Menri Lopon Tours Dolpo
In August/September of this year, Menri Lopon and his attendant Dawa Tenzin (Daten) visited Nepal, and toured Lopon’s home region of Dolpo. He was invited by Yangton Lama Sherab Tenzin Rinpoche to consecrate the reconstructed Bonpo Lhakhang Monastery which was founded by the great Yangton lineage master more than 900 years ago. He was also invited to inaugurate a newly constructed stupa, traditional in its design but unique in that it contains both Bon and Buddhist relics – even Rinpoche mentioned “this village is the only example… where Monks of both Bon and Buddhist do rituals in same hall (Bon on the right and Buddhist on the left), there are so many matri and mani stones in the same place, the most wonderful is that there is no anger or partiality between Bon and Buddhist at Bicher village”. Here is Daten’s journal of the tour:
An Overview of His Eminence Menri Lopon Rinpoche’s recent visit to Dolpo
Written by his assistant, Dawa Tenzin (Daten)
Menri Lopon and his assistant arrived in Kathmandu on August 17, 2015, and were met at the airport with the traditional Khata greeting by representatives of Triten Norbutse Bonpo monastery, the secretary of Nepal Bon Buddhist Federation and others. At Triten Norbutse monastery Rinpoche was met by all the monks, nuns and many local people for a big welcome queue with incense and khata (scarf).
On the 24th of August Rinpoche went by helicopter to Bicher village in Dolpo, where the head lama of Samling Monastery, Yangton Sherab Tenzin Rinpoche, plus the head lama of Nyingma Neyser Monastery Tenzin Gyalsten Rinpoche, along with monks, nuns and all the villagers welcomed Rinpoche with flowers, incense and with their traditional flutes, drums, decorated horses, etc. The main purpose of Rinpoche’s visit to Dolpo was to consecrate & inaugurate the reconstructed Bonpo Lhakhang, Tzurkar monastery. This monastery was founded by the great Yangton lineage master more than 900 years ago. It is also believed that this monastery is much older than Samling monastery. For the last three years Yangton Lama Sherab Tenzin Rinpoche and his sponsor have made great efforts to reconstruct this monastery and the people of Dolpo were very eager to see Lopon Rinpoche in Dolpo and also waiting to get blessings from him. So this year Lama Sherab Tenzin Rinpoche’s hard work fulfilled the dream of Dolpo people by inviting Lopon Rinpoche to Dolpo.
On 25th of August, Rinpoche toured the vicinity of the newly reconstructed Bonpo Lhakhang and Mugporong primary school.
On 26th August, following the preliminary prayers the events started, presided by Menri Lopon Rinpoche, followed by Yangton Lama Sherab Tenzin Rinpoche, Nyelton Yungdrung Dargye Rinpoche, Yangton Tulku Yungdrung Phuntsok, and delegate monks, nuns and tantric priests from different villages of Dolpo. Everyone circumambulated the Monastery. On that auspicious prayer ceremony Menri Ladang, Menri Dratsang, Rinpoche himself and Yangton Labrang of Samling offered mangja (community tea offering) to all the monks, nuns and tantrics.
On 27th August, the Namgyal ritual continued and Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the head lama of Nyingma Neyser monastery invited Lopon Rinpoche to Neyser monastery and health clinic of Bicher village where he did the consecration ritual and offered donations to both monastery and clinic.
On the 28th Rinpoche continued with the consecration ritual, followed by an inauguration ceremony of a newly constructed traditional Stupa. This stupa is very unique and was designed according to Dolpo’s culture. The stupa contains both Bon and Buddhist relics, which is very rare in present days. During the ceremony Kyungpo Dawa Samdrup (who built this stupa) offered tea and sweet rice to the entire community present. This stupa shows the deep, good and fair relationship between Bon and Buddhists in this village. Even Rinpoche mentioned “this village is the only example where both Bon and Buddhist monks do ritual in the same hall (Bon on the Right and Buddhist on the left), there are so many matri and mani stones in the same place, the most wonderful is that there is no anger or partiality between Bon and Buddhist at Bicher village. I personally request to keep your friendliness and keep a good relationship between Bon and Buddhist.”
On same the evening Lama Jigmey Thogyal, one of the respected Nyingma lamas from Saldang came to Bicher and visited Lopon Rinpoche. Lama Jigmey also appreciates and gave thanks to Rinpoche for the service Rinpoche did for the people of Dolpo.
On 29th of August, the preparation started for the great empowerment ceremony (wang). Thousands of people gathered for the Wang. People from more than 7 villages came for the ceremony. After lunch monks from different villages performed their traditional mask dance and students of Mugporong primary school gave a cultural program. At last there was a traditional and cultural group dance by almost all the people of Dolpo. The dance continued till early morning.
On 30th of August, Rinpoche along with lamas, Geshes, monks, nuns, tantrics and villagers attended the Ngasol and Tashi (ending parts of the ritual). Rinpoche offered a ceremonial scarf for all the members and gave a donation to the monastery, and with this, a peaceful consecration ceremony of Bonpo Lhakhang ended with singing and dancing for the rest of the night.
On 31st of August, the Principal, staff, and all the students of Mugporong primary school invited Rinpoche to the school and did a fire offering ceremony with the whole village, where they put many ritual things on the fire.
On the morning of 1st September, the preparation started for the great Tsedrup empowerment at the School, which was organized by the village people. Thousands of people attended the ritual from different villages. A Buddhist Khenpo of Ku village, Nyima Dhondup Rinpoche (Khenpo of Namdrol Ling Monastery, South India) also attended the empowerment ceremony. People received blessings from Rinpoche with blessing water, a red blessed string, offering cake etc. After lunch Mugporong students showed their cultural Tibetan and Nepali dance. Rinpoche presented pencils and sweets to all the children and a small donation for the school. On that day the Buddhist lamas from Saldang village, especially Shakya lamas and Nyima lamas along with villagers sent their request to Lopon Rinpoche to visit their village. But due to very busy schedule during this trip Lopon visit their village, but promised to visit their village in his next visit to Dolpo.
On 2nd of September morning, Rinpoche departed Bicher village by horse for Samling monastery accompanied by Geshes and monks from both Menri and Triten Norbutse monastery. Rinpoche spent four hours for prayers, visiting the vicinity of Samling monastery, read many old Bonpo texts at the monastery. Rinpoche made a donation for the reconstruction of the great Samling monastery which needs repairs due to leaks. Rinpoche spent a night at Yangton tulku’s house at Tra.
On 3rd September, Rinpoche visited Tashi Namgyal monastery at Tra, then went to the nomad area of Tra village, there people welcomed Rinpoche with delicious curd, milk and special Dolpo salt and butter tea. From there Rinpoche with a group of monks and some people of Bicher traveled by horse to Shey Sumdo monastery, where Rinpoche spent the night. At Shey, Karma Tsondru Rinpoche invited Lopon Rinpoche to Tsakhang Gompa, a meditation place of Ta-u Nyima Gyaltsen, a famous master of A-Tri Transmission. But due to late arrival at Shey, Rinpoche couldn’t visit there. Rinpoche sent me and Geshe Gyalshen Tenzin to Tsakhang Gompa to offered scarf and small donation on behalf of Rinpoche. On the way Rinpoche gave advice to the people of Dolpo not to throw glass and bottles to preserve the environment. We should keep this natural beauty alive at Dolpo for our future generation.
On 5th of September, Rinpoche went by horse to Tso village. There Khenpo of Thasung Tsholing monastery Geshe Samdrup Nyima Rinpoche, lama Geshe Sherab Gocha, monks, nuns and the whole of the village welcomed Rinpoche by chanting for the Rinpoche’s long life prayer which was written by His Holiness the 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoche.
On the morning of 6th of September, preparation started for the great empowerment ceremony at Thasung Tsholing monastery. All the Geshes, lamas and monks offered tsok feast with prayer. After that Rinpoche started a long life empowerment with its blissful advice of how one can make his life longer by taking care of his own health, stop drinking alcohol, cigarettes, etc to the people of Tso village. There Menri Labrang and Rinpoche himself offered tea and a donation for the improvement of the monastery.
On 7th of September, Rinpoche along with monks and a guide from Tso village went by horseback to Tapihritsa boarding school, there the principal, the staff members and all the students welcomed Rinpoche. Then the monks started the tsok for Khyung Mar empowerment, there Rinpoche started the empowerment by explaining its meaning and the benefits of getting the empowerment. Rinpoche also gave a meaningful advice to the students about their future life, showing the power of education in Dolpo, how to make changes in Dolpo, etc. After lunch the students gave their best cultural performance. Rinpoche offered scarf with some donations to the school and also gave special donation for a one day picnic for almost 250 children.
On 8th of September, Rinpoche continued by horse to Pungmo village, where the head lama of Namgyal monastery with monks along with the whole village lined up with flowers, traditional drums, bells, flutes, etc to welcome Rinpoche. Menri Ladang and Rinpoche himself offered tea and a small donation for the improvement of monastery. After lunch Rinpoche with monks started a death ritual and long life empowerment to the villager with its meaning and the benefits of doing the death ritual.
On 9th of September, Rinpoche, monks, and a guide from Pungmo went to Chugar and spent a night at there. The next morning receivers from Parla arrived at Chugar, and from there we departed to Dunai, the capital of Dolpo. At Dunai, Rinpoche was met by Murig Geshe Nyima Kunkyap, president of Dolpo Bon society.
On 11th of September, Lopon Rinpoche along with group of monks, receivers from Parle village with their horses departed for Parle village. There, Murig Geshe Nyima Kunkyap, Lama Lhakpa, Lama Trose, monks, tantric priest along with the whole of the village were lined up near the decorated gate with flowers, incense, white scarf and the traditional instruments voice, to welcome Menri Lopon Rinpoche at Yungdrung Shugtshaling Monastery. On the next day monks, nuns and the tantric priest did one thousand repetitions of the Sidpe Gyalmo tsok prayer for His Holiness the 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoche’s health. On the same day Lopon Rinpoche and a group of monks visited Parle Drakon Monastery. There Rinpoche offered khatak and did Sang prayer.
On 13th of September, monks and tantrics started preparation for Long Life empowerment with tsok prayer. Menri Ladang and Rinpoche himself offered mangja and some donations for the monastery. After that Rinpoche started the long life empowerment with explanation and advice for the thousands of people who attended. People from five different villages came to seek the blessing. After lunch the youngsters of Parle village dedicated song and dance for Rinpoche’s visit to Parle. Rinpoche gave back all the income that people offered during the entire empowerment ceremony to their respective monastery.
Throughout the journey in Dolpo, Lopon Rinpoche granted the life of more than 300 different animals (yak, horse, goat, sheep, cow, buffalo etc) and dedicated this virtuous action for His Holiness the 33rd Menri Trizin Rinpoche and His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche’s good health and for their long life. It’s called “Tsether” where people save animals from being killed by others, you have to preserve them until the end of their life.
On 14th of September, Rinpoche returned to Kathmandu via a flight from Zupal airport. While in Kathmandu, Rinpoche had a short visit to the Nepal earthquake victim places, offered some foods and a small amount of donation especially for the widows and orphan children. Rinpoche also had a short conversation with the representatives of Yolmo, Tamang and Gurung community of Bonpos from the Himalayan region of Nepal and gave donations for those who were destroyed by the massive Nepal earthquake.
On 21st of September, Rinpoche and his assistant returned safely to Menri Monastery. The journey to hidden Dolpo with Rinpoche was an amazing and blessed trip.
Daten/ Dawa Tenzin