Learning Programs

Tukdrub Barché Kunsel Ngöndro: The Four Foundations

The Four Foundations, or Ngöndro practice is the gateway to the Traditional Vajrayāna Path. In this course, Phakchok Rinpoche and senior instructors provide detailed explanations and commentary on each practice according to the Tukdrup Barché Künsel ngöndro.


Welcome and congratulations on your commitment to undertake the Ngöndro practice (the Four Foundations) of the Traditional Vajrayāna Path!

When To Begin The Ngöndro?

10277077_629470163794258_654851429314340599_nGenerally, Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche emphasizes that Four Foundations practice is very important. Students usually are instructed to begin the Ngöndro after several years of daily meditation practice. This experience means one will have had some glimpses of the empty and luminous nature of mind.

Phakchok Rinpoche traditionally guides his students to that level of experience in one or both of two methods. The approach depends on the individual student.

A student may begin with the mind-training practice and/or the Path of Meditation (Mahāmudrā) teachings. The student should consult with Rinpoche and the lineage lamas about the best method to proceed.

This approach accords with the tradition of Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. He taught that the Ngöndro practice should be embraced with the experiential view of emptiness.

How To Begin?

To begin the Ngöndro you may express your wish to Phakchok Rinpoche. To do this correctly, you may make an offering and request the reading transmission (lung). Once Rinpoche approves, you then receive the reading transmission of the Ngöndro text. This transmission is necessary to connect the practitioner to the lineage masters. You may receive the reading transmission from Rinpoche or from designated lamas within our sangha.

As the Ngöndro is part of the Vajrayāna path it is necessary to practice it under your teacher’s guidance. We attempt here to provide you with all the materials, teaching, and practical instruction needed to begin and complete your Ngöndro practice.

We suggest that you take the time to review all these materials before beginning the practices (taking the most time with those you’ll be doing first) to get a reasonable overall understanding. But please remember that understanding is something that grows as we actually practice. Don’t worry too much if it seems complicated or confusing at the beginning. Many practitioners have done these practices in the past, and they all were confused at first… so take heart!

Why Practice The Ngöndro?

Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche said in his introduction to The Great Gate (Rangjung Yeshe Publications),

When putting the Buddhist path into practice, all the paṇḍitas of India and the masters of Tibet agree that one must purify the obscurations and gather the accumulations. Due to the vastness of the Dharma teachings, one person is unable to practice all of them. For this reason the essence of all the sūtras and tantras were condensed into four things to think of, the four mind changings, and four things to practice, the preliminaries of four times one hundred thousand (ngöndro).

The Four Foundations are the gateway for the Traditional Vajrayāna Path. They enhance your experience of the view. You cultivate positive inner conditions for genuine practice of the three roots of guru, yidam, and ḍākinī.  Each practice aids in transformation, as we work on purifying our body, speech, and mind. Four Foundations practice gives you a stable basis for more advanced practices that lead to complete awakening.

To learn more about the Traditional Vajrayāna Path go to our webpage, here.

image02As inspiration we should think of Sangyum Kunsang Dechen (Phakchok Rinpoche’s grandmother) who was the wisdom-consort of Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. She completed the Ngöndro 12 times. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche repeatedly praised her as a realized master. All great masters and practitioners incorporate Ngöndro every morning within their daily practice. These foundations should remain important throughout your entire path.

Course Curriculum

Introduction to the Four Foundations 00:00:00
The Chokling Tersar Lineage 00:00:00
The Importance of Ngöndro 00:00:00
Beginning the Ngöndro Practice and the Four Mind Changings 00:00:00
Awakening from the Sleep of Ignorance 00:00:00
Ngöndro Practice Chart 00:00:00
Milestones to Measure Progress 00:00:00
Refuge & Bodhichitta
The Meaning of Refuge and the Objects of Refuge 00:00:00
Refuge and Bodhicitta Recital 00:00:00
Refuge Tree and Prostrations 00:00:00
Refuge Tree Visualization 00:00:00
Motivation and Intent: Bodhicitta 00:00:00
Prostrations 00:00:00
Counting Accumulations and Prostrations: Advice 00:00:00
Vajrasattva Purification Practice 00:00:00
Instruction on Vajrasattva Mantra Recitation 00:00:00
Supports for Vajrasattva Visualization 00:00:00
Vajrasattva Mantra Recitation: Audio Suport 00:00:00
Support for Visualization of 100 Syllable Vajrasattva Mantra 00:00:00
Mandala Offerings
Maṇḍala Offerings Part 1 – Accumulation of Merit 00:00:00
Maṇḍala Offerings Part 2 – The Physical Practice 00:00:00
Guru Yoga
Guru Yoga -Four Stages 00:00:00
Resources 00:00:00
Questions and Final Advice 00:00:00
Ngöndro FAQ 00:00:00
Structuring a Practice Session: Advice 00:00:00
Ways of Practicing the Ngöndro / Four Foundations 00:00:00
Supplementary Materials and Practice Supports 00:00:00
Further Recommendations 00:00:00
Tulku Migmar Ngondro Readthrough 00:00:00

About the Instructor

Phakchok Rinpoche

Phakchok Rinpoche was born in 1981 and is a lineage holder of the Profound Treasures of Chokgyur Lingpa from the...

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Program Details

181 Students Enrolled


Duration: Lifetime Access

Price: $108.00

Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.