Bön spiritual leader to visit Emily Aug. 1-4

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His Holiness the 34th Menri Trizin, Lungtok Dawa Dargyal Rinpoche accompanied by Latri Nyima Dakpa Rinpoche, Founder of Yeru Bön Center Minneapolis, greets bonpos Tuesday, July 30, at the Minnapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Photo courtesy of Tendar Tsering

From Thursday, Aug. 1 to Sunday, Aug. 4, 18,000 years of Tibetan spiritual enlightenment will converge on the town of Emily.

As stops on his worldwide tour of Canada, Mexico, Europe and the United States, the spiritual leader of the Bön religion, the 34th Menri Trizin, Lungtok Dawa Dargyal Rinpoche, will be visiting the Yeru Bön Retreat Center at 40719 Lows Lake Road, Emily, to preside over a series of spiritual events.

“Their teachings consist of you have the ability to search within, to transform yourself into a better person,” said Deborah Peteler, the administrative director of the Yeru Bön Center in Minnetonka. “They encourage you to do better for yourself everyday, or do better for others. They’re big about service to others.”

All are welcome -- whether a Bön practitioner (bonpo), or any curious visitors -- to take part in the following:

The Du Tri Su Initiation, on Thursday, Aug. 1, or a session conducted by the Menri Trizin to impart teaching and spiritual practices intended to clear personal obstacles caused by negative karma, or life trauma.


The Pha Me Cham Tse, on Friday, Aug. 2, or “Love of Family,” a service intended to recognize the importance of families -- whether that’s spouses, partners and children. The Menri Trizin will give a talk on family, love, forgiveness and compassion within the family unit as well as family-child relationships. There will be family activities on the lake, as well as art, cooking class and Tibetan s’mores.

The Kyil Khor Sand Mandala and Initiation, on Saturday, Aug. 3, or the blessing and opening of a sand mandala, or a circular mosaic of colored granules, constructed by four Geshes who have been working on its construction since mid-July. The practice is intended to commune and deepen practitioners’ connection to an ancient spiritual lineage with Khyung Mar, or the Red Garuda, a principal deity of Tibetan religion.

In addition, the Bön community has announced that the Tashi So, or “Gratitude” ceremony will take place the evening of Saturday, Aug. 3. The week at the Yeru Retreat Center closes with blessings for the construction of a new temple in Emily dedicated to the 33rd Menri Trizin, Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, who died in September 2017. Deteler noted Emily has served as a crucial meeting point for the faith, drawing bonpos and non-practitioners to its retreat in large numbers. Originally planned for Sunday, Aug. 4, the Menri Trizin will instead be meeting with Gov. Tim Walz at 9 a.m. in St. Paul.

With a history stretching back 18,000 years, the Bön religion is one of the oldest faiths in the world and stands as one of the five major religions of Tibet. Firmly established in the fabric of Tibetan culture, it has roots in animism and shamanism and predates the advent of Buddhism in the region by millennia, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

For the Tibetan schools of Buddhism in particular, Bön has come to share an intertwined history -- both influencing and influenced by its younger counterpart. As such, the Bön tradition and Buddhism have something of a complex relationship, with Bön considered both a branch of Buddhism and its own separate religion in different regards.

While retaining an unbroken line of practitioners, the faith was an obscure, nearly eradicated indiginous practice, then experienced a resurgence and has grown significantly since the late 1980s and early 1990s. There are now five major centers in the United States, as well as communities across the globe.

The 34th and current Menri Trizin, Lungtok Dawa Dargyal Rinpoche, was first selected in February 2018 and formally enthroned in September of that year. Born in 1972, the Menri Trizin hails from Amdo, Tibet, and he has served in a number of key positions in the Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, prior to his selection.

While not a practicing bonpo herself, Peteler -- a Lutheran married to a long-time practitioner of the faith -- said the experience is a rewarding one, even for those who identify with other beliefs and modes of meaning.


“I love the practice,” Peteler said. “It’s calming and I think I’m a better person than I was five years ago. I read my Bible everyday. I go to church on Sunday, yet I love this spirituality. It’s very similar to a lot of religions, it’s just in a different text.”

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