ih<.lt enabled him lo rule (:'hmenlal
forces such as wind, fire etc., ,15 wel! a.s to change l<:mgiblc manifestations and
i:lppCari:lnccs (snnllg 1m). In l<lrgcr context, this <'1 Iso mC'.H1S he had power over
his own manifestalions (raug Sllfl1lg) iJ nd was able to see them i n their real
11alurc.
9. "Queen of Existence," She is the guardian deity of this cycle and plays a role
par;:111cl to EkaFlli in the rDzogs chen of the rNying ma pa. Different iorms
of Srid pa'i rgyol InO ,He knmvn to be special guardians of specific rDzogs
chen cycles such as the Tshe dbnng vod yllJ ma or the rDzogs chen gsa thur,
both di:;covered by Bon zhig g.yung drung gling pa (on lhE.> dates of this gter
slim, sec Kvzcrne 1997, n.109, 144; Kmmay, The Great Peljectio/1, (p.219, n.9). On
Srid pil'i rgyal mOt see also Lopon Tenzin Namdak, Heart Drops of Dhannnkaya,
p.1 55.

1D.
1 1.

12.

B,

[4.

15.
l6,

17.
] 8.

19.
20.
21.

This personage is the 'same as the one mentioned <.Ibovc in n . l under the
name 'K hrul zhig Idanl' bll.
Sec Kannay, A C(lfalogw! of Bon po PuvIicntiol1s, p,110. The only informcllion
rega rding Bon zhig khyllng nag in Nyi rna bsl<'111 'dzin's bsTnn rtsis is the
year he was born (Water Sheep year), n03j sec P. Kvcerne, "A Chronological
Lable of Lhe Bon po," p.230 (91).
This incidental passage shows thut $l\ch teachings were already widely
spread at that lime. rDzogs chen is commonly considered as a doctrine thal
liLxri.lll:'s in one liic.
This suggesls that the lranslnission \".'as of the gcig brgyud type, i.e" hunded
down [min one' master to one disciple only,
This is also a common chamctcristic of rDzogs chen teachings but it can <1\$0
<Ipply to cert<:lin tantric prdctices such as the transference of consciollsness
('plIO un).
On this theme see abovl.! section IV.C.
No age nor Cb.1 lc arc given.
[\101 to be confused with Bon zhig's own rool mast0r whom we saw earlier
in Bon zhig's biography.
i l WilS he who gave the btter the nnme o f Zhig po k u n dga' (Lo rgyus gsal
I>ycd, p.20).
Region situated 10 the south-west of gTsang. We must remember that his
tn,-lin scat seems to have been rGyal InO rong in the south-east part of A rndo.
Further biogl'aphical dat,l regarding this master e<.m be found in the Do ng
1I!{)lg gIll' :';511111 gyi nlfllll thm' included in Sources j{)f History of Bon, pp.458-472
1 hiS rather slrange n,HllC, that can be translated as "Victorio
us Wish," leads
me to think that his parents had problems having children and that, as usual,
the), llirned to a lam.a to help them. If he accepted to do rituals, he must

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG

53

have lold lhem to form ulaic 'wishes (s/1/oll /mn 'debs pa) <Jnd when i t worked,
they gave their first child the name uf VicLorious Wish.
22. The text i s here rather e l l iptical w i t h its record ing that "he listened to Buddh
ist docLrines (cJws) in presence of Bhl ma chos rgyill, residing in the rGyJ

cou n t ry (bla ma chos rgyal rgya ylil dIll bzll1lgs pa'i spyaH sngar cfws ".11(<11 hyflS)
"

This could definitely have been a S a skya pa bJa ma living in Chi na ,uld ii We
hdcl [Dong sgom's Jal'1 th is could cvc:'J1 have been 'Crn mg-on 'Phags pa
( 1 235-1 280) b u t this is simply Spccul<1lion cl llhough thL' t i l k.' clJOs rgyal cOllld
be an indication of some sort.

23.

Tibetan Bonpo Monastic Centre, Delhi, 1972.

24.

See the following notes for references.

25.

J)

Yid elU?5 bla ma brgyud pa'i 10 rglflls gsal l'yer! (pp.7-24), 2) rJes gnallg gsal bar

gsal byed (pp.25-35) and (3) sNyan brglflld gsal I'ar gsal bycd (pp.37-50).
26.

4) Bog 'don gnar! kyi me lang (pp.51-91), 5) rTsal sbyong gnad bji me long (pp.93-

27.

7) Nod gdon dmigs pa'i man IIgag (pp.1 15-172), 8) ITa sg"m IIymns kyi 7IInn IIgng

J(6) and 6) Lam khycr gnarl kyi lI1e long (pp.107-1l3).

28.

(pp. 173-182) and 9) La bzla "'klTa' 'gro'i man ngag (pp.183-]90).


10) ITa sgom nyam kyis sgroll ma (pp.191-214),

l l) Bar d" rillS klji sgon 111e

(pp.21 5-244) and J2) 'Ph" /In gnad kyi lIIa11 ngag (pp.245-257).
29.

I:J)

bsTan pn gllas kyi clio rkyen (pp 259-270), 14) 'Grags pa grogs kyi dw rkyen

(pp.271-280), 1 5 ) Phllng po rgyll iji el10 rkyen (pp.281 -285), 16) bOe dror! gos kyi

eha rkyen (pp.287-292), 17) 'IsllO ba zas kyi cha rkycn (pp. 293-324) and 18) Will
khHCI' dkar po gsum sbyo1' (pp.325-334). This last texl is also knmvn as the Grub

po lam gyi eha rkyC11 (see the Lhan skyes ban gyi rlsis llljang, pp571).

30.

19) Kllyad par gdams pa tShig bzhi pa'i skor nges don bien' rglJa 1110 (pp.469-488)
and 20) Kityad par gyi gda",s po tshig bzhi pa'i skor (pp.48-524). AClually only

one is mentioned in the

rles gnnng gsnI hycd but \,>'ithout one of these two, the

n u mber of texts would not be com plete.


31.

21) sNyan rgyud rig po xcer 1I1t1wng g i gzlnmg (pp.405-451J).

32.

The first set of secondary texts is

m ade up of the follmving wurks: 1) sNyrm


'
l'Xyud S17gO/! gro gSIl1l/ gyi yig chung (pp.33S-349); 2) dGolIgs lIyrl1l1S 'pflnlf ,r.,ryi Me

IIII'{ (pp.351 -358); 3) Kind don gsum gyi .'liS cJI11l1S (pp.359-365); 4) ilon zllig
kllyUllg nag gi lTln/ll tliar (pp.J67-385); 5) NglI sprod Siml gyi yig elllmg (pp.:J87395) ,md 6) Scms 'dzin gS1!l1l glfi yig chullg (pp.397-403). The second set is
constit uted by: 7) g51lCI1 sgom tlings kyi nlfillg kllll (pp.4.o]-467);

8) sNym l rg1flld

dl.ang gi yig chung (pp.52S-530); 9) sNy"" ',,\,}ud dlmng gi .'Iig elmng gsal l'1fcd I/Ie
long (pp.531 -570); 10) Uml1 skyes l'un gyi rlsis bya"g (pp.57J -572) ami 1 1 ) On
/lied Ilion skyes kyi 'chad tital,s (pp.573-574). The last two were apparen tly added
bler to the cycle; n . l 0 is

l i s t of contents l..v hile n.n concerns the methods

necessary to expose the cycle.

33.

Umn. skyes bon gyi rtsis ['yang (n.1 0), p.572. Up to

1100'V,

[ have not found any

biographical datu on these two masters i n the sources at my disposal. They


m ig h t be found i n sou rces

I have not consulted.

34.

VVe

35.

sNynn r,\ryud rig pn geer mtfumg gi gzlllmgr pAD8. In lhe sNynn r Ylld gsa! bar

H
, e:

10 believe thal the lrl.ln.smission was given orally.

bycrt pn'i gsal /J.IJcd, (p.38), such prac tices are said to be done dUring a whole

54 THE TIBET JOURNAL


month. Variations on the preliminaries can be found in the sNyan rgyud sllgon
'gro gsum gyi yig chung (pp.335-349) where they are divided i n the following
manner: a first section is devoted to the instructions on the generation of
Enlightened Mind and Refuge (sems bskyed skyab 'gro'i khrid); the second one
deals with the recitation and meditation on the tutelary deity 0Ji dam sgom
bzlas kyi khrid) while the third which is the longest one is concerned with the
instructions on the prayers to the master and offering of the maDc;lala
36.

37.

38.

39.

40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.

46.

(manqala gsal 'debs kyi khrid).


sNyan r!S'Jud rig pa geer rnthong gi gzhung, pp.411-413. A detailed explanation
of these confrontations is given in the Ngo sprod gsum gyi yig chung (pp.387'
393). They are clearly styled respectively as external (pp.388-390) and secret
confrontations (pp.393395). The treatment given in this small text is aimed at
clarifying the allusive style used i n the root-text. Although it is not named as
such, it obviously stands for a commentary on this part.
In the Man ngag sde, Essence, Nature and Compassion are common features
but this may not necessarily be the case with Sems sde for example, Thus, in
the Kun byed rgyal po, Essence and Nature have exchanged places as well as
semantic fields, The three facets of Essence, Nature and their non-differentia
tion (dbyer med) are also quite common in oral transmissions, The change of
the last component (Compassion for non-differentiation) might come from
potential mistakes one might make in interpreting the term thugs rje and
including in its field notions which do not belong to it in rDzogs chen
contexts.
This is the same as the Body of Perfect Rapture (longs spyod rdzogs pa'i sku)
corresponding to the Sanskrit Sambhogakiiya. The Bon tradition uses both
expressions indifferently.
On the true meaning of this term in rDzogs chen context, see Namkhai
Norbu, Crystal and the Way of Ligflt, pp.138-152. See also M. Kapstein, "The
Amnesic Monarch and the Five Mnemic Men," although the translation of
drnn pn in this article might be guite misleading. It is nevertheless clear that
dmn pn in the present context has nothing to do wilh memory or any mnemic
in meaning.
sNyan rgyud gsal bar gsal l'yeri, pp.43-44.
ITa sgom nyams kyi man ngag, p.174.
Sec op. cit., pp.l74-175 where this lheme is discussed.
Ibid., p.175.
ITa sgo", nymns kyi sgro'n me, p.205.
Ibid" p.207. Although this whole state is non-dual, this fragmentation occurs
on the Nature (rang bzhin) or Clarity (gsaf ba) level. Such notions are a theme
:uh disc ssed in . the r:rall ngag sdc type of literature where it is styled
C' lphany/ or mamfestatrons of the Basis (gzhi snang).
t 15 llso an .':nportant theme among the followers of the gZhan stong school
In
lbe but It seems to remain on a very speculative and interpretatory level
wl:lCh IS not t e case here \vhere dbying and rig pn are spoken of according
to mner expenences.

BON ZHIG KHYUNG NAG

55

47. Ibid., p.207: dbyings zhes bya ba de stong pa yinl ng pa bya de gsal elia yilll yang

dbyll1gs zhes bya va de skye med yIllI ng bya ba de 'gag med yin 1101 yan
Ila
dbyings zhes bya ba de klong yin lal rig pa zhes bya ba de mkha' yin. In

tatric
terms-which are indeed used by the text (p.208)-Space stands for
Means
(thai's) while Awareness is Knowledge (shes Tab). The use of such terms is not
surprisin g in this context which t r ies to list as many analogies as possible,
importin g thus a terminology that originally belonged to semantic fields
extraneous to rDzogs chen.

48. Ibid., p.20S.


49.

These signs are described following i llustrative examples (ppA0-41) s'lch

as

the \\/ind blowing through the kayes of a fruit tree (rtsi sfling khn fa rIung

'phyo ba), a fish jumping into the depth of the ocean (rgya mtslw gtillg lin Ilya
'phyo ba) or a bee sucking nectar from a flower (bung ba rtsi ia 'jibs pal, etc.
Most of these signs are given in full in Tenzin Wangyel, WOllders of the
50.

Natural Mind (pp.74-77).


sNyan rgyud gsal bar gsal byed, pp.41-42.

51.

Pp.175 seq.

52.

Pp.176-177.

53.

sNyan rgyud gsai bar gsal byed, pp.46-47. Those Bardo cities are in fact the

:;4.

differen t in termediary s tages lhat succeed on another in the after-death state.').


,
'Bog don gnad kyi me iang, pp.62-63.

55.

These practices are not part of the main subject (dngos gzhi) of the cycle bu t
they must not be confused with simple secondary methods. Rather, they
enjoy a great importance since we are all going to pass and arc passing
through the d ifferent intermediate states. In case the results of the main
practice have not been achieved during this life, it is of the utmost im
portance to become familiar with these states and to engage in their practice.
A lengthy discussion of the Bardos and transference ('phD i'a) in the Bon
tradition is to be found in Lapon Tenzin Namdak, Heart Drops of Dhannakiiyo,
pp.115-133 and i n G . Orofino, Sacred Tibetan Teachings 011 Death and Liberatioll,
passim.

56.

Bar do dus kyi sgroYi mal pp.236. Another classification is given in the same
page dividing them this time into four bar do: 1) chags po gzhi'i bar do, 2) skye

shi bar do, 3) 'jigs pa dus kyi bar da and 4) stong po srid pa Imr do. It is discussed
in the sNyan rgyud rig po geer mthong gi gzhung, pp.440-442.
57.

These special confrontations arc detailed in the Lamp of the Intennediary

Moments (Bar do dus kyi sgTim rna, pp.219-220). The author of the text seems
well aware that the sound is produced by the blood pressure.
58.
59.

See the sections C and D above.


Here Great Vehicle does not refer to Mahayana as one would expect, but
ralhel', i n the Great Perfection tradition of the Bonpos, is a strict synonym of

rD zogs chen itself. See G. Orofino, op. cit., p.84, n.87.

60. Bar do dlls kyi sgran ma, pp.221 -222.


.
,
.
61 I really doubt such masters as Bon zhig knew Sanskrit. I n thiS case, as In
mosl others in the Bon tradition of rDzogs chen, such words must be taken
as imports from the Zhang zhung language. On this subject, one cannot

56 THE TIBET JOURNAL


simply accept Stein':; concl usions in his faJ ed "La Langue Zan-zun du Bon
organise," staling thal it is a completely fabncated langug because he Ud
so many Sanskrit-sounding words in the Zhang zhung dictIOnary. The VICInIty
of

Zhang zhung and India obviously played a great role i n exchange of aJl
kinds [lnd it is very like'!y [hill such words were imported d i rectly from India
via regions such as Kailash and not simply taken from the B u ddhists of Tibet.
Such biased views indeed show the influence of BuddhisLs in this field which

62.

has permeated western TibI21o[ogy,


lts description is given at length e.g., in Yang stan shes rab rgyal m tshan's
Bynng chub sems kyi gllnd drug cr.s bya ba'f lag len of the Zhrll1S zhung snynn
rgyllri cycle (p.443).

G3.

Bm dll nus kyi sgrol1

64.

Ibid., p.223.

65.

This text uses here

1Hrl,

p.223.

(p.224)

the often used leitmotiv of 'od rang 'od zcr nmg Zer

sgrn nmg sgm which may originally come from the Zhal1R zhung snynn rg1j11.d

cycle.
67.

See Orofino, op. cit., pp.89-1D3.


The translation is only tentative as this sentence is not very clear to me.

68.

Bor do dlls kyi sgron lila, p.225.

69.

Ibid., pp.225-226.

70.

Ibid., p.22S. The lext adds that for male yogis, it win come out of the right eye
while for yoginis, it will shine forth from the Idt eye.
Ibid., p.229.

66.

71
n

'PhD ua gnarl kyi man ngag, pp.253-255.

References
BUll zhig Khyung nag (l JO:}-n3), SNyfl11 rgylld tin po che gec)' mthong gf zhrlng,
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Kapstein, M" "The Amnesic Monarch and the Five M nemic Men: 'Memory' in
Gre;-ll Perfection (Rdzogschcn) Thought," ! n The Mimr of lv1cmmy-Rc]lcctions
01/ i\ifilldfuil1css awi RClilcl1Ilmmcc in huiin and Tibetan Buddhism, Janet Cyalso ed.,
New York, ]992, pp.219-269.
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Kllrmay, S,C., The TreaslIry of Goad Saying-A Tibctan History of BaH, Londo n
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Toyo B U llko, TO kyo, ]977.
Kv,1.rnc , P., "A Chronological Table of the Bon po, the bsTan rcis of N i ma bstan
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._--'

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KHYUNG NAG 57

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/lsTan pa'i rnam bshad dar rgyns gsal bali sgrOI! me,
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d'Extrcmc-Orien/, tome

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Yang slun shes rab rgyal mtshan, Byang chub sems kyi gnad drug ccs bya ba'j lag

lcrl,

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1968, pp433-448