Letter from Pema Khandro


Buddhist Studies Institute

Letter from Dr. Pema Khandro

Dear Dharma Friends,

I recently taught our first in person retreat at Dakini Mountain since the pandemic. After so much anticipation, it was good news that no one got covid, and instead we had a beautiful, joyous, and deep experience together. It was one of the best retreats in memory. Partly because so many people had done online study, the preparation had really showed. We also had new friends, and the mixture of people from all the different time periods of my teaching felt like a sunny showcase of all years of our sangha. During the retreat practices we worked on preparation for death and investigating what demons had power over us so we could set them free through Chod practices. We explored emptiness in a practical way, and there was a very powerful night of the Laughter of the Dakinis. There were so many beautiful aspects of the retreat, but one of my favorites was hearing the sound of all our drums beating together, and hearing all the different voices while we were chanting together. It was a revitalizing experience. Thank you everyone who made it possible, how lovely to be in the Vajra world together with you.

Afterwards, Satya, Aruna and I spent three days talking, walking, and doing practice together at Dakini Mountain. Being in a time of increased uncertainty, all we can do is put one foot in front of another and take one step at a time. Yet even flying blind, we still have bodhichitta to guide us, so we are taking steps forward.

With that aspiration, we offered a special Vajrayogini practice, Calling 100,000 Dakinis prayer and afterwards dismantled the Vajrayogini shrine to make room for the next phase, whatever that will be. Currently the Panchakarma clinic there is still up and running but we are no longer planning retreats there (unless the circumstances drastically change). So the Vajrayogini practice was our pivotal moment. We recited the prayer sitting in front of the blessed statue and then packed her up in her case and opened up to what is next.

Then it started pouring and pouring rain. There was so much rain, rain that was difficult to walk in and dangerous to drive in, like a flood from the sky. This rain was auspicious on numerous counts, first because it was the end of a puja and rain signals its success. But secondly, because this is California, rain means protection from wildfires, so on a primal level, it was received as a relief. And because we are in a period of uncertainty, anything that happens in the environment is gratefully received as a present moment event that is other than uncertainty, and therefore an event to be relished.

That rain reminded me of the line in Mipham’s “Shower of Blessings,” in which we pray to the dakinis and devas to shower down their compassion, “pour down your blessings like a rain of compassion! …shower down a great rain of dharma profound and vast!” Here is an excerpt from it for you to enjoy, may a rain of benevolence shower down upon all of us!

སྐྱབས་གནས་ཀུན་འདུས་མཁྱེན་བརྩེའི་གཏེར་ཆེན་པོ། །

All sources of refuge in one, a great treasure of wisdom and love,

དུས་ངན་སྙིགས་མའི་སྐྱབས་མཆོག་རིན་པོ་ཆེ། །

In this dark age, the dregs of time, precious, greatest protector

ལྔ་བདོའི་རྒུད་པས་མནར་ཤིང་གདུངས་ཤུགས་ཀྱིས། །

When I call on you, suffering, tormented and drained by the five afflictions,

གསོལ་འདེབས་བུ་ལ་བརྩེ་བས་ཐུགས་ཀྱིས་གཟིགས། །

Look upon your praying child with the love of your exalted mind,

དགོངས་པའི་ཀློང་ནས་ཐུགས་རྗེའི་རྩལ་ཕྱུངས་ལ། །

From your vast expanse of realization, let the power of your compassion burst out

མོས་ལྡན་བདག་གི་སྙིང་ལ་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས། །

And flood my devoted heart with your blessing.

རྟགས་དང་མཚན་མ་མྱུར་དུ་སྟོན་པ་དང་། །

Quickly show the signs and symbols

མཆོག་དང་ཐུན་མོང་དངོས་གྲུབ་སྩལ་དུ་གསོལ། །

And grant me accomplishments ordinary and supreme

Of course, that is what came to mind because that is what Buddhism trains us to do. In Vajrayana the view we train in links us to re-interpret our world, to re-appraise it in terms of its benevolent possibilities, a language of elements and dakinis that is a link to present moment appreciations. This is so often done by rewiring the senses and the environment so that rain, wind, thunder, sky… our world becomes a cue for contemplative experience. Rivers that become prayers. Space that becomes mind. Even without much instruction, we can meditate like this sometimes in the most simple, intuitive ways, this is the brilliance of Dzogchen, and a message from an afternoon rain at Dakini Mountain. Just listening to the rain. Just feeling the wind. The environment can be a cue to be simple and present, and therefore rest our minds. Just those few moments of having a native peace. This is not even about eventual liberation, or what will happen in the future. Just a small island of peace and quiet that is for its own sake.

My very best to you always,

The Basic Space of Being  
With Pema Khandro and Khenpo Yeshi

The profound manual for liberating the mind

August 4-6, 2023 – Online

9am – 12:00pm San Francisco (PDT)

12pm – 3:00pm New York (EDT)

“Choying Dzod has also been used as a sacred introduction (ngo sprod)

for dying meditators. By reciting it, a practitioner introduces the person

passing away to his or her true nature and reminds him or her to remain

in the right mental state. Generally, the process of dying is the most crucial

experience in life, the time when we need the greatest support. It is

also a time when our mental attitudes can make a significant difference

in our future, because at the time of death we are suddenly free of the

bonds of our gross body and all its limitations.”

-Venerable Tulku Thondup Rinpoche

Study the profound Dzogchen manual for meditation and liberation. This text is read to a dying loved one, the crucial support at the most important time. It guides the dying person to realize the nature of mind. Indeed, The Treasury of Basic Space has been read at the time of death of many great Dzogchen masters.

Join Buddhist Studies Institute for this special program taught online by two esteemed Dzogchen scholars, Khenpo Yeshi, and Dr. Pema Khandro. Experience the power of the coinciding of study and practice.

Register Here for the Basic Space of Being Retreat

Longchen Nyingthig Ngondro Training 

Module 4 Intrinsic Wisdom

Starts Monday, August 21st – Online

5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern

What are Ngondro meditations? Ngondro meditations are the foundational practices for purifying, training and empowering the body-mind. They form the basis of Vajrayana meditation and serve as the foundation for the highest practices of the nature of mind. Ngondro means ‘before going.’ In traditional Vajrayana practice, it represents the cognitive, physical, emotional and philosophical components which are keys to the practice liberation. These are done before engaging in Tantra or Dzogchen practices in order to set a stable foundation.

This module will focus on Intrinsic Wisdom including Receiving the Four Empowerments and Merging into Buddhahood.

Pema Khandro reserves Ngondro teachings for serious students who wish to do intensive contemplative training. Dedicated to training yogis, householders and lay people outside of the monastery, Pema Khandro presents these practices in their concise, essential form. This comprehensive course on Ngondro will be taught in four modules to support the accomplishment of practice over the period of one year, with the training modules completed in nine months.

It is possible to join Ngondro Training at any time, and it can be taken in any order. Join current modules live and take previous modules at your own pace. 

Register for Ngondro Module 4

Finding Rest & Ease in the Nature of Mind

Online Retreat with Pema Khandro

September 8-10, 2023

8:00am-12:30pm PST San Francisco

11:00am-3:30pm EST New York

4:00pm-8:30pm BST London

Encounter the profound instructions of the trilogy of comfort and ease, the exposition on the stages of the journey by one of the great Tibetan philosopher, Longchenpa (1308-1364).

Experience three days of profound study and meditation in a three-day online retreat with Dr. Pema Khandro.

Cultivate states of rest and ease in a supportive community of joyful dharma friends.

Meditation in Dzogchen is a method of awakening to innate wisdom and unraveling the obstacles to experiencing it. This is a path of allowing intrinsic wakefulness to manifest through letting go, settling in and supporting the body and mind to discover natural calm.

The retreat three-day online retreat is led by Buddhist scholar and teacher, Dr. Pema Khandro, founder of the Buddhist Studies Institute. She will lead the study of and practice of the ngal gso skor gsum, Longchenpa’s trilogy on Finding Comfort and Ease.

Learn More about Finding Rest

Self & Non Self:
Buddhism with Pema Khandro

“How we exist is highly momentary…” Pema Khandro

How do ideas of true-self, finding one-self and being the authentic self  relate to the Buddhist idea of an-atma, non-self? Listen to Pema Khandro discuss Buddhism’s view of the person as a dynamic presence rather than a fixed identity separate from the world and limited by the past.

Watch Here

2023 Schedule of Events

Ongoing Monthly Training with Pema Khandro

Join Dr. Pema Khandro and your dharma friends for a deep study in the classics of Vajrayana & Dzogchen. These classes explore the depths of inner tantra, Tibetan yogas and Dzogchen philosophy through the eyes of the most brilliant masters of Buddhist history. Study. Discuss with dharma friends from around the world. Meet community leaders. Integrate practices directly in your own body, in your own mind!

Vajrayana Training1st & 2nd Wednesday of each month
Ngakpa Training 3rd Wednesday of each month

You Can Meditate Everyday (if you have support!)

New to meditation? Do you want to have a daily practice? You are not alone. Join this small group of fellow travelers for a daily dose of meditation! It is taught by the wonderful faculty at BSI.
Daily Meditation Online


Aug 4-6 – The Choying Dzod with Khenpo Yeshi & Pema Khandro

Aug 21-Oct 16 – Ngondro 4 – Intrinsic Wisdom


Sept 8-10 – Finding Rest and Ease in the Nature of Mind: Online Retreat with Pema Khandro

Click Here to view the BSI Calendar View
*All Times are noted in Pacific Time (PT) – Check your Timezone