We invite Buddhist students to join the 2018 Rigpa Shedra East in Pharping, Nepal, for a period of in-depth study under the guidance of Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche. We will be offering two 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.
Newer students and intermediate level students will have the chance to immerse themselves in the study of emptiness with Shantarakshita‘s revered Ornament of the Middle Way, the Madhyamakalankara, which emphasizes the understanding of the nature of reality. In parallel, they will also be introduced to the 37 Practices of the Bodhisattvas, the famous text by Gyalsé Tokmé Zangpo emphasizing the aspect of compassionate conduct that goes hand in hand with the view. All students with a strong wish to study and an interest to deepen their understanding of emptiness are welcome to apply.
Advanced students will have the opportunity to study the Guhyagarbha Tantra, one of the most important tantras studied in the Nyingma tradition. 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.
For both classes, our teacher will be our beloved Khenpo Tashi Tseten, a brilliant and young Khenpo from Namdrolling Monastery in South India. He is one of the most promising Khenpo of his generation and has been teaching at the Rigpa Shedra for the past four years. Together with the wealth of his knowledge and the clarity of his explanations, he has a rare capacity to tune into students’ understanding and needs, which makes his teachings trully inspiring and illuminating.
If you are interested, please let us know by filling up the application form. We will get in touch with you and will be happy to answer all the questions you might have. Note that the application is not yet a commitment on your side but will allow us to know you and contact you.
You will find all necessary details below.
In order to bring together in our being wisdom and compassion – which are the two essential elements of our path and form the foundation of our practice – we first need a proper understanding of what is meant by emptiness, as well as a proper grasp of the practices of lojong, or Mind training.
In his Ornament of the Middle Way, Shantarakshita elaborates on Madhyamaka, or the Middle Way, which is accepted by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism as the most profound expression, in philosophical terms, of emptiness, the true nature of phenomena. Emptiness is the basis on which the whole of Mahayana practice is founded, from the mind training in bodhichitta to the advanced yogas of tantra and dzogchen.
Through the thorough study of this text, we will refine our understanding of the View. As Dzongsar Khyentsé Rinpoche said: “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.”
Combined with the Commentary by Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, Shantarakshita’s Ornament of the Middle Way is a challenging but rewarding text, that is indispensable to a balanced understanding of Tibetan Buddhist thought. It is a core study for both scholars and practitioners of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary on Shantarakshita’s Madhyamakalankara has been described as one of the most profound examinations of Madhyamaka ever written.
Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche was an extremely learned Tibetan master of the early 20th century, an example of extensive erudition and profound realization. He was also an accomplished Dharma teacher who revitalized the teachings of the Nyingma tradition.
The Ornament of the Middle Way is usually one of the first texts that is studied in the main Nyingma Shedras and following the same approach at the Rigpa Shedra has proven very beneficial for many students in the past. All students with a strong wish and an interest to deepen their understanding of emptiness (with or without a prior exposure to the Bodhicharyavatara) are welcome to apply.
In addition to the main class, once a week, students will have the opportunity to be introduced to the Thirty Seven Practices of the Bodhisattvas, an important lojong text by Gyalsé Tokmé Zangpo. In thirty seven verses, it gives instructions on how to follow the bodhisattva path.
Studying a few verses of this text each week during one extra session will help students to bridge the understanding of the absolute (as emphasized in such texts as the Madhyamakalankara) with the practices of training the mind on the relative level.
This is offered in particular to those who haven’t studied the Bodhicharyavatara before and will serve as a condensed version of its meaning.
The Guhyagarbha Tantra or The Essence of Secrets Tantra is the main tantra of the Mahayoga, one of the three inner vehicles of tantra according to the unique and extraordinary presentation of the Nyingma School. For centuries, detailed study of its root verses and many celebrated commentaries by great masters such as Longchen Rabjam, Dodrupchen Jikmé Tenpa Nyima and Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche has been the key to understanding the Vajrayana’s most prominent themes and practices, such as empowerment, samaya, mantra recitation and the use of mandalas. Study of the Guhyagarbha Tantra provides a foundation for understanding the unique view and approach of the inner tantras including Dzogchen Atiyoga, the summit of all vehicles.
On many occasions Khenchen Namdrol has emphasized the tremendous benefit of practising 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.
After the conclusion of their Vajrayana studies, students are encouraged to stay on and use the rare opportunity of being in Nepal to actualize these teachings by entering into retreat. Different possibilities exist in monasteries around Pharping for retreats and can easily be arranged.
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.
If you are interested, please let us know by filling up the application form. We will get in touch with you and will be happy to answer all the questions you might have. We are aware that it is not always easy to free yourself for more than three months and to take your decision for such a big commitment. We can also help you in your reflexion and see together if this programme is appropriate for your needs.
Note that the application is not yet a commitment on your side but will allow us to know you and contact you. The commitment to join our programme only comes at the time of registration later in September, which is accompanied by payment.
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.
- Sutrayana Studies – Madhyamakalankara :
Three and half months – January 7th to April 21st 2018
Total Fees: 2715€
details: Tuition 1610€, food 595€, accommodation 510€.
- Vajrayana Studies – Guhyagarbha Tantra
Three months – January 7th to April 7th 2018
Total Fees: 2310€
details: Tuition 1380€, food 510€, accommodation 420€.
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 150 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 which happened in 2015 haven’t damaged the Shedra buildings and everybody was safe.
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.