Nyingma Summer Seminar
The Three Yanas and Lojong: The Seven Points of Mind Training
Nyingma Summer Seminar presents a complete survey of the Buddhist path through teachings on the Three Yanas: Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. These yanas (or "vehicles") are understood not as separate and distinct schools, but rather as three bodies of knowledge. Each presents an increasingly subtle understanding of our mind and the nature of reality. They lead us from a basic recognition of our longing for happiness and wish to avoid suffering to an indisputable proof of our potential for compassion, wisdom and awakening.
Over its nine days NSS consists of two talks a day, with two days on either end of the program devoted to Hinayana and Vajrayana topics. The central part of the seminar focuses on Mahayana thought, the essence of which is the teachings on bodhicitta, or “awakened mind”. Through a close reading and commentary on The Seven Points of Mind Training by Jamgon Kongtrul, Kongtrul Rinpoche will explore the Lojong teachings, also widely known as “mind-training”. This text introduces a view and supporting techniques to transform our habitual focus on the self — the source of all our suffering — into a deep empathy and care for other beings. The Seven Points is recognized as one of the keystone texts of Mahayana Buddhism. (Read more about each school below.)
Each day of NSS begins with prayers and a session of meditation in the morning. Before the afternoon talk participants can meditate again for one hour. For those who have not had meditation training before, qualified students are available for instruction. During the Mahayana section, the meditation shifts from basic shamatha or mindfulness practice to training in the Four Immeasureable contemplations. Kongtrul Rinpoche will often personally guide a number of these sessions, which brings the poignancy of these contemplations on kindness and compassion vividly alive. For students of Mangala Shri Bhuti, small groups will meet throughout the program to discuss and focus on the specific practices of our lineage training.
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, the founder of Mangala Shri Bhuti, leads NSS, and will conduct the refuge and bodhisattva vow ceremonies during the seminar. Rinpoche is known for extracting from the teachings what is essentially relevant to modern students, and for his humor, kindness, and insistence on the profound value of dharma. We are delighted to have Dungse Jampal Norbu, Kongtrul Rinpoche’s dharma heir, and Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, his wife and most senior student, join Rinpoche in co-teaching NSS. Dungse Jampal articulates a refreshingly unassuming and personal experience of the teachings, often peppered with humorous anecdotes and surprising analogies. Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel has become known for her approach of “open questioning” -- finding the Middle Way view of the teachings, of our mind, and of life’s most challenging questions. Both Dungse Jampal and Elizabeth will give two talks, one each in the Hinayana and Mahayana sections.
Kongtrul Rinpoche has often called this much-loved annual event our “Thanksgiving” as a community in Mangala Shri Bhuti, a time when we gather to appreciate the richness that Buddhadharma brings into our lives. The lovely outdoor setting of the seminar under a large shrine tent offers a perfect contemplative environment. We invite you to join us in the beautiful foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Enroll in the whole program, come for individual days, or attend from anywhere in the world via live video or audio streaming.
More about The Three Vehicles of Tibetan Buddhism
Uncertainty, confusion, change -- these are experiences of life which we all face. How we respond to them defines whether our life takes a spiritual course or remains locked in a cycle of suffering. The basic Buddhist teachings of the Hinayana school address these fundamental "truths" and introduce us to how our own intelligence -- as a simple awareness of these experiences -- can begin to show us the way toward liberation. In this section, we will cover topics such as renunciation, karma and refuge.
Regardless of whichever country, religion, political party, or system of belief we call our own, Buddhism recognizes that at the root of all our activity is the simple wish to be happy. This wish, this "movement toward happiness," defines us broadly and essentially as sentient beings. The keen insight of the Mahayana school is that the more we recognize how we share this wish with others, the more we will experience greater ease and happiness and a joyful sympathy with others. In this section we look closely at the topics of self-cherishing, bodhicitta, the four immeasurables, and emptiness, all through the lens of a different keystone text each year.
Guru Rinpoche, the great Indian adept who brought Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet, famously said, "While my view is higher than the sky, my attention to cause and effect is finer than a grain of flour." His statement captures the way in which the Vajrayana school blends the precise understanding of relative phenomena found in the Hinayana with the vast view of the Mahayana. Through a discussion of ground, path, and fruition, Rinpoche describes how the Vajrayana path catalyzes our deepest levels of understanding mind and phenomena.
General Program Information
For more information about attending a program at Phuntsok Choling, please download our information packet for program participants.
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