The Traditional Vajrayāna Path
This is the path that was most commonly followed by the practitioners and great masters of the past in Tibet. As Phakchok Rinpoche is a primary lineage holder of the New Treasures of Chokgyur Lingpa, or Chokling Tersar, this path is centered around these profound teachings and practices.
This path has two parts to it: the foundations and the main part. The foundations refer to the four mind changings and the ngöndro foundational practices. The main part refers to the development and completion stage practices.
Ngöndro Four Foundations Practices
Practicing and completing the ngöndro creates the necessary inner conditions to accomplish the practices of development and completion. The ngöndro contains essential, profound practices to purify body, speech and mind of obscurations. One cultivates merit through generosity; and finally one recognizes the innate nature through the profound path of guru yoga. Completion of the ngöndro foundational practices is necessary in order to genuinely go through the stages of this path.
If you have received the reading transmission for the ngöndro, you may access the student resource program here: https://samyeinstitute.org/course/tukdrub-barche-kunsel-ngondro-four-foundations/
Main Part – Development And Completion Stage
Having completed the ngöndro and received the empowerments for the main practices one should begin to learn the key points of practice for this path and engage in the practice of the three roots:
The guru, the root of all blessings;
The yidam, the root of accomplishment; and
The ḍākinī, the root of activities.
These are the three inner objects of refuge that are taught in the Vajrayāna, where the three jewels are explained to be the outer refuge. Here, the guru is seen as the Buddha, the yidam as the Dharma, and the ḍākinī as the Sangha.
As it says in A Torch for the Path to Omniscience:
The three roots are the guru, yidam, and ḍākinī, the inner refuge of the Secret Mantrayāna. They are like the root or the basis for all the positive accumulations until you attain enlightenment.
One begins by practicing the guru sādhanā, which in our tradition is usually Guru Rinpoche. Having completed that you then begin the yidam sādhanā, which is most commonly Vajrakīlaya or Vajrasattva but depends on one’s own karmic link. After that one practices the ḍākinī sādhanā, which is most commonly Kurukulle, Sangwa Yeshe, Yeshe Tsogyal or another ḍākinī practice from the Tersar lineage. You also practice the dharmapāla sādhanā, such as Chökyong Gongdü Nyingpo, thus completing sādhanā practice for the three roots.
After that, you will be introduced to the practices of tsa-lung and the practice of the six yogas from the Tersar tradition. Having completed these practices sufficiently one focuses more upon the path of the great perfection most often following The Heart-Essence of Samantabhadra (Kunzang Tugtik) cycle from the Chokling Tersar. From then on, you will be guided more and more deeply in the Dzogchen teachings.
Sometimes Rinpoche will give a practitioner a single cycle to focus on without the need to go through numerous other practices. It depends upon the individual.
This swift and blessed path follows the stages of development and completion stage practice of the three inner tantras of the Nyingma tradition and the Chokling New Treasures lineage.
All of these practices contain śamatha and vipaśyanā practice, yet the focus is different from that taught in the Path of Meditation. Here you take the four foundations, sādhanā practice, and so on as the heart of your practice, utilizing these skillful means to reach true realization. Depending on the student, it should take seven to eight years to receive these teachings, having completed the previous stage before progressing to the next.
Sādhanā Ritual Courses
Annual ritual courses are offered in Kathmandu, Nepal. These courses involve intensive practice of sādhanā and instructions from an expert lama from the lineage. Students learn the meaning of practice as well as all the associated physical practices such as music playing, torma making, shrine etiquette, etc.