Learn About Us
“Awam” refers to the union of the male and female principles of compassion and wisdom, leading to enlightenment. We are a Vajrayana Buddhist organization striving to help lay practitioners attain liberation in this lifetime. We focus on the Dzogchen practice lineage. To help achieve this, we offer programs of study and practice guided by qualified masters in the tradition and facilitated by ordained Western practitioners. We are committed to the householder yogi tradition that goes back to Shakyamuni Buddha in India and Padmasambhava in Tibet, sometimes referred to as the “white” tradition due to the robes worn by many of the yogis in this tradition. Many of the great Mahasiddhas of India and Tibet practiced as householder yogis. This is particularly appropriate today in the West, where most of us work for a living and may have families and other life commitments.
We are a Nyingma organization (see "Our Lineage" below), with a focus on the Padling Tersar: New Padma Dragnag Lingpa Treasure Lineage (see Our Lineage below), while also honoring the best texts and teachings of the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, Gelug, Jonang and Rimé traditions, as well as scholarly and scientific sources. Our Spiritual Director is His Holiness Khenchen Lama Rinpoche, who is currently residing in York, England, and teaches at other locations across the globe.
While we are located in Tucson, Arizona, we also offer programs of study and practice via the Internet that are available globally. Our Essentials curriculum 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 on videos for our online students and includes regular practices to be done weekly throughout the course of study.
Our Advanced curriculum is focused on the Path of Great Perfection – Dzogchen. This includes five rigorous college-level classes, 16 weeks each, which require reading, study, homework, and practice. This series includes a detailed introduction to Dzogchen, Khorde Rushen, Trekcho, Togal, and Khandro Nyingtik practices, as well as a number of classic Dzogchen texts.
In addition, we bring master teachers to Tucson to share the dharma and facilitate our study and practice. We provide special events on festival days in the Tibetan Calendar, special workshops to facilitate your practice, and weekly meditations. Other activities are also being planned. You may keep connected and stay informed by signing up for our monthly newsletter via email, our Twitter feed, and by liking our Facebook page.
All of us who work diligently to bring this exciting program to you are strictly volunteers to keep our costs and your fees as low as possible. Your support through regular donations or contributions made specifically for special programs or teachings are deeply appreciated.
Please take the time to look over our website (AwamInstitute.org) and what we have to offer, locally and on the web. We hope you will find this opportunity as exciting as we do and look forward to your participation and/or support!
Sangha is a group of people who support each other on the path to enlightenment. It is a community. We listen, offer suggestions, ask questions, and give whatever support we can to help others.
Our sangha includes all those who choose to participate in our classes, group activities, or support us in other ways. In addition to our basic and advanced curricula, we provide several opportunities for weekly group practices, such as meditations, Tibetan yoga, and our Sunday Meditation Hour. We also offer special events in conjunction with special days in the Tibetan Buddhist Calendar such as Losar (the Tibetan New Year) or the Four Great Festivals (Duchens). We do special practice retreats for one or more days. At times we have also workshops on living the dharma and topics related to practice such as using bells and drums, making tormas, doing hand mudras and so forth.
While all of these are offered in Tucson, we are growing our online sangha and some of our activities may be available online as well. Sign up for our Newsletter to receive email notices, or like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
If there is anything that you would like to suggest that might help yourself or others, we welcome your suggestions. Email us at EmailAwamTBI@Awam.gmail.
Our Spiritual Director
His Holiness Khenchen Lama Rinpoche – Since very early childhood he exhibited unusual compassion and fondness towards meditation. At the age of three, the head of Nyingma lineage His Holiness Sera Yangtul Rinpoche recognized Khenchen Rinpoche as a true reincarnation of Padma Dagnag Lingpa. Padma Dagnag Lingpa was a reincarnation of Nupchen Sangye Yeshe, one of the five closest disciples of Guru Padmasambhava and the founder of the Yogi lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. H.H. Sera Yangtul Rinpoche also prophesized, that Khenchen Lama Rinpoche would particularly benefit students in Europe and the USA in this lifetime.
Despite the pressures to take over the abbot charges of four monasteries at an early age, Khenchen Lama Rinpoche was encouraged by his mother to undertake rigorous study and practices.
Rinpoche received the following Buddhist teachings:
- Study of the Text in 30 verses by Sambhotra with Khenchen Jigme Namgayal
- Study of preliminary practices by Patrul Rinpoche and study of nine successive vehicles to enlightenment with Khenchen Padma Tsewang Rinpoche.
- Sutra and Tantra study at Ahrik University and Larung University in Tibet under the guidance of his root teacher H.H. Jigmed Phuntsok Rinpoche (the study include Buddhist philosophy, meditation, logic, medicine, astrology, languages, grammar, lexicography, dance and drama).
- Two years sanskrit study with Khenchen Pema Tsewang.
- Numerous teachings, transmissions and empowerments from leading masters and teachers in all main lineages of Tibetan Buddhism including Nyingma, Sankya, Kagyu, Gelug, Jonang and Bonpo.
- Lineage holder and Tulku in the lineage of Padma Dragnag Lingpa including Dzogchen Kalachakra terma.
- Key transmissions, empowerments and teachings received – Kama and Terma (e.g., Dudjom tersar, Nyingtik Yazhi (Khandro Nyingtik, Longchen Nyingtik, Vima Nyingtik, Dzamo Nyingtik, Rinchen Terzod etc); Six Yogas of Naropa; Mahamudra)
At the age of 17 Rinpoche received Khenpo title from Ahrig University, The Great Buddhist Institute for Higher Learning, Kham, Tibet and in 1999 at 21 Khenchen title from the same University. Further in the year 2001 H.H. Drigung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, Phagdru Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal also conferred Khenchen title to Rinpoche.
Rinpoche has also undergone English language study at Coleg Menai, Bangor, Gwynedd and completed Cambridge English Entry Level award in ESOL Skills for life; E2 Speaking and listening; E2 reading and ESOL for Information Technology. Rinpoche passed Grade 5 examination in English for life in the United Kingdom (British naturalization exam) - Trinity College London, Trinity Brimingham SELT Centre 1.
Rinpoche is specialized in the teaching of:
- Preliminary practices (Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche)
- Padmasambhava’s Natural Liberation (Six Bardos) cycle of teachings and Jigme Lingpa’s Yeshe Lama.
- Teachings of the Padma Dragnag Lingpa Dzogchen cycle (Padling Tersar - see Our Lineage below)
While studying, Rinpoche also spent two to three months each year in silent solitary retreat summing up to about four years of retreat in total.
After receiving his Khenpo and Khenchen titles, Khenchen Lama taught debate, astrology, sutra and tantra at many different monasteries and centres in Tibet, Nepal, India, Malaysia, Singapore, China and the United States.
· Regular annual teaching at Jewo monastery in Kham Tibet and Ahnye Monastery in Kham, Tibet
· Head Lecturer, Palden Phagdru Institute Trust, Kathmandu (one time supervised completion studies of 16 Khenpos)
· Present spiritual director of the Awam Institute in Tucson, Arizona, USA
· Spiritual Director of Awam Tibetan Heart Center, USA, Awam King Gesar Monastery, Slovenia
· Teaching at Buddhist centres in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Slovenia, Spain and the UK
Besides teaching, his main efforts have concentrated on building and sustaining an orphanage in Tibet that currently provides accommodation, food, clothing and education to 150 children (see www.awamfoundation.org). He would also like to build a retreat centre for yogis in Tibet in the future. Rinpoche holds United Kingdom’s citizenship.
The following are Rinpoche’s scholarly publications:
1. Khenchen Lama, P.D. (2008 – present). Numerous poems and commentaries on a Dharma blog. www.amahonet.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page-html (in Tibetan).
2. Khenchen Lama, P. D. (2009). Commentary on 21 Taras. (In Tibetan). Gansumz Publications. Ladu, Tibet. http://www.dobum.org/index.php…
3. Khenchen Lama, P. D. (2009). Heart of Yoga Meditation. (in Tibetan)
4. Khenchen Lama, P. D. (2010). Songs of Meditation – three volumes - Dhalu Pedma Gesar (vol.1), Dhonlu Yidzhin Norbu (vol. 2), Taklu
(vol. 3). (in Tibetan)
5. Khenchen Lama, P. D. (2015). Nature of Phenomena Dharma Songs. (in Tibetan) http://www.tibetanebook.com/…
6. Khenchen Lama Rinpoche (2016). Tibetan Meditation Yoga: Ancient Teachings Living Today. (Self-published book).
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and H.E Chodpa Lama Tashi Dorjee wrote Rinpoche’s long life prayer.
His Eminence Jigme Lodro Rinpoche was born in 1969 in Golok-Dhome, Tibet. Chakshul Tulku Sangye Lodro and Doctor Gyarong Samdup Gyatso recognized him as the reincarnation of Genyen Dharmata, said to be the server of the sixteen principal arhat disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha as well as a realized master from the Alasha Monastery at Five Peaked Mountain in China, only three months after his birth. At age eight he joined Talang, a large monastery in Golok, Gemang Hermitage Place, Larong, the city of Dharma in Sertha, and other Dharma places in Kham. He studied sutras, tantras and Tibetan culture and religion, becoming well-known for his qualities and knowledge.
In 1998 he went to India and became a great editor for both the Tibetan-in-exile government and private centers. More than two hundred of his essays have been published in Tibet and Tibet-in-exile communities. Some of his books have been published by acclaimed publication centers of the Tibet government-in-exile, including the Department of Education, Department of Information, as well as Tibetan cultural and religious publication centers. His writings are well-respected by many great scholars. H.H. the Dalai Lama sent Jigme Rinpoche a letter praising him for his writing.
In January 2005, H.E. Trulshig Rinpoche also recognized and declared that he is indeed the reincarnation of Genyen Dharmata. Accordingly, H.H. Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche, the throne holder of the Nyingma lineage, enthroned Tulku Jigme Rinpoche in Bodhgaya, India. Currently, Jigme Lodro Rinpoche is compiling additional historical accounts of the Nyingma schools and the Tibetan culture and religion. He aspires to establish a research center in India called the Ngayur Nyingma Research Center to begin work on the Chronicle Treatises of the Nyingma lineage, as well as a Nyingma Lineage Comprehensive Dictionary.
Jigme Lodro Rinpoche has been teaching regularly at the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute since 2011 at the request of Khenchen Lama.
Khenpo Drimed Dawa (Dr. Dean Pielstick) is an ordained lay practitioner and was conferred the title of “Khenpo” by HE Khenchen Lama Rinpoche on Losar, 2009, and President of the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute (then Dharmakirti College) on Losar, 2007. He has also studied with HE Jigme Lodro Rinpoche, HE Garchen Rinpoche, Ven. Sang-Ngak Rinpoche, Ven. Traga Rinpoche, Ven. Gyalpo Rinpoche, Ven. Ontul Rinpoche, Yogi Lama Gursam and numerous others. He has received empowerments and teachings from HH the Dalai Lama, HH Chetsang Rinpoche, HH Sakya Trizin, and studied the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, along with many other contemporary and historical figures. His primary practice is Dzogchen and he has a particular affinity for the Dzogchen teachings of Longchen Rabjam and Jigme Lingpa. Although he makes no claims to having great insights or accomplishments, he has agreed to teach at the request of HE Khenchen Lama Rinpoche nevertheless. It is in this spirit that he has agreed to share whatever he knows for the benefit of others. Khenpo is the author of two editions of Innate Happiness: A Direct Guidance Manual for Householder Yogis and Yoginis, the editor of two books for HE Lopon Natsok Zughen, and the designer of our curriculum and online classes. He serves on the Board of the Awam Foundation, the Board and committees of the Arizona Friends of Tibet, and two interfaith committees n Tucson, Arizona.
Dr. Pielstick is also a Professor Emeritus of management and leadership from Northern Arizona University in Tucson. He was the author of two editions of Authentic Leading: Where the Blue Sky Hits the Road and has extensive professional and college administrative experience in addition to classroom instruction.
Yogi Lama Gursam went to monastery at a very young age, received teachings as a monastic, and studied and practiced as a monastic. Then Lama Gursam went to study in Tibetan University Sarnath, Varanasi, India to get both bachelors and masters degrees in Buddhist Philosophy, History, and languages. Upon graduation he received a special award for scholastic achievement from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
After university Lama Gursam was requested to assist His Holiness the Chetsang Rinpoche. Lama volunteered for five years as an assistant, as a teacher, and helped with many other duties. Lama Gursam then completed the traditional three year retreat. Since then every year Lama has gone on retreat in various mountains, including some of Milarepa's caves. He then returns for six months each year to provide teachings in the West. He also leads pilgrimages to holy places in India, and Nepal. Lama teaches in English, and always tries to focus on the practical application of the Dharma in everyday life. He has been teaching regularly at the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute (previously Dharmakirti College and Dharmakirti International) for many years.
Jane Stanley has been studying some form of Buddhism or metaphysics since she was in her early twenties. In 2010, knowing that she would be traveling to Tibet she started seriously studying Tibetan Buddhism and realized she had found what she never expected to find – an understanding of life that felt true and genuine. She took refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and while in Lhasa, Tibet committed her life to the study, practice and teaching of Tibetan Buddhism.
In January of 2012 she came to the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute (then Dharmakirti College), completed the Natural Liberation course, enrolled in the Advanced Classes and continues her studies. She has also taken empowerments in Dzogchen, Simhamukha, Vajrayogini, Manjurshi and several others. She has taken the Bodhisattva Vow and pledged her life to serving the Dharma.
Jane is an RN and has a degree in Liberal Arts. Her interests include fine art photography, world travel and doing Social Media for the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute. Jane was asked to teach the Essentials of Tibetan Buddhism by Khenpo Drimed Dawa for the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute and was honored to accept his offer.
Patrick Flint is a native born Tucsonan. He was first introduced to yoga, both its Hatha practice and its philosophy, at age 13 during a chance encounter at a public party in 1969. Becoming a yogi has been his life's goal ever since. He became exposed to the practice of Taoist Cultivation in 1983, studying Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung with Mark Johnson in Taos, NM. Mark was a senior student of master Ni Hua Ching.
Joining the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute in 2012 (Dharmakirti College at that time), he has become a serious student of Buddha dharma, especially the Nyingma Lineage where he has learned the 21 Yogas of Longchen Rabjam as a means of furthering the Practice of Khandro Nyingtik and Longchen Nyingtik Dzogchen.
Fundamentally, we follow the Nyingma tradition established in Tibet by Padmasambhava (or Guru Rinpoche) with a focus on the Padling Tersar (see below). We are also Rime, which means “not taking sides,” “nonpartisan,” or “nonsectarian.” It does not mean “nonconformist” or “noncommittal,” nor does it mean forming a new school or system that is different from the existing ones. Followers of the Rimé approach almost always follow one lineage for their main practices while respecting and learning from other traditions. At the request of our Spiritual Director, HH Khenchen Lama Rinpoche, lineage holder of Padling Tersar: the New Padma Dagnag Lingpa Lineage of the Nyingma tradition, we will now focus on this collection of teachings and practices, described below:
New Padma Dagnag Lingpa Treasure Lineage
Padma Dagnag Lingpa was a manifestation of Guru Rinpoche’s heart student, Nubchen Sangye Yeshe. Padma Dagnag Lingpa was born in 1922 and passed away to nirvana in 1959. He was a great Terton, Treasure master. His Great Mind Treasures are in three divisions: (1) ‘La’ which are Guru Yoga meditations, (2) ‘Dzog’ which are the Dzogchen tantras, and (3) ‘Thuk’ which are yidam sadhanas.
The new Padma Dagnag Lingpa Treasure Lineage is a short, new direct lineage. Dharmakaya is Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri. Sambhogakaya is Manjushri. Nirmanakaya is Guru Rinpoche, Nubchen Sangye Yeshe, H.H. Padme Dagnag Lingpa, Lama Loma and H.H. Khenchen Lama Rinpoche.
The Padling Tersar includes the following Termas:
• ‘La’ or Guru Yoga division
o Main Guru Yogas
Rigpa Guru Yoga
Nubchen Sangye Yeshe Guru Yoga
King Gesar Guru Yoga
o 24 additional Guru Yogas
• ‘Dzog’ division of the Dzogchen Tantras – the entire Dzogpa Chenpo path
o 30 Pointing Out Instructions
o Dzogchen Kalachakra
o Tsa Lung Trulkhor – 21 Tibetan Yogas of Longchenpa
• ‘Thuk’ division of yidam sadhanas
o Main sources
13 Guru Rinpoche Wishfulfilling Gem sadhanas
Guru Rinpoche’s history (like Padma Kathang - a biography of Guru Rinpoche, also known as the Sheldrakma , revealed by Orgyen Lingpa from the Crystal Cave)
o Other yidam practices
The Heart of Yangdak Sadhana
Dharmapala of King Gesar
o Other texts:
A Naga small puja
Naga and Mother Earth Offering Sadhanas
Eight different prayers or dedications
32 additional sadhanas
The Six Bardos
The Padling Tersar covers the entire Nine Yanas from Sutra to Atiyoga. It includes Hinayana, Mahayana, Tantra, Mahamudra and Dzogchen. The New Padma Lingpa Treasure Lineage has the entire path for anyone to become fully enlightened in just one lifetime. This means that if a person is a beginner, they can have enlightenment in one lifetime if they do the meditation practices of the Padling Tersar.
Padling Tersar practitioners, that is, Awam practitioners, will together take care of the Padling Tersar. We will practice meditation in a true Dharma way. Also, I, HH Khenchen Lama Rinpoche, will take care of all my students who need this Padling Tersar lineage. I will take care of the entire Padling Tersar path. I will do the Pointing Out with you and show you the path. Especially in our modern times now, the Padling Tersar path is very simple. It is the Dzogchen path and yogi tradition. I will take care of the yogi tradition.
Most important is for everyone to do Guru Yoga and Dzogchen meditation and the 8 sadhana teachings of the 8 Great Deities. Padling Tersar never ever ends. It will grow quickly and benefit outer, inner and secret levels of all the worlds.
Inner Padling Tersar
HH Khenchen Lama Rinpoche
Our History (link under construction)
May all beings be happy!