Shiwa Okar, Shenlha Okar Notes


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Shenlha Okar, (alt. Shenla Odker, Shenla Odkar, Shenla Wökar, Wylie: gShen lHa 'od dkar) or Shiwa Okar (Wylie: zhi ba 'od dkar)is the most important deity in the Yangdrung Bon tradition of Tibet.
He is counted among the "Four Transcendent Lords" (Dewar Shekpa, Wylie: bde bar gshegs pa) along with Satrig Ersang (Sherab Chamma), Sangpo Bumtri, and Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche.

SHIWA OKAR......."Texts that we commonly call the Shambhala teachings stem from the visions that the Druk Sakyong, the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, had from an early age in Tibet......These visions came from the Rigden and from Shiwa Okar.....Shiwa Okar is referred to as the lha of lha.....the divine of the divine.....the ultimate principle of dharmadhatu, the most primordial reality, which we often call primordial Ashe, or the confidence of all......."..the Vidyadhara often said that he was merely writing them down...." Sakyong Mipham......Public Letter....January 23, 2005

In the secular Shambhala tradition .. Shiwa'i Okar is the origin of the teachings and the essence of primordial reality.......In the Pre-Buddhist, Tibetan/Kailas Bon tradtion, Shenlha Okar is the source of the 4 Dzogchen lineages......According to Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, "Shiwa Okar and Shenlha Okar are the same deity..."

This research explores ancient relationships...Shiwa'i Okar, 16 year old white youthful deity wearing crystal armor and helmet.....Shenlha Okar, the brilliant white pure light being with body the essence of crystal..... "God of Gods" of the Tibetan Bon tradition.........

MITHRA.., the pure white pre-Christian Europe/pre-Islam Persia, mounted Warrior Sky God whom the soldiers of ancient Roman worshipped in numerous Mithraeum of Western Europe.......

Sotunanga, the 'crystal ice faced' supreme god "Heart of the Sky" deity in the Hopi tradition...in 1974 Trungpa said that the pre-Buddhist Bonpo religion of Tibet was 'identical' with the Native American tradtions of the Southwest........

Shenlha Okar literally means "wisdom deity of white light;" the variant Shiwa Okar means "peaceful white light." Shen can mean either "priest" or possibly in this case "deity who is a priest." In some accounts he is considered the sambhogakaya form of Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, the founder of Bön (the nirmanakaya aspect). In other accounts, he is visited by Shenrab Miwoche when Miwoche is in a prior incarnation known as Salwa.. Additionally, some catagorize him as "corresponding exactly to the Buddhist category of dharmakaya."

Shenlha Okar is said to have created the world with the help of nine brother gods or nine cosmic gods (shrid pa 'i lha) who appear as war gods or drala (dgra bla). He is also considered a god of compassion with many parallels to Avalokiteshvara and also with Amitabha.

Shenlha Okar is usually depicted with a white body "like the essence of crystal," holding a hook in his right hand (and sometimes a lasso in his left), and seated in a throne supported by elephants.


Shiwa Okar in the terma of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche..... Shiwa Okar featured prominently in a work composed by the influential Tibetan Buddhist lama Chögyam Trungpa, particularly a long verse epic composed in Tibet called The Golden Dot: The Epic of the Lha, the Annals of the Kingdom of Shambhala from The Chronicles of the Imperial Rigdens......

Chapter 1: "Which explains how it was in the beginning."
Chapter 2: "Concerning the eight cosmic lha who unobstructedly produced phenomena, thus creating the existence of the outer world."
Chapter 3: Concerns Peaceful White Light (Shiwa Okar).

............and in terma he revealed beginning in 1976. The Golden Dot was lost in Trungpa Rinpoche's flight from Tibet in 1959. As Robin Kornman, a Buddhist scholar and student of his, explained.......

Trungpa Rinpoche began to reconstruct the original text after escaping Tibet, and it is this later work to which we refer. The first chapter describes the creation of the world by nine cosmic gods (shrid pa 'i lha) who appear in the form of native Tibetan dieties known as drala (dgra bla), or war gods. These gods represent primal or originary aspects of the phenomenal world. For example, one of these lha stood for all kinds of light. Glancing in many directions, this diety created all of the lights existing in the world, including the sun, the moon, the light of the planets and stars, and the inward luminosity of consciousness itself. Another represented space and the sense of direction . . . In Trungpa Rinpoche's epic these were directed by a ninth lha called Shiwa Okar . . . a sort of absolute principle behind creation and the nature of reality. After these nine cosmic deities have created the world, [Shiwa Okar] goes to the things they have created and invests each one with an animistic spirit, a drala..... first appeared the essence of ten thousand werma, the crown of one thousand drala and the finest, in general, of the ten million sotor, existing in the midst of nonexistent existence, the very best lha of warriors, Shiwa Okar, Peaceful White Light.

Kornman notes that one of the "striking things" about the text is that it refers not to Indic sources but to the "creation myths found in the royal chronicles and in the Epic of Gesar of Ling and "evoke the cosmology of native Tibetan religion, not Buddhism.". Many of his Shambhala terma feature Shiwa Okar as a yidam, or meditational diety, with a tantric retinue of drala and werma (Wylie: wer ma)

Trungpa Rinpoche's work has antecedents in the edition of the Gesar epic prepared by Ju Mipham and ritual practices he composed in conjuction with that work. Kornman notes "Mipham made his edition of the Gesar Epic a hybrid of Buddhist and local ideas. He made sure it would be read in this manner by writing a parallel set of Gesar chants that mix religions in the same way. These ritual practices may be found in the Na chapter of his collected works. In the Bon tradition, King Gesar of Ling is sent to Tibet by Shenlha Okar, and Trungpa Rinpoche's blending of native traditions and Indian Buddhism appears to echo Mipham's............



August 2012

John Hopkins....Northern New Mexico


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