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FAQs2019-10-08T15:34:36-08:00
Where is Salem, Oregon, USA?2019-02-02T02:39:01-08:00

Salem, Oregon, is in the Pacific Northwest, 3-4 hours south of Seattle, WA (by train or car), and about 1 hour south of Portland, OR.

Read more on how to get there and on things to do in the area here.

Who is the main teacher and which lineage does Nitartha Institute belong to?2019-02-02T02:28:52-08:00

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is Nitartha Institute’s founder and spiritual director. Ponlop Rinpoche is acknowledged to be one of the foremost scholars of his generation in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Rinpoche travels and teaches widely and is well-versed in Western culture and technology and is the founder of Nalandabodhi International, a non-profit organization with centers around the world that provide a complete curriculum of study, meditation, and mindful activity, based on an authentic lineage of Buddhist teachings, that is accessible and relevant to everyday life.

Rinpoche is known for his warmth, humor, and lucid presentation of Buddhist teachings in a manner relevant to contemporary life.

Read Ponlop Rinpoche’s life story.

Are discounts available for students or for those with limited resources?2019-11-21T08:22:26-08:00

Nitartha Institute aims to enable everyone who is interested in attending our courses to access our programs. Therefore, we established the Payment Plan and Financial Assistance (PPFA) program, which provides tuition assistance to any Nitartha participants who would not otherwise be able to attend due to financial reasons. Click here to apply.

Will there be silence all day?2019-02-02T02:33:15-08:00

During Sessions 1 and 2, we will have what is called “functional silence” until lunch, which means communicating only when necessary (e.g. to get a job done). There will be opportunities for plenty of interaction during lunch, and in the afternoons and evenings, as Nitartha actually thrives from discussion groups and exchange between students and faculty.

During Session 3, Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen will lead a Mahamudra Silent Retreat, where students are asked to observe silence all day.

Will I be assigned any tasks to help?2019-09-11T05:17:31-08:00

Yes, during the Summer Institute, everyone will be assigned what we call “mindful activity.” This is part of our daily practice.

When you submit your registration form for the Summer Institute, you can select areas for which you would like to be considered, but please understand that we may not always be able to fulfill your request. (Physical abilities will be considered.)

Can I bring my family to the Summer Institute?2019-08-27T13:03:31-08:00

If you would like to attend the Summer Institute and have a partner or children who would not attend the classes, you are still welcome to bring them along. There are plenty of areas for other activities and things to explore. Your partner/children can stay on or off campus. If they stay on campus, they will be required to purchase at least a lunch plan.

Over the past several years, couples have brought their children along, and while it certainly requires some scheduling and planning, everyone including the kids seemed to enjoy it!

Session 3 is a silent practice retreat, and since students are asked to observe silence both during and between meditation sessions, this would not be the time to have family or friends with you.

If you have any further questions about briniging your chilldren or partner, please contact Stephanie at sbasford@nitarthainstitute.org.

How do I get there?2019-11-21T08:16:46-08:00

By plane, the nearest airport is Portland, OR (airport code: PDX). From there you can take a shuttle, Uber, bus or train to Salem. Trains also run between Seattle and Salem. By car, depending on traffic it will be a 3-4 hour drive from Seattle to Salem. Please see details here.

Do I have to be a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche?2019-11-21T08:03:51-08:00

Nitartha is open to everyone regardless of their teacher-student relationships. Some Nitartha students are formal students of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, some are formal students of other teachers, and some do not have a formal student-teacher relationship with one teacher.

Do I have to be familiar with Buddhist philosophy?2019-11-21T08:24:06-08:00

While there are no requirements to attend Level 1 courses, some prior Buddhist studies would be helpful, especially knowledge about basic topics such as the Four Noble Truths, impermanence, karma, and interdependence.

Do I need to be a Buddhist in order to attend?2019-11-21T08:24:47-08:00

The Summer Institute is open to people from all types of religious backgrounds. While some of our formal practice sessions include Buddhist liturgy, you do not need to be Buddhist in order to participate.

Can I complete Nitartha’s curriculum by taking the Summer Institute?2019-11-21T08:25:46-08:00

Not all of the courses offered by Nitartha are taught at Summer Institute. By taking 3 Summer Institutes plus 3 semester courses, you can complete the Foundational and Intermediate curricula. The curricula can also be completed through Self-Paced Online Courses.

I can’t sit on the floor. Will there be chairs?2019-11-21T08:28:10-08:00

Yes! We have plenty of chairs for all those who need them. They will be provided for all of the classes and meditation sessions.

Do I need to bring my own cushion?2019-11-21T08:29:09-08:00

We try to provide cushions (zafus and zabutones) for all those who would like to use them. but if you have a zafu cushion of your own we encourage you to bring it, especially if you have a specific need for a particular shape or size.

I have limited mobility. Are the buildings accessible?2019-11-21T08:30:50-08:00

All the buildings have elevators. The classrooms, meditation halls and dining room are very close to each other. Some of the dorms are one block from the activities, others are about 3 blocks away. If your mobility is limited please let us know when you register. The registration form will have a place where you can specify any special needs you may have.

Are meditation sessions a requirement?2019-11-21T08:32:11-08:00

As the Buddha taught, meditation and study support each other. Philosophy greatly helps our meditation experience, and our personal experience with meditation deepens our understanding of Buddhist philosophy. We strongly recommend that students participate in both of these activities so that they can fully benefit from Summer Institute.

Will any of the classes be webcast?2019-11-21T08:34:29-08:00

Yes! If you are unable to attend in person, you can take the study (shedra) courses entirely online. And if you attend at least 1 session in person (9 consecutive days), you can continue online the study and meditation courses that you take in person. (Other courses may also be available online, which will be announced at a later date. For more details about online courses, please click here.)

What is the schedule like?2019-11-21T08:38:31-08:00

The day starts with an optional Lüjong practice (body-mind integration), followed by breakfast. The meditation and study sessions begin around 8am and end at 6pm.  There are also optional sessions in the evening. Please click here if you would like to see a sample schedule (some changes are possible).

What is the food like? And do I have to eat on campus?2019-11-21T08:40:40-08:00

The university’s cafeteria has gotten rave reviews by 2019 Summer Institute participants. They have a variety of options, including meat and vegetarian options. The university requires those who stay on campus to take lunch at there, but exceptions are made for specific health reasons. Eating breakfast and dinner on campus is optional. (There are restaurants within walking distance of the campus.)

Can I arrive a day or two early?2019-12-03T09:12:41-08:00

We are sorry we are not able to receive students before registration day (July 10th). If you would like to spend time in the area before July 10th, you may want to consider exploring Seattle or Portland, spending a day on the beach, or exploring Salem.

Why are there prerequisites for some classes?2019-12-02T11:45:56-08:00

Since some of Nitartha’s classes are advanced, it is important to have the right kind of preparation in order to benefit from taking those classes. The prerequisites are designed with that in mind, to help students get the most out of their experience at Nitartha.

What is the payment and refund policy?2020-01-26T10:57:54-08:00

All payments are made in full when registering for the Summer Institute unless a PPFA  (Payment Plan/Financial Assistance) is approved (see below).

Register by May 10 and save $50 per session — save $100 for 2 sessions!

Participants with limited funds can apply for a payment plan or financial assistance (PPFA). You can choose to pay in installments prior to the Summer Institute. Applications will be reviewed (usually within 14 days). Discounts are only available for tuition (maximum 50%), not for housing or meals. Please click here if you would like to apply for financial assistance or an installment plan.

To read our full payment and refund policy please click here.