Bon is the name given the spiritual tradition practiced in Tibet prior to the arrival of Buddhism. Bon recognizes thousands of spirits although only a small number are consistently, dependably friendly toward people. Many Bon spirits are volatile, unpredictable, and temperamental, but rituals exist to propitiate, appease, or exorcise them.
Most of those thousands of spirits are localized: tied to a specific region, land, or natural formation: a rock or tree, for instance. Many are identified by the names of the locations in which they reside. Every building has its own presiding spirit.
Spirits are classified as peaceful or wrathful and further divided by type:
• Klu (water spirits)
• Nan (spirits of trees and stones)
• Sadag (earth spirits)
• Tsan (sky spirits usually found atop mountains)
Each human being possesses a cadre of at least five spirits (benevolent and malevolent) who are born with you and who reside within you. Every life may be understood as involving the struggle between various spirits encountered.
Bon possesses an extremely complex cosmology. Historically there has been a contentious relationship between Buddhist and Bon practitioners (for political as well as spiritual reasons), including a century of religious warfare in the ninth and tenth centuries, but Tenzin Gyatso, the present Dalai Lama, has expressed support for Bon as it is so close to the heart of Tibetan culture.
See also: Ekajata; Khadiravani; Klu; Padmasambhava; Palden Lhamo
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.