Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche

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Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche

Postby Luke » Mon Aug 02, 2010 5:58 pm

The human founder of Bon was Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche. I haven't been able to find too much information in English about him, but I'll post a few articles I found about him. ... yofBon.pdf

The second article mentions Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche's "Twelve Great Deeds." Does anyone know what these 12 great deeds were?

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kalden yungdrung
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Re: Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche

Postby kalden yungdrung » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:36 am

Hello Luke, :)

Thanks for your reply and effort.

Best wishes for your practice

Kalden Yungdrung

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Here are the 12 deeds of Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche

1- The Deed of Birth
2- The Deed of Dissemination
3- The Deed of Pacifying
4- The Deed of Leading (sentient beings)
5- The Deed of Definite (marriage)
6- The Deed of Emanation
7- The Deed of Subduing
8- The Deed of Victory
9- The Deed of Knowledge
10- The Deed of Solitude
11- The Deed of Liberation
12- The Deed of Accomplishment (passing beyond sorrow)

Here follows brief summary of 12 deeds of Buddha Tonpa Shenrab. All the first lines are in Tibetan, as it appears in Bon texts.

1. rnam par bzhes pa'i mdzad pa (sku bltams pa)
The deed of the birth: the birth of Shenrab as the son of... dMu King Thokar.

2. rnam par spel ba'i mdzad pa
The deed of dissemination: Disseminated the teachings of Bon.

3. rnam par 'dul ba'i mdzad pa
The deed of pacifying the hell beings and guiding them to follow the path of Boddhisattva.

4. rnam par 'dren pa'i mdzad pa
The deed of leading Guling mati, who was overwhelmed by desire, to the path of goddess.

5. rnam par nges pa'i mdzad pa
The deed of increasing wisdom by marriage and engaging in youthful play.

6. rnam par sprul pa'i mdzad pa
The deed of benefiting beings by emanating sons to solve people’s problem.

7. rnam par 'joms pa'i mdzad pa
The deed of providing shelter: rescue all (nine men and three thousands soldiers) from their suffering.

8. rnam par rgyal ba'i mdzad pa
The deed of leading to blissful path: Defeated Mara Khyapa’s soldiers.

9. rnam par rig pa'i mdzad pa
The deed of Preaching: preached 84000 Bon teachings.

10. rnam par dben pa'i mdzad pa
The deed of becoming monk: Left all followers and property, and became monk.

11. rnam par grol ba'i mdzad pa
The deed of ascetic practice for nine years and engaged in habit of life of human, bird and monkey.

12. rnam par grub pa'i mdzad pa
The deed of Accomplishment: Passing into blissful, to display the nature against those who believe as eternity.

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kalden yungdrung
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Re: Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche

Postby kalden yungdrung » Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:11 am

Hello dear readers, :)

Want to add that the depicted photo of the Bon Buddha Tonpa Shenrab here, is the Sambhogakaya form.

Best wishes

Kalden Yungdrung

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Re: Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche

Postby Mariusz » Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:09 pm

I'd like to mention and it could be perhaps important for new buddhists: Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche is not a Buddha according to Buddhism because He is not included in buddhist Sutras/Siastras/Tantras /Termas... but only in tibetan Bon religion, as far as I know of course, excuse me :anjali:

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kalden yungdrung
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Re: Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche

Postby kalden yungdrung » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:45 am

Mariusz wrote:I'd like to mention and it could be perhaps important for new buddhists: Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche is not a Buddha according to Buddhism because He is not included in buddhist Sutras/Siastras/Tantras /Termas... but only in tibetan Bon religion, as far as I know of course, excuse me :anjali:

Dear Mariusz, :D

Before the Sarma tradition there was the Bon religion flourishing in the ancient Tibet.
In those days they never doubt the existence of Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche.
It is a Sarma invention to make doubts because of the persecution of the Bon and Bonpos after 800.
Even here and now anno data 2010 are there family clans who stem directly from Buddha Tonpa Shenrab.

So the reason why Buddha Tonpa Shenrab was not included in the Indian Buddhist Sarma tradition is due to political reasons

These doubts were cleared away when the Dalal Lama did recognize official in 1967 the Bon as the "fifth" Tibetan tradition. The Dalai Lama was so wise to do this and i am very happy about this.
So did end a 1200 years persecution from Tibetans among Tibetans.
We know at the very moment, who realy is the enemy of the Tibetans after 1959. This is not the poor Bonpos.
So the exodus had a positive effect for the persecuted Bonpos.............. :o

So we have many Buddhas and one of them is Buddha Tonpa Shenrab and the other well respected Buddha is Buddha Shakyamuni from India/Nepal.

How did it come that Bonpos do recognize the Indian Buddha Shakyamuni and the Sarma tradition doesn't recognize the Buddha Tonpa Shenrab who is a Sambhogakaya?
I can tell you that the bad image about Bon and Bonpos is indoctrinated for many centuries among the Tibetans and some of them do stamp actual still with this image.

Best wishes for our practice
Kalden Yungdrung

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kalden yungdrung
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Re: Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche

Postby kalden yungdrung » Wed Aug 26, 2015 5:34 am

Tashi delek DW members,

Here some more informations about the Bon Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche.

It is remarkable that his date birth is seen by some Tibetans as follows:

- The Yungdrung Bönpos believe that Tonpa Shenrab was born over 18,000 years ago.
- Other Bönpo accounts, as noted in The 12 Deeds,say that he was born 16,036 years ago.
- However, the present day Tibetan history scholar and Dzogchen master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu calculates the probable actual date of his birth as 1917 BC. See Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, A History of Zhang Zhung and Tibet, Volume One., pp. 113-123.

Mutsug Marro


Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche.jpg
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The Yungdrung Bön religion, which was and is the foundation of Tibetan culture and religion, began with the revealed teachings of the Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche in the region of Tagzig Olmo Lung Ring over 18,000 years ago.Much like the life of Shakyamuni Buddha of our historic times, Siddhartha Gautama, Tonpa Shenrab’s hagiography comes down to us as a mix of facts, legend and supernatural myth.

His story begins many millennia ago, in a part of the heavenly realms known as Sidpa Yesang, where there lived 3 brothers whose names were Dakpa, Salwa and Shepa. Their father was named Sidpa Triod, and their mother was named Kunshe. These 3 brothers were all students of the great master Tobumtri Log Gi Che Chen.

After they had completed their studies, they all went to the Sambhogakaya Buddha Shenla Okar, the Enlightened One of Great Compassion, and asked him how they could be of the greatest help in liberating sentient beings from the suffering and confusion of the cycles of death and rebirth in samsara. In reply, Shenla Okar advised them to take human rebirth in 3 different eras so that among them, the 3 brothers could guide the beings of that age to freedom.

In accord with Buddha Shenla Okar’s advice, the eldest brother Dakpa was reborn not long thereafter as a teacher named Tonpa (teacher) Togyal Ye Khyen. The 2nd son, Salwa, was reborn as the great teacher Tonpa Shenrab in this present age. The youngest brother, Shepa, will be reborn in a future age as the teacher Thangma Medon.

The middle son, Salwa, was first born in our world as a blue cuckoo bird. He flew to the top of Mount Meru along with his two disciples, Malo and Yulo, and contemplated where and to what parents he should be reborn. Through his meditative vision, he saw that he should be reborn in Olmo Lung Ring, on the south side of Mount Yungdrung Gutsek, in the imperial palace of Barpo Sogyed. His father was to be King Gyalbon Thökar, and his mother Queen Yochi Gyalzhed Ma.

Thus it came to pass that the great Bön teacher Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche was born into the royal Mu family in the country of Tagzig Olmo Lung Ring. The timing of his birth was most auspicious. He was born at dawn in the Male Wood Mouse Year in the first month on the full moon day.

Tonpa Shenrab began turning the wheel of Bön at a young age.

- First, from the age of eight up to the age of 12 he gave the teachings on relative truth.
- Secondly, from age 13 to 31, he mainly gave teachings on absolute truth.
- Thirdly, from age 32 to age 82, he gave teachings on the ultimate stages of liberation.

Tonpa Shenrab also married at a young age. He came to have 6 wives, 8 sons and 2 daughters. His sons, along with his spiritual sons and disciples carried on his teachings.

Tonpa Shenrab is said to have taught Bön in 3 successive cycles of teachings. First he taught the “9 Ways of Bön”; then he taught the “4 Bön Portal and the 5th , the Treasury”; and finally he revealed the “Outer, Inner and Secret Precepts.” In the final cycle of teachings, the outer cycle is the path of renunciation, or Sutra teachings; the inner cycle is the path of transformation, or Tantric teachings; and the secret cycle is “the path of self-liberation,” or Dzogchen teachings.

This division into:
- Sutra
- Tantra
- Dzogchen

is also found in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.

At the time of the birth of Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, some of the Bönpos performed animal sacrifice of yaks, sheep or horses to propitiate Yenpos, such as the Tsan class in particular. Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche was thoroughly against such killing, and was successful in converting most of the Bönpos to accept his way of substituting effigies made of grain and flour tormas moistened with beer instead to satisfy the Yenpos as a form of ransom.

Tonpa Shenrab made one trip to Tibet during his lifetime. Legend has it that there was a demon named Khyab-Pa Lag-Ring who dwelt in the Kongpo Valley of Tibet. After failing to deceive Tonpa Shenrab, he enticed and carried off one of Shenrab’s two daughters, Shenza Neuchung, who later bears him two sons. However, Tonpa Shenrab cleverly retrieves his daughter and his 2 grandsons and takes them back to Olmo Lung Ring.

Because of this, Khyab-Pa Lag-Ring was quite angry. In retaliation, he sent his followers to steal Tonpa Shenrab’s 7 horses and bring them to the Kongpo Valley in Tibet, where they hid them. When he discovered their theft, Tonpa Shenrab shot an arrow to clear a path through the mountains Then he set out for Tibet with 4 of his attendants to recover his horses.

Khyab-Pa tried successfully to block his way at the frontier with a snowstorm. It was here that Tonpa Shenrab taught the Bön of Spells to the Bönpos of Zahor, Kashmir and Gilgit. Then Tonpa Shenrab passed through Zhang Zhung. Once again Khyab-Pa tried to block his way at the border of Tagzig and Zhang Zhung with fire. It was here that Tonpa Shenrab taught the Bön of Bombs and Spells.

Then Tonpa Shenrab went to the source of the 4 rivers of Tibet. Yet again, Khyab-Pa tried to block his way, this time with sand. Tonpa Shenrab triumphed once again, and imparted to the Bönpos of Tibet the Bön of prayers to the gods, the expelling of demons, and also shows them various Bön ritual objects.

Finally, Tonpa Sherab reaches Kongpo, where he has further skirmishes with Khyab-Pa. As usual, Tonpa Shenrab emerged the victor. Once he reached the Kongpo Valley, he pacified the evil spirits and demons that inhabited Tibet. He blessed a mountain in that area, known today as Kongpo Bön Ri, or “Bön Mountain of Kongpo.”

While there, Tonpa Shenrab gave many teachings and blessings to the Tibetan people. He purified the environment through prayers and ceremonies, taught the practice of making smoke offerings to the local spirits, putting up prayer flags, and imparted authority for invoking the gods and for exorcizing evil spirits from people and places. He got the people to stop their local custom of making animal sacrifices, and taught them the offering of red tormas and ransom instead. In this way they were able to placate the evil spirits who had been causing illness and bad fortune.

Thus, Tonpa Shenrab taught many kinds of ritual performances, ceremonies and sacred dances that became very popular throughout the country. These later became absorbed into Buddhism, and are not found in any other form of Buddhism outside Tibet. They are still practiced today in Tibet and Bhutan and among the Tibetan refugee communities.

During his stay in Tibet, Tonpa Shenrab mainly taught the causal teachings of Bön, because he felt the Tibetan people were not yet ready to receive the higher teaching. However, he prophesied that in the future the 9 Ways of Bön would flourish throughout Tibet.

After Tibet, he returned to Olmo Lung Ring, with Khyab-Pa, who outwardly agreed to be his student. However, Shenrab was not deceived, and knew that Khyab-Pa was up to no good. Later, one day when Tonpa Shenrab was out, Khyab-Pa set fire to a box containing all of Shenrab’s books. However, Tonpa Shenrab paid him no mind.

At the age of 32, Tonpa Shenrab renounced his princely life of comfort and ease and became a monk. He left the royal palace, cut off his beautiful long hair and gave away his princely robes, offering them to benefit all sentient beings in the 10 directions. He then gave away all his regal possessions to those in need, and set out to devote his life to meditation, to reach enlightenment for the benefit of both himself and all beings.

The enlightened ones of the 10 directions were pleased, and in honor of this offering, his detachment from the worldly life and other great deeds, they blessed him with the 6 robes and the 5 possessions of a monk, which descended to him from the sky. Thus began the Bön rules on monk’s robes and objects, which have continued to the present day.

One day as Tonpa Shenrab was meditating in solitude, Khyab-Pa came to check up on him. On seeing the hardships that Tonpa Shenrab was enduring in his practice, Khyab-Pa was deeply moved; he at last broke down and repented, and sincerely confessed all of his misdeed. Shenrab then returned from his solitude with Khyab-Pa, who became one of his leading disciples.

Tonpa Shenrab then began to make arrangements for the monastic ordination of all his disciples who were not yet ordained. After that, he spent most of his time in solitude until at the age of 82 , when, in order to demonstrate impermanence, he passed away.

Throughout his life, Tonpa Shenrab performed many great deeds for which he became quite famous and revered. He is most renowned for what are called:

“The 12 Great Deeds of Tonpa Shenrab:”

1. The Deed of His Birth: The birth of Shenrab as the royal son of King Thökar of the Mu Dynasty.

2. The Deed of Dissemination: He spread the teachings of Bön to his numerous disciples.

3. The Deed of Pacifying: He manifested millions of emanation bodies to millions of worlds to liberate sentient beings.

4. The Deed of Leading: He guided Trishi Wangyal, who was overwhelmed by aversion, Dragje Halaratsa, who was overwhelmed by jealousy, Guber Gyalpo, who was overwhelmed by pride, Guling Mati, who was overwhelmed by desire, and innumerable other beings to the state of Buddhahood.

5. The Deed of Increasing Wisdom by Marriage: He married and engaged in youthful play with many consorts.

6. The Deed of Emanation: He benefited beings by generating eight sons to carry forth the teachings of Bön.

7. The Deed of Subduing: He subdued the Pervasive Long-Handed Mara demon Khyab-Pa and his army.

8. The Deed of Victory: He definitively defeated Mara Khyab-Pa’s soldiers ,and lead his followers to the blissful path with elaborate instructions on The 4 Portals and the 5th , The Treasury.

9. The Deed of Knowledge: He renounced worldly life and became a monk, leaving all his followers and property behind. Following an ascetic lifestyle for nine years, he attained perfect and full enlightenment.

10. The Deed of Solitude: He taught the two groups of disciples who gathered around him in solitude the gradual path and the definitive path according to their capacities.

11. The Deed of Liberation: He revealed the foundations, path and fruition of Bön in all its fullness to his outer, inner and secret disciples to benefit beings then and in the future.

12. The Deed of Accomplishment: He passed into Bliss Beyond Sorrow, to display the true impermanent nature of things to beings.

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