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Vajrayana: The Path of the Masters of the Past

Students who have prior familiarity with Buddhist principles, prior meditation experience, or a strong connection to Vajrayana Buddhism may decide to enter this path. One begins by taking the refuge and bodhisattva vows. This path 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 centers around these profound teachings and practices.

New Vajrayana Content

Enhancing and Dispelling Obstacles · Vajrayana
In this video teaching filmed in summer 2013 at Samye Hermitage New York, Phakchok Rinpoche advises us how not to be shaken by obstacles.
12 minutes
Nine Yanas · The Foundation · Vajrayana
Prostrations are a way of paying respect as well as a mindfulness practice. In this video filmed at Samye Hermitage New York in 2015, Tulku Migmar discusses the purpose of prostration and demonstrates three different techniques.
10 minutes
Mahayoga Practices · Vajrayana
In this teaching, Tulku Migmar Tsering, with characteristic humor and simple examples, answers some frequently asked questions for Vajrayana practitioners and explains the Dakini priciple in Tibetan Buddhism.
48 minutes
In this audio recording, Phakchok Rinpoche leads a group in the Narak Kong Shak lamenting apology and gives a brief explanation of each section of the practice .
25 minutes

Online Courses

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2 Lessons

Sukhavati Teachings

The material in this course is available only to attendees of Phakchok Rinpoche’s Sukhavati Retreats at Samye Hermitage New York…

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Available in 6 languages
44 Lessons

The Concise Sang Offering

This support program offers video and audio teachings on the Vajrayana practice of fragrant smoke offerings.

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Available in 6 languages
37 Lessons

The Seed of Supreme Awakening

Teachings on the Seed of Supreme Awakening, the extensive Ngöndro of the Lamé Tukdrup Barché Künsel.

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55 Lessons

Tibetan for Practitioners

Guided by translator Oriane Lavole, this course helps students connect with the Tibetan language and its rich dharmic context.

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32 Lessons

Tukdrub Barché Kunsel Ngöndro

The Four Foundations practices form the gateway for the Traditional Vajrayana path. Each element purifies the body, speech, and mind.

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Initial Practice

Reflection on the four mind changings​
Learning and focusing on the refuge precepts​
Students may choose to take additional precepts​
Bodhisattva vow​

Cultivating Devotion

In this series, Hilary Herdman explores the Sixteen Principles of Societal Human Values, the moral code promoted by teh emperor Songtsen Gampo.

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What is Buddhism?

What Is Buddhism?

In this advice session with students, Phakchok Rinpoche explains that Buddhism encompasses a great deal. “Buddhism is everything!” he says.

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pure perception

Spacious and Calm Mind

Real happiness means having a spacious and calm mind. Happiness is not just about having fun. We become happy when we develop a grounded mind that isn’t influenced by whether we have a good day or a bad day. By examining, we can realize that what we normally consider happiness is not reliable.

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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.

Ngöndro Milestones

Phakchok Rinpoche often reminds us that we should measure our own progress against milestones. We can do this with any type of practice—we first know what our practice should lead to, and then we make sure we are going in the correct direction.

Rinpoche discussed the milestones for the preliminary practices in teachings at RYG Cooperstown in 2017. Here, we present these milestones in an easy-to-follow chart.

First, Rinpoche pointed out the changes that should occur from practicing the outer preliminaries and taking them to heart. We should return to this chart repeatedly to see if our mindset and actions accord with these milestones.

Next, Rinpoche explained the milestone for the inner preliminary practices. As we proceed through each practice we should measure our progress by referring to this chart. Each one of the preliminaries helps us to clear away specific obstacles and to accumulate merit. As we repeatedly prostrate, for example, we should see our own pride reduce. Simultaneously. we can see our understanding of refuge deepen and become more confident.

We encourage you to print out a copy of this milestone chart and keep it in a place where you see it regularly. This way, it reminds you of the transformation you should be experiencing through the profound outer and inner foundation practices.

Self-reflection on our path is a crucial part of our practice. Here, we benefit from remaining open and honest about our own strengths and weaknesses. When we see progress, we can rejoice and be happy. And if we see, which most of us will, areas where we still need work, we can then make more efforts there.

Mahayoga and Beyond

From this level students from the Traditional Vajrayana and the Nine Yanas Pathways merge into one stream.

Anu- and Atiyoga

Restricted to senior students. Eligibility to continue to these levels will be determined by Phakchok Rinpoche.

The Twelve Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche​


Empowerment: Tukdrup Barché Kunsel

Spiritual Foundation: Tukdrup Barché Kunsel Ngöndro. Students can practice the ngöndro either individually or in a group. An online Ngöndro program is available.

Tukdrup Barché Kunsel Ngöndro. Students can practice the ngöndro either individually or in a group. An online Ngöndro program is available.

The Practice of the Five Foundations: Refuge, Bodhicitta, Vajrasattva, Mandala Offering, Guru Yoga

Focus: Improving our character. Cultivating core values: Reliability, Kindness, Sincerity, Honesty, Humility, and Dignity.

Gaining firm stability: Stable confidence in karma, cause and effect; Renunciation; Bodhicitta (training in compassion); Devotion (Guru Yoga); Recognition (nature of mind meditation); Samaya (knowing the Vajrayana samayas and how to mend them)

Geksel: Removal of obstacles (supplication and aspiration)

Bokdön: Enhancement with supportive practices and multiplying merit.

Mahayoga and Beyond

From this level students from the Traditional Vajrayana and the Nine Yanas Pathways merge into one stream.

Three Inner Tantras

Students engage in the practice of Mahayoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga.

Amitabha Phowa Practice

Rinpoche suggests that all students take the opportunity to practice in a one-week Phowa retreat to gain confidence at this point in their journey.

Kyerim: Developing Stage

The students begin Mahayoga practice after having gained stability in the key principles of karma, bodhicitta, devotion, recognition, and samaya.


Empowerment: Tukdrup Barché Kunsel

Spiritual Foundation: Lamrim Yeshé Nyingpo and Tukdrup Barché Kunsel (Chapter 4: Guru Nangsi Zilnön, Yeshé Zangthal)

Practice: Three Roots

Focus: Learning and reflecting on the Mahayoga Samayas and establishing the view of the Mahayoga: perfect pure equality (kundzop dhakpa chenpo, döndam nyampa chenpo)

Three Roots

Lama: Guru Rinpoché: Concise Daily Practice and Trinlé Nyingpo

Yidam: Dorjé Sempa (peaceful) and Dorjé Phurba (wrathful)

Khandro: Kurukullā and Jetsün Drolma

Sadhana Ritual Courses

Samye Institute offers these support courses regularly in Nepal and also at some of our global centers. We are currently developing an online course that will serve the needs of those who cannot travel to Nepal to allow the students to immerse themselves in sadhana practice gradually.

Focus: Body, Speech, Mind, and Activity
Gain stability in the Four Nails that Bind the Life-Force
Familiarization with the sadhana and its ritual aspects

Maintaining the Practice (dü shi)

Students learn how to maintain practice throughout the day in all activities.

Focus: Refocusing on Phowa and Bardo teaching and training

Geksel: Removal of Obstacles

Bokdön: Enhancement

Anu- and Atiyoga

Dzokrim: Completion Stage

  • Having gained stability in karma, bodhicitta, devotion, mind recognition, and the Mahayoga view and samayas.


  • Nadi, Prana and Bindhu: These teachings will be given in detail to those students who engage in the Three-Year Retreat
  • Spiritual Foundation: Lamrim Yeshé Nyingpo and Tukdrup Barché Kunsel (Chapter 9: Guru Dzamling Gyenchok: Dechen Zangthal)
  • Practice: Six Vajra Yogas (Dorjé Chö Druk). These are Heat Yoga, Illusory Body, Luminosity, Dream Yoga, Phowa, and Bardo
  • Focus: Primarily on Heat Yoga, Bardo, and Phowa


  • Spiritual Foundation: Lamrim Yeshé Nyingpo and Tukdrup Barché Kunsel (Chapter 16: Guru Dechen Gyalpo: Ösal Zangthal)
  • Practice: Trekchö (Cutting Through)
  • Focus: Devotion and rigpa

Ngöndro (Preliminary)

  • Body: Vajra Position
  • Speech: Hung Practice
  • Mind: Minds Coming, Staying and Going (jung, né, dro sum)

Ngöshi (Main Part)

  • Three Vital Points of Pointing Out
  • Mahamudra Stage 3: Equal Taste
  • Mahamudra Stage 4: Non-meditation
  • Thögal
Geksel: Removal of Obstacles
  • Bokdön: Enhancement

Lifetime Practice

  • Guru Practice: Trinlé Nyingpo or Concise Daily Practice
  • Cultivation of Bodhicitta
  • Dzogchen: Trekchö

From time to time or on appropriate occasions one should also practice:

  • Bardo
  • Chöd: Cutting through Self-clinging
Tsok: Ganachakra offering

Optional Three Years and 45 Days Retreat

First Year:

  • Starting with two months of mind training and meditation
  • Ngöndro: Tukdrup Barché Kunsel Preliminary Practices

Second Year:

  • Ngözhi: Main Part: Three Roots
  • Lama: Five Months
  • Nature of mind meditation: One month
  • Yidam: Three Months
Khandro: Two Months

  • Nature of mind meditation: One month

Third Year:

  • Chenrezik Khorwa Dongdruk: Avalokiteshvara: Forty-Five Days
  • Six Vajra Yogas: One month each
Trekchö: Six Months