A New Unified Program

In 2019, study and meditation will be joined at the Summer Institute! All students will receive Mahamudra meditation instruction and a significant portion of each day will be devoted to practice. Students will also attend one study class daily to deepen their understanding of the view.

Furthermore, all students will receive teachings by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. Rinpoche will teach two different classes on alternating days at the Summer Institute 2019. Click here to read more about Ponlop Rinpoche’s teachings.

  • Meditation: Two levels of Mahamudra meditation

  • Study: Courses from the Nitartha curriculum

  • Free Electives: including lüjong (body-mind integration practice), Mudra Space Awareness, debate, Tibetan language, and thangka painting

  • Mahamudra Silent Retreat with Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen in Session 3!

You can participate in the Nitartha Summer Institute even if you can’t attend in person. Ponlop Rinpoche’s teachings on Bötrül (BUD 797), Mind & Its World (BUD 501/BUD 510), Madhyamaka Philosophical Tradition (BUD 610), and Mahāyānasūtrālamkāra: Ornament of the Great Vehicle Sutras (BUD 714) will also be offered online.

“Everybody likes Mahamudra and Dzogchen, but the practice of Mahamudra and Dzogchen very much depends on the understanding that we develop through the Shedra classes.”

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

“Scholars who engage in analysis also need to engage in meditative contemplation, and meditators need to complement their practice with analysis if they want to determine how their concepts work. If you engage in analysis but do not meditate, your understanding will remain on a conceptual level. If you meditate without engaging in analysis, your meditative experiences will remain subjective. You will not receive the full benefits of meditative practice if you do not combine analysis and contemplation.”

Moonbeams of Mahamudra by Traleg Kyabgon

“In Mahamudra, we meditate on the nature of mind to attain the kind of realization that is genuine, immediate, and uncontaminated by conceptual understandings.”

Dakpo Tashi Namgyal

“Without knowing mind, forget about knowing the nature of mind.”

Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen


Level 1: Resting in Mind

Mahamudra Shamatha

For Beginners in Mahamudra Meditation

All students of this level will receive teachings on Mahamudra Shamatha based on the 9th Karmapa’s Ocean of Definitive Meaning and engage in several hours of practice each day. You will be guided in meditation sessions and be able to address personal questions. The Mahamudra teachings of this level will be complemented by the Buddhist Studies class Mind and Its World, where students learn how to distinguish valid cognition from confusion and learn how our mind engages its world.

Students attending Level 1 of the Summer Institute have the opportunity to complete Mahamudra Shamatha in one summer and qualify for next summer’s Vipashyana teachings and thereby deepen their practice and studies even further.

Teacher: Scott Wellenbach and Stephanie Johnston
Corresponding Buddhist Studies: Mind and Its World – Valid Cognition, Modes of Engagement and Mental Factors.

All required texts will be available at the Summer Institute bookstore for purchase.

While there are no specific prerequisites for this level, it is recommended that students have some background in the study and practice of the dharma.

Register now!

Level 2: Investigating Mind

Mahamudra Vipashyana

For Students with prior experience in Mahamudra Meditation

Students attending Level 2 of the Summer Institute must have prior knowledge in Mahamudra Shamatha. They will receive teachings on Mahamudra Vipashyana based on the 9th Karmapa’s precious text Ocean of Definitive Meaning (Tib. nges don rgya mtsho) and engage in several hours of practice each day. The Ocean of Definitive Meaning is the most extensive in length of the Karmapa’s three texts on Mahamudra, is exceptional for providing not only the general view and practices of Mahamudra, but also the rich methods of the oral instructions for realizing the nature of one’s mind, enlightenment. The Mahamudra teachings of this level in 2019 will be complemented by the Buddhist Studies class The Middle Way School (Madhyamaka).

Teacher: Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen
Corresponding Buddhist Studies: The Middle Way School (Madhyamaka)

All required texts will be available at the Summer Institute bookstore for purchase.

Prerequisites for this level apply.

Apply now!
Register now!


The Buddhist Study classes at Nitartha Institute will take you on a journey to discover your mind in depth. You will encounter the very practical applications of the various Buddhist philosophies which can have a deep impact on your everyday life and will also help you clarify what you are working with in meditation.

Students who have not taken prior Nitartha Institute shedra classes will begin with Mind & Its World and learn how our mind engages its world and how it functions. Students who have attended shedra classes in the past will be able to take more advanced Mahayana study classes.

Overview by Session

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
Level I Meditation Mahamudra Shamatha Mahamudra Shamatha Mahamudra Practice Intensive
Study Valid Cognition Modes of Engagement Mental Factors

Level II Meditation Mahamudra Vipashyana Mahamudra Vipashyana Mahamudra Practice Intensive
Study Madhyamaka I Madhyamaka II         —

Please note:

• In 2019, all shedra (study) courses occur on the 9-day session schedule.
• Other shedra courses that are part of the Nitartha curriculum will continue to be available online and through regional programs.
• If this is your first time at Nitartha, we highly recommend that you start with Session 1.