Ngakpa Training

The 5 year curriculum of Ngakpa Training offers an in-depth study of Vajrayana Buddhist history, philosophy and practice, focusing on the Inner Tantras of the Nyingma Tradition, also known as MahaYoga, AnuYoga, and Dzogchen.

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Ngakpa Training is offered to support advanced, intensive study of Tibetan Tantra and Dzogchen for serious, dedicated students. This course look at the most precious texts of Longchenpa and Dzogchen Nyingthig in translation into English. It is a deep study, line by line, seriously contending with these texts of the tradition and their contexts.

Course Format

Live online class meets once a month online, in addition to reading assignments, practice requirements, oral presentations and debates on Buddhist philosophy. There is also an optional but recommended discussion group once a month.


Pre-requisites: 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
  • have studied with Pema Khandro for two years
  • are Vajra Sangha members (note: Vajra Sangha is currently on pause for accepting new members; however, interested students can continue to fulfill other prerequisites until new membership resumes).
  • 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

Robes: Ngakpa Training students who are Vajra Sangha Members wear the red and white shawls

Vows: Tantric vows

Gomdra: The meditations done at this stage are the tantric meditations – Chod 108 Charnel Grounds and Dzogchen

Topics Include

  • Sakyamuni Buddha’s Life as told variably in the 3 Yanas
  • Intro to Tibetan Buddhism
  • The 4 Noble Truths & Vajrayana
  • Path of Buddhist Yogis; Historical Overview
  • Freedoms & Advantages
  • Impermanence of Life
  • Defects of Samsara & the Purity of Everything
  • Actions to be avoided and cultivated; Conduct for Buddhist Yogis
  • The Goal of the Path in the Three Yanas & the Benefits of Liberation
  • Yogācāra
  • Madhyamaka & 2 Truths
  • MahaYoga & the History of Tantra
  • Ati Yoga: Definitions
  • Understanding Mind
  • Buddhist Answers to the Big Questions
  • Introduction to Dzogchen
  • Buddha Nature in Dzogchen
  • Play of Experience
  • Abandoning Hope & Fear
  • Dzogchen Lineage
  • Dzogchen Base, Path & Fruit
  • Ati Yoga: Divisions
  • Dzogchen and origins of dissatisfaction and freedom from it
  • Dudjom Rinpoche’s “Correction of Misconceptions About the Nyingma”
  • Longchenpa’s Mirror Revealing Crucial Points
  • Treasure Revelation, the Visionary History of Nyingmapas
  • Yidam Practice Essentials
  • The Five Certainties
  • Gender in Buddhism
  • Dharma Protectors
  • Gompopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation
  • The Golden Garland of Nectar
  • Shabkar’s Namthar
  • The Treasury of Words and Meanings

Stages of Study
Most students take the Ngakpa Training on an ongoing basis as a support for serious long-term study of Buddhism and as a source of connection to the Lama, the sangha and the wisdom of the path.

For students who also wish to take on leadership roles, the following stages of accomplishment are recognized.

  • Upon completing two years of the curriculum, the students are qualified to act as mentors in the Vajrayana Training and as long as they are continuously enrolled, they are qualified to lead the community classes, discussion groups and an Introduction to Buddhism curriculum composed of eight sections.
  • Students who have: completed five years of the curriculum, completed Ngondro, acted as mentors in Vajrayana Training for at least two years and have completed an oral exam are entitled to wear the three panel red and white Ngakpa shawl, representing the lineage of Tibetan Buddhist Yogis.
  • Students who have earned their Ngakpa shawls may also eligible to apply for ordination in the Ngakpa Tradition.

Ngakpa Training 4 – The Precious Treasury of Words and Meaning

Ngakpa Training 3 – The Golden Garland of Nectar

Ngakpa Training 2 – Longchen Nyingthig Ngondro