The Way of The Shen of Protection
The following text is from "The Nine Ways of Bon: Excerpts from Gzi-brjid". Edited and Translated by D.L.
Snellgrove, pp.24-41 London Oriental Series , Vol 18, Oxford University Press 1968.
For the four subjects of (i) sotilege, (ii) astrological calculation, (iii) ritual, and (iv) diagnosis, there are explanations in general and in particular - an explanation of general lists and a concentration on particulars. These are the two matters of consideration.
First we deal with general lists:
- In characterizing sortilege, which is the divining of prognostics, there are 360 sortilege prognostics.
- In characterizing astrological calculation, which perceives so sharply, there are 360 horoscopes. In characterizing rites of curing illness, there are 360 methods.
- In characterizing diagnosis, which provides ransoms (1) for death, there are 21.000 methods of diagnosis.
Such indeed are the lists explained in general.
As for concentrating on particulars, there are four kinds of sortilege:
• the knot-sortilege (2) of Ye-srid-hphrul,
• the clairvoyance of Ye-mkhyen sgra-bla,
• the dream of Ye-rje smon-pa
• the soothsaying of Ye-dbang-lha.
So they are to be known as of four kinds.
There are four kinds of astrological calculation:
• the mirror of mysterious horoscopes (3)
• the sPar-kha and sMe-ba circle,
• the Time Wheel of the Elements
• calculations of combinations and effects by (the method known as) ju-zhag (4).
Thus they are known as of four kinds.
There are four kinds of ritual:
• the 'Awry' Rite for the elements in disorder
• the 'Striking' Rite using a combination of devices
• the 'Harrying' (5) Rite for overcoming evil influences,
• the 'Exchange' Rite of transposing two equal things.
Thus they are known as four kinds.
There are four kinds of diagnosis:
• Diagnosis by seeing the chief and subsidiary causes,
• Identification by examination of the connecting channels,
• Diagnosis of the urine (to discover) what will be of use and what is causing
• Diagnosis of (the patient's) appearance (to discover) whether he will die or
Thus they are known as four kinds.
Of these four, sortilege, calculation, ritual and diagnosis, sortilege comes first as the foremost.
The three (gods) Ye-srid-hphrul-gyi rgyal-po, Kun-shes-hphrul-gyi drang-mkhan, and mNjon-shes phyahu gyang-dkar arranged this divination of prognostics for the phenomenal world, making a straight-forward distinction of true and false effects.
Make an examination from what is seen and what is not seen. On the basis of this diagnosis, make an estimate. Having made an estimate, fix your calculations, take stock of (the patient's) former, future, and present state, his disadvantages and his advantages. Count up the good and bad points, the beneficial and the harmful ones.
Having counted them up, fix your calculations. Relying on your sortilege and calculation, you next act by means and of the rite the conditions (necessary) for the cure. Being for non-being, filling where there was emptiness, increase for decrease, production for destruction, wealth for poverty, recovery instead of death, benefit instead of harm, by thus accounting (to him) whatever is required, by these means you cure the person concerned. Finally as the end of the effects he is integrated by means of the diagnosis.
As the end of unhappiness he is integrated in happiness. As the end of sickness he is integrated in recovery. As the end of harm he is integrated with what benefits. As the end of death he is integrated in being raised up. As the end of poison he is integrated with elixir. If anything is broken by his karmic effects, it is now integrated by being brought into union. (All this) is just reliance on methods which refer to relative truth.
Phya-gshen, keep in your mind !
Again the Teacher (Shen-rab) said: Listen, Legs-rgyal Thang-po, listen ! Those items have been ordered in lists. Now secondly as for setting to work and practising, at the start of the process of setting to work raise your Thought towards Enlightenment and keep compassion as your basis, and with your mind intent on benefiting living beings, whatever you learn of sortilege, calculations, rites and diagnosis, be clever and learn so as to know it! A clever man should turn harmful things to good use. If others would contemn you, stay stern. If people agree with you, take a right measure in their regard.
If some show devotion, instruct them well. If some oppose you, cut off future trace with them. If there are arguments, be long-suffering. If others would vie with you, be indifferent to them. Although you benefit others, avoid pride. Although you cause harm, get rid of despondency. If things turn out ill, find a method to avoid them. Do not turn your face away from an angry man. Do not show a smiling countenance to one who comes with deceiving words. Do not laugh in wonderment at a man who deceives. Do not reply to one who tempts you. Do not conceal your words from a man who speaks honestly. Do not give reply to deceiving words. Do not follow after false rumours.
Although you reach a high position, protect lowly people. Although you are great, protect lowly people. Although you are clever, guide those who do not know. Although you are experienced, watch your own measure. Although large offerings are made to you, do not act the big man. Although they are small, raise your Thought towards Enlightenment in the proper way. Where no one is patient (6) continue to act kindly.
Apply yourself suitably in due measure and with skill. Do not do too much. Treat (your learning) as precious. But do not do too little. Explain things truly. If as a general rule both in the Bon of Cause and the Bon of Effect, you do not raise your Thought towards Enlightenment as your basic intent, you will not gain anywhere the (higher) effects of the (wordly) causes (7). So how should one obtain the highest truth ? Although one is concerned here with the Bon of Cause, keep going all the time with the Thought of Enlightenment. Thence benefit will come to living beings. Avoid unskilful precipitancy.
Avoid the self-esteem of thinking one knows. Avoid the pride of thinking one is clever.
Avoid pricking thorns in others. Avoid the relaxation of being pleased with yourself.
Avoid the insolence of one who does not know. Avoid acts which do not fit the occasion.
Avoid ritual items which are unsuitable. Avoid untruths of things unseen. Avoid ignorant gossip. Avoid ignorant 'big talk'. Avoid news of where you have not been. Avoid techniques in which you are unexperienced. Avoid unsuitable activities. Avoid desiring what you do not possess. In all things be free from deceit. In the company of fools a clever man (appears) foolish. To those who do not know he seems quite ordinary. To the ignorant gold may seem as stone. Therefore it is good for a clever man to be among clever man.
Sortilege, calculation, ritual, diagnosis, whichever of these you do, you must follow the required order, avoiding or accepting (as occasion demands) in starting (this works) and in the order of instruction. Thus by being skilled and accomplished, experienced and self-reliant, clever in method and skilful, such a man will be honoured for this skill. As
for what spreads forth from this, he acts thereby as guide in the Way of the Shen of Prediction, producing happiness in the phenomenal world and causing it to spread wide and boundless.
Again he said: Listen, Legs-rgyal Thang-po, listen ! The way of setting about this work is as above. Now next we deal with the order of operation. Of sortilege, calculation, ritual and diagnosis, first we consider the prognostics of sortilege. On a piece of white felt which serves as the basis one place the 'sprinklings' of green barley, and one sets up the 'symbol of life', the bronze-tipped arrow, to which is attached a turquoise ornament. There are wafts of smoke from incense-wood, marking the way taken by the sweet-smelling incense. Worship with an offering of the sacrificial heap of barley-flour and butter. Worship with the sacrificial offering of consecrated chang. The officiating priest (8) should recite the exposition (9). Worship the great god Phu-wer dka-po.
Invoke the knot-sortilege of Ye-srid-hphrul. Produce (within yourself) the clairvoyance of Ye-mkhyen sgra-bla. Reflect upon the dream of Ye-rje smon-pa. Effect the soothsaying of Ye-dbang-lha. Name everything that has happened in the past (of your client). Set in order everything referring to the future. Write down evils and benefits (to come) and the length of his life. Distinguish in a straightforward way the good and the bad, the fair and the foul. Truth and falsehood there may be, but make true distinction.
Such is the way of benefiting people, according as each may require.
Secondly for calculating the horoscopes, on a cloth (made) of a piece of brocade silk one must set the squared calculating board, arrange the white and black pieces.
Worship the Ye-srid lha-dbang rgyal-po. Requite the goddesses of the Elements and Time-Periods. Pray to dBan-chen bdag-po. Then make an estimate and calculate. Look in the mystic mirror of the horoscope. Work the sPar-kha sMe-ba Circle. Calculate the cycles of the Elements and the Time Periods. Examine the combinations occurring by (the method) ju-zhag. Examining them, identify and distinguish them knowledgeably: the former, past and present state, the way it comes about from major and minor causes, the way events and prayers have corresponded, ways of change in Time, Existence and the Elements, the way these influence former combinations, way of change in the Four Seasons, Strength and weakness of gods, demons and klung-rta (10) avoiding and accepting the effects of evils and benefits, an estimate of good and bad and of length of life, the characteristics of increase and decrease of the years, the months, the days, the
hours, a wise man must do this and calculate it quietly. He must identify harm wherever it is, and explain benefits wherever they are, and arrange whatever combinations can be brought into accord. He must write down whatever will happen, and so bring benefit to living beings.
Thirdly as for making cures by means of rites for living beings, ignorant creatures, when sPar-kha, Year-Cycle, the sMe-ba sphere, and antagonistic elements are in disarray, one must perform the 'Awry' Rite for the Universe in disarray. Draw a magic circle with clean sand, a circle drawn with sand of five colours. (Set up) twigs with coloured wools and silk of five colours.
Make a first offering of a pure sacrificial cake made from different grains, and of the three milk and the three sweet substances. Worship the goddesses of the Elements and the Time-Periods. Recite as a prayer some true expositions of the Conqueror. Thus the completely disarrayed elements will be quietened, And everything disarrayed will be put in place.
In order to produce long life, happiness and good fortune for those creatures wretched men, Perform the 'Striking' Rite, combining use of ritual devices. On some clean place as working-base draw a swastika in grain. Prepare the devices for the rite, the implements and talismans. Offer libations, gifts and consecrated chang. Worship the eight gods of Prediction and Good Fortune And bring all phenomenal elements into interrelation. Pronounce the blessing of interrelationship, and beings will be cured with benefits and happiness. When beings of the Six Spheres Are struck with an impediment and come near to death, in order to save them from impediments and reverse this evil, (use) the 'Stinging' Rite which works by knowledge of prognostic signs. For devils (bdud), fiends (btsan), she-demons (ma mo), spirits of death (gshin-rje) devils which attack man's lenght of days, sprites which cause impediments, and devils which attack life-force, (against these) establish life-ransoms, life-pledges and amulets. Pay debts of evil with life-ransoms as payment for life. Worship the eight gods who preserve life and happiness. Reverse the troubles that befall men and save them from their impediments. Thus he is ransomed from death and fixed up with an amulett, and so you produce benefits, joy and happiness for living beings. For all living beings, afflicted with attacks by the eight kinds of sprite, by hating and consuming gods and demons, you must perform the 'Exchange' Rite of transposing two equal things.
Prepare the ritual devices (mDos) (11) and ritual items, the right sized figurine as ransom for the patient's
body, the sky symbol, the tree symbol, the arrow, distaff, and ritual stakes, the male figure, the female figure, the rock plant mtshe, and mustard-seed, (a model of) the house and its wealth, the things one desires. If they are exchanged as equal things, the ransom will be good. If they are transposed as equivalents, they will be chosen as payment. To the hosts of noble buddhas make salutation, offerings and prayer for refuge. Then offer the items of ransom, explaining them truly. Although (your patient) is about to die, you can delay his death for the space of three years. In order to benefit beings, profit them by means of these rites. They will make you happy with offerings and fees. So the benefits of ritual have now been explained.
Fourthly in caring (for others) by means of diagnosis, when the ignorant beings of the Six Spheres suffer from diseases (arising from) molestations (klesha), in order to benefit them in their illness by diagnosis, the physician with the Thought set on Enlightenment, should raise his thought to the four immeasurable virtues, take refuge in the hosts of buddhas, and offer a mandala in thanksgiving and worship. He should worship the King Be-du-rgya-'od (Vaidurya) and his eight fellow buddhas, gods of medicine. The he should diagnose the major and minor causes in all that can be seen, and identify the disease by diagnosis of the connecting channels. Diagnose from the urine what is of benefit and what is of harm. Diagnose from the appearance all signs of death and signs of cure. Thus identifying the disease, Heat or cold, phlegm or bile, or some combination, the medicine is then applied, cooling, warming, equalizing, powder, pills or syrup, potion, ointment or butter-mould. Medicine for every man must fit with the disease. All feverish conditions are counteracted by the cooling kind, all cold conditions by the warming kind, all phlegmatic conditions by the dispersing kind, conditions of bile by the uniting kind, combination disturbances by the equalizing kind.
For the 21.000 types of combinations one applies 21.00 types of medicine, and so expels the afflicted conditions of ignorance.
Treatment is of four main kinds:
• treatment with medicine of elixier,
• treatment with medicine for bodily cure,
• treatment with method and practice,
• treatment in unprescribed ways.
Curing is of four main kinds:
medicine, bleeding and brainding, tranquillizing with method and spells.
Whatever is required must accord with the type of disease.
After absorbing (the medicine) come taste and effect, pleasance of taste and force of effect. After absorption it is gentle and pleasant. For the disease vomiting and purifying by excretion, and the after-state is tranquil and pleasant. Food may be suitable, harmful, or indifferent. Keep to what is suitable and avoid what is harmful, taking the right measure of the part that is indifferent. In diagnosis we have the connecting channels, the urine and the general appearance. Watch the channels, examine the urine, and diagnosis from the general appearance, let the result coincide. If you are sure you see signs of death, urge him to practice of virtue. If he is cut off by karmic effects, ritual and diagnosis are useless. If it is certain his time of death has come, Even food which should nourish the body may be his life's enemy. But if it is not such a case, and he suffers from an accident or a sudden disease, you will save him by treatment and medicine. If your skill and cleverness of method have not been perfected by practice, you will not produce medicine, but poison. You will not cure the sick man and he will die before long. So skill and cleverness of method are very important. So by practising,
setting about and understanding these four, sortilege, astrological calculations, ritual and diagnosis, living beings must be benefited. Keep this in mind, O Phya-gshen Legsrgyal.
This is what he said.