The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche
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Tönpa Shenrab (Tibetan: ston pa gshen rab) or Shenrab Miwo (Tibetan: gshen rab mi bo)—also called Buddha Shenrab, Guru Shenrab, Tönpa Shenrab Miwoche, Lord Shenrab Miwo, and known by a number of other titles—is the founder of the Bön religious tradition of Tibet.
He occupies a position very similar to that of Śākyamuni in Buddhism, but in contrast to the Lord Buddha, we have no available sources with which to establish his historicity, his dates, his racial origin,
Shenrab's Life according to Bön traditions
The first and second of the accounts are held to be Terma (gter ma) discovered by Bön Tertön (gter ston) in the tenth or eleventh century; the third is part of the "aural lineage"(nyen jü, snyan brgyud), transmitted via disciplic succession.
The Four Portals and the Fifth, the Treasury
- White Water (chab dkar) relates esoteric matters;
- Black Water (chab nag) concerns narratives, magic, funeral rites and ransom rituals;
- Land of Phan (phan yul) codifies monastic rules and philosophical expositions;
- Divine Guide (dpon gsas) enshrines the Dzogchen teachings; and finally
- Treasury (mtho thog) which serves as an anthology of the salient items of the Four Portals.
The Nine Ways of Bön
- Way of Prediction (phyva gshen theg pa) codifies ritual, prognostication, sortilege and Astrology;
- Way of the Visual World (snang shen theg pa) details the psychophysical Universe;
- Way of Illusion (phrul gshen theg pa) explains the rites for the dispersal of adverse thoughtforms, entities and energies;
- Way of Existence (srid gshen theg pa) details funeral and Death rituals;
- Way of a Lay Follower (dge bsnyen theg pa) contains the ten principles for wholesome activity;
- Way of a Monk (drang srong theg pa) codifies monastic rules and regulations;
- Way of Primordial Sound (a dkar theg pa) charts the integration of an exalted practitioner into the Mandala of highest Enlightenment;
- Way of Primordial Shen, (ye gshen theg pa) renders the guidelines for seeking a true tantric master and the commitments (dam tshigs, parallel to the Sanskrit Samaya) that bind a Disciple to his tantric master; and finally,
- Causal Ways (rgyu'i theg pa) comprises the first four of the above;
- Resultant Ways (bras bu'i theg pa) includes the fifth through eighth; and
- Unsurpassable Way or the Way of Dzogchen (khyad par chen po'i theg pa or rdzogs pa chen po, abbreviated rdzogs chen) is the ninth.
The Bön Canon
It is interesting to note that the "Knowledge" section concerning cosmogony and cosmology, though in some respects unique to Bön, shares a more than passing resemblance to Nyingma (rnying ma) doctrines.
Aspects of Shenrab Miwoche
- Unknown Author (2005). The Bonpo's Tradition. Source: http://www.tibet.net/cta/bonpo.html (Wednesday January 17, 2007).
- Karmey, Samten G. (1975). A General Introduction to the History and Doctrines of Bon, pp. 175-176. Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko, No. 33. Tokyo.
- The Tibetan for dharmakāya is chos sku in the Buddhist context; though a case can be made that Bön borrowed some, or even much, of its current terminology from Buddhism, to suggest that Sanskrit words are thus the "source" of this terminology is dubious.