Yungdrung Bön, meaning “Eternal Light” or “Enlightened Teaching,” is the original and authentic spiritual tradition of Tibet. Its teachings are based on the principle of practising indiscriminate love and compassion towards all and is the path of Theg-pa Chen-po or Mahayana in its approach.
Many of the teachings are similar to those found in the four principal schools of Buddhism, especially the Nyingma-pa school, and are aimed at enabling all to access Enlightenment and freedom from the shackles of Samsara.
The most obvious points of differentiation between the schools would appear to be in their points of origin, the number of refuge objects, and in the nomenclature employed in relation to the deities and Jang-chub Sempas (Bodhisattvas).
Whereas general Buddhism relates back to the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, (who lived approximately two and a half thousand years ago), Yungdrung Bön traces its lineage directly back to its founder, Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, who came and taught in Wolmo Loong Ring (otherwise known as Shambala) over 18,000 years ago. From there his teachings spread around the world in different guises, being introduced into Tibet from the neighboring country of Zhang-Zhung — which includes western Tibet and Gangchen Tisi (Mount Kailash).
The Refuge Objects
In Buddhism one finds three Refuge Objects: (1) Sangye (Buddha), (2) Chö (Dharma) and (3) Ghe-dhun (Sangha); Bönpos have four Refuge Objects: (1) Sang-gye (Enlightened Ones), (2) Bön (Enlightened Teachings), (3) Shenrab Yungdrung Sempas (Spiritual Heroes / Heroines) and (4) The Lama, who embodies the previous three.