Code Of Conduct2020-07-05T17:13:38-08:00

Click to download the agreement.

Recording Schedule2020-07-06T10:45:15-08:00

Course: Entering the Way of the Great Vehicle
Faculty: Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Availability: Audio = Up to 5 weeks after each teaching date.
Availability: Video = For 24 hours after each teaching date.

Course: Morning meditation
Faculty: Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen
Availability: Audio & Video = Up to 7 days after each teaching date.

Course: Mahamudra Shamatha
Faculty: Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen
Availability: Audio & Video = Up to 7 days after each teaching date.

Course: Shedra courses
Faculty: Various
Availability: Audio & Video = Available until October 1, 2020


Please click here to download the recording schedule.

Moodle Instructions2020-07-06T10:44:41-08:00

Please click here to download the Moodle instructions in pictures.

Zoom Instructions2020-07-06T10:44:50-08:00

Please click here to download a pdf of Zoom instructions in pictures.

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?2020-04-25T06:03:11-08:00

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?2020-04-25T06:02:15-08:00

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?2020-04-25T06:01:41-08:00

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?2020-04-25T06:00:28-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:59:12-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:58:35-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:57:57-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:57:13-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:56:25-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:55:53-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:55:21-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:50:39-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:54:03-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:49:24-08:00

The 2020 Online Summer Institute will begin in the morning (Pacific Daylight Time) with a meditation session, followed by a teaching by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. In the afternoon, Nitartha’s faculty will teach 3 levels of study courses. The day closes with a Mahamudra Shamatha session for qualified students. All sessions will be recorded for students who are unable to attend the livestreaming. Click here for a sample schedule.

What is the food like? And do I have to eat on campus?2020-04-25T05:45:29-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:44:55-08:00

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?2020-04-25T05:44:26-08:00

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?2020-05-21T06:04:57-08:00

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

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, and/or request a discount. Applications will be reviewed (usually within 14 days).  Please click here if you would like to apply for financial assistance or an installment plan.

Refunds: A full refund will be given for cancellations made before the registration deadline of July 1, 2020. A processing fee of $75 will be charged for cancellations between July 1 and July 9th. No refunds will be possible on or after July 10th, 2020.

How do I order the required books?2020-06-15T08:32:50-08:00

Ordering texts: Please allow plenty of time for ordering your texts: approximately 4 weeks for orders outside the United States, 1 week for orders in the United States. (For students in Europe, texts will be shipped from within Europe.)

  • To purchase shedra (study) course texts, contact Nitartha’s bookstore at bookstore@nitarthainstitute.org.
  • Entering the Way of the Great Vehicle: Dzogchen as the Culmination of the Mahayana, by Rongzom Chökyi Zangpo can be found as an e-book through online sources, including Amazon.  Hard copies can also be purchased through the Nitartha bookstore at bookstore@nitarthainstitute.org.

If you have any questions, please contact us by email info@nitarthainstitute.org or call us at  (+1) 720-310-0422!


Please click here to view the schedule.

Please click here to download the schedule.

Do you have questions?2020-07-04T09:13:56-08:00
Please reach out to us with any questions you have. Here are the different email addresses you can use.
Tech support: Cody Foster cfoster@nitarthainstitute.org
General program inquiries: Stephanie Basford  sbasford@nitarthainstitute.org
Registration and payments: Elena Weiss  eweiss@nitarthainstitute.org
Chinese Liaison: Pearl Bu  yunchaobu@hotmail.com
Chinese tech support: TinYou Wu: tinyou_wu@hotmail.com
Ethics Policy2020-07-09T12:57:54-08:00

Click to view Nitartha’s Ethics Policy.

Nitartha Summer Institute
Online Code of Conduct

Nitartha Summer Institute provides guidelines related to ethical conduct to all of our faculty, staff, and participants. This year, in our online format, we will still adhere to this code of ethics with some small modifications related to an online learning and social environment.

Speech and Chat

We encourage students to express themselves and participate freely in an online class. However, they are expected to treat each other and the teacher with courtesy and respect.

Offensive or inappropriate language is not to be used in any form of communication.

Emails or chats to the instructor that are considered offensive or inappropriate will be brought to the Ethics Council and the student will be denied access to the course until a decision has been made by the Ethics Committee as to whether the student will be allowed to participate further. If any student or instructor receives an inappropriate email, text, chat or other form of communication from a student in the class they should notify the Ethics Committee and appropriate action will be taken. A student sending an inappropriate communication may be asked to leave the program.


Students are expected to show up to the virtual classroom as they would dress for an in-person meeting. Inappropriate clothing or inappropriate behaviour while a student’s video is turned on may lead to the immediate removal of the student from class and the behavior will be brought to the Ethics Council; the student will be denied access to the course until a decision has been made by the Ethics Committee as to whether the student will be allowed to participate further.

By signing up to and enrolling on a Course, students agree not to:

  • share the course links with students who are not enrolled in a course;
  • use racist, sexist, homophobic or abusive terms, swear words or language that may cause offense in the Classroom or Discussion Groups
  • post or upload anything off-topic, offensive, abusive or illegal to the class
  • post or upload inappropriate messages, content, unauthorised advertising, promotional material or spam to the class.

Student behavior that is not consistent with the Code of Ethics or these on-line guidelines may lead to being removed from the classroom immediately. The Ethics Committee will follow up with the student afterwards and it is at the discretion of the Ethics Committee to decide if the student is admitted back into a class or suspended for the summer. Tuition refunds will not be granted to students removed from a class for inappropriate communication or behavior.

Mahamudra Chants & Songs2020-07-10T15:49:28-08:00