The Bon people...
I first learned of the Bon people from my teacher at the time, Reverend Rosalyn Bruyere.
As a medium she channeled a being named Master Chi’ang. Two curious students of hers researched these people called the Bon and the students’ inquisitiveness and sense of adventure led them to England to meet with a Professor Snellgrove who as a scholar, had written a book called, The Nine Ways of Bon. After their conversation, and by way of directions from the professor, they headed off to a remote part of India to find the only Bon monastery in India at the time. There they were greeted by the Abbot of the Bon Menri monastery, Menri Trizin, 33rd Abbot of Menri and of the Bon worldwide. They explained who they were, why they had come, and how they had heard of the Bon. To their surprise, His Holiness, as he is referred to, asked them to present several questions to this Master Chi’ang with the instructions to then send the answers back to the Monastery. The Bon people have a long tradition of Oracles as well as divination, so the idea in itself that there could be such a tibetan teacher as Master Chi'ang communicating through Rosalyn in the West wasn't odd. What had to be established for His Holiness was whether or not this Master Chi'ang was really who he said he was.
The quest continues...
These two students returned with the questions in hand and presented their amazing story to Rosalyn. She agreed to go into trance and after Master Chi’ang "arrived", he was asked the questions. His answers were notated and then sent off to India. Time passed until a letter arrived for Master Chi’ang via Rosalyn, and inside were the words, “you are who you say you are.”
It seems that the Bon scholars had asked pertinent information regarding the time that Master Chi’ang was to have been alive (he often referring to himself as a long time dead Abbot, such was his sense of humor), where he was Abbot, and where certain ancient texts had been hidden. All the questions were verified and the connection between the West and the East, in this particular case, America and the monastery began. Many years later, another student of Rosalyn’s, an art teacher named Judy Marz set out to visit this mysterious monastery. It was upon her return and a presentation she gave at a retreat of Rosalyn’s that I heard first hand of the existence of living Bon people. Two years later, in 1991 I made my first pilgrimage to the Tibetan Bon Menri Monastery solo, meeting up with Judy in New Delhi who had been traveling in China, and we journeyed up North to Menri. When I first met with His Holiness, I was overwhelmed by his humility and humor, a radiance of wisdom and grace, and an emanating presence of Spirit and soul, unlike anything or anyone I had or have ever since experienced. I felt strangely and bizarrely at home and at peace.
And then there were the children...
Among the simple buildings, stone corridors, scorpions and mud slides of the monsoons, were tens of boys of all ages, some as young as 3, standing quietly and gracefully watching we two ladies from the West. His Holiness explained that after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, children were being brought to the monastery, some arriving by the aid of kind strangers or traveling monks, others by a lone parent or guardian, to find shelter, food and cultural preservation, by seeking refuge in Menri. Many arrived and continue so to do, without proper documentation, birth certificates, or anything that provides them with a legal identity. They come in the dark of night, or by the light of early dawn, to be left on his doorstep. In the early years, when the first settlement of Menri was established through help of the Indian Government and the Catholic Relief Society, there was no money to even feed the children. With the help of Judy Marz who was so moved by her first visit that when she returned to America, began showing slideshows to raise awareness, funds and finally sponsorship for the children. (To learn more about sponsorship, please visit www.bonfoundation.org )
Over fifteen years have passed since my first experience, and more children, boys and girls now live at the Monastery, the village below, and the recently constructed Nunnery. I have returned on several occasions, each time gaining more and more respect for these amazing people and their love of life, humanity and their way of educating a person from the inside out, inspiring a child to be who they be, by honoring their soul and its purpose for being alive. The Bon and their teachings are unique in many ways, with one quality that stands above the rest. The Bon live from a philosophy that honors the Mother as supreme, and whose teachings of compassionate action for the sake of the children, the planet, and humanity as a whole living organism motivate and guide the path of their life.
Somehow I feel that this is key...
The Bon have a saying that roughly translates as: “you could carry your Mother three times around the world upon your head and take her to heaven, the Holy Place, and you still could not repay her for what she has done for you.” I have come to understand this as a koan. There are mysteries within mysteries contained within this saying, and one of them reveals itself as, we are to ask only of our children to be the best they can be, by being the best we can be. To honor the gift of life, compassionately and purposefully, helps to engender gratitude,mindfulness,and a sense of destiny within a human being to meet life with purpose. This kind of indebtedness,emanating from gratitude creates a living, breathing reciprocal exchange of hope for the future.
The Bon Future Fund comes into being...
So in 2001, I began the initial steps and preparations to finally create a non-profit organization whose purpose would be to offer a Higher Educational opportunity to any Bon child who had completed their education up to the 10th grade. After the 10th grade, children who aren’t interested in pursuing a monastic vocation have no where to go, and no means of sponsorship. These children are orphaned and they deserve to continue to be who they be. With Higher Educational opportunities made available to them, they can become contributors to their culture’s preservation, and as well become vital citizens in our rapidly growing sense of a global community. This is why the Bon Future Fund exists. It is for the heart and hope of the world, and for the sake of the Mothers that we are all destined to be. I truly feel that they are inspiring seeds of hope, worthy of planting within a garden for a future for peace and compassionate harmony.
If you feel drawn to become a source of hope for a young adult, and to open up your own heart to the joy of living a life with purpose, please visit the Bon Future Fund at www.bonfuturefund.org .
Founding Director of the Bon Future Fund, Inc.