The following article is from the Autumn, 1994 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

trans. & intro. by Ngawang Zangpo

ISBN 1-559394)29-8 255 pp., $15.95

The Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Himalayan tantric Buddhism require a long period of intensive training in meditationa three-year, three-month retreatbefore a practitioner is considered to be a qualified teacher. Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual was written in the mid-nineteenth century for those who wish to embark on this rigorous training. It guides them in preparing for retreat, pro vides full details of the program of meditation and offers advice for their re-entry into the world.

Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual also introduces us to one of the towering figures of nineteenth-century Tibet: Jamgon Kongtrul the Great (1813-1899). The three-year retreat center he describes in this book was his creation, and its program consisted of those practices Kongtrul treasured enough to pass on to future generations through the spiritual leaders he trained.

Jamgon Kongtrul's.

Retreat Manual


The translation of this text allows the reader a unique and unlimited view inside the secluded walls of one of Tibet's most influential meditation training centers

Ngawang Zangpo (Hugh Leslie Thompson) completed two three-year retreats under the direction of the late Kalu Rinpochay. He contributes to the work of Kalu Rinpochay's translation committee in Sonada, India.

Here is the table of contents to show you how remarkable this book is:


Translator's Introduction

The Three-Year, Three-Fortnight Retreat

Retreat Centers: Their Physical Setting

The Time Period of the Retreat

Retreat Centers and Gender

Meditation Training in Retreat

Jamgon Kongtrul's Life and Work as Related to the Retreat

Kongtrul's Non-Sectarian View and His Retreat Program

Kongtrul's Life and the Non-Sectarian View

The Evolution of Kongtrul's Retreat Center

The Three-Year Retreat at Tsadra Rinchen Drak and the

Remainder of Kongtrul's Life

Kongtrul's Retreat Center After Kongtrul

Jamgon Kongtrul's Retreat Manual

Invocation and Resolution


I. Preparation for and Entrance into Retreat

Mental Preparation

Practical Preparation

Entrance into Retreat

II. Life Within Retreat

1. The Main Program of the Retreat

The Preliminary Practices

The Origin of the Oral Instruction Lineage of the Karmapas

Manuals Used During the Preliminary Practices

The Buddha's Word as Instruction Lineage

The Importance of the Preliminary Practices

The Retreat Program for the Preliminary Practices

The Shangpa Instruction Lineage

The Origin of the Lineage

The Main Meditations of the Lineage

Later History of the Lineage

The Retreat Program

The Vajra Yoga Instruction Lineage

The Origin of the Lineage

The Main Meditations of the Lineage

Later History of the Lineage

The Intensive Practice Instruction Lineage

The Retreat Program

The Ancient Instruction Lineage

The Origin of the Lineage

The Source of the Meditations

The Treasury of Rediscovered Teachings

The Retreat Program

Additional Practices Performed During the Retreat

Exit from the Retreat

2. The Daily Schedule

Background Information

The Severance Instruction Lineage

The Order of the Yoga of the Four Daily Meditation Sessions

3. Extra Monthly and Yearly Rituals

Background Information

The Monthly Program of Memorial Offerings and Extra Rituals

Extra Offering Practices and Offerings Performed on a Yearly Basis

4. The Retreatant of the Protector Temple

Background Information

The Program for the Retreatant of the Protector Temple

5. General Rules of Conduct and Discipline

The Most Crucial Advice for Life in Retreat

III. Words of Advice for Life After Retreat

Dedication and Colophon

Appendix 1: Books Referred to in the Introductory Sections

Appendix 2: Books and Prayers Mentioned in the Retreat Manual

Appendix 3: Persons Mentioned in the Retreat Manual

Appendix 4: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Deities, and Practices

Mentioned in the Retreat Manual