Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling

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Shangpa Kagyu Retreat Center - The Curriculum

The retreat begins with various practices to purify obscurations and accumulate merit, making the participants suitable vessels for the blessings of the teachings. The first practice, Sangtik Vajrakilaya, is part of a series of treasure texts discovered by Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa. It is practiced to pacify potential obstacles to the retreat. Next, the retreatants undertake the common and uncommon preliminary practices from the Karma Kagyu tradition including 100,000 repetitions each of prostrations and refuge, Vajrasattva’s one hundred syllable mantra, the mandala offering, and guru yoga. This is followed by two guru yogas–Milarepa’s Guru Yoga from the Kamtsang tradition, and from the Shangpa tradition, Lhazhi Drildrup (The Combined Practice of the Four Deities - Mahakala, Vajrayogini, Avalokiteshvara, and Tara). This is followed by meditation on the Seven Point Mind Training and Shamata. These practices comprise most of the first year.

The majority of the second year is spent doing various yidam practices, including Hayagriva, Vajrayogini of the Karma Kagyu, The Five Deities of Chakrasamvara, and the principal yidam practice of the Shangpa Kagyu, Gyude Lha Nga (the Deities of the Five Tantras). Since Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche had a special connection with the King of Tantras, Kalachakra, it is practiced for three months, even though is it not a Shangpa Kagyu practice. With the exception of Hayagriva, at the conclusion of each of these a week long group-practice intensive is performed. An elaborate sand mandala is created and the ritual is closed with a fire puja.

The third year is spent engaging in the collection of practices known as The Five Golden Dharmas. Its components are likened to the parts of a tree: the Six Yogas of Niguma as the roots; Reliquary Mahamudra, the trunk; the Three Means of Carrying Practices, the branches; the Red and White Kecharis, the flowers; and Non-deceiving Deathlessness, the fruit. Following this there is a brief introduction to the Six Yogas of Sukhasiddhi. Throughout the curriculum, the lineage’s primary protector, Chakdrukpa, the swift-acting emanation of Chenrezi, is practiced at regular intervals, including a week-long group practice just before each lunar new year.

Thus practices based on the three roots of the Vajrayana, including the lama, yidam, and protector, are successively accomplished. The concluding phase of the retreat includes the practices of Mindroling Vajrasattva, Amitabha, Chod–The Source of All Qualities, and the three longevity practices focused on Niguma, Sukhasiddhi, and White Tara. To see the detailed schedule of practices click here.