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The Path in Detail

The Dzinpa Rangdröl Cycle

The Tibetan word Dzinpa means to cling or to fixate. Rang means self, innate, or inherent. Dröl means liberation. Compositely, the term Dzinpa Rangdröl may be translated as Self-Liberation of Clinging— a path in which fixation or clinging are inherently liberated by themselves into the nature of the mind. It is the core text of Do Khyentse’s extensive terma (treasure) cycle called the Yangsang Khandro Tug Tig (Exceedingly Secret Heart Essence of the Dakini). Within this cycle are all of the different types of practice that comprise the full Tibetan Buddhist path.

The program is divided into two sections: First, the three-year Foundation Program in which one engages in the foundational practices of Ngöndro; and second, the Complete Transmission Program, which builds upon the first, focusing on the more advanced practices of Tsogyal Karmo (White Dakini), Tröma, three Chöd practices, and the Dzogchen preliminaries of Rushan, followed by Trekchö and Tögal. There are also various other yogic and Dzogchen practices attached to this cycle, including three main Chöd practices of varying lengths. It is rare to have a terma cycle of such vast profundity that is complete and thus able to lead one to complete liberation.

Over the course of the program, a close cohort of fellow practitioners will develop, providing a sense of camaraderie and support while engaging in these profound practices. Each practitioner will also be assigned a Kalyanamitra, a spiritual mentor, with whom they can communicate, get support and share experiences.

Photo credit: Josh Brownlee

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.

Photo credit: Josh Brownlee
Photo credit: Deborah Howe

Level 2:  The Complete Transmission Program Overview

The second program builds upon the Foundation program and is for those who have completed the Ngöndro requirement. The seven years of this curriculum include the deity yoga practices of Tsogyal Karmo and Tröma, Tsalung, and the Dzogchen preliminaries of Outer and Inner Rushen followed by Trekchö and Tögal. There are also various other yogic and Dzogchen practices attached to this cycle, including three main Chöd practices of varying lengths. There will be both group and solitary retreat requirements as well as a commitment to regular two-hour daily practice. The first Complete Transmission program began in the summer of 2013 and is still in progress.

Prerequisites: Completing of the Foundation program (Ngöndro) or 10% of the Dzinpa Rangdröl Ngöndro if you have already completed Ngöndro in another lineage. Interview and acceptance by Lama Tsultrim Allione or Lopön Chandra is also required.

Foundation Program Details

The primary focus of the Foundation program is training in the Dzinpa Rangdröl Ngöndro, the Foundational Vajrayana practices, which include:

  • Contemplations on the Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind toward the Dharma
  • Training in the two kinds of Bodhicitta: Absolute and Relative
  • The Four Immeasurables: Love, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity
  • Progressive Stages of Emptiness and other topics
  • Barlung Breathing
  • Refuge & Prostrations
  • Vajrasattva mantra recitation
  • Mandala Offering
  • Guru Yoga
  • Dream Yoga
  • Parchangma Chöd will also be taught in the Foundation Program


Each year, you will participate in the following:

  • An annual 5-7-day retreat (including a personal interview) with Lama Tsultrim, Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche, Drubpön Lama Karma, or Lopön Sang Ye at Tara Mandala Retreat Center.
  • Two tele-teachings or webcasts with Lama Tsultrim, Lopön Sang Ye, or Lopön Chandra to be attended locally or via live webcast
  • Personal interviews with Lama Tsultrim Allione,  Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche and Lopön Sang Ye as needed. (Please note: during retreats, priority for personal interviews will be given to those enrolled in the Gateway Program.)
  • Email or Skype contact with your Kalyanamitra, Lama Tsultrim Allione and Lopön Sang Ye as needed
  • Required daily 2-3 hour personal practice commitment (depending on the speed you do the practices at, it will take longer in the beginning as you learn the practices)
  • Occasional daylong, weekend or longer personal retreats as appropriate
  • Dzinpa Rangdröl Drubchen retreat at Tara Mandala – first 2 years optional, but the third and final year of the three year Foundation Program attendance is required to graduate.
  • Becoming a Sustaining Sangha member of Tara Mandala
  • Taking the Parchangma Chöd Retreat
  • In addition, those participants who have not yet completed the Three Yana Month Long Retreat (Sutrayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana) will be required to do so during the three years of the Foundation Program. If you are unable to complete all the Three Yanas by the end of the Foundation Program, then you must complete them by the end of the Complete Transmission (Part 2) Program at the very latest. For example, if you were able to only do Sutrayana and Mahayana retreats during the Foundation Program, you may do the final Vajrayana Retreat during the Complete Transmission Program.

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.

The seven-year Complete Transmission Program will consist of the following:


Years 1 & 2: Yidam Practices:

Tsogyal Karmo retreat in person followed by daily practice (two hours of practice per day) including approach, accomplishment, activities, and fire puja.

Tröma retreat in person followed by daily practice including approach, accomplishment, activities, and fire puja.


Year 3: Tsa-Lung:

Six-day retreat in person followed by one year of daily practice. Includes Trulkor, Tummo, and Milam (Dream Yoga). Those with physical issues preventing Tsalung practice will be given guidance and support.


Year 4: Rushen:

Seven-day group Outer Rushen (Dzogchen Preliminaries) retreat followed by one year of daily practice, cycling through the Inner Rushen, body training (lujong) and speech training (ngagjong).


Year 5: Semjong:

Group retreat on Dzogchen Mind Training, followed by one year of daily practice. Including Nalbab and Solshog.


Year 6: Trekchö

The Dzogchen practice of “Cutting Through.” In person retreat (length to be determined) followed by one year of daily practice.


Year 7: Tögal

The Dzogchen practice of “Leaping Over.” In person retreat (length to be determined) followed by daily practice.

Complete Transmission Program Schedule

1st seven-year cycle: 2013-2020 (started with the Aug 5-16 Drubchen in 2013)
2nd seven-year cycle: 2016-2023 (upon completion of first Foundation group)
*Dates and details to be determined from year to year.

Note: All participants will need to complete Three Yanas by the end of the Complete Transmission program.