To put it simply, Nitartha Institute changed my life. I did not realize how much until recently. The program has been invaluable to my studies as an MA in Indo-Tibetan Traditions and my practice as a Buddhist. In only a month I felt like I had transformed. The level of depth and understanding within the shedra and gomdra programs is astounding.
For example, the teachers I had the humble pleasure to study with are absolutely amazing. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Karl Brunnhölzl, Phil Stanley, and so many others have been integral to my understanding of Buddhism and putting those studies to practice in my life. I spent the predominance of my time with Stuart Horn, Lama Tenpa, Jirka Hladiš, Stephanie Johnston, and Karl Brunnhölzl and all of them bring their own special relationship with the dharma to their teaching. I feel tremendous gratitude to them for sharing their profundity and sensitivity to the teachings with me.
The Nitartha Institute program I participated in was supplementary to my studies at Naropa University in Boulder, CO. Calling it “supplementary” sounds like an injustice now, given the amount of learning I experienced while I was there. I took classes in Cittamatra, Paths and Bhūmis, and Debate along with Mahāmudrā instruction with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. I also had the pleasure to study important Buddhist texts such as The Beacon of Certainty under the guidance of Lama Tenpa and the Mahāyānasūtralamkara under the guidance of Karl Brunnhölzl. The shedra program in its entirety is so well thought out and guides the student not just in terms of their scholastic goals but their practice and path goals.
The community is absolutely wonderful as well. I had never been comfortable with the idea of Sangha. I had never been really part of one, but at Nitartha it felt like family. I was sick at one point and everyone was there to help or be gentle in any way that I needed. I truly felt the love and power of Sangha while at the Nitartha Institute.
I highly recommend the Nitartha Institute program, whether shedra or gomdra, to anyone, whether or not you are a practicing Buddhist in the Tibetan tradition. The wealth of knowledge at this place is a gem in the West. True shedra programs are not easy to come by here and to really understand the traditions requires this kind of study. I transformed here and I will go back this coming summer. I love this place, the people, and the teachings and I strongly recommend it to anyone.
I have found Nitartha to be an amazing and unique experience. If you are at all attracted to the philosophy of Tibetan and early Nikaya Buddhism, this is for you. I’ve attended the 4 Mind and its World foundation courses and the Chittamatra or “mind-only” class. Nitartha has added a crucial dimension to my practice and clarified and re-positioned my understanding of dharma gained from other contexts. The material is engaging and the teachers are passionate and welcoming. I’ve been able to take a local 9-day intensive course in Vancouver, online and self-paced courses, and attended the 2016 Summer Institute. There is something available for whatever style fits your budget and learning style. Each method has been beneficial for me.
Overall, the material is truly a new lens on how to view your experience and thus what you take to be yourself. I don’t know that I would have been able to gain this perspective or understanding any other way. I highly recommend Nitartha to friends and fellow dharma practitioners.
Initially I attended Nitartha in 2011 as a Naropa student and have subsequently attended in 2012, 2014 and 2016 in the Tibetan Language program. I find it very inspiring to study and practice in a container that was truly focused in the study of the buddhadharma and be surrounded by such esteemed teachers. Going into Tibetan texts in-depth and practicing my spoken Tibetan with Nitartha’s language instructors has been an excellent asset to developing my skill as a translator and practitioner. I very much enjoyed studying in this way complementary to receiving daily teachings and guidance from Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen.
I attended Nitartha Institute in the summer of 2016 for Mind and Its World 1 (taught by Stephanie and Scott) and 2 (Jirka) and Clear Thinking (Sandra and Stephanie); I also attended Acharya Lama Tenpa’s teachings on Lama Mipham’s Beacon of Certainty in addition to Ponlop Rinpoche’s opening and closing sessions. Initially, I only planned to take MW1 and Clear Thinking, but at the end of those first two weeks, I knew that I needed to take advantage of this precious opportunity. I was very impressed with the compassion and support from my teachers, as well as their breadth of knowledge and understanding of how to teach a curriculum that can be challenging for novices like me!
While I was attending classes, I was simply trying to keep up with the rigors of comprehending the dharma concepts and nomenclature. The first two Mind and Its World courses provide an excellent foundation for practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, and really helped to clarify many ideas that I struggled with through the Nalandabodhi Hinayana study curriculum. Nitartha fleshes out and illuminates the material in those courses in a way that I found immensely helpful.
Now, looking back, I get the sense that the mandala of Nitartha was working its magic on me all along, strengthening my confidence and allowing me to become more discerning – to be less reactive and more compassionate, caring and loving.
In my practice, I continue to cultivate a “mindful gap” in my interactions with people and with life in general. This is the space to consider my response and to avoid rushing into situations leading to conflict/anger, and to let go of attachment to things going my way and people acting the way I want. This space naturally allows me room to increase a sense of both self-respect and respect for others, to adopt a stance of non-violence and equanimity – especially when regarding those who “make me mad,” whether it’s Donald Trump or the person beside me on the bus.
I’m much more aware now of the six root and 20 secondary afflictions, and the ones that arise most frequently in me. Desire. Anger. Pride (self-satisfaction). Envy. Laziness. Distraction. Regarding those last two, I’m happy to report that since Nitartha, I’ve really improved my meditation practice, which was previously pretty hit-and-miss. I feel that, thanks to the Nitartha Institute, I am on the path with some key dharmic tools.
Thank you Nitartha!
My experience at Shedra is that the faculty are kind, caring and consider my learning and me. When I was younger than I am now, I never had the opportunity to study a graduated course. One that starts at the beginning and progressively builds stepwise through a cohesive body of knowledge.
(This explains why I am good with money, which is numbers and not good at mathematics’ which is also numbers.) When I got the chance, to attend Nitartha Shedra, I took it and I was rewarded then and now for my effort. I still use the source material in my daily practice and path even though four years have gone by since I have been able to return to my Nitartha Shedra education.
If you want a sharper mind—or the tools that will help you develop a sharper mind—the Nitartha Shedra Program is for you.
If you want to experience the place, the environment, where the tools are used seamlessly by a beginner and by a master, and by all of the gradations in-between, then there is no better way to have this than by attending the Ponlop Rinpoche’s Nitartha Shedra.
If you are a Buddhist and you still have desire then desiring the best, with the brightest, is one way to be on the enlightened path while living and learning with the students and faculty at the Nitartha Shedra.
After completing the Nalandabodhi Buddhist study curriculum, I wanted to go deeper and further in my studies. The Nitartha Institute presented an excellent curriculum and opportunity. I am most grateful to the wonderful Nitartha teachers and the thorough and genuine teachings found in the Nitartha curriculum. It truly deepened and clarified my understanding of the Buddhists dharma. And, it helped my meditation practice through clarifying the view presented by the great Indian and Tibetan masters. I am especially happy to have access to the online materials for our small study group here in Boulder that is working through the Advanced curriculum. Such a treasure!
Since I came to Nitartha Summer Institute for the first time in 2014 Nitartha has become like a second home for me. I feel grateful to have been able to join the teachings by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche as well as the excellent faculty of acharyas and experienced teachers almost every year since. To be a part of this warm Sangha is something I look forward to every year.
In daily life, living far from the teachers, the online program is a great resource for deepening knowledge and compassion.
I hope that these teachings will be beneficial to others as they are to me.
Nitartha was eye-opening and practice shaping. I went for the first time this summer and hope to return next summer as well. The teachers, the curriculum, and the wisdom shared were all gifts. It was also wonderful to be surrounded by people who were making a commitment to learning and who were always open to answering questions and discussing points of confusion!
I financially support Nitartha for a number of reasons. Nitartha produces translations of priceless treasures of Buddhist wisdom, bringing these masterworks to people who would not otherwise have access. The study programs are an artful balance of practice and study, offering an entry point for people new to this stream of listening, contemplation, and meditation, as well as advanced curricula for those who have spent years walking this path. My own practice and learning have blossomed as a result of participation in these programs, bringing peace, joy, and openness to all parts of my life. And most of all, I fund Nitartha because the teachers are true masters, embodying the wisdom and compassion of bodhisattvas. They are extending a Buddhist lineage with deep roots to a new generation, bringing ancient teachings to a modern world that could not be more important or timely.
Nitartha was run beautifully, and the University was wonderful. Your staff did such a great and incredible job!
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.
This may have been the best experience I’ve had in my five years of attending the Nitartha summer session — coming from all levels, Rinpoche’s teachings, our teachers (Lama Tenpa, Karl, Stuart, Susan), the translator Miguel, the staff, the facilities, the setting, the food… !
Willamette University is beautiful, the Kaneko dorm was clean and comfortable and food was very good.
I donate what I can to Nitartha because the teaching material is rich with wisdom and empowers you to work through life’s challenges. I’ve studied a number of courses over the last 6 years, and it is like being handed the keys to your own mental health and well-being. When you find something so valuable it’s natural that you want others to have access to it. By donating I can support the practical work of translating, editing and communicating the teachings of the Buddha which have been so valuable for my own life.
Nitartha Institute is a globally unique project focused on conveying Dharma into the west society on a profound level. Carrying decades’ long effort to translate canonical Buddhist texts from Indian and Tibetan tradition into English. All of them are critical for in-depth understanding view, methods of contemplation, and meditation in a progressive manner. English version of traditional text with comments from eminent scholars and teachers create opportunities to be published in western format easy to comprehend and apply into practice. This is the base for translation and publication in other languages like we did in Polish. Annual Nitartha Summer Institute, with lecture and practice make all process alive and mind transforming.
I don’t see any project in Buddhist environment contributing so deeply in the process of conveying Buddha’s Wisdom into the west. I’ll do my best to present all NI publication in Polish language.
I was new to this sangha and to the patterns of the silent Mahamudra retreat. To my surprise and delight along with chanting, lu jong, walking and sitting, we also sang. Though I had sung one or two of the songs of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche with another sangha, the songs had never had the starring role that they did in this retreat. Such an effective (and indelible) way to be reminded of the teachings!
I was very pleased and impressed with the professional and caring atmosphere created by the excellent teachers and devoted volunteers. A big grateful thank you to all of you for a life transforming experience.
This new campus is a real move up for NI. The beautiful environment with sweeping lawns bordered by flowers and shrubs lovingly cared for and the quiet tree lined campus avenues were a perfect container for dharma teachings and practice. Up to date accommodations with AC and full kitchens were really appreciated. The shrine room as well, was spacious, open and inspiring.
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.
Lily L. L. H.
The root of the twelve Nidānas is ignorance. To be liberated is to be free from ignorance through studying, contemplating and practicing the Dharma.
Studying the knowledge from the Shedra marks the beginning of liberation, accompanied by the Right Thought and Right Understanding of the Nitartha Institute leads us to the right path towards the Definitive Meaning.
I sincerely recommend and invite you to join this meaningful Journey of Wisdom.
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’s Madhyamaka course. Oh yes, and Ikebana!
Birgit and Jim S.
We would most definitely strongly recommend to others to participate in the Nitartha Summer Institute. Especially because of the days’ mix of study and meditation. And of course because the whole structure of the institute oozes of DPR’s wisdom and loving care.