We invite Buddhist students to attend the 2016 Rigpa Shedra East in Pharping, Nepal, for a period of in-depth study under the guidance of Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche. We will be offering three levels of studies, covering both Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings.
The Shedra is open to all students, whether interested in following the complete curriculum, or wishing to join for only one year to boost their study and practice.
Advanced students will have the opportunity to study the Vajrayana chapter of the Yönten Dzö—The Treasury of Precious Qualities, the famous treatise by Jikmé Lingpa, in which he expounds the entire Buddhist path, from the shravaka yana teachings up to the Great Perfection. This class is open to students who have already completed several years of sutra studies at the Rigpa Shedra or who have completed a number of years of study and practice in their Sangha and have a serious interest in Vajrayana practice.
The programme might be subject to change depending on the number of applicants for each level.
This is open to all students, and is especially intended for students coming to the shedra for the first time.
To study the Bodhicharyavatara we will use different commentaries of great Tibetan masters like Khenpo Shenga and Khenpo Kunpal as well as modern day teachers. Countless great masters have praised the value of studying and taking to heart Shantideva’s practical and profound teaching.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama once said:
“If I have any understanding of compassion and the bodhisattva path, it is entirely on the basis of studying the Bodhicharyavatara that I possess it.”
And Sogyal Rinpoche said:
“The Bodhicharyavatara shows us how to educate ourselves dharmically and transform our basic character. It is called ‘Entering the Bodhisattva Way of Life’ because it offers us an entire culture, a whole way of life and being, which is completely different from the ordinary samsaric culture that we’re used to living in. When you really take these teachings to heart, they make you into a perfect human being—a true bodhisattva.”
The Madhyamakavatara, composed by the renowned seventh-century Indian master Chandrakirti, is an extremely influential text of Mahayana Buddhism and is included among the so-called “Thirteen great texts”, which form the core of the curriculum in most shedras.
Chandrakirti’s work is an introduction to the Madhyamika teachings of Nagarjuna, which are themselves a systematization of the Prajnaparamita, or “Perfection of Wisdom” literature, and has been accepted throughout Tibetan Buddhism as the highest expression of the Buddhist view on the sutra level. We will be studying using the commentary of Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, who was an extremely learned Tibetan master of the early 20th century, an example of extensive erudition and profound realization. With Jamgön Mipham’s commentary, it is a definitive presentation of the wisdom of emptiness, a central theme of Buddhist teachings.
As Dzongsar Khyentsé Rinpoche said: “Chandrakirti’s method of establishing the view in this work has been one of the most venerated throughout the ages. Without the view, the whole purpose of Buddhism is lost. It is then no longer Buddhism – a path to enlightenment – but merely a method for temporal healing.”
All student who have already attended one year studying the Bodhicharyavatara at the Rigpa Shedra East or who have a strong interest in Madhyamika are welcome.
Yönten Dzö — Treasury of Precious Qualities
The Yönten Dzö or Treasury of Precious Qualities is the most celebrated work of Jigme Lingpa, one of the most important figures in the Nyingma lineage. In a slender volume of poetic verses, this root text presents the entire Buddhist path according to the Nyingma school.
We will be focusing on chapter 10, The Pitaka of the Vidyadharas, using The Quintessence of the Three Paths, a Commentary by Kangyur Rinpoche. This chapter provides a detailed explanation of the actual path of practice of the highest tantras. It explains the practice related to the cause tantra, through a presentation of the View, Meditation, Conduct and Results, as well as the practice of the path tantra of skilful means: the maturing empowerments and the liberating stages of generation and perfection together with the support provided by samaya.
At the conclusion of the Vajrayana studies, students will have an exceptional opportunity to actualize these teachings by entering into a month of retreat. On many occasions Khenchen Namdrol has emphasized the tremendous benefit of practicing in such a sacred and holy environment as Pharping, known to Tibetans Yangleshö—the place where Guru Rinpoche himself practised and attained the realization of Mahamudra Vidyadhara.
Vajrayana studies are open to students who have already completed several years of sutra studies at the Rigpa Shedra or who have completed a number of years of study and practice in their Sangha, have a serious interest in Vajrayana practice and have received the appropriate empowerments.
The Rigpa Shedra East also offers all students the opportunity to learn Tibetan. Tibetan classes on several levels, from absolute beginners to translators in the making, are part of the shedra’s daily schedule.
Dates & Prices
Please note that the prices might be subject to change depending on the fluctuation of currencies. Final prices will be known once all applications have been processed and at the time of payment.
1a) Three month option: Bodhicharyavatara – January 3rd to April 2nd 2016
Fees 1380€, food 480€, accommodation 420€.
1b) Four month option: Bodhicharyavatara and personal retreat – January 3rd to April 30th 2016
Fees 1610€, food 640€, accommodation 560€.
2) Ten weeks option: Madhyamakavatara – January 3rd to March 12th 2016
Fees 1150€, food 400€, accommodation 350€.
1a) Ten weeks option: Treasury of Precious Qualities – January 3rd to March 12th 2016
Fees 1150€, food 400€, accommodation 350€.
1b) Four month option: Treasury of Precious Qualities and personal retreat – January 3rd to April 30th 2016
Fees 1495€, food 640€, accommodation 560€.
Additionally you can roughly plan the following expenses:
- Flight: between 800€ and 1500€, depending on timely booking, distance & airline
- Visa for four months: 160€. 100$ for the first 90 days visa to be imperatively done at the airport when you first arrive. After the first 90 days, each 30 days extensions costs 60$
- Mandatory Insurance: up to 350€, see medical disclaimer
- Extras: between 500€ and 1000€, depending on your life style. This includes 150€ for Tsok and other offerings.
The main class each day is either held in English directly or translated live from Tibetan into English. All other classes and activities are held in English.
Most foreigners find life very pleasant and easy in Nepal and Nepalese people are on average very welcoming and kind. Yet anyone coming to the Shedra must be aware that Nepal is a developing country among the poorest in the world. This has consequences in terms of comfort, hygiene, power shortage, water shortage, quality of internet, roads and so on. Nevertheless, to the best of our capacities within this environment, the Rigpa Shedra offers comfort conditions that are suitable to Westerners and conducive to study (accommodation in single rooms with shared bathrooms, vegetarian meals under hygienic conditions, batteries for power outage, etc.), keeping in mind that it is a retreat and monastic environment, and not in any case a holiday resort. Since its inception in 2006, the Rigpa Shedra has welcomed more than 130 different students from all over the globe for several months (many of which have been returning every year) and most – if not all – have had a pleasant experience despite the differences with the Western comfort.
The Rigpa Shedra cannot be held responsible for any loss, theft or damage to personal property or bodily injury or death during the period of the Rigpa Shedra East. We cannot provide medical or psychological care, medication, hospitalization or transportation. Please ensure that you are adequately covered. Proof of medical insurance is required to attend the Shedra East program. There are neither medical staff nor medical facilities on-site. The Shedra East is a place for studying Tibetan Buddhist teachings which are not intended as a substitute for psychotherapy. If you have a psychological or psychiatric problem, we recommend that you inform your therapist before coming, and you need to notify us prior to your registration. If you are taking medication prescribed by your doctor, do not discontinue it during your stay. If you disregard this advice we regret that The Rigpa Shedra cannot be held responsible.
Natural Disaster Disclaimer
Nepal is part of the Himalayan region and is subject to unpredictable natural disasters such as earthquakes. Coming to Nepal involves taking a risk. Safety measures and facilities in this country do not always comply with Western standards. The Rigpa Shedra cannot be held responsible for damage to personal property, bodily injury or death during the period of the Rigpa Shedra East. For your information, the earthquakes earlier this year haven’t damaged the Shedra buildings and everybody was safe. Life is completely back to normal in Pharping.
Traditionally a shedra takes place in a monastic environment where a strict set of rules is implemented, permeating all levels of everyday life (for an example of these rules please visit the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute website). Khen Rinpoche Namdrol and other masters have advised to apply similar sets of rules to the Rigpa Shedra East since it is a proven fact that these are a great support for one’s study. It is not easy to transfer a system of rules designed for a Tibetan monastic environment to a group of western students, nevertheless a frame of rules will be proposed to the shedra students so that they will be able to make the best of their precious time.