A Complete Buddhist Path
A Complete Path of Buddhist
Study and Practice
Building on the basis of meditation and compassion, for those who wish to enter into the path of Buddhist study and practice, Rigpa offers courses and programmes in its centres around the world.
Following this path is a life-long endeavour. Some people may want to follow the stages of the path fully and systematically, while others may need something more essential, depending on one's life circumstances. Others prefer to make meditation or compassion the single focus of their practice.
The Buddhist path begins with meditation, which forms a basis to then enter the following stages, ultimately leading to Dzogchen, the highest teachings in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Once we have established a basis in meditation and compassion, these are further deepened through the teachings on transforming the mind in compassion, or lojong, a set of practices unique to Tibetan Buddhism.
One special feature of lojong is the use of slogans, pointed instructions on the view and practical application of the Mahayana. These slogans are contemplated and put into action as a means of subjugating the self-clinging, based on a false conception of self, that is at the root of all suffering. Mind training practice is the profound reorientation of our basic attitude both toward our own self and toward fellow sentient beings, as well as toward the events around us. It is a radical transformation of our thoughts and behaviour: from a self-cherishing attitude to an altruistic attitude.
At this stage of the path we begin developing bodhichitta – the heart of the enlightened mind – which is the compassionate wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.
Ngöndro is the foundation practices of the Vajrayana. The ngöndro practices have been skilfully designed to effect a deep purification and transformation, at every level of our being. Not only do they prepare the practitioner for the profound path of Vajrayana (the next stage of the path) and the highest teachings of Tibetan Buddhism (Dzogchen), but they also lead him or her gradually towards the experience of enlightenment.
To accomplish the good of others, we must first perfect ourselves, by purifying and transforming our minds. This is the aim of what we call the preliminary practices, which establish the foundations of all spiritual progress.
The Vajrayana is a path centred on cultivating purity of perception. It contains many powerful methods for accumulating merit and wisdom, in order to arrive swiftly at a direct realization of buddha nature and the nature of reality itself. Through the practices of visualization, mantra recitation and meditation, ordinary perception is transformed into a ‘sacred outlook’, where everything is seen and experienced purely in its true nature.
For Rigpa students, the focus of the Three Roots practice is; the Lama practice of Rigdzin Düpa; the Yidam practice of Yang Nying Pudri, or for some Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik; and the Dakini practice of Yumka Dechen Gyalmo. They can be practised in the Rigpa sangha in special intensive periods of group practice called drupchen or drupchö, and also in structured closed periods of retreats, called nyenpa.
The practice of Dzogchen is the most ancient and direct stream of wisdom within the Buddhist tradition of Tibet.
Sogyal Rinpoche describes it as "the heart-essence of all spiritual paths and the summit of an individual’s spiritual evolution". As a way in which to realize the innermost nature of mind—that which we really are—Dzogchen is the clearest, most effective, and most relevant to the modern world.
Though generally associated with the Nyingma or Ancient School of Tibetan Buddhism founded by Padmasambhava, Dzogchen has been practised throughout the centuries by masters of all the different schools as their innermost practice. Its origins reach back to before human history, and neither is it limited to Buddhism, nor to Tibet, nor indeed even to this world of ours, as it is recorded that it has existed in thirteen different world systems. Read more