The Tergar Meditation Community, founded by the respected teacher and master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, is offering an intensive new online study program titled “Dzogchen: An Immersion Course on Pure Awareness,” as part of its expanding Vajrayana Online e-learning portal.
The ongoing course offers an in-depth examination of the teachings and practices of Dzogchen, aimed at aiding students along the path to the recognition of pure awareness and ultimately to liberation. Although the program was launched in December and will conclude this spring, all of the course resources will remain online permanently so that existing and future students will be able access the material for study and practice according to their own schedules.
“We’ve been working with the Vajrayana Online platform for the last six years,” senior Tergar instructor Tim Olmsted told Buddhistdoor Global. “And we now have 15 courses running through all aspects of Buddhist philosophy, from Ngöndro, the Life and Teachings of the Buddha, and the Three Yanas, and into pure practice material, such as bardo—the bardos of this life, the bardos of death and dying—this is a very extensive course. There’s also a very extensive course on the four tenets of Buddhist philosophy, on Mahāmudrā, and now the Dzogchen course. So there’s something here for everybody—people just coming up as well as much more experienced practitioners.”
Dzogchen, the “Great Perfection,” is a subtle teaching that points toward the inherent, primordial nature of all beings that exists free from limitations and conditioning. Considered the most profound teaching of the Nyingma tradition, it is a practice that reveals the unfiltered, non-dual awareness known as rigpa, the innermost nature of the mind, which can fundamentally transform the way the practitioner perceives themselves and their relationship with the world.
“All of our courses are open to the public except two—the Mahāmudrā course and the Dzogchen course,” Olmsted explained. “In Mingyur Rinpoche’s tradition, receiving pointing-out instruction in person with a qualified lama is the entrance to both the Mahāmudrā tradition and the Dzogchen tradition. So this is a prerequisite for those two courses. The beauty of this course is that it gives the student the opportunity to really go through in a very systematic way the history, the lineage, the preparation, the philosophy, and of course the practices.”
The Dzogchen course is built upon a revered set of teachings known as The Three Words that Strike the Vital Point from the lineage of Garab Dorje, and features both classical and contemporary modes of instruction.
“There are two ways of learning Dzogchen: the textual tradition and the tradition of personal guidance. Of course, you can’t learn the full tradition simply through texts,” said Olmsted. “Then, of course, there’s the question of receiving personal direct guidance from a teacher, which is critical in Dzogchen. These days, it’s hard for a Westerner to spend the years with a lama needed to get a full, comprehensive, coherent training in Dzogchen. The beauty of the Dzogchen online program is that we offer both the guidance instructions and extensive teachings related to the view, meditation and conduct of Dzogchen. It’s a beautiful program that’s aimed at deepening and enriching our students’ understanding and practice.”
Via the Tergar Meditation Community’s e-learning platform, Vajrayana Online, students can explore a growing range material on topics and practices from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Click here for full details of “Dzogchen: An Immersion Course on Pure Awareness.” Information on other courses offered through Vajrayana Online can be found here.
“Even though this is Mingyur Rinpoche’s learning platform, it’s intended as an offering to the larger Buddhist world,” Olmsted noted. “Depending on the topic, we bring in voices from other Buddhist traditions, as well as other faith traditions and non-faith traditions and fields, such as neurobiology. We’ve tried to design this Vajrayana Online learning platform so that there’s something for everyone, newer students as well as old hands.”
Mingyur Rinpoche, the founder of the Tergar Meditation Community, which has centers and practice groups across the world, is a renowned teacher and a best-selling author whose books include The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness (2007), Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom (2009), and Turning Confusion into Clarity: A Guide to the Foundation Practices of Tibetan Buddhism (2014).
Born in 1975 in the Himalayan border region between Tibet and Nepal, Mingyur Rinpoche received extensive training in Tibetan Buddhist meditative and philosophical traditions from his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920–96), considered one of the greatest modern Dzogchen masters, and subsequently at Sherab Ling Monastery in northern India. After just two years, at the age of 13, Mingyur Rinpoche entered a three-year meditation retreat and then completed a second immediately afterward, serving as retreat master. At 23, Rinpoche received full monastic ordination.
Mingyur Rinpoche famously undertook a four-year solitary wandering retreat through the Himalaya from 2011–15. In recounting how he came to terms with the realities of his ambition to practice in the manner of a wandering yogi, Rinpoche revealed that he confronted many personal and spiritual challenges—including, at one point, his own mortality. Rinpoche has described the years he spent wandering in the Himalaya as “one of the best periods of my life.”*