This program was developed by Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche and Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche in India nearly two decades ago. It allows lay Westerners to remain involved with family and community while nourishing Dharma practice by committing an hour a day or more to formal practice. Rinpoche said, “Our approach with the seminar, at the very beginning, was to emphasize not rejecting work, family and so forth-but to integrate a daily practice into one’s lifestyle.”
Khyabje Bokar Rinpoche offered the first Mahamudra Program seminar in Portland, Oregon in 1996. It has been an annual event since then. In 2001, Bokar Rinpoche asked that Lama Michael Conklin and Lama Tara of Victoria, BC, co-host the seminar for practitioners in North America.
The Mahamudra Program is based on the idea that in the midst of daily life it is necessary to have a coherent approach that presents the essential elements of practice in a clear and concise progression. This structured path will allow one to fruitfully persevere in Dharma practice throughout an entire life. At all levels of the program there are yearly commitments to meditation practice which require between one and two hours per day (first-timers may choose a lesser level).
The first six years focus on becoming familiar with the stages of meditation: calm abiding (Zhinay), insight (Lhatong) and Mahamudra (the union of calm abiding and insight). During this time practitioners receive instruction in the preliminary practices (Ngondro), the cultivation of bodhicitta and Chenrezig meditation. The retreat is a mix of teaching and practice, with ample time for questions.