The Tradition of Everlasting Bön, by J.F. Marc des Jardins

Hardcover with DC, 812 pages, Somerville 2023, new

This authoritative annotated translation of five key texts of Everlasting (Yungdrung) Bön by Marc des Jardins opens up a relatively unknown tradition, which since the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet has undergone great transformations in its philosophy, doctrinal teachings, and meditative practices.

The texts each represent an important aspect of the tradition. The first text, by Drogön Azha Lodrö Gyaltsen (1198–1263), presents the grounds and paths of the Greater Vehicle of the Bön tradition and represents the philosophical ideology of its teachings based on the scriptures contained in the Bön canon. The second text is a short root tantra attributed to revealed teachings from Kuntu Zangpo, the personification of the unconditioned absolute. The third text is a commentary on this root tantra attributed to Drenpa Namkha (fl. eighth century), a Bönpo sage contemporary with Padmasambhava. The fourth text, by Nyamé Sherap Gyaltsen (1356–1415), presents a general exposition of the tantric system according to Yungdrung Bön. The final text, by Drutön Gyalwa Yungdrung (1242–90), pertains to the oral instructions on the meditation practices of Bön, especially on the cycle of practices associated with experiencing the nature of the mind, the Great Perfection systems. All five texts have been selected by the late H. H. Menri Trizin Rinpoché, Lungtok Tenpai Nyima (1927–2017), the thirty-third abbot of Menri Monastery, the central institution of the Yungdrung Bön school.

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