About the Shedra
Inspired by the vision of Sogyal Rinpoche and the achievements of great centres of buddhist learning from the past, such as Nalanda in India, Shri Singha shedra at Dzogchen Monastery, Kham-jé at Dzongsar and more recently, Larung Gar, established by the great Khen Rinpoche Jikmé Phuntsok, the Rigpa Shedra seeks to provide a thorough and comprehensive Dharma education of the very highest standards. The approach is traditional, based on the proven methods of the unbroken lineage of learning and realization that dates back to ancient India, and encourages not just formal study, but also deeper integration of the teachings through contemplation and meditation.
The curriculum is designed with a view to supporting the needs of the wider Rigpa Sangha, complementing the teachings of Sogyal Rinpoche and also the courses offered in Rigpa centres throughout the world. It is entirely non-sectarian, and features the most important writings of the great Indian and Tibetan masters, including works on both sutra and tantra. The teachers providing commentary on these texts are highly qualified khenpos and acharyas. Additional teachings and guidance are also sought from many of the lamas connected with the Rigpa sangha. In addition to studying the most important classical writings, students have the option to study the Tibetan language, and all the major and minor sciences studied by the panditas of India and Tibet, including the history of Buddhism in India and Tibet, Tibetan medicine, astrology, grammar (according to the main Tibetan grammar treatises), poetry and arts and crafts.
The following lamas and scholars have taught at the Rigpa Shedra:
- B. Alan Wallace
- Klaus-Dieter Mathes
- Steven Goodman
In 2006 the first Rigpa Shedra East took place at the Palyul Retreat Centre in Pharping, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Students spent four months studying Mipham Rinpoche’s Gateway to Knowledge with Khenpo Pasang Tenzin.
Buddha nature was the main topic of the Shedra 2008-2009, following two commentaries by Mipham Rinpoche: Lion’s Roar: Exposition of Buddha-Nature and Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary on the Uttaratantra Shastra (Tib. Gyü Lama), Buddha Maitreya’s famous treatise.
For the second year, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche gave a commentary on Maitreya’s Uttaratantra Shastra, Ringu Tulku taught Mipham Rinpoche’s Wheel of Investigative Meditation and Professor Steven Goodman introduced the basic themes of the Abhidharma.
For the third year, which took place in Dzogchen Beara in Ireland, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche taught on Maitreya’s Abhisamayalankara and Alan Wallace presented the views of the four main philosophical schools of Buddhism. Students also reviewed Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s teachings on the whole of the Bodhicharyavatara.
For the fourth year, Dzogchen Rinpoche taught on the Abhisamayalankara and introduced us to buddhist debate, and Ringu Tulku Rinpoche began his teachings on Shantarakshita’s Madhyamakalankara using the commentary of Mipham Rinpoche.
In the fifth year, the shedra was once again at home in Lerab Ling. We had the pleasure of welcoming back Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, the Rigpa Shedra’s most regular teacher, for the second and final year of his brilliant commentary upon Mipham Rinpoche’s celebrated exposition of the Ornament of the Middle Way by Khenpo Shantarakshita. Each day, Rinpoche delivered a brilliant and seemingly effortless summary of as many as thirty or forty pages of text, masterfully encapsulating the essential meaning of the treatise.
For the second part, we had the good fortune to study Haribhadra’s Sphutartha commentary on the Abhisamayalankara with the young and brilliant Khenpo Jampal Dorje from Dzongsar Monastery in India. During his lively and extremely detailed presentation, he drew upon the writings of the great Sakyapa master Kunkhyen Gorampa and especially upon the annotation commentary of the great Khenpo Shenga, to whose lineage he himself belongs. On the final day, as both a thank-you and an offering, three students were called upon to present their understanding of the text, and all acquitted themselves admirably, speaking from memory for more than five minutes each and even managing a few quotations.