Principles of Practice

We progress best when we combine learning or study and self-reflection or what Phakchok Rinpoche calls “observation”. With this foundation, we can understand the profound views of the Buddha’s teachings. Next, we also must do the practice. The practice consists of observation of feelings, emotions, thoughts, and mind as well as formal meditation practice. Then we can begin to genuinely reduce ego-clinging. Also, we learn how to transform our negative emotions. In this process, we use a wide range of methods and practices.

Further, we train in giving rise to genuine love and compassion. These qualities can be cultivated through study and formal practice. As we open our hearts to others, our habitual self-cherishing will naturally diminish. This grounded open-heartedness allows us to address the needs of our families, communities, and the larger world by participating in altruistic activity. This activity arises as the expression of the compassion and wisdom cultivated in practice. These are some of the main principles that Rinpoche practices and teaches to his own students.

In The Mahamudra Level One Home Practice Program, Samye Institute presents classic, authentic instructions given by Phakchok Rinpoche. Rinpoche delivers these in short, easily digestible units. In this way, students may properly reflect on the message of the instructions. Most importantly, students learn exactly what to practice. In this way, we develop confidence in our ability to transform and to gain experience and realization.

How to Practice During This Course

This self-paced course includes short video instructions as meditation training. Phakchok Rinpoche recommends that students work with these teachings and practices for a full year. You have 365 days to study, reflect, meditate, and work with these precious teachings. Please note, you will have lifetime access to these teachings.

The following recommendations can help you get the most out of the course.

  1. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to watch all the videos related to the Path of Transformation on Samye Institute. Note in your course journal any questions you have about the teachings.
  2. We recommend that you watch only one or two videos at a sitting, depending on your time. Then, take some time to reflect upon their meaning. You can choose to begin your formal meditation practice with some reflection or observation. But you can also reflect whenever you have a few moments during the day. In fact, it helps to recall the teachings repeatedly for short periods. In that way, you will effortlessly integrate the meaning. Be diligent, but use a light touch!
  3. Remember Phakchok Rinpoche’s advice about observation. We are observing our own minds and characters—not other people! And Rinpoche reminds us that observing means noting. We are learning about our patterns and habits. But we are not beating ourselves up or becoming self-critical. Listen to Rinpoche’s tone when he explains this process. Again, it is a light touch. We say, “Ah. I got angry several times today. I want to transform that.”
  4. Practice the specific meditation training according to the stage you are at in the program. Don’t be tempted to rush ahead. It takes time to develop a meditation practice and a habit. Phakchok Rinpoche often says “Slowly by slowly”. This is the best advice that will allow for genuine transformation.
  5. We highly encourage you to study these videos over and over again. In that way, you may integrate their meaning into your life more deeply as the days, weeks and months go by.
  6. Each unit contains glossary entries that define certain terms or words used by Phakchok Rinpoche in the videos. The explanations correspond to Rinpoche’s teaching. You may also wish to consult our larger Samye glossary if you have additional questions.
  7. Phakchok Rinpoche and our monastic instructors have given many teachings related to the Path of Transformation. We preserve those in our video and audio library and encourage you to browse these teachings here. You can use these videos as a reference to inspire your practice throughout the year.

How to Work with Course Materials

We recommend that you keep a journal during this course. When you write down your observations, you remember what you learn much better. Phackchok Rinpoche makes the point several times that we answer many of our questions through the practice itself. Thus, it is helpful to note down points that you find puzzling, or doubts that you might have. We can be honest with ourselves about what doesn’t seem clear or make sense. Then, from time to time, as you practice formal meditation, return to these questions. Now you can think about them from a new stage in your own experience.

  • What has changed? How do the teachings you learned in early units relate to later points? How does your own practice of meditation make you think about things differently?
  • Why not start by writing down a few thoughts about why you were drawn to this course. What questions came up when you looked at the information about the course? Did some of the advice in the introductory videos on the Path of Transformation page particularly resonate with you—and why?
  • Although you mark a unit “Complete” to move to the next unit, we recommend that before doing that, you note down any doubts or questions you might have after reviewing the teaching and reflecting. This is especially important in the initial units of the course. After you have followed the observation and meditation practice instructions, some of these questions might be resolved. 

Remember that you can also share your reflections with other students by beginning or adding to a comment thread in the Mahamudra Level One course forum. That is a great place to engage with sangha members around the world who are studying this same course!

Keeping to the Time-table

Phakchok Rinpoche would like you to spend the entire time prescribed for each meditation training and not to cut the time short. If the training is for one month, then you should practice it for the full month. The aim of this program is to develop a personal understanding and experience of each stage of training. And we really need that basis before moving on to the next. By doing this, we are following the same process and time scale as past meditators.

You can do it! But, you will need to be both diligent and patient.

How to Practice: Daily Sessions and Contemplation

As a minimum, Phakchok Rinpoche requests that you meditate every day. There’s really no way around it. If we are inconsistent in our practice, we won’t see much progress, and then we tend to get discouraged. Just like any other skill, we need to practice. You wouldn’t expect to run a marathon without regular training, would you? And if you just run around the block for five minutes, would you be prepared?

You must put time into practice in order to develop the benefit of practice. And we are all busy people. But, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us do have some time. However, we may need to drop some old, deep habits. Perhaps we watch too much TV, or we spend a lot of time mindlessly surfing the internet. Challenge yourself to find the time—you may be surprised! You can inspire yourself by making meditation one of your “non-negotiable” daily habits—just like brushing your teeth. Some days you may have more time than others, but we can always find a few minutes to sit.

Observation and contemplation also should be a regular part of your day. It is helpful to take a few minutes during the day to check in with yourself. Have your feelings and emotions been stable or unstable? Have you gotten consumed by thoughts and started down rabbit holes with long stories? If so, simply notice,  and remind yourself to be more attentive.

At the end of each day, it is also good to look back on your day. What was your emotional temperature? Were you kind to yourself and to others? Did you keep your open heart and mind in your interactions? If not, own up to it, and without judging, resolve to do better tomorrow. If you acted with compassion and wisdom, acknowledge that. It is important to be honest with yourself and recognize improvement as well as setbacks.

About Instructor

Phakchok Rinpoche

Phakchok Rinpoche was born in 1981 and was recognized as the seventh Phakchok Rinpoche, the incarnation of a great teacher and meditation master. Receiving ordination from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Rinpoche received a thorough education and training in Buddhist philosophy and meditation, studying with some of the most accomplished masters of modern times. His main teachers were his grandfather Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Kyabje Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche and Kyabchok Soktse Rinpoche. Rinpoche completed his education at the Dzongsar Institute of Advanced Buddhist Studies in Bir, India, where he received the Khenpo title. Rinpoche travels the world, teaching in Buddhist centers, universities, and monasteries in Asia, North and South America, and Europe. As a yogi practitioner with a family and the responsibility of monastic institutions, Rinpoche is deeply familiar with both ways of life and practice. Rinpoche’s life defines what it means to be a dharma practitioner today by emphasizing the importance of balance in one's life.

7 Courses

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Course Includes

  • 33 Lessons