THE ORIGIN OF BON    part 1 (Olmo Lungring)

The Bonpo's maintain that Bon originated in the land of Olmo Lungring 
('Ol-mo-lung-ring), a part of a larger country called Tazig (rTag-gzigs).
'Ol symbolizes the unborn; Mo, the undiminishing; Lung, the prophetic words
of Tonpa Shenrab (sTon-pa gShen-rab) the founder of Bon; and Ring, his 
everlasting compassion.
   Olmo Lungring constitutes one-third of the existing world and is situated 
to the west of Tibet. It is described as an eight-petalled lotus under a sky 
which appears like an eight spoked wheel. In the center rises Mount Yungdrung
Gutseg (gYung-drung dgu-brtsegs), "Pyramid of the Nine Swastikas". The 
swastika is the symbol of permanence and indestructability. The nine swastikas 
collectively represent the Nine ways of Bon. At the base of Mount Yungdrung 
spring four rivers, flowing towards the four cardinal directions. The mountain 
is surrounded by temples, cities and parks. To the south is the palace Barpo 
Sogye (Bar-po so-brgyad) where Tonpa Shenrab was born. To the west and north
are palaces in which lived the wives and children of Tonpa Shenrab. A temple 
named Shampo Lhatse (sham-po lha-rtse) is to the east. The complex of places,
rivers and parks with Mount Yungdrung in the center constitutes the inner 
region (Nang-gling) of Olmo Lungring. The intermediate region (Bar-gling) 
consists of twelve cities, four of which are towards the cardinal directions.
The third region includes the outer land (mTha'-gling).
   These three regions are encircled by an ocean and again by a range of snowy 
mountains. The access to Olmo Lungring is gained by the so-called "arrow 
way" (mDa'-lam). Before his visit to Tibet Tonpa Shenrab shot an arrow thus 
creating a passage through the mountain range.
   This very sophisticated description of Olmo Lungring has been tentatively
related by some scholars to different geographical locations. Some see it 
as a description of Mount Kailash (Mt. Ti-se) and the four great rivers that 
spring from its base; China being the land to the east, India to the south,
Orgyan to the west and Khotan to the north. The description of the universe
with Mount Meru supporting the sky and the four chief continents to the four 
cardinal points and this earth as the southern continent (Jambudvipa) is 
another similar example.    (to be continued)