Kagyu Changchub Chuling is pleased to announce that, per the wish of Khenpo Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche, Lama Eric has agreed to again offer Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche’s Mahamudra Seminar covering the preliminary and main practices of the mahamudra tradition.
Bokar Rinpoche initiated the program in 1992 to provide a concise yet complete approach to the stages of mahamudra practice, in a manner suited to the lives of modern lay practitioners. Over the past several decades, hundreds of aspirants have found the support and structure of this course a powerful support for launching them into a consistent daily practice. We heartily welcome and encourage the KCC community to participate in this skillful program.
The Practice Program
A key component of the program is the practice commitment which acts as a critical support for making dharma a stable feature in one’s life. At a minimum, participants are asked to practice shamatha (resting meditation) for 30 minutes daily and to do 100,000 repetitions of Chenrezi’s mantra over the year. Though 100,000 may sound like a large number, the mantras can be done outside of formal meditation, and most do not find it difficult to complete them.
Traditionally, the preliminary practices (often referred to by their Tibetan name, ngondro) are done as a prerequisite to engaging in vajrayana practices, including shamatha and vipashyana of the mahamudra tradition. These meditations remove obstacles and create positive conditions that allow practitioners to engage more deeply in the practices that follow.
The preliminary practices include refuge and prostrations, the 100-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva, mandala offering, and guru yoga. Each of these four practices are performed during one quarter of the practice year—refuge and prostrations for the first three months, Vajrasattva for the second three months, etc. One can commit to doing 5,000 or 10,000 of each per quarter. A commitment of 10,000 per quarter is likely to take about 30-45 minutes per day.For those who continue to the second year, instructions on vipashyana are given, and in the third year—if one has met certain practice requirements—the practice of the union of shamatha and vipashyana, or mahamudra, is introduced. One continues accumulating the preliminary practices as part of the second and third year commitments.
Further, for those who are interested, after practicing the third year teachings for three years, one can choose to begin the yidam aspect of the seminar. One would then receive the empowerment and instruction for the yidam and take that as one’s main practice. The yidam teachings also progress through outer, inner, secret, and most secret levels every two years.
Who Should Attend
Practitioners at all levels are welcome to join the seminar. One must attend the whole seminar and be willing to take on the accompanying practice commitments for one year. Participants should have already received the vow of refuge—the formal act of becoming Buddhist—or be ready to take it. The refuge vow will be offered at the seminar.
The teachings will include an overview of the mahamudra tradition. Participants will be introduced to the various aspects of the preliminary practices, and there will be guided meditations in the main practices of shamatha, vipashyana, and mahamudra, according to how many years of the program one has completed.
The day will begin with calm abiding meditation and end with the Chenrezi practice. There will be detailed instruction for all of the practices to be done in the course of the year and plenty of time for questions and discussion. The daily schedule will be fairly full but will also allow for ample stretch breaks and time for rest and reflection. There is a nearly equal balance of meditation and teachings during the seminar.
The Founder, Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche
Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche (1940-2004) was a renowned master of the Karma Kagyu lineage and the principal lineage holder of Shangpa Kagyu, which he inherited from his root guru, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche. Drawing from a lifetime of study, intensive meditation, and many years of experience as a retreat master, Bokar Rinpoche first offered this program in 1992.
Khenpo Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche, Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche’s main student and the abbot of Bokar Monastery, continues to offer this seminar roughly every other year in India. Due to the pandemic, the seminar that was planned to be offered in Ibiza, Spain, has been cancelled.
The Retreat Leader
Lama Eric first came to KCC in the fall of 1995. He met Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche in 1996 and began practicing and studying under his guidance, primarily by following this very seminar. Having served the dharma center as president for four years and as the first caretaker of the SCOL retreat land, in 2002 he moved to India where he intensified his practice and study of Tibetan language.
Shortly before his passing in August of 2004, Bokar Rinpoche granted Lama Eric a seat in his newly built Shangpa Kagyu retreat center at his monastery in Mirik. He completed that retreat from February 2005 to September 2008, and continued to study and practice in Mirik, while also serving as translator for Khenpo Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche, His Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche and others. Since the recognition of Yangsi Bokar Rinpoche in January of 2015, Lama Eric offered him classes in English and play.
Whether teaching, guiding meditation, or illustrating a point with a story, Lama Eric offers an inspiring example with his depth of knowledge, insight, enthusiasm, and kindness.
History and More Details of the Seminar: kcc.org/meditate/mahamudra-seminar