A visit to a Bon Monastery, Signs and Symbols, The Jewish Star Of David and the Swastika, both are ancient Bon symbols
For a long time now I have known that the Swastika is an old Hindu and Buddhist symbol.
In the ancient Bon religion (also known as Bonpo) and in the Hindu religion, they often add dots to the swastika, while in Buddhism, it is used as it is, with the arms turning either clockwise or counter clockwise.
I have seen the swastika on many Hindu and Buddhist temples, woven on carpets, painted as blessings at the entrances to houses, etc.
I have asked questions and read about it, and found that the Swastika was used thousands of years before Adolf Hitler and his hateful Nazi regime adopted it as their symbol.
We were standing at a small Bon Temple in the tiny Himalayan village of Kewzing in Sikkim.
This Bon monastery is the only Bon religion temple in the whole of Sikkim.
The floor of the main hall of the temple was recently washed, and while we waited for it to dry, we asked one of the monks many questions about his religion.
Bon is an ancient religion that started 18,000 years ago in the land which later became known as Tibet.
I never took the time to study much about the Bon religion which preceeded Buddhism in Tibet.
It is not that I was not curious – I was very eager to know more about it – it is just that so much of the information available in English is full of contradictions and seems so lacking and vague…
Partly this is because the Bon religion is steeped in rituals and secrecy.
It is against their code to translate their most sacred teachings into any other language.
In the distant past, the Bon were the magicians and faith healers of Tibet.
In philosophy, Buddhism resembles Bon teachings which center around the fact that the physical world is an illusion and that we are free spiritual beings who are not bound by any form.
But the Bon religion does not focus on LOVE being the essence of the whole Universe.
The ancient high Bon priests were said to live 400 years or more, and there were even accounts of high priests who lived to be 1000 years old.
The longevity of the Bon priests, their mysterious rituals and the undisclosed practices, gave the Bon a dark cloud of superstition and fear among the people who did not understand them, but did come to seek healing from them.
The monk who was explaining to us about the Bon religion claimed that Bon is the most ancient religion that has remained active on earth.
Because Bon predates the Buddha by many thousands of years, the Enlightened Master that the Bon worship is not the Buddha, but Tonpa Shenrab Miwo.
Tonpa Shenrab came from the land which was then called Tazig (also Rtag Gzigs) and is now known as Tibet.
It is said that Tonpa Shenrab was a prince who was married with kids and that he had two brothers.
At the age of 31 he became a spiritual seeker and later became enlightened.
It is believed that his Eternal Spirit and Soul came from a heavenly land that is called Wolmolungring, also spelled Olmolungring (Ol mo lung ring).
This heavenly land, which is unseen to people who are not yet developed spiritually, is depicted as being designed from nine swastikas with rivers running from it in the four cardinal directions.
The monk continued, by telling us that practitioners have to learn to meditate and to practice for many years a form of “Empty Mind Meditation.”
Empty Mind Meditation centers around turning the mind away from the thoughts of the world, from all the inner noise of judging, analyzing and planning, and allowing it to become clear and reflective like a mirror, which will ultimately reflect the peaceful, loving Universal Mind which exists beyond our preoccupied mundane minds.
When the spiritual leader (or the highest Lama) of the Bon passes away, all the high Lamas gather together to decide who will be the next Bon leader.
They write their names on pieces of paper and place those pieces of paper on a plate.
Then they chant and do a ritual Puja, and a piece of paper will fall off the plate.
Whoever’s name is written on that piece of paper will be anointed as the next highest Lama.
There are hundreds of books of sacred scriptures and teachings in the Bon religion, but none of them are translated into English.
Many of those symbols which nowadays are so identified with a particular religion are actually much older, and have been in use for thousands of years.
The six pointed star in Buddhism (in Judaism it is called the Star Of David) has the same significance as it does in Hinduism – it represents the union of the Male and Female principles.
The six pointed star is actually a combination of two triangles, one that is pointed upwards and another which is pointed downwards.
The triangle that is pointed upwards symbolizes the male principle in the Universe, while the triangle that is pointed downwards symbolizes the female principle.
Both triangles combined, symbolize the Union of male and female principles.
Because the six pointed star symbolizes union and wholeness, it is considered to be a symbol full of blessings.
It is often used in Buddhism, Bon and Hinduism in preparing astrological charts, in holy ceremonies, and as a most auspicious symbol.
In Buddhism, the swastika is one of the 65 symbols of Buddhahood.
The swastika represents Universal harmony, endurance, power, permanence and the esoteric doctrine of the Buddha.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the Swastika is generally referred to as Yung-Drung.
More specifically, the swastika that spins outwards, is called “Nango” or “The Outer Door.”
The swastika that goes counter clockwise is called “The Inner Door” or “Tzhigo.”
It is interesting to me how symbols can have so much power to scare people, or to comfort them, or to empower them…. After all, symbols are just lines drawn in a certain pattern, so why should a symbol be embedded with so much meaning?….
But we still live in societies that are full of superstitions and fears.
Think if someone were to draw a swastika on a Jewish temple, or on a Baptist Church in the South of the USA…
This would immediately be interpreted as a hateful act.
Nobody would associate it with a symbol of Buddhist or Hindu endurance, power and permanence, which is what the swastika represents in those religions.
Without a doubt whoever drew it there, meant to scare people, to show that he believes that he is from a superior race, which is of course ridiculous beyond words….
But symbols ONLY have the power to scare us because we believe in them, and because we fear one another.
I know people who always wear around their neck a Star of David, or an image of Jesus on the cross, and they kiss it before doing something daring or dangerous, as if they were seeking to draw strength from those symbols, but if you ask them, they would say that they were not religious at all….
We embed symbols with power, and we can withdraw power by looking beyond these symbols.