Dechen Ritrö ry

Dechen Ritrö ry is the Finnish Yungdrung Bön Association established in 2016 under the guidance of Ven. Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche. H.E. Yongdzin Rinpoche gave the auspicious name and blessings to the Association. We organise regular Dzogchen teaching retreats and group practices.  

THE YUNGDRUNG BÖN TRADITION[1]

 

The Yungdrung Bön tradition is the indigenous spiritual and cultural tradition of Tibet and the Himalayan borderlands. It has come down to the present time in an unbroken lineage of masters over the period of thousands of years and it is one of the world’s oldest religions. In recent decades it has gained more and more interest and practitioners also in many Western countries.

 

The ultimate source and founder of the Yungdrung Bön tradition is Buddha Tönpa Shenrab Miwoche who is said to have been born and taken rebirth in the land of Olmo Lungring. From Olmo Lungring his teachings first spread to Tazik and the ancient kingdom of Zhang Zhung in Central Asia, and subsequently to Tibet, India, Persia and other countries as well.

 

Buddha Tönpa Shenrab is said to have revealed his teachings several thousands of years before Buddha Shakyamuni, who was born around 600 BCE. Buddha Tönpa Shenrab presented a view of life that is very much in accord with the one found also in the four main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug, that trace their origin to Buddha Shakyamuni. According to this view sentient beings are living in a cyclic existence - in samsara’s wheel of birth, death and rebirth - due to ignorance. To release beings from the suffering of the cyclic existence Buddha has taught various paths to liberation.

 

Buddha Tönpa Shenrab taught Nine Vehicles that are divided in three paths to liberation: sutra, the path of renunciation, tantra, the path of transformation, and Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, or the path of liberation. By following these teachings one is able to realize one’s true Nature of Mind as an enlightened Buddha, the loving embodiment of wisdom and compassion. Like Buddhists, Yungdrung Bön practitioners take refuge in the Three Jewels, which are Buddha (Enlightened One), Dharma (Buddha’s Doctrine), and Sangha (Bodhisattvas). Instead of only one Buddha, there are thousands of Buddhas, or Enlightened Ones, in the Bön tradition.

 

Until very recently the ancient teachings of Yungdrung Bön were transmitted in any generation to only a very few students at a time. Nowadays Bönpo lamas are reaching out to teach also Western students about its rich spiritual traditions and meditation practices. One of the unique features of Yungdrung Bön is that in addition to its transcendent spiritual practices and ways to attain enlightenment, it contains also many beneficial methods and practices that help us to cultivate compassion, kindness, peace of mind and healing.

 

The Bön texts contain a large body of knowledge on the importance of living harmoniously within the natural environment and how to rectify imbalances. Tibetan medicine has its roots in extremely detailed and methodical Yungdrung Bön manuscripts and practices.

 

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama regards Yungdrung Bön as the fifth Tibetan tradition, along the four principal Buddhist traditions. At the Tulku Conference in Sarnath in 1988, His Holiness emphasized the importance of Bön by reiterating, that “The Bön tradition has bequested the present generation a strong legacy of education and training in philosophy, monastic discipline, ritual and meditation”.

 

 

 

[1] Sources: Bonpo Dzogchen Teachings According to Lopon Tenzin Namdak, Vajra Publications, 2012; The Dawn of Tibet, The Ancient Civilization on the Roof of the World by John Vincent Bellezza, Rowman & Littlefield, 2014; Tibetan Bön Historical Society (www.bonsociety.com).