The Author
 © Copyright Dmitry Ermakov 2008. All Rights Reserved.
Born in 1967 in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad), Russia, I was raised in a highly cultural environment and studied music from the age of six to nineteen after which I worked as a composer and musician as well as playing in various 'underground' rock and fusion bands (most of this kind of music was severely frowned upon by the Soviet authorities) until I left Russia for the UK in 1993 with my wife.         

Parallel to my musical interest, I also developed a fascination for ancient history and archaeology. From the age of ten, I attended after-school classes at the Hermitage Museum where, for six years, I studied ancient history, mythology and art history from experts such as the museum director, Boris B. Piotrovskiy.

From the age of eight, during the summers 1975-81 I participated in archaeological digs at the Belgorod-Dnestrovskiy fortress near Odessa, led by my aunt, Academician Prof. Galina Mezentseva, Head of Archaeology at Kiev University. These formed part of her University courses, so I was able to attend all her afternoon lectures on archaeological methodology and history. It was this interest in archaeology which led me to join the University of Leningrad's expedition to Khakassia near border of Tuva in the summer of 1987 to excavate Scythian Kurgans. This was my first trip to Siberia and it is there that I had my first contact with its powerful gods and spirits.

My interest in Buddhism also began in my childhood, when, at the age of ten I read a book called Gods of the Lotus by Parfionov which detailed his trip in the Himalayas and opened up a whole new world of deities and religions for me. In my teens this interest was combined with martial arts based on Taoism and Zen philosophy, and Qi Gong which I received from the Chinese adept Gu Yui from Nanjing. In the Soviet era such fields were strictly forbidden and materials were severely limited so it was only with the coming of Perestroika in 1989 that I was able to receive a blessing for the Lotus Sutra from a Japanese Zen master and receive teachings and initiations of Green Tara and Vajrasattva from a Tibetan lama, Bakula Rinpoche.

The following year I met the Dalai Lama in Riga. It was this contact with Tibetan Buddhism which took me to Buryatia the first time, in the summer of 1990, to attend the Maidari Huural celebration (Maitreya festival) at the only Buddhist monastery left after the Communist persecution, the Ivolginskiy Datsan near Ulaan-Ude. I then travelled to the Eastern part of the region and made friends with the family of the late Batodalai Doogarov, Buddhist tantric practitioner and thangka painter. They invited me to spend the winter with them, practising meditation and healing. This was my first introduction to Buryatian culture.

In 1991 I went to Moscow to receive teachings and empowerment from the Dzogchen cycle of Longchen Nyingthig and a Tantric initiation of Kurukulla from Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. This had a very profound effect on me and I began practising the preliminaries and meditation. Over the years I received further Dzogchen and Tantric teachings from them, including Vajrakilaya.

The following year (1992) I met Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche in Riga and followed him on a two-month teaching tour in St.-Petersburg, Moscow and Ulaan-Ude during which he gave Dzogchen teachings. Since that time, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche has been my Buddhist teacher and I have attended his teaching retreats in the UK, Italy, Russia and Mongolia. In Ulaan-Ude I befriended several Buryatian Bө and Utgan (male and female shamans) and translated between them and Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.

I returned to Buryatia in the summer of 1993 with a Buryatian Utgan I had met in 1990. Back then, prompted by my visions and experiences, I had been working with a group of healers and psychics in St.-Petersburg of which she was also a lose member. Together we stayed in Ulaan-Ude, Lake Baikal and the Tunka region visiting holy places and meeting Bө and Utgan.

The next summer I headed East once again, first to Ulaan-Bator, Mongolia for teachings and initiations by Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and then to Ulaan-Ude, for another teaching retreat where I stayed with Vera G. Naguslayeva, a retired doctor and respected Utgan. I had a vision of her protective deities and so she decided to introduce me to a group of Bө and Utgan who were planning a tailgan pilgrimage. When they came to study the route on the map, I was able to name each location and the deity residing there without any previous knowledge. As a result, they asked me to join them on their trip later that summer and I accepted. We visited many holy sites and performed many rituals at which I was invited to participate. At the end of that trip, the Bө and Utgan offered to initiate me as a Bө but I declined; animal sacrifice is a necessary part of the initiation ritual.

'Sprinkling' to the local gods with Bө 'Uncle' Sasha Andreyev and Utgan Vera Naguslaeva, Baisa, Buryatia, Southern Siberia, 1994
For several years I was unable to return to Buryatia but finally in August/September 2003 I had the opportunity to spend time in Ulaan-Ude and on the shores of Lake Baikal where I was invited to do a personal retreat and take part in rituals. I was also able to carry out intensive research by studying texts only available in Russian or Buryatian and by conducting interviews.

My connection with Yungdrung Bön goes back to 1989 when I came across a picture of the Bönpo Buddha Tonpa Shenrab Miwo in The Crystal and the Way of Light by Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. I immediately felt drawn to him. There was next to no material on Bön available to me at that time (Dharma materials were still not openly and were distributed through underground networks) but soon after I was given a transcript of Bönpo Dzogchen teachings which found a deep resonance within me and even got hold of a cassette of the propitiation rite for a Bönpo Protector, Midhu. However, it was not until 1995 that I was able to meet Yongdzin Lopön Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, in Amsterdam, who has since been my main Bönpo lama. In 1996 I spent three months at his monastery, Triten Norbutse, in Nepal where I received personal instructions and was able to study and practise the Yungdrung Bön tradition. It was at this time that I met Tenpa Yungdrung, the current
Khenpo of the monastery. Since then I have received many teachings on Dzogchen and Tantra from Yongdzin Lopön Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche at retreats in Austria, Germany, Holland and France, and returned to Triten Norbutse in spring 2004 to deepen my practice and knowledge of the tradition. Later that year, a new Yungdrung Bön centre - Shenten Dargye Ling - was established in France under the guidance of Yongdzin Rinpoche and Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung, who asked my wife Carol and I to stay there. During the 18 months we spent in Shenten Dargye Ling, we worked on transcribing teachings given by Yongdzin Rinpoche in English and created an archive of over 30 texts ranging from Causal Bön, practice manuals to treatises on Dzogchen, and became firm friends with a wonderful monk and scholar, Geshe Gelek Jinpa who helped a lot in the final stages of the research leading to the publication of this book.
In 2007/8 we were again able to spend three months at the Triten Norbutse monastery in Kathmandu where, with the help of Yongdzin Rinpoche, Khenpo Rinpoche and some very learned Geshes (Pönlob Tsangpa Tenzin, Drubdra Khenpo Tsultrim Tenzin, Geshe Tenzin Yangton, Geshe Lungrig Nyima, Geshe Samten Tsugphü and others), I finalized my research. Over the years, Yongdzin  Lopön Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung and Geshe Gelek Jinpa have kindly shed light on many aspects of their tradition, including the Bön of Cause and historical matters.

Yongdzin Rinpoche and author in Shenten Dargye Ling, France, Summer 2006
I then went on to study Tibetan at Oxford University with Prof. Charles Ramble (2009-2010) becoming his research assiatant and, as well as having articles published in both English and Russian, has been invited to lecture in Oxford, London, St. Petersburg, Vilnius, Cagliari, Budapest etc. In 2011 I was invited to speak at 'Bon, Shangshung, and Early Tibet' conference where I delivered a paper 'Bön as a multifaceted phenomenon: looking beyond Tibet to the cultural and religious traditions of Eurasia' which since has been published as a multimedia presentation on Foundation for the Preservation of Yungdrung Bön's website and can also be watched in the Video section of this Author Page.

In 2012 the Foundation for the Preservation of Yungdrung Bön was established with Khenpo Gelek Jinpa, Carol Ermakova and myself as founding members and with the full support and blessings of Yongdzin Lopön Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche who became Foundation's honorary member. To date the FPYB released several public books:
Nagru, Geshe Gelek Jinpa. Tr.&Ed. Gelek Jinpa, Carol Ermakova, Dmitry Ermakov. BÖN IN NEPAL: Traces of the Great Zhang Zhung Ancestors in Himalayas, The Light of the History of Existence (New Delhi: Heritage Publishers, 2013);
Namdak, Yondzin Lopön Tenzin, transc. & ed. Ermakova, C. & Ermakov, D. Masters of the Zhang Zhung Nyengyud: Pith Instructions from the Experiential Transmission of Bönpo Dzogchen, (New Delhi: Heritage Publishers, 2010);
Namdak, Yondzin Lopön Tenzin, transc. & ed. Ermakova, C. & Ermakov, D. The Four Wheels of Bön, (Low Bishopley: Foundation for the Preservation of Yungdrung Bön, 2016);
Namdak, Yongdzin Lopön Tenzin, transl., transc. & ed. Nagru Geshe Gelek Jinpa, Ermakova, C. & Ermakov, D. The Heart Essence of the Khandro, Experiential Instructions on Bönpo Dzogchen: Thirty Signs and Meanings from Women Lineage-Holders, (New Delhi: Heritage Publishers, 2012); multimedia presentations (see FPYB website); as well as several dozen books and study materials for the internal use by the members of the international Bönpo Sangha.

Currently I am working on a new book 'Concise Introduction to Bön', which I hope to release later in 2016, as well as several translation and multimedia projects.