Bön-Buddhism is the ancient indigenous spiritual tradition of Tibet and the Himalayan borderlands. It has come down to us today through an unbroken lineage thousands of years old. Buddha Tönpa Shenrab Miwo is the founder of Bön, and lived in the land of Olmo Lungring to the west of Tibet. The traditional accounts tell of one thousand and eight Buddhas that will appear on earth in this time cycle, and of these Tönpa Shenrab was the eighth. The teachings of Buddha Tönpa Shenrab are called the “Nine Ways of Bön” and covergreat breadth of teachings that fall into four categories: the causal vehicle, sutra, tantra and dzogchen.
Until the eighth century, when Tibet’s 38th king, Trisong Deutsan, was on the throne, Bön was the predominant spiritual culture over a wide area of central Asia. Even after the introduction of Indian Buddhism, Bön continued to exert a powerful influence on the Tibetan nation and indeed, to this very day, it still permeates the language, customs, folklore, medicine, and architecture of Tibet and the surrounding regions. This has been recognized by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama who emphasized the importance of preserving the Bön tradition, as representing the indigenous source of Tibetan culture, and acknowledging the major role it has had in shaping Tibet’s unique identity.
The teachings of Bön-Buddhism are similar to those found in the other Tibetan Buddhist schools, with the greatest similarity being with the Nyigma tradition. The guiding principles of the teachings provide a path toward the development of compassion, recognition of the nature of reality, and ultimately self-realization.
We are fortunate that the founder of Ligmincha Institute, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, has the rare gift to make these ancient Tibetan teachings highly accessible and relevant to the lives of Westerners.