Tsezhig Gonpa, also known as “Gangya Tsezhig Yungdrung Bon Tan-phel-ling”. It is the largest Bon monastery in the Gannan Tibetan region, located in Zuo-hai Village, Ganjia Township,
Means of “Tse-Zhig”
In Tibetan, “Tse” refers to a noble lineage that is superior to other lineages and has extraordinary merits. It is a family surname in the lineage transmission of living Buddhas, and the honorary title of the Muca·Garab lineage is “Tse “.
In Tibetan, “Zhig” refers to all illusory phenomena melting into the meaning of original wisdom.
“Tsezhig” is the title of the monastery’s head living Buddha, which was later used by believers as the name of the monastery.
Source of Monastery’s name
The reason why the name of the ZuoHai monastery is called “Tse Zhig” is that among the many practice sects, ” Tse Zhig” is superior to other Dharma lineages, hence the name ” Tse Zhig”.
The meaning of ” Yungdrung” is “Yung” indicating the victory of the ultimate truth, and “Drung” indicating the imperishability of the world, meaning that all phenomena have both a true and a conventional aspect.
Founded in 1002 AD by the great master ” Yungdrung Gyasang” (also known as Druwang· Dunni Xiaopu), the monastery is one of the 350 Bon foundations’ monastery. In the early days, it was mainly led by hereditary living Buddhas, and later developed into a system of reincarnated living Buddhas.
The main buildings and sacred objects of the Tsezhig Gonpa include the Great Scripture Hall, four Buddha Pavilions, three residences for the living Buddhas, the “Ganzhuer” Sutra Repository, the administrative office, the dining hall, the Dharma Protector Hall, and the Manjushri Buddha Hall, totaling more than sixty rooms. The temple’s perimeter is surrounded by hundreds of prayer wheels and four large scripture halls.
All the doors and windows of the temple are made of mineral materials and adorned with colorful paintings. The surrounding prayer halls are paved with stone steps. In front of the temple, a large flag symbolizing the prosperity of the three divisions of the esoteric and exoteric teachings flutters in the wind.
The Great Scripture Hall is a two-story building supported by thirty-six columns, housing five scripture halls. In the center is a statue of “Sherab Miwo,” with the past Buddha “Lamp-Burning Buddha, also known as Dipamkar” and the Bodhisattva Manjushri’s incarnation, Zambanankada, on the right, and the future Buddha (Maitreya Buddha) and the second Tathagata “Nianmei·Sherab Jiancan” on the left, along with other sacred objects such as stupas of eminent monks, Mandala, and thrones of successive living Buddhas, as well as murals and thangkas.
The Manjushri Hall is a two-story eaved hall built in the architectural style described in the “Pure Radiance Sutra,” primarily dedicated to the worship of Manjushri Buddha. The statue depicts the Buddha holding a sword of wisdom high in the right hand, symbolizing the severance of delusional and egoistic attachments, while the left hand holds a sutra and a bright lamp, representing the dispelling of the confusion and ignorance of all sentient beings, and the surrounding of seven wisdom Buddhas with the radiance of wisdom. The second floor features delicate thangkas of the twelve Buddhas of the esoteric teaching.
The Great Compassion Bodhisattva Hall: This is the main hall dedicated to the Compassionate Bodhisattva of Wisdom. The naturally serene and uncontaminated by worldly dust Compassionate Bodhisattva of Wisdom. The posture of the body signifies that the Compassionate Bodhisattva of Wisdom constantly gazes upon all sentient beings in the three realms with the eyes of wisdom, using the three wisdom eyes to teach and demonstrate the secret teachings, and bestowing the nectar of liberation from afflictions and the elimination of poverty and fear. The meaning of holding a treasure vase in the right hand and a mirror in the left hand signifies the mastery of the five primordial wisdoms. This statue was consecrated and installed according to the “Detailed Treatise on the Installation of Statues” by Khenchen Nyima. Surrounding the hall are one thousand images of the Compassionate Bodhisattva, built to pray for world peace and the happiness and well-being of all people.
Other buildings include the residences of the three living Buddhas, the scripture repository, the Dharma Protector Hall, the God of Wealth Hall, the teaching building, seven prayer wheel rooms, the Dala main Buddha stupa, and the reception area. Years of effort have allowed the temple to restore its original scale. The golden roof of the Compassionate Bodhisattva Hall is entirely covered with golden tiles.
Tsezhig Gonpa has the unique practice of using prayer wheels that rotate in the opposite direction, counterclockwise, with the exterior walls adorned with the “卐” symbol. Although the Bon religion no longer holds a dominant position in the Tibetan region, it still has numerous followers.
Monks in the temple can marry and have children, and are not required to wear monastic robes on a daily basis. The temple has its own distinctive religious attire, but often wears the robes of the Gelug Pa. The temple also houses a priceless 2nd-century crown of a Tibetan king.
The gonpa has over 1,000 local believers and followers, as well as some followers from other regions. Currently, the temple owns over 30 acres of cultivated land and a small number of cattle, all of which are managed by local villagers. The temple only charges a small amount of butter and grain as rent.
The daily living expenses of the Bon religious monks at the temple are mostly covered by their own families, except for a small amount of alms and income from conducting prayer rituals.
In this gonpa, whether it is a living Buddha or an ordinary monk, they first receive the “refuge vow”, then adhere to the “Shramanera Bhikshu Pure Vinaya” , and practice the “Great Vehicle” of the “Vajrayana,” with the ultimate goal being the realization of “Supreme Complete Enlightenment.”
The monastery has a complete and strict system of studying the scriptures. The main teachings include the scriptures of the Exoteric, Esoteric, and Great Perfection, as well as the study of Tibetan script and calligraphy, ritual traditions, sacred dance and chanting, playing musical instruments, rhetoric, craftsmanship, medicine, astrology, history, grammar, literature, poetry, logic and other subjects.
In keeping with tradition, the temple has also embraced modern subjects such as computer studies, striving to advance while preserving traditional culture.