Nine Yanas

A Gradual Path of Study & Practice

Students join the Nine Yanas program and approach Vajrayana more gradually through more intensive study and contemplation.

The first Six Yanas of the program include teachings, contemplation, and reflection exercises that unfold gradually. Within these three stages, the student practices the Treasury of Blessings sadhana as a framework for meditation practice.

This progressive approach provides a structured framework with which to better understand and implement the Buddha’s precious teachings. By studying, contemplating, and meditating in stages like the levels of a staircase, we can gain realization more swiftly.

First Yana: Shravakayana

Shravakayana refers to the foundational vehicle of Buddhism. Shravaka means “hearer” or “listener”. A follower of this path develops a strong sense of renunciation and weariness with the cycle of rebirth. In order to attain this liberation, the hearer trains to realize the view of selflessness of person. Shravakas avoid the ten non-virtues, practice ethical behavior, and cultivate contentment.  Meditation training begins with calm abiding, or shamata meditation.

Second Yana: Pratyekabuddhayana

The Pratyekabuddha refers to a “self-realized” practitioner who studies without the direct guidance of a teacher. Like the Shravaka, they cultivate detachment and renunciation. The primary focus of their contemplation is the 12 Links of Dependent Origination. Through this, they come to realize the view of selflessness of person and half the view of selflessness of phenomena. The result of this pathway is the self-liberation of an arhat.

Third Yana: Bodhisattvayana

Bodhisattvayana refers to Mahayana Buddhism (the Great Vehicle), which emphasizes the bodhisattva ideal and the principle of shunyata (emptiness). Bodhi means “enlightened”; sattva means “being.” A bodhisattva is a courageous being who out of compassion aspires to attain enlightenment in order to benefit all sentient beings. However, the bodhisattva’s compassion is only authentic if conjoined with the realization of the emptiness of all phenomena.

Treasury of Blessings Visualization

Three Outer Tantras


Green Tara


Kriya-, Upa- and Yoga-Tantras

Practice Text

Kriya-, Upa- and Yoga-Tantras


Atisha’s Five Stanzas Practice

Upon completion of the first Six Yanas, the student joins the Traditional Vajrayana Path and starts the Ngöndro practice.

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.