Zhang Zhung Meri

The Meditation Deity Zhang-Zhung Meri

Source Image : www.himalayanart.org
Source Image : www.himalayanart.org

In the Bönpo tradition of Tibet,  Zhangzhung Meri is a meditational deity of the Bön religion arising from the ancient land of "Zhang Zhung" in Tibet. He is believed to be the high protector of the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyud lineage. 


" Zhang Zhung Meri is one of the principal deities of Zhang Zhung, the place where the Bön teachings first arrived in Tibet, considered now to be in the area around Mount Kailash. 


Zhang Zhung Meri is associated with Mount. Kailash, and is very closely tied to transmission of the Zhang Zhung Nyan Gyud dzogchen teachings, which includes the profound texts of the Twenty-One Nails and Six Lamps, among others. 



Before the coming of Buddhism from India to Tibet in the 7th and 8th centuries and the simultaneous arising the empire in Central Tibet, there flourished in northern and western Tibet the ancient kingdom of Zhang-zhung.

This kingdom, which centered around the sacret mountain of Kailas, was closely connected with other ancient Central Asian cultures and its own religious culture was known as Bön.


In later centuries after the fall of the Tibetan empire and the fragmentation of the country, this ancient religious tradition was preserved among the Tibetan people by the Bönpo Lamas and this continued to exist and be practiced among the Tibetan people until the present day, parallel to the Buddhism of Indian origin.




Central to this Bönpo tradition was the theory and practice known as Dzogchen, “the Great Perfection.”

Of Central Asian origin, it also flourished in the Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism since the early days.


Connected with the Bönpo practice of Dzogchen, known as the Zhang-zhung Nyan-gyud, “The Oral Tradition from Zhang-zhung,” there is the practice and ritual of the meditation deity Walchen Gekhöd, “the slayer of demons,” also known in his specialized warrior aspect in golden armour as Zhang-zhung Meri.


This tempestuous mountain god of Mt. Kailas, having descended thereupon in the form of a gigantic flaming yak, was the paron deity of the Zhang-zhung kingdom and its ruling dynasty.


However, according to the Bönpo tradition, this illustrious figure was not just a worldly deity, but an manifestation of Buddha enlightenment in wrathful form emanated by Atimuwer in order to combat the scourge of demons and evil spirits inflicted upon humanity and the planet Earth. " 


Source : Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Ligmincha 



Source Image : www.himalayanart.org
Source Image : www.himalayanart.org


He is deeply revered as an enlightened Yidam that allows us to rise above obstacles and obscurations.


Meditation and the practice of Zhangzhung Meri is a powerful spiritual medicine that helps overcome illnesses and restore balance to healing for all beings.

This ancient shamanic practice promotes connection with one's inner  healer. 

" Because the Zhang-Zhung Nyän-gyüd is a Dzogchen transmission, unlike Tantric practices, there is no empowerment ceremony for entering into it.


Rather, in terms of Dzogchen, the individual enters into the practice by way of receiving a direct introduction (rig-pa ngo-sprod) from a qualified master of the tradition.


However, there is a Tantric practice of transformation that is associated with it and the transmission of this later lineage more or less exactly parallels that of the Zhang-Zhung Nyän-gyüd. This is the practice for the meditation deity known as Zhang-Zhung Meri.


In fact, Zhang-Zhung Meri was the first empowerment bestowed by Yongdzin Lopon Tenzing Namdak Rinpoche on his second visit to the West and his first visit to the United States.


This occured in Coos Bay, Oregon, in 1989. It was at this time that I personally first received this empowerment. Although previously in 1978, Yongdzin Rinpoche bestowed it for the first time at Menri monastery at Dolanji in India upon a group of Western students from Italy at the request of their master Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.


Although the principal function of Zhang-zhung Meri for the Dzogchen practitioner is that of protection, according Yongdzin Rinpoche, nevertheless, Zhang-Zhung Meri is not a protective Guardian (srung-ma) spirit, but a Yidam Lha, or meditation deity.


Moreover, his sadhana may also be practiced independently as a purely Tantric method, apart from any connection with Dzogchen.

A Yidam is a visible manifestation of the compassion and enlightened awareness of the Buddha, particularly in wrathful form in order to transform negative energies and subdue evil spirits.


Every Tantra cycle has such a principal deity known as a Yidam, and by practicing the sadhana, or process of transformation and realization of that deity, the practitioner establishes a special bond or connection with it which is known as samaya (dam-tshig).

Through visualization and meditation upon the archetypal form of the Yidam, the practitioner is able to invoke and realize within oneself the powers, capacities, and wisdoms traditionally associated with that particular Yidam.




This overwhelming numinous presence, both benign and protective, is transcendent; it is not a worldly god or deity which is still part of conditioned existence, the cycle of death and rebirth known as Samsara. It is an emanation of enlightened awareness and compassion from a higher spiritual dimension beyond Samsara.


The visualization of the Yidam serves to invoke and call down into oneself the blessings, or spiritual energies of this deity, and serves to focus and cencentrate this energy like a lens focusing sunlight..


According to the Lower Tantras (phyi rgyud), the source of these spiritual energies that are invoked is a higher spiritual dimension of being, which is the collective enlightened awareness of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.


However, according to the Higher Tantras (nang rgyud), these energies are invoked out of the potential for Buddha enlightenment of one’s own Nature of Mind.


By meditating on the Yidam, one takes the goal, the visible manifestion of enlightenment, and transforms that into the actual path of practice in terms of deification or visualizing oneself as the Yidam.


This process vastly accelerates the process of realizing liberation and enlightenment when compared to the methods of the Sutra system.


The initial visualization of the Yidam emerges out the the state of pure potentiality, Shunyata,, which is paradoxically beyond the dualism of existence and non-existence.


At the conclusion of sadhana practice, the visualization is again dissolved back into this state of emptiness. Although the ultimate aim of meditating upon the Yidam is to realize those enlightened qualities associated with it, that is to say, to realize Buddha enlightenment and liberation from suffering in Samsara, by invoking the Yidam and engaging in the ritual activities associated with it, one may also realize various desirable worldly benefits.


These two goals, the spiritual and the worldly, do not exclude or contradict each other.


  • One must have at hand the actual means, including long life, in order to practice sufficiently in this present life.
  • On the other hand, Guardians (srung-ma) were in origin usually worldly gods and spirits who were in the past subdued by enlightened beings such as Tönpa Shenrab and placed under paths to henceforth protect the teachings of Bön and its practitioners.
Source Image : www.himalayanart.org
Source Image : www.himalayanart.org

Such was also the case when Gyerpung Nangzher Lödpo who subdued the Deva king Nyipangse and his consort Mänmo, placing them under paths to henceforth protect the teachings of Zhang-zhung Nyän-gyüd.


In meditation practice, one may transform oneself into a Yidam, identiying oneself totally with it, whereas Guardians are evoked into visible appearance in front of oneself.

They are then presented with puja offerings and charged to remember their vows made previously to protect Bön and its practitioners.

Therefore, this is a process of reciprocity or exchange of energies between our human dimension of existence and some other realm of being.

These spirits are given energy in the form of puja offerings and then the practitioners can expect something in return in terms of the activites of these spirits. "


Source : John Myrdhin Reynolds




The Fierce, Secret Tamer of Demons



Walchen Gekho with his consort, Queen of the Drala


On the 23rd day of the Eighth Tibetan month, Western calendar date October 2nd 2018, Tashi Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India will begin an intensive seven-day retreat for the yidam Gekhö. Specifically, they will perform the practice from the text compiled by His Holiness 1st Menri Trizen Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoche, “Gekhö Sangwa Drakchen, The Fierce, Secret Gekhö.” This retreat will conclude on the 29th lunar day, October 8th 2018.


The tantric cycle of Gekhö contains 360 deities, and within the cycle of the Father Tantras he is the manifestation of enlightened quality within the Five Supreme Embodiments.


(See previous post: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/06/05/the-five-supreme-embodiments/)




He was the deity of the ancient land of Zhang Zhung and his tantric practice was widespread throughout the realm. It is said that he originally descended upon the sacred mountain of Gang Tisé (aka Mount Kailash), and he and his retinue dwell there.


However, even though there is a close association with an earthly abode, he is not a worldly guardian. Rather, he is the embodiment of enlightened energy that manifests as a meditational deity and enlightened protector for the practitioners of Yungdrung Bön. The epithet “Gekhö” in the Zhang Zhung language means “demon tamer.”



“In order to lead those who have not gained realization, Walchen Gekhö possesses the Five Bodies and the Five Primordial Wisdoms. Through the truth of pacification, and through these forceful, wrathful means, those who are untamed will be tamed.” ~From the Essence Practice of the Fierce Champion, Zhang Zhung Meri


One manifestation of Gekhö is Zhang Zhung Meri. This yidam deity is closely associated with the dzogchen practice of the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyü, The Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung.

 The practice of dzogchen is, by definition, perfected and beyond needing to apply any methods to develop it. However, because the practitioners of dzogchen have not yet fully realized this primordial perfection, the deity Zhang Zhung Meri offers protection and support.


Source : https://ravencypresswood.com/2018/09/29/5129/