Buddhist Yogis FAQ

Our vibrant community trains in the philosophy and practices of Tibetan Buddhist Yogis,
the non-celibate, life-embracing path of Tibetan Buddhism.

The emphasis of our practices are simple, direct experience of wakefulness and ease. Our centers, clinics and schools focus on the teachings known as the great perfection (Dzogchen) – Buddhism’s most treasured path to awakening intrinsic wisdom.

We celebrate the system of meditation and personal transformation found in the practices of Dzogchen, the Six Yogas, Chod and Tibetan Yoga as taught in the Nyingma lineage.

We explore the practical application of Buddhist wisdom in the modern context, with a specialty in integrating Buddhism with a dynamic, complex life.

We also emphasize nourishing body-mind vitality through natural medicine – embracing Buddhist wisdom as applied and embodied.

We are dedicated to providing accessible, in-depth Buddhist education for students, teachers and leaders. Due to our commitment to integrating Buddhist Wisdom with technology – our online courses allow an unprecedented access to ongoing and advanced study.

Our group meditations are currently being offered online as our ongoing program: Daily Meditation Online.

Welcome! If you are new to Buddhism we recommend starting with Open Teachings listed in our Main Menu under Curriculum. 

If you are looking for support in a daily practice, join Daily Meditation Online and practice every day with our online community.

Take these two self-paced course prerequisites for Vajrayana Training: Buddhist Ethics  and  Sutra, Tantra, Dzogchen. These courses are also available at the Supporter Member level of membership.

Learn more about membership here: Become a Member

If you have any questions, please contact us at info@buddhiststudiesinstitute.org.

Ngakpa Training is for serious and experienced students who fulfill the following requirements:

  • have completed at least 10% ngondro or its equivalent [4-5 fold ngondro of any school of Tibetan Buddhism is accepted]
  • want to do the most in-depth training
  • completed 24 Vajrayana Training classes in order to be familiar with Pema Khandro’s teaching and Dzogchen Nyingthig lineage in particular
  • are Vajra Sangha members and have studied with Pema Khandro for two years
  • are continuing to be concurrently enrolled in Vajrayana Training
  • regularly attend BSI retreats (may be completed online)
  • participate in regular service
  • intend to attend for a 3- 5 year period
  • are ethical, spiritually mature and take personal responsibility for their lives, their minds and the quality of their relationships
  • have stable mental health, since doing serious training can be challenging, it is essential to have evidence of extended period of mental health before doing advanced training in Tibetan Tantra and Dzogchen.
  • an approved application

All Members of the School are eligible to participate in volunteer opportunities, called Service. Service is a powerful form of Buddhist practice and also the force of kindness and generosity behind the evolution, organization, and manifestation of Ngakpa International. Since the beginnings of the tradition, members of the path were the ones who sustained and supported the teachings to continue. Become a Member

Service & Volunteering for Ngakpa International is held by Kunchen Ann Wangmo. She oversees and cares for the volunteers and can answer any questions you have about how best to participate. If you would like to volunteer and offer service, please contact Kunchen at Volunteer@BuddhistStudiesInstitute.org.

Membership FAQ

Go to our member page HERE and sign up at the level you would like to participate at.

Log-in with your username and password.

In the main menu, hover over Member Portal –> Hover over Access Courses –> Click on your current membership level

Yes, you can ask Pema Khandro Rinpoche a question in live classes for Vajrayana Training or at live retreats.

Yes, you can make changes to your payment information by contacting our Membership Coordinator at info@buddhiststudiesinstitute.org.

Please give a minimum of 42hrs notice. 

With your current Membership Level you do not have permission to view this content, or you are not currently signed in with the Membership Level needed to access this material. Be sure to Log In with your username and password before accessing content available with your current Membership Level. For more information on membership levels and benefits, go to the Member Portal –> Become a Member

Ngakpa International offers scholarships to ordained monastic practitioners. Application available upon request. Contact Info@BuddhistStudiesInstitute.org to apply.

Pema Khandro FAQ

Pema Khandro writes an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism here

Norbu, Namkhai. The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen

Powers, John. A Concise Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Ithaca: Snow Lion. 2008

The primary books studied in Pema Khandro’s teachings and trainings are:

  • Excellent Path to Enlightenment (Sutrayana, Volume 1 is available on Amazon, use the Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche translation).
  • Dudjom Rinpoche’s Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, Its Fundamentals and History
  • Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life
  • Buddhahood without Meditation
  • Longchenpa’s Seven Treasuries
  • Patrul Rinpoche’s Words of My Perfect Teacher
  • For more recommended books see this list: https://ngakpa.org/recommended-reading/
  • Buddhist Yogis integrate Buddhist wisdom with work, family and society.
  • Tibetan Yogis are one form of practice in Tibetan Buddhism. In contrast to monks and nuns, they are not celibate. While Tibetan monastics often live in settled monastic communities full-time, Yogis often live within ordinary society. However they may also live in ‘gars’ which are residential meditation communities, or they may live in isolation doing retreats.
  • There are many reasons that Tibetan Buddhists have practiced as yogis throughout history such as: family lineage, one’s teacher being a yogi, philosophical reasons, specializing in meditation practices, personal beliefs, wish to integrate Buddhist wisdom with relationship and family life, in order to remove spiritual obstacles, because it is the primary local tradition, because of a tulku tradition, etc…
  • Ordained Buddhist Yogis where a red and white shawl and keep long hair. They wear a white, maroon or grey skirt depending on region and lineage. The manner of becoming a Buddhist Yogi varies according to the lineage and teacher.
  • In Tibet there are many Tibetan Yogis living in Repkong – about three thousand. There are Tibetan Yogis in India, Nepal, Bhutan and the US as well.
  • Learn more about Tibetan Yogis with Pema Khandro’s article here.
  • Many teachings are recorded and stored on our online library. Members get access to recorded teachings. Become a member here. Depending on the different levels of membership, different video libraries are available.
  • All Members have access to Recordings Offered to Friend Members
  • Snow Lion Members have access to recordings of online courses.
  • Vajrayana Training members may watch their video live or they may watch the recordings afterwards.
  • All Access Pass members receive access to recordings of all online teachings and retreat teachings during their membership.
  • Pema Khandro Rinpoche teaches Tibetan Buddhism’s Vajrayana and Dzogchen teachings, along with the meditation practices therein. Dzogchen offers many practices very similar to mindfulness meditation. See an overview of the courses led by Pema Khandro here.
  • There is an overview of the courses and practice/study paths taught by Pema Khandro here.
  • The daily practice for all students is the Refuge and Enlightened Intent prayer plus Calm Abiding Meditation (Zhine)
  • This page has Pema Khandro’s Daily Prayers – these are also known as the Refuge prayer and Bodhichitta prayer from the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse – the Longchen Nyingthig plus the four Bodhi vows. Following this a 24 minute period of silent sitting meditation is used called Calm Abiding Meditation. This is then followed by the Dedication prayer which you can find on Pema Khandro’s Daily Prayers
  • Students can learn Calm Abiding Meditation from Pema Khandro’s Senior Students and Authorized Instructors in Seattle, San Diego, Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Grass Valley. For contact information – email info@BuddhistYogis.org
  • After silent sitting – then there is a daily contemplation to read. These cover the set of teachings known as the ‘outer preliminaries’ in Vajrayana. The text for daily contemplation to read after the silent sitting period is Longchenpa’s Guide to Meditation. It is called “The Excellent Path to Enlightenment: Sutrayana Volume One.” It is translated by Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche.
  • These instructions cover the first 180 days of practice. After completing that, the next 180 days are the Daily Prayers, Vajrasattva meditation, and Calm Abiding Meditation practice. After this you will need to join Vajrayana Training for further instructions. The second or third year of practice is when students may either begin ngondro meditation or train in a yogi style sequence of meditation path focused on Chod and silent sitting, which is described here. Those who do not have the time to do ngondro may still progress through the traditional path of meditation oriented around Chod. More advanced students or students who have more time available do both. https://ngakpa.org/courses-2/weekend-courses/ For an overview, visit this page.
  • Students who begin daily practice may wish to set up a shrine to support the practice. This page has instructions for how to set up a shrine, which practices to do on the lunar calendar days, what practice implements you need, an outline of all the major practices you need to know and the outline of the sequence of practices for the first five years of meditation. But it is password protected for access for Vajrayana Training students only. Learn about Vajrayana training with Pema Khandro here.
  • Step One:
  • You may begin by attending a public teaching or taking self-paced online classes here. Buddhism As A Way of Life is targeted towards beginners to give an overview and orientation to Rinpoche’s teachers. Find these here: Buddhism Online Courses
  • There is also Dakini Day Meditation – once a month – where Rinpoche gives a beginners class on meditation and sometimes a short talk.
  • Or you may attend a class taught by one of the senior instructors.

If you want to study further:

  • At Classes. Pema Khandro Rinpoche also responds to questions at the end of most of her teachings whether they are online or in person.
  • After retreat. Registered participants of certain retreats are able to sign-up for a private meeting with Pema Khandro.
  • By Email. Email questions may be submitted to info@buddhiststudiesinstitute.org – where one of Pema Khandro Rinpoche’s personal students will reply. They are well trained and happy to answer your questions. As for direct emails to Pema Khandro – due to time constraints, Pema Khandro Rinpoche does not communicate via email or take messages passed to her through her students.

For Students of Vajrayana Training:

  • For Vajrayana Training students
    • You have been connect to a teaching assistant in the school. These are the senior students of Pema Khandro and they are happy to meet with you once/month to answer questions that arise.
    • There is also a Vajrayana Training google group where your emails can be sent. Teaching Assistants and fellow sangha members will reply to these questions.
    • At the end of most Vajrayana Training classes there is an opportunity to ask questions.
  • Pema Khandro does not offer one on one meetings with the general public. However, one on one private meetings can be arranged with Pema Khandro Rinpoche’s senior students: Aruna Rigdzin and Satya Shiva. See Pema Khandro’s “Skillful Means Sessions.”
  • If you want to speak with Pema Khandro Rinpoche directly, the best way is usually to attend the next public teaching or web/phone class (https://ngakpa.org/program-category/upcoming-programs/) and speak with her at the end of class during the question section. Or you may wait in the line to speak with her briefly after the public program. Due to her busy schedule, she does not offer private meetings for the public, but she does make time to speak directly with people during and after most public programs. She makes time to discuss questions with members every month on Dzogchen Day.
  • For private meetings and more extensive private meetings, due to the limits of her schedule, private meetings are reserved only for the Vajra Sangha, Pema Khandro’s personal students. However, Rinpoche has taken great care to train her two senior students Aruna and Satya to be available for one on one sessions. They have trained in all Pema Khandro Rinpoche’s teachings and practices, including a set of practices and techniques to offer in one on one sessions for members of the public, including both Buddhism and Tibetan medicine perspectives. They are well prepared to meet with you, and in the rare instance that greater support is needed than what they can offer, they consult with Pema Khandro Rinpoche directly. These Skillful Means Sessions can be offered online or by phone.
  • If you are a student (Vajra Sangha member) of Pema Khandro then you can arrange to meet with her directly in person, by email or phone.
  • Rinpoche meets with her students once a week online every Wednesday. See the calendar here.
  • Pema Khandro offers an ongoing online training called Vajrayana Training. The only pre-requisite is an interview with Pema Khandro Rinpoche. You can sign up by clicking on this link and filling out the registration form. Once you answer the questions and register, an interview will be set up with the Vajrayana Training coordinator. This course focuses on an introduction to Vajrayana perspectives and philosophy along with an introduction to the Vajra world, etiquette, rituals, symbols and culture.
  • After your interview, you will receive a formal Welcome Letter which will include information about your Teaching Assistant (mentor), how to access Vajrayana Training teachings online, and Service. You do not have to make any commitments to Buddhism or Pema Khandro for this level of study, it is purely educational. It is designed to educate people in Vajrayana principles so that when they study directly with a Lama or receive empowerments, they are highly informed and prepared to do so.
  • You can attend public classes and/or become a member of her community, the Buddhist Yogis Sangha.
  • Or, for students who wish to study more intensively in a long-term way, enter the Vajra Sangha, Pema Khandro’s long-term personal students. Students in the Vajra Sangha are admitted to this group by application and interview. Visit here to learn more and find out how to apply: https://ngakpa.org/becoming-a-student/
  • Pema Khandro teaches Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Pema Khandro Rinpoche is an authorized lama and lineage holder in the Nyingma and Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Vajrayana Buddhism, though her teachings primarily focus on the Nyingma order. Tibetan Buddhism has five main schools, Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, Geluk and Bon schools as well as other smaller schools. The Nyingma lineage is the old-school or ancient school of Tibetan Buddhism, which dates itself back to the eighth century, Tibet.
  • Pema Khandro has received teachings with over fifty Tibetan Lamas, you can find a list of the ones who impacted her the most here: About Pema Khandro
  • Within the Nyingma order, Pema Khandro practices and was ordained in the ngakpa tradition- the Tibetan Yogi tradition. You can read about the ngakpas here. Generally, in the Nyingma ngakpa lineages there are two major strands of practice nyingthig and minling. In particular, Pema Khandro specializes in the nyingthig, the Great Perfection or Dzogchen teachings of the Nyingma lineage.
  • Additionally, Pema Khandro was also recognized and enthroned as the reincarnation of a Tibetan Yogini – the first Pema Khandro, who also taught Dzogchen, Chod and Six Yogas. The first Pema Khandro was a lineage holder in the Nyingma and Kagyu lineage in Eastern Tibet in the nineteen hundreds. Pema Khandro was authorized to pass on these teachings. Read more about Pema Khandro Rinpoche’s enthronement here.
  • Pema Khandro ordained in the Nyingma order and was authorized to pass on the ordination lineage of Tibetan Yogis, ngakpas and naljorpas to her students.
  • Pema Khandro Rinpoche’s teachings also frequently highlight aspects of the history of Buddhism in India and Tibet. This is because in addition to being an authorized Lama, ordaining in the Nyingma lineage and studying with her Lamas, she has a master’s degree in Buddhist studies and is completing a PhD specializing in Tibetan Buddhism.
  • For her full biography visit About Pema Khandro Biography and Pema Khandro Rinpoche Extended Biography here.
  • Pema Khandro teaches Tibetan Buddhism. Within Tibetan Buddhism, there are many different kinds of teachings based on the various lineages, and within the lineages, there are different schools of philosophy that are followed. Pema Khandro teaches Tibetan Buddhism – Nyingma Lineage – with an emphasis on Dzogchen, the great perfection teachings. Tibetan Buddhism is also known as Vajrayana Buddhism. The emphasis of her teaching is Buddhist philosophy and practice.
  • In particular, she focuses on practices for non-monastics, householders, lay persons and Buddhist Yogis.
  • To learn more about Tibetan Buddhism in terms of Pema Khandro’s teachings – visit these pages:
  • Tibetan Buddhist teachers are usually addressed by their names plus their titles. Pema Khandro Rinpoche’s own lamas and her students call her “Rinpoche,” or “Khandro-la.” By other people who are not her students she is addressed as “Khandro-la.”
  • However, Rinpoche is quite relaxed and cheerful about these issues, so don’t worry if you have made a mistake or if you are not sure what to call her. Kindness and sincerity are what really matters to her.
  • There is a blog post by Pema Khandro which describes this prayer and supplies a video and text to go along with it.
  • Pema Khandro teaches by giving classes and retreats to students, as well as through dialoguing with students. All these interactions follow the conventional Buddhist guidelines followed by Buddhists all over the world such as the five precepts, the ten precepts and so on. She holds herself to the same ethical standards that she asks her students to follow.
  • ‘Crazy wisdom,’ is the name for antinomian and ethically transgressive behavior in Vajrayana history, which some notorious teachers have practiced. Pema Khandro does not work within the crazy wisdom framework. Instead of ‘crazy wisdom,’ she advocates ‘natural wisdom,’ a practice of awakening the natural dignity and respecting the intelligence and wakefulness that is within each person. These are the themes most important in the Dzogchen paradigm. She advocates for a teacher-student relationship based on clear, strict ethics and healthy boundaries that hold up to standards set by modern psychology for professional relationships. Many of her students also develop friendships with her and these connections are based on intrinsic equality and mutual respect. Instead of transgressive behavior – Pema Khandro advocates for transgressing limits of dualized, bigoted mindsets such as sexism, racism and fundamentalism.
  • Pema Khandro is a vegan vegetarian. She encourages her students who can be vegetarian to be vegetarian as an expression of compassion for animals. However, students who feel that they cannot be vegetarian for health or medical reasons are not vegetarian. Rinpoche embraces diversity in her sangha. In Tibetan Buddhism there are numerous approaches to ‘compassionate’ diet, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. So compassionate motivation is what matters the most.
  • Special thanks to Satya, Mikyo, Malika and Sara for putting this information together over the years. This information is drawn from Pema Khandro’s lectures, retreats, articles, essays and letters to students.

Scholarships, Work-Study and Financial Aid FAQ

Ngakpa International offers scholarships to ordained monastic practitioners. Application available upon request. Contact Info@BuddhistYogis.org to apply.

In order to make our events accessible to as many people as possible we have already set our tuition cost as low as we can to cover the cost of our operating budget. For this reason, we have a limited number of Financial Aid spots open for each retreat and they are given on a first apply-first serve basis. Contact Register@BuddhistYogis.org to apply.

If you are interested in offering your skills to support Ngakpa International, we would love to have you! Please contact our volunteer coordinator at Volunteer@BuddhistYogis.org

*Financial Aid does not cover the cost of dana (donation) to the teacher.

Payment Plans may be available depending on how many work-trade/Financial Aid participants we are supporting. If available, 50% of tuition is paid up front, and a valid credit card on file with auto-pay set up by the start of retreat. Contact Register@BuddhistYogis.org to inquire.

Yes, we offer up to 50% off tuition on retreats. We reserve a few spots for Financial Aid participants at every retreat and they are given out on a first come-first served basis. *Financial Aid is only ever available on tuition for retreats and events with Pema Khandro Rinpoche and her students, it does not include discounts on accommodations or Guest Teacher donations. Applications are made available within the course description of each course open for registration.

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