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Foundation History

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Bon Foundation

Under the Guidance of the Abbott of Bon, the Bon Foundations supports Menri Monastery (Medicine Mountain), situated in Northern India, through provides basic needs including food, clothing, shelter, and education to the monks, nuns, and children of Menri as they are the future of Bon.  The Bon Foundation also helps to maintain the magnificent monastery complex known as The Shining City so that it can continue to inspire residents, practitioners, scholars and sitters to work together to preserve this extraordinary ancient culture.

Foundation History

The establishment of The Bon Foundation in 1989 was the result of a deep spiritual and humanitarian commitment to help support Menri Monastery (the world center of the Tibetan Bon tradition), the Tibetan refugees living in the nearby community of Dolanji, Himachal Pradesh, and to help ensure the survival of the Tibetan Bon religious and cultural tradition in general. How this came to pass is indeed a remarkable story.


During the 1980’s, Rev. Rosalyn Bruyere, a well-known spiritual teacher and healer living in Sierra Madre, California, became aware of the ancient pre-Buddhist indigenous Tibetan religion called Bon. The Bon tradition was virtually unknown in the West at that time, and she could not even determine if it was still a living tradition.  However, in 1989 Rosalyn was able to meet Bon’s Master Teacher, His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak, while he was on a medical visit to the U.S. He told her that after the occupation of Tibet, many Bon monks and followers escaped to India and eventually settled on a large piece of land in northern India. Here, under the leadership of the Abbot, His Holiness the Menri Trizin 33, Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, a new Menri monastic center and community was being established to serve as the world center of Bon.


This 1989 encounter with Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak led Rosalyn to form an American-based nonprofit organization called the Yungdrung Bon Temple Foundation, with some of her students serving on its board. Its purpose was to help raise funds to support the continued development of Menri Monastery and to assist the Bonpo refugees living in Dolanji. 

In 1990, delighted by Rosalyn’s supportive interest, His Holiness Menri Trizin 33 invited her to visit Menri.  Unable to make the trip herself at that time, she asked her close students, Vasilka Nicolova and John Barnett, to travel there as her emissaries. Warmly greeted by the Abbot, they were shown the modest mud structures that were the beginning of what was envisioned to be a magnificent Tibetan-style monastic complex. The Barnetts were overwhelmed by the warmth of their welcome and the deep joy they felt as they became more familiar with His Holiness and the many monks and orphaned children being sheltered, educated and cared for there. As they were leaving the monastery, a magnificent rainbow appeared over the Abbot’s residence.


Soon after the Barnetts returned home, Rosalyn and her husband made their first trip to Menri.  A personal bond developed between Rosalyn and the Abbot, giving rise to a life-long relationship of mutual respect and gratitude.  Being immersed in Menri’s timeless essence and the Abbot’s profound spiritual grace and vision further energized Rosalyn and the Yungdrung Bon Temple Foundation to raise funds to help support the monastic community for the next twelve years.

In 2001 it was agreed to relocate the Foundation’s administrative headquarters to Cleveland, OH where a dedicated group of Bon students lived. At this time the organization’s name was officially shortened to The Bon Foundation. Over the next seventeen years, The Bon Foundation coordinated and supported many projects to support Menri monastery’s physical and humanitarian needs and to promote the Bon spiritual teachings.  Included among these many projects:

  • Sponsored and organized American teaching trips by His Holiness Menri Trizin 33 in 2004, 2006 and 2007 where he gave the A-Tri Bon Dzogchen teachings.
  • “People of Menri” project which set up sponsorships and donations for the care and education of children, monks and nuns.
  • “Shining City” campaign initiated to provide funding to help preserve and protect the structures in the Menri monastery complex
  • Helped raise funds for the building of Redna Menling Nunnery
  • stablished an online presence with the creation of a website and Facebook posts sharing images of Menri
  • Several special projects that particular board members took on-

-The building of the Tibetan Yungdrung Bon Library at Menri

-The documentation, digitizing and publishing of the Library’s unique materials, including the Bon Kanjur and Bon Tenjur CD sets.

 -Exhibition of sacred Bon paintings and sculptures at the Rubin Museum in New York City.

-The building of the Tibetan Yungdrung Bon Library at Menri

-The documentation, digitizing and publishing of the Library’s unique


In 2018 the administrative offices of The Bon Foundation were entrusted to new leadership and relocated to Elmira, NY.  In this same year, the new Menri Trizin 34, Geshe Dawa Dargye, was enthroned.  He has expressed how very much he is looking forward to working with The Bon Foundation, an organization whose purpose and priority remain to support the preservation, understanding and appreciation of the Bon religion and culture through direct support to the community of Menri monastery.


**With deep appreciation to Mary Lanier, whose extraordinary history of the Bon Foundation, provided the basis for this summary account.

Board of Directors

Chelsea Ambrose is a Social Worker and healthcare administrator in upstate New York.  She is committed to serving her local and global community including through her work with the Bon Foundation.  She began providing volunteer support to the Sponsorship Committee of the Bon Foundation in 2004 and has been part of the Bon Foundation Board of Directors since 2008.

Vicki Jenkins currently teaches philosophy in the Indiana University system. Committed to introducing people to the compassionate, healing wisdom of the Bon tradition, while a professor at Hanover College she hosted numerous teachings by Bon Geshe Chongtul Rinpoche. Visits to Menri Monastery deepened her desire to help ensure that the Bon culture continues to thrive. She joined the Bon Foundation Board in 2020.

JoAnn Clough is a Social Worker and Psychotherapist in upstate New York. She is dedicated to helping care for the children in her community and around the world. She has been part of the Bon Foundation Board of Directors since ____ and became the Bon Foundation President in 2019. She is committed to the continued preservation of Bon culture and serving Menri Monastery.

Kit Sawyer is a retired License Massage Therapist in Cleveland, Ohio. Kit has served the Bon Foundation as President and as Secretary since 2001. Her commitment to the Menri community continues.

Lynn Winters is a Performing Artist, Reiki Master and Certified in Hypnosis. She is devoted to the betterment of all sentient beings, especially the children. Lynn has been studying and practicing Bon since 2004 and Joined the Bon Foundation Board in 2020.

Events

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