Application open now!
We invite Buddhist students to join the 2023 Rigpa Shedra for a period of in-depth study under the guidance of Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche. We will be offering two levels of studies, covering both Abhidharma and Madhyamaka philosophy.
In 2023 we will offer the Shedra in a hybrid format – you can join either online from the comfort of your own home OR join the Shedra in person in Pharping, Nepal for the full immersive experience.
The Rigpa 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.
Next year, students will have the chance to immerse themselves in the study of Mipham Rinpoche’s Khenjuk (Gateway to Knowledge) which is the classic text of the Nyingma school on the Three Pitakas, or the Madhyamakavatara (Introduction to the Middle Way), Chandrakirti’s classic work on Madhyamaka, with a commentary by Ju Mipham Rinpoche. Since we have a shorter shedra-period this year, both texts will be taught over 2 years during the 2-3 shedra-months at the beginning of each year.
If you are interested, please let us know by filling out 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.
Madhyamakavatara (Introduction to the Middle Way)
Dates: 7 February to 14 April
Daily schedule to be found here
An adventure into the heart of Buddhist wisdom through the Madhyamaka—or Middle Way—teachings, Chandrakirti’s classic commentary on the meaning of Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamaka-karika has been accepted throughout Tibetan Buddhism as the highest expression of the Buddhist view on the sutra level.
With Jamgön Mipham’s commentary, it is a definitive presentation of the wisdom of emptiness, a central theme of Buddhist teachings. This book is a core study text for both academic students and practitioners of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.
“This text, the Madhyamakavatara, is an indispensable text that is widely studied both in Buddhist philosophical schools and Buddhist meditative schools, and Chandrakirti’s method of establishing the view in this work has been one of the most venerated throughout the ages. Now that Buddhism is taking root in the West, I feel it is important for at least some of us to pay attention to the study of the view and how it is to be established.”Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche
This text is especially intended for students who wish to learn more about the view of Shyunyata (emptiness), which is indispensible for our study, our practice and the integration of the teachings in daily life.
Our teacher will be Khenpo Tashi Tseten, a brilliant young khenpo from Namdrolling Monastery in South India. He is considered to be one of the most promising khenpos of his generation and has been teaching at the Rigpa Shedra for many 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 truly inspiring and illuminating.
Our translator will be Damien Van Effenterre, a Rigpa Senior Teacher, who has been the director of the Rigpa Shedra for eight years, while also studying the traditional treatises and translating for shedra classes in Pharping, Nepal.
The Introduction to the Middle way will be taught over a period of 2 months in 2023 and 2-3 months in 2024.
Khenjuk (Gateway to Knowledge)
Dates: 7 February to 31 March
Daily schedule to be found here
Mipham Rinpoche’s Gateway to Knowledge is often the first text to be taught at a shedra. It contains “all you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask” on Buddhist cosmology, ethics, philosophy and psychology.
It is a condensation of the Tripitaka (the three collections or ‘baskets’ into which the word of the Buddha is divided: Vinaya, Sutra and Abhidharma) and its accompanying commentaries.
Consolidating the intent of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings into a unified body of text books, it is the philosophical backbone of the living tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This rich source book embodies the basics of Prajnaparamita and Madhyamika as well as the Abhidharma from both the Mahayana and Hinayana perspective.
“The Gateway to Knowledge has a vital importance for followers of Buddhism. Why is that? It is not because it is vast and detailed; because it isn’t. However, by studying this text and learning it well, you ensure that you have gained a rough comprehension of what the Buddha taught in general. In particular, The Gateway to Knowledge will form the circumstance for more easily understanding all the sublime words and treatises, such as the works of Nagarjuna. It is for these many reasons that Ju Mipham’s Gateway to Knowledge is extremely important.
The student of The Gateway to Knowledge can begin to comprehend the meaning of the major works on Buddhist philosophy and of the traditional sciences. When you want to extract their meaning you need an “expert system,” a key. The Gateway to Knowledge is like that key, a magical key – it opens up the treasury of precious gemstones in the expansive collection of Buddhist scriptures.”
Once you have scrutinized The Gateway to Knowledge, those of you who wish to proceed to the major works of Buddhist philosophy will find it quite easy to understand them.Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche
This text is suitable for beginners as well as more experienced students.
Our teacher will be Lopön Heather Moody, who has taught at the Rigpa Shedra several times before. She has trained extensively in a shedra context as well as in western academia and it will be a wonderful opportunity for us to get a unique perspective on this traditional treatise.
Lopön Heather Moody will teach the Gateway to Knowledge class in English online from Virginia, USA. Depending on your location you will either follow the class online directly, or else in a group in your timezone in a delayed format.
The Gateway to Knowledge will be taught over a period of 8 weeks in 2023 (the first 2 volumes) and about 2 months in 2024 (volume III and IV).
The Rigpa Shedra also offers 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 in Nepal. The Tibetan classes will be offered in person in Nepal by Stefan Gueffroy.
If you are interested, please let us know by filling out 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 two months and to make your decision for such a big commitment. We can explore together to determine if this program 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 program 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.
Gateway to Knowledge: 7 February to 31 March 2023
This class is streamed from Virgina, USA and is an ONLINE CLASS only: (tuition fee only) €750
The tuition fee includes tuition, reviews, study guidance and quizzes.
If you can’t afford the complete fee, please still apply, there may be different possibilities for supporting you in your studies, such as applying for a study grant from the Tertön Sogyal foundation. The deadline for applying for a study grant is 1 December 2022.
Introduction to the Middle Way: 7 February to 14 April 2023 (arrival date in Pharping 6 February)
IN PERSON in Pharping, Nepal: 1725€
details: Tuition 925€, food 400€, accommodation 400€.
ONLINE: (tuition fee only) €925
If you can’t afford the complete fee, please still apply, there may be different possibilities for supporting you in your studies, such as applying for a study grant from the Tertön Sogyal foundation. The deadline for applying for a grant is 1 December 2022.
If you join the Shedra in Nepal, you can roughly plan for the following additional expenses:
- Flight: between 800€ and 1500€, depending on timely booking, distance & airline
- Visa for three months: 125$ for the 90 days visa to be imperatively done at the airport when you first arrive.
- Mandatory Insurance: up to 350€, see medical disclaimer
- Extras: between 200€ and 1000€, depending on your lifestyle. This can include printed texts (if necessary), offerings to the teacher and for the Tsok-practice, and outings to Kathmandu or other interesting places in the neighbourhood.
Time investment and daily program
The time investment (sessions, study, practice) will be:
- Introduction to the Middle Way: at least 4,5 hours a day from Monday to Friday. Classes and review sessions are mandatory.
- Gateway to Knowledge: about 2,5 hours a day from Monday to Friday. Classes and review sessions are mandatory.
Whether you are on site or you join the online shedra class, it’s important (especially for studying the Introduction to the Middle Way) not to have any major obligations next to following this programme, in order to allow you to really make the most of this precious opportunity. The daily programme will include
- Review session
- Study groups or personal revision to prepare for review class
- In Pharping Nepal: group practice
There will also be quizzes to help you check your knowledge and understanding as a skillful tool for your studies, as well as contemplations and study assignments.
All classes and activities are held in English.
Information for the Shedra in Nepal
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 Rigpa 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 and water availability, 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 mostly 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 way a holiday resort. Since its inception in 2006, the Rigpa Shedra has welcomed more than 170 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 (or because of!) the differences from the typical Western environment.
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 and have the proper vaccinations (including Covid vaccination). Proof of medical insurance is required to attend Rigpa Shedra. There are neither medical staff nor medical facilities on-site. Please also note that the shedra is a place for studying Tibetan Buddhist teachings that are not intended as a substitute for psychotherapy. If you have a psychological or psychiatric problem, we recommend that you inform your therapist before applying, and you need to notify us prior to your registration to see whether joining the shedra is a good thing for you to do at this point in time. 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 (e.g. medical) 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 program. 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 that a similar set of rules be applied to the Rigpa Shedra since they have proven to be 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.
In addition, we will operate under the Rigpa Code of Conduct, which we strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with.