(Tucson & Online)
Courses for Study & Practice
Please note: Students are responsible for obtaining any required empowerments or transmissions.
Online courses are now available on an open-entry basis, that is, students may begin at any time (subject to mentor availability). Please email us at EmailAwamTBI@gmail.com for specific availability. Tucson course availability is listed in our monthly newsletter.
Essentials of Tibetan Buddhism: Course Descriptions
Our core curriculum is called Essentials of Tibetan Buddhism (formerly Natural Liberation) and consists of eight 6-week classes over two years covering the history of Buddhism in India and Tibet, basic principles, the Path of Individual Liberation, the Path of Altruism, the Path of Tantra, and the Path of Great Perfection. It is a complete series of teachings on the ethics, meditations, and wisdom of each path. The course material is presented in videos for our online students and includes regular practices to be done weekly throughout the course of study, along with a daily meditation journal. Convenient breaks allow students time to “catch up” or master more challenging practices when needed.
Essentials of Tibetan Buddhism provides is a very thorough program for those who wish to learn, but have limited time to study and practice. To supplement these, we also invite master lamas to give empowerments and teach on specialized topics and texts in Tucson.
The teachings by Khenpo Drimed Dawa are all on video, supplemented with printable handouts. This program is organized around a very concise series of practices given by Padmasambhava in a text translated as Natural Liberation and is supplemented by similar concise practices from other masters. These practices are particularly appropriate for householders as most take little time to learn or master and were taught specifically for such practitioners. Together they form a carefully crafted set of incremental steps leading to the deep inner peace of innate happiness or enlightenment.
More specifically, these teachings are divided into an introduction and four main paths of practice that are sequential within Tibetan Buddhism: (1) the Path of Individual Liberation, (2) the Path of Altruism, (3) the Path of Tantra, and (4) the Path of Great Perfection. Within each path, the courses follow a teaching by the Buddha called the Three Trainings: (1) ethics, (2) meditation, and (3) wisdom. So within each path, the courses cover that view of ethics, its main meditation practices, and its view of wisdom. In the end, there is a review and focus on the realization of the deep inner peace of the innate happiness of enlightenment. The text for this course is Innate Happiness: Realizing Compassion-Emptiness by Khenpo Drimed Dawa, available as an eBook or paperback from Amazon.com and other outlets. This text was written specifically for this course, as well as to benefit others who might read it.
Essentials Part 1— A survey of Buddhism in India and Tibet, an overview and introduction to key Vajrayana principles and practices, and the first part of the Path of Individual Liberation: ethics and shamata meditation – single-pointed calm abiding.
Essentials Part 2—Continues the Path of Individual Liberation with vipassana meditation (special insight) regarding self and other and the early view of wisdom; followed by the Path of Altruism (Bodhisattva): ethics, practices of the Six Perfections, Tonglen (giving and taking) and Metta (lovingkindness) meditations, and the Bodhisattva view of wisdom – the Perfection of Wisdom literature, Buddhanature, and the Middle Way.
Essentials Part 3—The Path of Tantra begins with the ethical view of tantra and the “common” preliminary practices: precious human birth, impermanence, suffering of samsara, and karma; followed by the “uncommon” preliminary practices: refuge and bodhicitta, Vajrasattva purification, mandala offerings, and Guru Yoga.
Essentials Part 4—Continues the Path of Tantra with the generation stage practices of “deity yoga” – generating yourself as the “deity” (a buddha).
Essentials Part 5—Continues the Path of Tantra with the completion stage practices: inner heat, channels-winds-drops, illusory body, and dream yoga to become a buddha in this lifetime.
Essentials Part 6—Continues the completion stage practices of the Path of Tantra with clear light, sexual yogas, the bardos of dying, dharmata, and becoming, and the transference of consciousness; followed by the tantric view of wisdom.
Essentials Part 7—Begins the Path of Great Perfection with the ethical perspective, the preliminary practices for separating samsara from nirvana called khorde rushen, and the practice of trekcho.
Essentials Part 8—Concludes the Path of Great Perfection with additional training in the practices of trekcho and togal, as well as the view of wisdom of the Great Perfection and a summary of the Buddhist views of enlightenment.
Advanced Curriculum: Course Descriptions
Our advanced curriculum is currently focused on the Path of Great Perfection – Dzogchen. This includes five rigorous college-level classes with two 8-week parts each, which require watching videos, reading, study, homework, and practice. We require that students attempting this curriculum complete the core curriculum or the equivalent prior to beginning this curriculum. The Tucson schedule may include days off when local teachings are scheduled with visiting lamas. (Students who complete this series of courses may be able to continue on into an online master’s degree in Dzogchen Studies from a European university that is currently in the proposal stage.) Permission is required to register for these classes. Please send a request detailing your study and practice related to the Essentials courses described above to Khenpo.Drimed.Dawa@gmail.com.
Introduction to Dzogchen – Dzogchen or the Great Perfection is the highest level of the Vajrayana teachings. It deals directly with self-liberation into our innate Buddha Nature, abiding in the state of rigpa. This overview describes the three branches of Dzogchen teachings—the mind series, the space series, and the special instructions (including trekcho and togal). Text: Quintessential Dzogchen: Confusion Dawns as Wisdom translated and compiled by Eric Pema Kunsang and Marcia Binder Schmidt and The Golden Letters translated, introduction and commentaries by John Myrdhin Reynolds.
Khorde Rushen – Khorde Rushen is the separation of samsara (delusion) from nirvana (non-delusion). These are a series of practices designed to help the yogin realize and directly experience the difference between samsara and nirvana by transforming the mind, i.e., our way of seeing the world. Khorde Rushen is sometimes referred to as the Dzogchen preliminary practices. Texts: The Great Perfection, Vol. II by the Third Dzogchen Rinpoche (permission required), The Supreme Source: The Fundamental Tantra of the Dzogchen Semde Kunjed Gyalpo by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente, and selections from Yeshe Lama by Vidyadhara Jigmed Lingpa (restricted text).
Dzogchen Trekcho – The trekcho instructions are part of the special instruction series. This course will examine these instructions, particularly through the writings of the highly regarded master Longchenpa. Students will also further develop their actual practice. Yeshe Lama or comparable empowerment required. Texts: Yeshe Lama by Vidyadhara Jigmed Lingpa (restricted text), Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection by H.H. the Dalai Lama, and A Treasure Trove of Scriptural Transmission: A Commentary on The Precious Treasury of the Basic Space of Phenomena by Longchen Rabjam.
Dzogchen Togal – Togal is the advanced and often secret teaching of the special instructions of Dzogchen. This practice leads to attaining the Rainbow Body, enabling one to help other beings achieve enlightenment. Students will learn the practices of togal and how to apply them. Yeshe Lama or comparable empowerment required. Texts: Yeshe Lama by Vidyadhara Jigmed Lingpa (restricted text), The Way of Abiding by Longchen Rabjam, and Treasures from Juniper Ridge by Padmasambhava.
Khandro Nyingtik - This course is based on the Precious Golden Garland of Instructions on the Khandro Nyingtik by Longchenpa. It covers the lineage, preliminary practices, trekcho, and togal, as well as additional commentary. It provides a unique consolidation of the practices of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. This course provides both a review and a culmination of the Dzogchen practices for those with differing levels of attainment. It corresponds in many parts with the Yeshe Lama text used in previous courses.
From time-to-time, we also provide other selected dharma courses on topics of interest to our students and sangha. These might include basic courses such as Chenrezig or Tara, advanced courses requiring empowerments such as Vajrayogini or Guhyagarbha, or general interest courses such as The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
These classes provide more detailed study and practice for serious practitioners. They will be offered online as self-study courses with periodic mentor support available from Khenpo Drimed Dawa or other advanced practitioners. Although these are self-paced courses, students are normally expected to complete practice assignments on a weekly basis. Please click here to see other classes currently available or watch our website at AwamInstitute.org or sign up for our newsletter for notification of the availability of these courses.
Spring 2017 Classes
Online or at Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute
3400 E Speedway, Suite 204, Tucson AZ
(Located just east of Whole Foods in the Rancho Center)
Essentials Part 3—The Path of Tantra begins with the ethical view of tantra and the “common” preliminary practices: precious human birth, impermanence, suffering of samsara, and karma; followed by the “uncommon” preliminary practices: refuge and bodhicitta, Vajrasattva purification, mandala offerings, and Guru Yoga. Tucson - Thursdays, starting January 26 at 10:00-11:30 am. Online starting week of January 22nd, no date or time. Fee - $60, 6 weeks.
Essentials Part 4—Continues the Path of Tantra with the generation stage practices of “deity yoga” – generating yourself as the “deity” (a buddha). Tucson - Thursdays, starting March 30th at 10:00-11:30 am. Online starting week of March 26th, no date or time. Fee - $60, 6 weeks.
Essentials Part 7—Begins the Path of Great Perfection with the ethical perspective, the preliminary practices for separating samsara from nirvana called khorde rushen, and the practice of trekcho. Tucson - Sundays, starting January 22nd at 9:00-10:30 am. Online starting week of January 22nd, no date or time. Fee - $60, 6 weeks.
Essentials Part 8—Concludes the Path of Great Perfection with additional training in the practices of trekcho and togal, as well as the view of wisdom of the Great Perfection and a summary of the Buddhist views of enlightenment. Tucson - Thursdays, starting March 19th at 9:00-10:30 am. Online starting week of March 19th, no date or time. Fee - $60, 6 weeks.
The Kalachakra Tantra Part 1-We will be starting this new advanced class in Tucson, Sundays, from January 22nd at 1:00-3:00 pm. The class will study the tantra and its practice. Kalachakra is one of the most complex systems within tantric Buddhism. The Kalachakra tradition revolves around the concept of time and cycles. From the cycles of the planets to the cycles of human breathing, it teaches the practice of working with the most subtle energies within one's body on the path to enlightenment.
Since Kalachakra is time and everything is under the influence of time, Kalachakra knows all. Vishvamata (or Kalachakri), his spiritual consort and complement, is aware of everything that is timeless, not time-bound or out of the realm of time. In Yab-Yum, they are temporality and a-temporality conjoined. Similarly, the wheel is without beginning or end.
The Kalachakra deity resides in the center of the mandala in his palace consisting of four mandalas, one within the other: the mandalas of body, speech, and mind, and in the very center, wisdom and great bliss. The Kalachakra sand mandala is dedicated to both individual and world peace and physical balance. The Dalai Lama explains: "It is a way of planting a seed, and the seed will have karmic effect. One doesn't need to be present at the Kalachakra ceremony in order to receive its benefits."
Text: Ornament of Stainless Light by Khedrup Norsang Gyatso. Go to AwamInstitute.org "classes" to register. Fee - $80, 8 weeks (Part 1), Tucson only.
The Kalachakra Tantra Part 2-Continues the study and practice of Kalachakra as described above. Tucson, Sundays, from March 19th at 1:00-3:00 pm.
Other classes are available online. Please click here to see other classes currently available.
Admission & Registration
There is no separate admission process for the Essentials of Tibetan Buddhism courses. Although it is best to take the courses sequentially from the beginning (Part 1), a student may begin with any of the eight parts. Online courses are available on an open-entry basis, that is, students may begin at any time (subject to mentor availability). Please email us at EmailAwamTBI@gmail.com for specific availability.
Registration is available here, or at the first class in Tucson. (We recommend that Tucson students register online, as this will provide access to handouts, assignments, and class videos if you miss a class.)
As noted earlier, the advanced curriculum courses require completion of the Core Curriculum or other similar background, the latter of which must be approved by Khenpo Drimed Dawa in advance. The course schedule depends upon mentor availability. Contact Khenpo.Drimed.Dawa@gmail.com for course availability.
Once you have been approved and assigned a mentor, you will be able to register at the above link or register with the mentor in Tucson.
Payment for online classes is made via PayPal by credit or debit card. The cost is currently $60 per course for each part of the Essentials and $80 per part for each of the advanced curriculum courses. Books are purchased by students separately either at local bookstores or online. The cost other courses will depend on the course. Our goal is to keep the cost of all courses as low as feasible. No one is paid to teach or administer any of our programs.
Courses and cost are subject to changes without notification. For any other questions or information, please contact Khenpo.Drimed.Dawa@gmail.com.
Thank you for your interest in Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute’s programs of study in Tibetan Buddhism. We sincerely wish you great success in your path to innate happiness for the benefit of all sentient beings!
Bodhicitta, the excellent and precious mind,
Where it is unborn, may it arise.
Where it is born, may it not decline
But ever increase higher and higher!
May all beings be happy!