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Special Mahamudra/Yidam Seminar in India with Optional Pilgrimage
November 11, 2023 - November 20, 2023
A Special Mahamudra/Yidam Seminar in India
and an Optional Pilgrimage
with Khenchen Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche and Yangsi Bokar Rinpoche
Please note: Details about registration payments, etc. are still being worked out. Please contact David Thornburgh at <email@example.com> if you are interested in attending to get the most up-to-date information.
If you need a new passport, please start that process soon because it can take 10-13 weeks.
Where: Bokar Monastery in Mirik, West Bengal, INDIA
When: November 11th through the morning of November 20th (with optional pilgrimage to follow)
Cost: $220 for the seminar fee
Food at the monastery: Approximately $100 ($11/day) for three meals plus tea and coffee
Lodging will be arranged according to your budget. It can range from $15-50 per day
and will be finalized in September.
Translation: English and Spanish speakers will need an FM radio with ear buds for translation (WARNING: not all phone apps can receive local transmissions—iPhones cannot but some Androids can)
Khenchen Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche will be offering Bokar Rinpoche’s Mahamudra Program in Mirik, India this November. (Known for many years as Khenpo Rinpoche, Rinpoche has recently received the title of Khenchen, meaning “Great Khenpo,” in recognition of Rinpoche’s lifetime of practice and study. Khenpo is a title that denotes deep learning in Buddhism, similar to our designation of Phd.) Khenchen Rinpoche, who spent most of his life in the presence of Bokar Rinpoche, is a renowned scholar and accomplished practitioner. Khenchen Rinpoche’s teachings are very clear, accessible, and overflow with his joy and enthusiasm for the Dharma. This program will include teachings for both the Mahamudra Program and the Yidam Program (see below for more about the Yidam Program and more general information about the seminar can be found here).
Additionally, this year Khenchen Rinpoche has asked Yangsi Bokar Rinpoche (the reincarnation of the founder of the program) to give the Chenrezi and Green Tara empowerments, as well as the reading transmissions for the those practices and the preliminary (ngondro) practices. He will also preside over the Chenrezi practice each evening.
In addition to selected teachings for the seminar, Khenchen Rinpoche will also offer empowerments for the Yidam Program (restricted to those who have completed the prerequisites), Amitabha (open to all but instructions will be for yidam practitioners only), Vajrasattva, and Milarepa. He will also give the Bodhisattva Vow and the Five Precepts for lay practitioners—formal vows to abstain from killing, lying, stealing, sexual misconduct, and intoxicants (you can take one or any combination of them). There will also be a day-trip to Bokar Monastery’s impressive monastic college—about two hours away—where young Bokar Rinpoche is currently studying.
This year, Khenchen Rinpoche has asked Lama Chökyi, Lama Namgyal, Lama Eric, and Lama Rinchen (two French lamas, one American, and one Argentinian lama, respectively) to give teachings on several aspects of shamatha, vipashyana, and the various sets of preliminary practices.
The Seminar and Practice Program
Bokar Rinpoche initiated this program in 1992 to provide a concise yet complete approach to the stages of Mahamudra practice, in a manner suited to the lives of modern lay practitioners. Over the past several decades, hundreds of aspirants have found the support and structure of this course a powerful means for launching them into and deepening their daily practice. For anyone who can make the trip, this would be a wonderful introduction to the program and an unforgettable window into the culture of Tibetan Buddhism.
A key component of the program is the practice commitment which acts as a critical support for making dharma a stable feature in one’s life. At a minimum, participants are asked to practice shamatha (resting meditation) for 30 minutes daily and to do 100,000 repetitions of Chenrezi’s mantra over the year. Though 100,000 recitations may sound like a large number, the mantras can be done outside of formal meditation, and most do not find it difficult to complete them.
Traditionally, the preliminary practices (often referred to by their Tibetan name, ngondro) are done as a prerequisite to engaging in vajrayana practices, including shamatha and vipashyana of the mahamudra tradition. These meditations remove obstacles and create positive conditions that allow practitioners to engage more deeply in the practices that follow. These include refuge and prostrations, the 100-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva, mandala offering, and guru yoga. Each of these four practices are are performed during one quarter of the practice year—refuge and prostrations for the first three months, Vajrasattva for the second three months, etc. One can commit to doing 5,000 or 10,000 of each per quarter. A commitment of 10,000 per quarter is likely to take about 30-45 minutes per day. These are optional for first year participants.
For those who continue to the second year, instructions on vipashyana are given, and in the third year—if one has met certain practice requirements—the practice of the union of shamatha and vipashyana, or mahamudra, is introduced. One continues accumulating the preliminary practices as part of the second and third year commitments.
The Yidam Program
Further, for those interested, after practicing the third year teachings for three years, one can choose to begin the yidam aspect of the seminar. One would then receive the empowerment and instruction for the yidam and take that as one’s main practice. The yidam teachings also progress through outer, inner, secret, and most secret levels every two years.
Who Should Attend
Practitioners at all levels are welcome to join the seminar. One must attend the whole seminar and be willing to take on the accompanying practice commitments for one year. Participants should have already received the vow of refuge—the formal act of entering the Buddhist path—or be ready to take it. The refuge vow will be offered at the seminar.
After the seminar, for 10-14 days, Lama Eric will lead those interested in a pilgrimage to several sacred places including Bodhgaya, where the Buddha attained awakening. The length of time and places will be determined by those interested in participating. Contact Lama Eric directly to learn more.
Registration and Important Information
If you are planning to attend, please contact David Thornburgh at <firstname.lastname@example.org> to register (you needn’t pay now). You should learn more about (and also start) the process for obtaining an Indian visa (soon). David, a student of the previous Bokar Rinpoche and experienced India traveler, has agreed to be a point person for general questions about India travel. A group of people who have travelled to India will provide written guidance and offer an opportunity to meet for guidance and questions.
You can fly to Delhi or Kolkata and then connect to Bagdogra airport (IXB). This is outside of a major town called Siliguri. The airport is about an hour and 45 mins from Bokar Monastery. There are prepaid taxis available for a fixed price right at the airport. The cost is around $20-30.