These are self-study courses that are either no longer part of our curriculum or have been designed specifically for general study and practice.

This class is under construction and not currently available to online students. Tucson students may register through this link, however.

This class will be divided into two 7-week parts, completing the entire 100-day practice, and is a prerequisite for most advanced Vajrayana practices. The ngondro (preliminary practices) provide a very important foundation for the practices of tantra or Vajrayana, yet the high number of repetitions often required can become a serious barrier to lay practitioners. The great master Longchenpa shows us an alternative way to accomplish this in a more compact package. This course is also an excellent refresher for advanced practitioners who have completed the ngondro practices previously. They get even better through repetition.

This class is based on a book by HE Jigmed Lodro Rinpoche explaining the 100-Day Ngondro as described by Longchenpa (PDF in the course), along with The Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche (optional).

Ngondro is essential to establishing our attitude and motivation through the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind. Then, our mental obscurations, afflictive emotions and other mental fixations are systematically addressed through contemplations on the Four Immeasurables, Guru devotion, Bodhicitta, and the Six Perfections. In addition, these practices provide a solid understanding for advanced Vajrayana practices. 

This is the second of two 7-week parts, completing the entire 100-day practice, and is a prerequisite for most advanced Vajrayana practices. The ngondro (preliminary practices) provide a very important foundation for the practices of tantra or Vajrayana, yet the high number of repetitions often required can become a serious barrier to lay practitioners. The great master Longchenpa shows us an alternative way to accomplish this in a more compact package. This course is also an excellent refresher for advanced practitioners who have completed the ngondro practices previously. They get even better through repetition.

This class is based on a book by HE Jigmed Lodro Rinpoche explaining the 100-Day Ngondro as described by Longchenpa (see PDF link), along with The Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche (optional text).

Ngondro is essential to establishing our attitude and motivation through the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind. Then, our mental obscurations, afflictive emotions and other mental fixations are systematically addressed through contemplations on the Four Immeasurables, Guru devotion, Bodhicitta, and the Six Perfections. In addition, these practices provide a solid understanding for advanced Vajrayana practices. 

Improving Your Practice - After starting a regular practice in the Vajrayana tradition many practitioners face various difficulties in their meditation. Some practitioners are too relaxed and their visualization lacks vividness, others have to face their erratic mind and encounter difficulties staying focused on the object of their meditation. In addition, with a regular daily practice it is sometimes easy to slip into a routine and lose the necessary components of every Vajrayana practice such as cultivation of bodhicitta.

In order to make progress in the process of mind training in the Buddhist tradition one needs to overcome these challenges. This class will address these and other most common obstacles to successful meditation and ways to deal with them. Thus this class is designed for those who want to improve the quality of their practice and make sustained progress in their meditation. In order to make this happen we will explore in theory and practice three aspects of our mind in relation to meditation: attention, emotion and consciousness. Each of these topics will be reviewed and discussed from Western scientific and traditional Vajrayana Buddhist points of view. Practical implications of this knowledge for one's personal practice will be the core of the class. For example, we will have a look at results of some recent Western research on emotion and attention and relate it to Buddhist views of mindful awareness and virtuous emotions. Implications of such comparisons for meditation practice will be discussed and students will be encouraged to apply them in their personal practice.

This course looks in detail at the Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo (bardo todol) by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) according to Kharma Lingpa, translated with commentary by Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa. The course will also look at a variety of other related practices and texts dealing with death and dying. Although this is an "advanced" course, there are no prerequisites and anyone with interest is welcome to participate. Nevertheless, some background in Tibetan Buddhism and its practices is highly recommended. For example, please see our Essentials of Tibetan Buddhism series of 8 courses.

The Kalachakra Tantra Part 1 - 

Kalachakra is one of the most complex systems within tantric Buddhism. The Kalachakra tradition revolves around the concept of time and cycles. From the cycles of the planets to the cycles of human breathing, it teaches the practice of working with the most subtle energies within one's body on the path to enlightenment.

Since Kalachakra is time and everything is under the influence of time, Kalachakra knows all. Kalachakri, his spiritual consort and complement, is aware of everything that is timeless, not time-bound or out of the realm of time. In Yab-Yum, they are temporality and a-temporality conjoined. Similarly, the wheel is without beginning or end.

The Kalachakra deity resides in the center of the mandala in his palace consisting of four mandalas, one within the other: the mandalas of body, speech, and mind, and in the very center, wisdom and great bliss. The Kalachakra sand mandala is dedicated to both individual and world peace and physical balance. The Dalai Lama explains: “It is a way of planting a seed, and the seed will have karmic effect. One doesn’t need to be present at the Kalachakra ceremony in order to receive its benefits.”

This class will examine the tantra and commentaries, along with practice text(s).

Prerequisites: Generation and Completion Stage study and practice.

Texts: Ornament of Stainless Light: An Exposition of the Kalacakra Tantra by Khendrup Norsang Gyatso (OSL)

This course continues the study of the Kalachakra Tantra from Part 1.

Kalachakra is one of the most complex systems within tantric Buddhism. The Kalachakra tradition revolves around the concept of time and cycles. From the cycles of the planets to the cycles of human breathing, it teaches the practice of working with the most subtle energies within one's body on the path to enlightenment.

Since Kalachakra is time and everything is under the influence of time, Kalachakra knows all. Vishvamati, his spiritual consort and complement, is aware of everything that is timeless, not time-bound or out of the realm of time. In Yab-Yum, they are temporality and a-temporality conjoined. Similarly, the wheel is without beginning or end.

The Kalachakra deity resides in the center of the mandala in his palace consisting of four mandalas, one within the other: the mandalas of body, speech, and mind, and in the very center, wisdom and great bliss. The Kalachakra sand mandala is dedicated to both individual and world peace and physical balance. The Dalai Lama explains: “It is a way of planting a seed, and the seed will have karmic effect. One doesn’t need to be present at the Kalachakra ceremony in order to receive its benefits.”

This class will examine the tantra and commentaries, along with practice text(s).

Prerequisites: Kalachakra Tantra Part 1.

Texts: Ornament of Stainless Light: An Exposition of the Kalacakra Tantra by Khendrup Norsang Gyatso (OSL)

Vajrayogini is a highest yoga tantra deity practice of Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism. She is a female Buddha who is the essence of all the Buddhas. In these practices, we visualize or imagine ourselves as the deity as a means of training our mind to become a fully realized Buddha. Such a practice is said to be faster than other forms of meditative practices. And, according to scholar Miranda Shaw, Vajrayogini is "inarguably the supreme deity of the Tantric pantheon. No male Buddha…approaches her in metaphysical or practical import." Vajrayogini is also a significant figure in some of the completion-stage practices of Vajrayana, such as the Six Yogas (or Dharmas) of Naropa.

 

Participants should either have received a Vajrayogini empowerment (in one of her variety of forms), or at least some other form of highest yoga empowerment. We will be using the book Vajrayogini: Her Visualizations, Rituals, and Forms by Elizabeth English as the main text for this course (8 weeks). The fee is $80. We recommend that you register online in our eCollege in order to access handouts or watch the videos if you miss a class or would like further review of the course content.