News and Inspiration from Ligmincha Institute
Volume IV, Number 2
February 1, 2004
For easy reading, we recommend that you print out "The Voice of Clear
"A Tea Experience" - an excerpt from the edited transcript of
oral teachings given by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche during
Ligmincha's Eighth Annual Summer Retreat at Serenity Ridge, July,
His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima Rinpoche's Response to Two
Questions About the Guru Yoga Prayer. (Final minutes of an Interview
featured in VOCL December issue.)
There is Still Time to Register for the Calm-Abiding (Zhine) Retreat -
February 26-29 at Serenity Ridge, with Gabriel Rocco.
A Few Excerpts on the Importance of Zhine.
Announcement for Ligmincha's 13th Annual Summer Retreat.
Auspicious Dates in February:
February 21 is Tibetan New Year's Day. Happy Losar!
"Losar and the Raising of Lung Ta" by Aline Fisher.
February 25 is the Birthday of Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen.
Check Out the New Items Available from Ligmincha's Bookstore.
From "Guru Yoga" by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
Mon, Oct 3, 2005 11:51 AM
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"A TEA EXPERIENCE" - an excerpt from the edited transcript of
oral teachings given by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche at
Ligmincha's Eighth Annual Summer Retreat in July, 2000 at
Serenity Ridge.
"It is okay to learn the idea of single taste without having had
that experience on your plate, or in the kitchen. It is very hard to
have that single-taste experience on your plate especially in a
country like this. Where I grew up, we just had Lipton Tea. It was
not simply that we chose to have Lipton Tea; Lipton Tea was all we
had. It was fine for us.
"What kind of tea do you want to drink?" That was my biggest
confusion in the West at the beginning.
"What tea do you want?"
"It is okay, just bring anything."
"But, what kind do you want?"
"Okay, I'll have black tea."
"What kind of black tea do you want?" It really makes you
work hard!
"Any kind of black tea." So many choices! So confusing. The
notion of single taste - forget about it. And people are really,
really picky about it - how much milk, what kind of milk, heated, not
heated, skim. Amazing!
When you have all these ideas of what you want, when you are being
very picky, you know the idea of "single taste" is not
working for you because somebody brings you something different than
what you want and it is problematic for you. It is not saying you
don't have any choice and everything will be fine but it's
how picky one becomes. You need something and you don't have it
- how problematic that becomes in life. If you don't have
something that you are used to in your life it becomes a big problem
and discussion. That means there is no sense of flexibility. There
is no sense of single taste. It means that grasping is very strong.
So sitting in front of the master, receiving wonderful teachings, it
is very easy to go into the idea of single taste. I am speaking
about the ability to make the distinction between Dzogchen and
Dzogchenpa. When we are speaking about these teachings, these
experiences and where you can relate to them, you find it is not in
the kitchen, on the plate, but maybe in your shrine room. When you
are meditating you have different images. Maybe you see a cup of tea
without milk and in your meditation you can accept it. No grasping
and no attachment - let it come without milk; let it stay there
without milk; let it liberate there also without milk! When it comes
to you in an expensive coffee place where you think they are charging
so much, and they are not so nice, and they bring it late, and then
they bring it without milk, in that situation, of course you will not
let it come like that; neither will you let it be that way; and you
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will not liberate it without milk. Understand? It is easier for you
to liberate with milk than without. There is no energy to move the
cup without milk!
When we are talking about these experiences, we are reflecting that
you can work where these are applicable. Don't get confused by
simply saying everything is flexible. If you need milk in your
coffee, have milk. And ask inside, "Who is the one who always
needs the milk?" That is the Dzogchen way of asking questions.
Not to always say, "Who am I?" but to say, "Who wants
milk?" Acknowledge that part. Acknowledge that this is what it
is. That is the balance between the three kayas and this world that
we live in. The harmony of this work is very important,
fundamentally to harmonize the world of energy. It is very important
to harmonize the world of energy in order to balance the spiritual
aspect of your self, your practice.
The Voice of Clear Light recently published an interview that took
place last year with the 33rd Menri Trizen, His Holiness Lungtok
Tenpai Nyima, on the subject of guru yoga. In the course of that
time with His Holiness, a number of questions were asked that had
been posed by Ligmincha students on details of the guru yoga
practice. Two of those answers appear below. (Translation
assistance by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Jann Ronis.)
His Holiness was born in Amdo, in Tibet, in 1927 and became a monk at
the age of eight. An accomplished scholar and practitioner, he was
chosen in 1968 by the Protectors of Bon to be the abbot of Menri
Monastery. As the spiritual head of the Bon tradition, His Holiness
has been instrumental in the survival of this endangered religion.
He is a wise, funny, and compassionate teacher, an able
administrator, and formidable presence. His Holiness is currently
planning to visit the United States this fall. More information on
his teaching schedule will appear in the VOCL as it becomes available.
- Helen Gatling-Austin
VOCL: Your Holiness, a sangha member requested you to say more about
what the Tibetan words "sol wa deb" mean, since they appear
in many prayers.
HH: "Sol wa deb" is a request, clear and strong, not
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superficial. Here in the Guru Yoga, you are asking for the
lama's blessing with a strong deep request. "Please bless me
to recognize myself." [Translator Jann Ronis adds that the
Tibetan language has two sets of vocabulary, one being honorific. In
this case, "sol wa deb" is used by someone of lower status
asking or receiving from someone above - so there is a sense of
entreating or offering here.]
VOCL: In the "Chi Tsuk De Wa" guru yoga prayer we recite,
there is reference to the "palace of great bliss." Can you
please explain what this means?"
HH: The crown chakra is called the "great bliss chakra." It
is the highest position in the body and the highest energy. By
visualizing your lama there, unifying with your lama, you can abide
in that blissful place, that place of high, balanced energy.
"Calm Abiding: The Foundation for Dzogchen"- February 26-29,
2004, at Serenity Ridge with Gabriel Rocco.
Zhine (calm abiding) is one of the most important foundational
practices of the Tibetan Bon Buddhist tradition. For beginning
practitioners, zhine strengthens the attention and develops the
powers of concentration necessary to calm the mind, experience inner
peace, and enter the tantric and dzogchen practices of Bon. For more
experienced practitioners, zhine continues to develop the stability
necessary for contemplation, the capacity to abide in the union of
emptiness and clarity.
Gabriel is a senior student of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. He has
studied and practiced with Rinpoche since 1993 and is a member of the
Ligmincha Board of Directors. Gabriel received his master's
degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa University.
To attend this wonderful four-day retreat, register by February 4 for
the price of $250 or after February 4 for $275.
Call Ligmincha to register: (434)977-6161 or e-mail:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Mon, Oct 3, 2005 11:51 AM
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In "The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep," Tenzin Wangyal
Rinpoche writes:
"Developing concentration is like strengthening the muscles of
the body: exercise must be done regularly and frequently. To become
stronger keep pushing against your limits."
In "An Open Heart," His Holiness the Dalai Lama writes:
"Developing calm abiding demands that you devote yourself to the
process utterly until you master it. A calm, quiet environment is
said to be essential, as is having supportive friends. You should
put aside worldly preoccupations - family, business, or social
involvements - and dedicate yourself exclusively to developing
In, "Turning the Mind Into An Ally," Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
"Training our mind through peaceful abiding, we can create an
alliance that allows us to actually use our mind, rather than be used
by it. This is a practice that anyone can do. Although it has its
roots in Buddhism, it is a complement to any spiritual tradition. If
we want to undo our own bewilderment and suffering and be of benefit
to others and the planet, we're going to have to be responsible
for learning what our own mind is and how it works, no matter what
beliefs we hold. Once we see how our mind works, we see how our life
works, too. That changes us."
In "Present Fresh Wakefulness," Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche writes:
"The person who grows increasingly accustomed to this practice
will notice a change in character. You can say that he or she has
calmed down. The effect of this practice shows itself in all the
other moments in life. You can see that the person has settled and
has become gentler and more relaxed. Shamatha [Zhine] practice has a
lot of benefit. By calming down, you become much less involved in
selfish emotions."
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In "Luminous Mind," Kalu Rinpoche writes:
"Early on, samatha practice stabilizes the mind, which is
habitually agitated by its thoughts and emotions. Mind here is like
the ocean during a storm; thoughts and emotions are its waves.
Samatha cuts short the energy sustaining the agitation, which in this
example is like the wind. When the wind stops, the ocean settles.
In the absence of stimulation, the previously agitated mind calms
down. Mental agitation is the source of our illusions and painful
conditioning, and we must learn to let it settle. Progress in
samatha introduces mind to a state of clarity, rest, and peace, which
is also a blissful state."
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. "Present Fresh Wakefulness." Compiled
by Marcia Binder Schmidt and Edited with Kerry Moran. Hong Kong:
Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2002.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama. "An Open Heart: Practicing
Compassion in Everyday Life." Edited by Nicholas Vreeland.
Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2001.
Kalu Rinpoche. "Luminous Mind." Boston: Wisdom
Publications, 1997.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. "Turning The Mind Into An Ally."
New York: Riverhead Books, 2003.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. "The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and
Sleep." Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1998. (Available from
Ligmincha's Bookstore).
"The Twenty One Nails and the Bon Mother Tantra" with Geshe
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, July 4 - July 24, 2004, at Serenity Ridge.
Over the course of three weeks this summer, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
will focus his ability to clarify profound teachings on one of the
most cherished texts within the Dzogchen Oral Transmission of Zhang
Zhung: the Twenty One Nails. It is among the innermost secret cycles
of dzogchen, directly cutting through doubts about one's natural
state of mind by tracing the nature back to its own source.
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The Twenty One Nails can be understood as the most direct possible
expression of enlightenment, a Buddha's own natural condition.
Each nail describes this state from a different point of view.
The views are called `nails' or `seals' because they
stabilize the experiential understanding of the natural state. For
one who understands this, nothing else is needed.
These teachings are said to have come directly from the primordial
Buddha, Kuntu Zangpo, passed by mind to mind transmission to eight
successive Buddhas, and then transmitted orally to twenty-four human
Bon lineage holders, all yogis and siddhas. It was first written
down by disciples of the twenty-fourth master, Nagnzher Lopo. These
teachings have been transmitted in an unbroken succession down to our
teachers of the present day: Yongdzin Sangye Tenzin, His Holiness
Lungtok Tenpai Nyima Rinpoche, Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche and
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.
Suffice it to say, it will be a fortunate opportunity to attend this
summer's retreat. In addition, Rinpoche will be presenting pith
instructions on the channels, vital breath, essential spheres, and
syllables from chapters of the Mother Tantra. Continuing in the same
insightful way he introduced last year, Rinpoche will continue to
guide our tsa lung practice to a deeper level through instructions
contained in these potent tantric teachings.
The teachings and practices presented by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche at
this retreat are an exceptional gateway for new students to
experience both the wisdom and practicality of the Bon teachings.
For those already connected to Bon, this is obviously a precious
opportunity to be with Rinpoche and deepen their study and practice.
We welcome everyone to join us at Serenity Ridge this summer.
One may attend one, two, or three weeks of the summer retreat.
Week One: July 4-10, Week Two: July 11-17, Week Three: July 18-24.
The early-bird cost per week of attending the retreat is $450, if you
register by May 19, or $500 if you register by June 9, or $550 if you
register after June 9.
Call Ligmincha Institute to register: (434)977-6161 or e-mail:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Mon, Oct 3, 2005 11:51 AM
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Mark your calendars! February 21st is Losar, Tibetan New Year's
Day. It will be the year 2131 on the Tibetan calendar, the year of
the wood monkey. Tenzin Rinpoche is in Nepal and will celebrate
Losar with his teacher Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. There will
be celebration and prayer, dance and ritual, offerings and feasts to
bring in the new year.
Rather than watching an illumined ball drop or watching the hands of
a clock approach midnight on New Year's Eve, folks in the Tibetan
tradition are preparing for the new year with special protection and
purification practices including the popular age-old ritual known as
lung ta, performed early New Year's Day.
Lung ta translates as "wind-horse" symbolizing the two
fastest, most powerful forms of movement of olden days. The lung ta
ritual is about harnessing those energies within ourselves, feeling
the strength, power and beautiful qualities of life force. In Tibet,
the prayer flag is also known as lung ta. As the prayer flags wave
in the wind, it is said that the prayers are sent out on the wind.
As we breathe this blessed air and feel it touch us, we receive the
blessings of lung ta. So, by hanging prayer flags, as many of us do,
we offer and spread the blessings of these lung ta prayers out into
the universe.
At the recent medical conference in Washington, D.C., Tenzin Rinpoche
described the significance of lung ta in his keynote address on
healing. His few simple words about it alone raised my lung ta that
evening. To me, lung ta feels like an essential, shared aliveness,
both magical and real, experienced directly, beyond our concepts to
describe. When we are down or sick, it is the raising of this life
force that can be powerfully transforming.
As Rinpoche described, on Losar morning, everyone wakes up early
preparing themselves for lung ta. You dress in your best clothes
that make you feel strong and powerful, feeling the beautiful
qualities and uplifting energy of lung ta. What better way to start
a new year!
With heightened awareness, Tibetans offer prayer flags, hanging them
in high places outdoors where they are exposed to the wind. You see
them on mountain-tops, or strung from rooftops and balconies, from
poles at sacred sites, such as monasteries or stupas, and of course,
waving over our very own Serenity Ridge, home of Ligmincha
Institute. Early Losar morning a large fire, too, burns sang chod or
smoke offerings as the wind carries prayers from the newly hung
prayer flags to all.
Many of you may remember our very own "Lung Ta Festival" at
Serenity Ridge a few years ago, celebrating Ligmincha Institute's
10 year anniversary. During that festival, under the guidance of
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Khedup Gyatso, the nephew of His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima and
dear friend of Rinpoche and the sangha, we were shown how to make our
own prayer flags from wooden blocks carved with Tibetan prayers.
These wood blocks are carved by monks or lamas with mantras and
prayers empowered to increase one's spirit, success and luck.
The colorful prayer flags blowing in the wind have many interesting
details and symbols. They are made of white, green, red, blue,
yellow cloths, and sewn along a cord in groups of five, symbolizing
the five elements and the five Buddha Families. A windhorse with a
wishfulfilling jewel on it's back is usually printed in the
center with the 4 mystical animals - garuda, snow lion, dragon and
tiger printed in the corners.
Each year, new flags are hung on auspicious days such as Losar and
the Dalai Lama's birthday, and on days of the new moon. Lung ta
remain hanging until they disintegrate.
So as we celebrate this Losar around the world, alone, or with
friends, family or teachers, may we all summon and raise our lung ta
for the benefit of all beings. Happy Losar!
- Aline Fisher
EDITOR'S NOTE: Prayer flags are available from Ligmincha's
store for only $8. They are printed with Bon-po prayers with a windhorse
in the center! Contact Sue at the Bookstore. You can e-mail:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call toll-free: 866-522-5269.
A Short Background.
In 1405, the great Bonpo teacher, Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen, (1356-1415)
founded Menri monastery near the site of Yeru Wensakha (a great
monastery established in 1072, destroyed by floods in 1386). Later,
Yungdrung Ling monastery was founded in 1834 and soon after that,
Kharna monastery, both in the vicinity of Menri.
These remained the most important Bon monasteries until the Chinese
takeover of Tibet in 1959, and following their inspiration many
monasteries were established throughout Tibet, especially in
Khyungpo, Kham, Amdo, Gyarong and Hor, so that by the start of the
20th century there were 330 Bonpo monasteries in Tibet.
Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen was especially venerated for his great
achievements and realization. He was know as a great reformer and
reinvigorated the Bonpo monastic tradition, causing many monasteries
to flourish. Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen also was the first master to
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collect and hold all the transmissions and empowerments of all the
Bon lineages. All of these transmissions have continued to be held
by each of the successive abbots of Menri, and over time the abbot of
Menri came to be regarded as the head of the Bon religion.
(Source: website for Yungdrung Bon Association in France,
You can find these new items by going to and
clicking on "Search by Category" and then click on "New Items".
Or, you can go directly to:
Ambrosia Heart Tantra, Annotated by Dr. Yeshi Dhonden, Translated by
Jhampa Kelsang.
Fundamentals of Tibetan Medicine, Men-Tsee Khang Publications.
Lectures on Tibetan Medicine, By Dr. Lobsang Dolma Khangkar.
Tibetan Buddhist Life, By Don Farber.
Translating Buddhism from Tibetan, By Joe B. Wilson.
Awareness of the Body, Mind, Heart and Soul
The Second Experiential Transmission of the Zhang Zhung Nyam Gyu,
Dec. 2002, by Transmission only.
Ritual Items
Chod Drum
Conch Shell
Sil-Nyen (Bonpo Flat Bell)
Ting-Sha Bells
Tsok Spoons
"A" Pendant
Bracelets with Bon Prayers
Gau, designed with the logo of His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima
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From "Guru Yoga" by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:
"Of all practices, the one which, through its blessings, will
fulfil our aims and aspirations most rapidly is Guru Yoga (or Lame
Naljor in Tibetan). Guru Yoga literally means "union with the
nature of the guru" and it is both the quintessence and the
ground of all the preliminary and main practices. It is the ultimate
teaching, yet one which can be accomplished equally by anyone,
whatever their capacity - superior, medium, or ordinary. For
dispelling obstacles, making progress in our practice, and receiving
blessings, there is no better practice than Guru Yoga. And it is as
a result of the blessings obtained through practicing Guru Yoga that
we can progress through the main practice - the development and
completion stages, or Kyerim and Dzogrim - and so on to
"Guru Yoga" by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Translated by
Matthieu Ricard. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications, 1999.
The Voice of Clear Light is a free, e-mail publication of Ligmincha Institute. Your suggestions and
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For more information about Ligmincha Institute, the teachings of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, or retreats at
Serenity Ridge or our regional centers, please contact us:
Ligmincha Institute
313 2nd St. SE Suite #207
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Mon, Oct 3, 2005 11:51 AM
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434-977-6161 fax 434-977-7020
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For books, tapes and transcripts of teachings by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche as well as other books and items
supportive to Bon and Buddhist practice, please visit the Ligmincha's Online Store at or contact the Ligmincha Store at 434-220-0060
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