Entering the Way of the Great Vehicle
Taught by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
In 2020, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche will teach on the text Entering the Way of the Great Vehicle: Dzogchen as the Culmination of the Mahayana, by Rongzom Chökyi Zangpo. Rongzom Chökyi Zangpo wrote this treatise in the eleventh century during the renaissance of Buddhism in Tibet that was spurred by the influx of new translations of Indian Buddhist texts, tantras, and esoteric transmissions from India. Using the kinds of philosophic and linguistic analyses favored by the new schools, he demonstrates that the Great Perfection is indeed the culmination and maturation of the Mahāyāna, the Great Vehicle. The central topic of the work is the notion of illusory appearance, for when one realizes deeply that all appearances are illusory, one realizes also that all appearances are in that respect equal. Click here to read more about this course!
This course is open to all registered students and will be offered daily during Sessions 1 and 2.
With Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen
In the afternoons, Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen will lead Mahamudra Shamatha sessions. These sessions are only open to students who have previously received Mahamudra Shamatha instructions from a qualified teacher and have practice experience. This includes having:
- taken at least one Mahamudra Shamatha session through Nitartha,
- completed the Nalandabodhi Mahamudra Shamatha curriculum,
- attended retreats where Mahamudra Shamatha was taught by a qualified teacher and practiced by the retreatants.
Click here to verify your eligibility (required).
Community Meditation Session
led by Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen
Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen will lead meditation sessions every morning during sessions 1 and 2. These sessions are open to all students who are registered for the Summer Institute. Join us for this opportunity to calm our minds, and connect with ourselves and one another by meditating together online!
Mind & Its World (Level 1)
Taught by Dr. Phil Stanley, Francis Sullivan, and Alison McKee
This course explores the criteria of valid cognition based on the teachings of the Pramāna tradition, or Buddhist epistemology. We will analyze our consciousness and determine to what degree it is in agreement with its observed object or not; what the difference is between non-mistaken, non-deceiving, conceptual and non-conceptual types of awareness. Practically speaking, this also provides the practitioner with the tools for delineating conceptual and nonconceptual types of mind in meditation.
The course also presents a detailed treatment of objects in the form of definitions, examples, equivalents and classifications drawn from Collected Topics, the introductory textbook of the Abhidharma or Buddhist phenomenology. Furthermore, we will explore the modes of engagement of mind and investigate mind in terms of the mental events that describe specific functional aspects of mind, as well as determine its virtuous or afflicted states, in order to cultivate the former and relinquish the latter.
This course encompasses three main topics: valid cognition, modes of engagement, and mental factors.
This course is open to all students.
Madhyamaka Philosophical Tradition: Not Even a Middle (Level 2)
Taught by Dr. Stuart Horn and Susan Stewart
This course is an overview of the final view of the Buddhist philosophy—Madhyamaka, or the Middle Way tradition of Mahāyāna, which propounds the view of śūnyatā, the emptiness of all phenomena, the transcendence of all views, freedom from elaborations.
The course will be based on readings from Karl Brunnhölzl’s book, Center of the Sunlit Sky
In addition, the essential Madhyamika approach of searching for some kind of real existence or a middle but not finding any will be linked to the same approach in Mahamudra vipashyana. In this way, it is designed to help discover the experience of the spacious and relaxed openness that cannot be grasped or pinpointed.
Completing Mind and Its World before taking this course is recommended (and required for those taking the courses for credit).
Chittamatra and Buddha Nature (Level 3)
Taught by Jirka Hladiš and Mark Seibold
This course covers both Chittamatra and Buddha Nature. The teachings on Chittamatra are a systematic presentation of the Chittamatra, or Mind Only meditative view of Mahāyāna Buddhism. We will engage in the philosophical reformulation of experiences arising from meditation practice—declaring reasonings establishing objects as not separate from mind, as well as the three natures theory and the eight-fold collection of consciousness. The teachings on Buddha Nature present an overview of the Tathāgatagarbha, or Buddha Nature tradition, the view of the luminous essence of awakening, the heart of goodness shared by all beings. Our exploration will rely on the key section of Uttaratantra of Maitreya (ca. 4th century) which establishes Buddha nature through three reasonings, its ten facets, nine analogies and five reasons why it is necessary to teach it.
Completing Madhyamaka before taking this course is recommended (and required for those taking the courses for credit).
Introduction to Colloquial Tibetan
Taught by Gerry Wiener and Nima Bhuti
This class is oriented toward beginning Tibetan-language students who are interested in furthering their connections to the language. It assumes no prior knowledge of Tibetan. In order to learn a language and make it your own, it is important to make a wide variety of connections to the language. Even though your focus may be on learning how to read classical Tibetan Buddhist literature, it is still extremely beneficial to gain some proficiency in listening to and speaking Tibetan. The class will begin with proper pronunciation of the Tibetan alphabet and Tibetan words and will lead to elementary conversations. The beginning student will gain practice in listening to, speaking, reading, and writing Tibetan.
Intermediate Literary Tibetan
This year in the Intermediate Literary Tibetan class we will read Gyelse Thokme Zangpo´s 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva along with sections from two Tibetan commentaries on Thokme Zangpo´s famous text. Applicants should know the Tibetan alphabet, spelling rules and have a functional grasp of Tibetan grammar. The course will focus on acquiring and developing reading skills and working with commentaries as a means to unpacking the meaning embedded in a text. In addition, interesting and important grammatical points will be explained in the context of specific passages. The instructor for this course will be Mark Seibold, who has taught Tibetan at Nitartha Institute for many years.
“It seemed an unbelievable and perfect dream to me! Have no complaint about a single thing, only praise for the venue, the staff and of course most of all, the incredible gift of Rinpoche’s teachings as well as Lama Tenpa, Karl, Stuart and Susan Stewart’s Madhyamaka course. Oh yes, and Ikebana!”
The Teachers at NI are phenomenal; really engaging and clearly deeply inspired personally by the material they are presenting. And important to say – I am always amazed at how relaxed and accessible Rinpoche is at Nitartha. It’s a great place to be with Rinpoche and receive teachings from him.
I know there is a lot of work behind the scenes to bring about such an amazing month long experience and appreciate all the work that goes on for many months before the Summer Institute. I can only say that I didn’t want to leave when the time came for me to pack my bags.”
“This was my sixth year returning to Nitartha Summer Institute. Even though when I sometimes examine the parts, they seem chaotic and sometimes precarious, and when I examine the whole it seems like a rolling cloud that appears as some illusory city , every time I return home, I feel that my practice has expanded and deepened exponentially. So that even though I sometimes think I can imagine a Summer Institute that would help me better, it turns out that the Summer Institute just the way it is has helped me immensely and I am immensely grateful.”