The Path of Meditation

Path of Meditation
Saraha, The Arrow Shooter, 8th century

The Path of Meditation

The Path of Meditation, or Mahāmudrā,  follows the teachings of the great Indian yogis.   Indian masters such as Saraha, Maitripa, Tilopa, and Nāropā, and the eighty-four mahāsiddhas taught these pith instructions for meditation.

Later, Tibetan masters Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa of the Kagyü school upheld and practiced these teachings. And, in this course,  Phakchok Rinpoche teaches according to the  pith instructions of his root gurus Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and Kyabje Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche.

Mahāmudrā: A gradual path

The Mahāmudrā tradition teaches a gradual path of meditative practice.  As we practice we make friends with our own minds.  This program does not require heavy reading or philosophical study.  Instead, the teachings stress the regular practice of meditation.  This practice requires a curiosity about our own minds.

We begin by practicing following calm-abiding meditation (śamatha). Sequentially, we practice various techniques to calm the mind,  Next, we progress to insight meditation ( vipaśyanā). And then finally, we move to the supreme insight vipaśyanā of essential Mahāmudrā. Also, this program includes mind training practices and other core points of buddhadharma.

The Home Practice Program: What does it contain?  

This program provides a structured and supported environment for engaging with our profound tradition through both online teachings and retreats held throughout the world. The program includes  30 video teachings by  Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche.  We suggest that you watch these repeatedly until the message of the video is clear in your heart and mind.  These videos range from a few minutes up to almost 20 minutes for the full sādhanā practice session video.  The videos move in a progressive sequence. But, you will often wish to refer back to previous videos as you progress in your practice.

How much time does the course require?

The course asks that you devote 30 minutes to 1 hour per day to meditation practice.  This can be done in several sessions, and it is recommended that the sitting meditation is structured within the sādhanā practice of Buddha Śākyamuni that is included in the course.

The focus of meditation moves progressively from one practice to the next, and the Path of Meditation map and the videos explain how long each step customarily should take.  For example, Rinpoche asks students to practice the first stage of meditation for 30 minutes to 1 hour per day for 1 month.  It is important that you set aside the time and follow the instructions progressively as this will be most beneficial for your practice.

Path of Meditation
Tilopa, 11th century Bengali master

Course map and conduct guide

The course follows a clear map course map that lays out the Path of Meditation from ground through fruition.  This is a unique one-page visual presentation of the entire path. And you will want to refer to this regularly to assess your progress and clarify any doubts.

Other course materials include a guideline of ethical conduct.  This one-page summary provides clear guidance as to how to conduct oneself in daily life.  Armed with these two resources, you are well prepared to practice your path.

Moreover, we provide various visual and written support materials. And finally, we feature a student forum moderated by senior students.  We encourage you to make use of the forum to pose questions and receive timely answers.

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.