A WESTERN SHEDRA | The Foundation and Intermediate programs are expanding throughout North America and to other countries. Online distance learning is another option that is opening up participation from around the world. The Institute’s ultimate goal is to establish an actual shedra facility offering Intermediate, Advanced, and Tibetan Language Studies at graduate and post-graduate equivalent levels. This will secure the pedagogical basis from which Nitartha’s programs can continue to grow and additional Western teachers can be trained.
Nitartha will also continue to publish definitive translations of key Indian and Tibetan Buddhist texts and their commentaries, along with other related treatises of the Kagyü and Nyingma traditions, for use by students, practitioners, and scholars everywhere.
EIGHT MAIN TREATISES OF THE KAGYU TRADITION
Central to the long-term goal of Nitartha Institute is the translating and teaching the following texts, which are essential for a complete understanding of sutra and tantra.
Five Great Treatises of Sutrayana
- The Ocean of Texts on Logic, by Chödrak Gyatso, Karmapa VII, 1900 pages (Teachings derived from this text first taught at Nitartha Institute 1996.) The topic here is valid cognition. This means that, in order to be able to progress on the path toward enlightenment, we have to be able to distinguish between the liberating aspects of our mind that validly perceive things in the way they actually are and those aspects of mind that are mistaken and tainted by fundamental delusion, thus sustaining bondage in samsara.
- Commentary on the Entrance to the Middle Way: The Chariot of the Dakpo Kagyü Siddhas, by Mikyö Dorje, Karmapa VIII, 806 pages (Partial translation by Elizabeth Callahan. Taught at Nitartha Institute 1999-2001). This Madhyamaka treatise presents the explicit teaching of the Prajnaparamita Sutras, i.e., emptiness. This is “the complicated path to simplicity,” as it makes us look at the rigid ways we look at our world and offers an approach to eventually help us relax our minds and let go of all our hang-ups.
- Commentary on the Ornament of Clear Realization: Relief of the Noble Ones, by Mikyö Dorje, 1130 pages (Partial translation by Karl Brunnhölzl. Taught at Nitartha Institute 2001, 2002 and 2003.) The topic here is the so-called “hidden” or implied meaning of the Prajnaparamita sutras. This means the progression through the various paths and bhâmis of bodhisattvas, shrÏvakas and pratyekabuddhas, which actually means to become friends with the basic groundlessness of our existence. In other words, the text describes in detail what happens in the mind of someone who meditates on emptiness, from the stage of a beginner up through Buddhahood.
- Commentary on the Abhidharma: Bestowing the Fulfillment of Accomplishment and Happiness, by Mikyö Dorje, c. 1400 pages (Teachings derived from this text first taught at Nitartha Institute 1996). This text deals with the basic Buddhist terminologies and classifications of mind and phenomena as the Buddha taught them, and as they are understood in the two philosophical systems of Vaibhashika and Sautrantika in the foundational vehicle of Buddhism.
- Commentary to the Vinaya: The Disk of the Sun, by Mikyö Dorje, 2360 pages. Apart from the different types of vows, rules and regulations for monks and nuns, here, the Buddha addresses also the issue of how the society of lay people may live together in a harmonious way, or, what could be called the vision of an enlightened society from the Buddha’s point of view.
Three Great Treatises of Vajrayana
- Commentary on the Uttaratantra Shastra: The Lion’s Roar of Irreversibility, by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Taye (Translation by Rosie Fuchs, published by Snow Lion. Taught at Nitartha Institute 1999 and 2000.) This text is considered as the link between the sutra vehicle and the tantra vehicle in that it describes Buddha nature in detail, which is the basic ground of our minds and the underlying continuum of practice during all the phases of ground, path and fruition.
- Commentary on The Profound Inner Reality: Illuminating the Profound Reality, by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Taye, 382 pages (Partial translation by Elizabeth Callahan. Taught at Nitartha Institute 2003 and 2004.) This text by the 3rd Karmapa provides the general background for tantric practice in terms of the view and specifically deals with the details of nadi, prana and bindu.
- Commentary on the Hevajra Tantra: Elucidating the Secret of the Indestructible Vajra, Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Taye, 658 pages. The main emphasis of this tantra is on the various types and expressions of conduct in the Vajrayana.