Now in its fifth year, the Gateway Program continues to deepen with practitioners entering into the profound practices of Dzogchen. This year the “Tigers” will be completing their Ngondro (Preliminaries), the “Garudas” will focus on the deity yoga of Tröma, and the “Completes” will practice the final phase of Rushen, called Semjong (Mind Training), Dzogchen preliminaries.
Level 1: The Foundation Program Overview
The Foundation program spans three years and covers the Ngöndro, or ‘that which goes before,’ which is the gateway practice for entering the profound lineage of the Dzinpa Rangdröl cycle. This program is designed so that participants will complete the Dzinpa Rangdröl Ngöndro at the end of the three-year time period. Since the time of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century, the practice of Ngöndro has been completed by many great yogis and yoginis, many of whom have taken Ngöndro as one of their core practices. Commensurate with the complete body of the Dzinpa Rangdröl cycle, many practices in this Ngöndro are considered esoteric and in the past were given only as a practitioner’s second Ngöndro. In this Ngöndro, one completes 100,000 prostrations with refuge; 40,000 Bodhicitta prayers with accompanying meditation; 100,000 Vajrasattva mantras; 100,000 Mandala Offerings; and 1,300,000 Guru Yoga mantras. All of these are accompanied by visualizations. The purpose of these practices is to purify the body, speech and mind and to accumulate merit, akin to preparing the foundation before a house is built. Practitioners should expect to practice 2-3 hours a day.
Those who have already completed a Ngöndro in another lineage will be required to do 10% of the Dzinpa Rangdrol Ngöndro in order to enter into the second level “Complete Transmission” program. To receive these instructions and begin the practice, there are no additional prerequisites; however, it is a practice that requires great effort and commitment. The application and interview process must be completed.
Complete Transmission Program Details
The Complete Transmission program will take those who have completed the Dzinpa Rangdröl Ngöndro requirement into the progressive stages that are traditionally practiced during the three-year retreat.
Can I join Gateway even though it is already underway?
At present, we are not beginning another Gateway cohort until we have completed the three cohorts we have now. Tulku Sang-gnag Rinpoche has advised us to do this. However, if someone wants to start the Dzinpa Rangdröl Ngöndro, they should contact the Tara Mandala Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an interview with Lopön Chandra Easton. If they are able to commit to finishing the Ngöndro and fulfill other basic requirements, then they may receive the Lung (oral transmission) and practice materials from the Tara Mandala bookstore. This is more of a self-study approach. Those who follow this route, are encouraged to come to our Annual White Dakini Drubchen (Dzinpa Rangdröl cycle) as often as they can and to come to the Three Yana Retreats at Tara Mandala to gain a solid foundation in Dharma (both Sutric and Tantric).