Advanced – Shedra

Advanced

– Shedra

The Dzogchen Practitioners Course

The Six-Year Dzogchen Practitioners’ Course – along with its complementary instruction, entitled The Perfect Path of Self-Liberation, has been designed as a more suitable framework for those students who wish to deepen and broaden the scope of their study and practice of Buddhism, and who wish to commit themselves to a programme of intensive study and practice. 

This Course is also referred to as the shedra which means ‘college’ in Tibetan. Those who enrol in the course are required to attend the annual Zangdok Palri Institute shedra course, study the course material, complete the set practices, and pass exams.

The Six-Year Dzogchen Practitioners Course is a degree course which gives advice

for the practice of self-liberation in yearly stages.

Deers

Along with the subjects taught in the six-year course books, which are a compilation of the main subjects taught in the universities in Tibet, key sutras and other texts are studied. The course covers all levels of Buddhist practice from the basics, the preliminary practices, up to the summit, the teachings of Dzogchen. In accordance with the need and maturation of the students, additional instructions may be given. Initiations and transmissions are bestowed on students during the annual Shedra course, as well as instructions about the practices to be accomplished during the year, such as the five-fold accumulation of the Ngöndro (Preliminary) practice, for instance.

At the end of the studies, a degree is conferred on those students who have passed their exams, shown signs of having truly understood the course material, and whose realisation of the practices has become manifest.   

Three shedra cycles have been launched. Cycle 1 has graduated in 2018 and still meets yearly for restricted teachings. Cycle 2 & cycle 3 are in progress.

buddhist studies
advanced buddhist studies

Curriculum

Self-liberation means liberating the mind.

We need to liberate the mind in order to become free of suffering and attain happiness. The six stages of advice for the practice of self-liberation start with the state of suffering and show us how to attain happiness.

At the beginning we need an appropriate body with which we can make the journey. We investigate which kind of body would be the best one to assist the mind in attaining the mastery it requires. We discover that when we aspire to self-liberation, a human body is the very best basis for our endeavours. Once we have attained such a body, we can prepare the way to self-liberation and set out on our journey to attain it. For this we need a path, and we must look for the right one. This is our starting point. 

FIRST LEVEL

The Path on which one Reflects on Searching for Self-Liberation

Advice for those who, desiring liberation, reflect on searching for the path of self-liberation – like the tisha, a bird who searches for a safe and secure place when building its nest.

Main points to reflect on are as follows:

  • Searching for a path
  • Distinguishing between paths
  • Motivation
  • Refuge
  • Bodhicitta
  • The six transcendent perfections (paramitas)

Once we have generated mind adopting bodhicitta as our motivation, and once we have aligned our own activity to that of the six transcendent perfections, we can go out into the forest of negative emotion and we will not be hindered on our path, just as an elephant is not hindered as he strides freely through the jungle. The truth of the path of insight arises when the level of supreme dharma on the path of junction has been attained. At this stage one is still defiled, but one no longer has to return to cyclic existence.

SECOND LEVEL

The Path on which one Ascertains the Great Beings’ Way of Self-Liberation

Advice like the movement of an elephant—powerful approach on the path of self-liberation.

THIRD LEVEL

The Path on which one Obtains the Great Transmission of Self-Liberation

Advice like being in a garuda egg—outwardly the signs of the path of self-liberation are not yet evident, but inwardly the power, or energy, of the mind is perfect.

FOURTH LEVEL

The Path on which one Finds Relief in Self-Liberation

Advice like a young garuda soaring in the skies—the strength of intrinsic awareness, self-liberation.

FIFTH LEVEL

The Path on which one Perfects the Great Skill of Self-Liberation

Advice like the perfected skill of a young lion—an intelligent person’s arrival at the summit of the practice of self-liberation.

SIXTH LEVEL

The Path on which one Thoroughly Accomplishes Complete Self-Liberation

—in order to find relief in the primordial level of the completely endowed All-Pervading Lord (Dorje Chang)

Advice like a wish-fulfilling jewel—the result made manifest, the accomplishment of all that benefits self and others.

SUTRAS

The Uttaratantra (“Gyud Lama” in Tibetan), The Ultimate Continuum, by Maitreya/Asanga.

The Mulamadhyamaka-karika (“Uma Tsawa Sherab” in Tibetan), The Root Stanzas on the Middle Way, by Nagarjuna.

The Abhisamayalankara (“Ngöntok Gyen” in Tibetan) The Ornament of Clear Realization, by Maitreya/Asanga.

ADDITIONAL TEXTS TO STUDY
  • The Words of my Perfect Teacher, by Dza Patrul Rinpoche
  • The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva, by Thogme Zangpo
  • The Bodhicharyavatara, by Shantideva
  • The True Words of the Great Rishi, by Ranyak Patrul Rinpoche
  • A Brief Presentation of the Nine Yanas, by Kyabje Zenkar Rinpoche Thubten Nyima
  • The Quintessential View of the Accomplished Vidyadharas Explained in Terms of the Key Aspects of the Practice Presented as Nine Gradual Vehicles, by Pema Lungtok Gyamtso Rinpoche
  • The Brief Progressive Stages of Meditation, an Excellent Explanation of the Scriptural Tradition, commentary on The Ornament of Clear Realisation by Dza Patrul Rinpoche
  • The Sword of Wisdom for Thoroughly Ascertaining Reality, by Mipham Rinpoche
  • Lion’s Roar: The Great Essential Meaning of Buddha Nature, by Mipham Rinpoche
  • Hitting the Essence in Three Words, by Garab Dorje
  • The Lion’s Roar that Vanquishes the Sidetracks and Straying of Hermits who Meditate upon the Heart Essence, by Jigme Lingpa
  • The Excellent Path to Omniscience, a Structured Recitation Preliminary to the Heart Essence of the Great Expanse, the Great Perfection (Longchen Nyingthik Ngöndro)
  • From the Longchen Nyingthik, the Heart Essence of the Great Expanse: The Inner Sadhana of Rigdzin Düpa
  • From the Longchen Nyingthik, the Heart Essence of the Great Expanse: The Root Sadhana of Mother Tsogyal, the Queen of Great Bliss, entitled The Glorious Garland of Great Bliss
DETAILED CHRONOLOGY OF THE 3 CYCLES

Cycle I

  • 2004: Pre-shedra course (Brussels, Belgium) – The Bodhi Tree by Ranyak Patrul Rinpoche
  • 2005: Shedra Book Y1 The Path on which one Reflects on Searching for Self-Liberation (Slupca, Poland)
  • 2006: Shedra BookY2 The Path on which one Ascertains the Great Beings’ Way of Self-Liberation (Slupca, Poland)
  • 2007: Shedra Book Y3 The Path on which one Obtains the Great Transmission of Self-Liberation (Dharma City, Belgium)
  • 2008: The True Words of the Great Rishi (Dharma City, Belgium)

In 2008, there was no General Buddhist Studies Course as in the previous years but there was an extraordinary Shedra. This course was open to everyone and was non-mandatory for the students of the 6-Year Dzogchen Practitioner’s Course.
Ranyak Patrul Rinpoche gave a commentary on The True Words of The Great Rishi, an explanation of the Four Noble Truths written in the style of a root text.

    The Uttaratantra-shastra (“Gyud Lama”, The Ultimate Continuum), written by the great Indian master Asanga in the 4th century AD, is said to have been dictated by Arya Maitreya, the future Buddha in this world, and can be considered one of the most important texts for Dharma students and practitioners.
    Elucidating the Buddha nature present in all beings and explaining extensively its qualities and our inherent potential for enlightenment, this essential treatise provides the grounding for the understanding of the tantric view. Clearly structured and very detailed, it reveals to us the hidden treasure of our awakened nature of mind in order to support us on the path towards its realization.

    • 2010: The Root Stanzas of the Middle Way (Dzogchen in Tibet & Dharma City, Belgium)

    The Root Stanzas on the Middle Way (Skt. Mulamadhyamaka-karika, Tib. “Uma Tsawa Sherab”) by Nāgārjuna is the key text of the Madhyamaka (Middle Way) school of Buddhism and certainly the most famous work of Nagarjuna, the great Indian philosopher and master of the 2nd century CE. Written in twenty-seven chapters, in a concise style and with rigorous logic, this text questions all our certainties about phenomenal reality and introduces us masterfully to the concept of interdependent arising which is the essence of the Middle Way.

    • 2011: The Nine Gradual vehicles (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2012: Shedra Y3, The Path on which one Obtains the Great Transmission of Self-Liberation (Dharma City, Belgium) chapters 3-6, in depth study (Dharma City, Belgium).
    • 2013: The Ornament of Clear Realisation, by Maitreya (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2014: Commentary by Dza Patrul Rinpoche on The Ornament of Clear Realisation called The Brief Progressive Stages of Meditation, an Excellent Explanation of the Scriptural Tradition (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2015: Lion’s Roar: The Great Essential Meaning of Buddha Nature, by Mipham Rinpoche, by Mipham Rinpoche (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2016: Hitting the Essence in Three Words, by Garab Dorje (Tibet)
      General Buddhist Course on the Bodhicharyavatara – Wisdom Chapter (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2017: The Sword of Wisdom for Thoroughly Ascertaining Reality, by Mipham Rinpoche (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2018: The Lion’s Roar that Vanquishes the Sidetracks and Straying of Hermits who Meditate upon the Heart Essence, by Jigme Lingpa (Dharma City, Belgium)

     

    POST-GRADUATION TEACHINGS

    • 2019: A Lamp to Dispel Darkness, by Mipham Rinpoche (Dharma City, Belgium)

     

    Cycle II

    • 2007: Shedra Book Y1 The Path on which one Reflects on Searching for Self-Liberation (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2008: The True Words of the Great Rishi (Dharma City, Belgium­ – shedra common to all cycles)
    • 2009: Uttaratantra-shastra (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2010: Mulamadhyamaka-karika (Dzogchen in Tibet and Dharma City, Belgium – shedra common to all cycles)
    • 2011: Shedra Book Y2 The Path on which one Ascertains the Great Beings’ Way of Self-Liberation (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2012: The True Words of the Great Rishi (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2013: Shedra Y3, The Path on which one Obtains the Great Transmission of Self-Liberation – chapter 1 (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2014:  Shedra book Y3, The Path on which one Obtains the Great Transmission of Self-Liberation – chapters 2 to 6 (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2015: The Nine Gradual Vehicles (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2016: Hitting the Essence in Three Words, by Garab Dorje (Tibet)
      General Buddhist Course on the Bodhichharyavatara – Wisdom Chapter (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2017: Commentary by Dza Patrul Rinpoche on The Ornament of Clear Realisation, called The Brief Progressive Stages of Meditation, an Excellent Explanation of the Scriptural Tradition (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2018: The Sword of Wisdom for Thoroughly Ascertaining Reality, by Mipham Rinpoche (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2019: Lion’s Roar: The Great Essential Meaning of Buddha Nature, by Mipham Rinpoche (Dharma City, Belgium)

     

    Cycle III

    • 2011: Shedra book Y1 The Path on which one Reflects on Searching for Self-Liberation (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2012: Shedra book Y2 The Path on which one Ascertains the Great Beings’ Way of Self-Liberation (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2013: Uttaratantra-shastra (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2014: Shedra book Y3 The Path on which one Obtains the Great Transmission of Self-Liberation, chapter 1 (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2015: Shedra book Y3 The Path on which one Obtains the Great Transmission of Self-Liberation, chapters 2-6 (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2016: Hitting the Essence in Three Words, by Garab Dorje (Tibet)
      General Buddhist Course on the Bodhicharyavatara – Wisdom Chapter (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2017: Nine Gradual Vehicles (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2018: Lion’s Roar: The Great Essential Meaning of Buddha Nature, by Mipham Rinpoche (Dharma City, Belgium)
    • 2019: Commentary by Dza Patrul Rinpoche on The Ornament of Clear Realisation, called The Brief Progressive Stages of Meditation, an Excellent Explanation of the Scriptural Tradition (Dharma CityDharma City, Belgium)

     

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