Nitartha Institute

The following article is from the Spring, 2001 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.


Summer 2001

Experienced practitioners of Buddhism may be especially interested to deepen their practice and knowledge of the dharma at Nitartha Institute this summer.

Nitartha Institute, under the direction of the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, is an annual summer program modeled on a Tibetan shedra (Buddhist college).

The fundamental goal of Nitartha Institute is to present the student with a systematic foundation in the central ideas of the Buddhist tradition, as taught by the Kagyu lineage. The Institute provides training in the specific methods that have been used to probe and understand the entire range and depth of the Buddhist view. After two years of training at the Institute, the student can expect to have a strong foundation in the core scholastic disciplines of the Kagyu path.

In Summer 2001, two sessions are being offered. You may choose to attend either session (Session 1: July 7 to 21, Session 2: July 21 to August 5) or both. This summer, the Nitartha Institute program will be held at Mt. Allison University in Sackville, New Branswick, Canada.

Mt. Allison is approximately a two-hour drive from Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is an intimate and beautiful setting, reminiscent of a small New England campus. Bordering a large nature conservancy, Mount Allison is an ideal setting for the contemplative and focused program at Nitartha. The program is fully residential, with all meals provided.

To study and practice at Nitartha is to experience moments of heart transmission between teacher and student as the innate meaning of the dharma arises in the stream of day- to-day teaching and practice. Nitartha offers a singular experience of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition interactively passing into Western culture, with all of its color, precision, intensity, and practical how-to-do-it detail.

The Founding Teachers

Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

Thrangu Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1933 and holds the teaching degree of Geshe Rabjam. Rinpoche led Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, the shedra at Rumtek Monastery, for many years. He has taught and traveled worldwide, and is currently the main tutor for the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa. The abbot of Gampo Abbey, it was his inspiration that led to the founding of Nitartha Institute.

Ven. Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

Klienpo Rinpoche is one of the most highly accomplished practitioners in the Kagyu tradition, and is widely respected as a Buddhist scholar. As senior abbot of the Nalanda Institute of Tibetan Studies in Rumtek, Sikkim, his teaching was instrumental in educating most of the younger generation of Tibetan teachers in the Karma Kagyu. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Lorig and Tagrig, which are used for the logic and valid cognition courses at Nitartha Institute. Khenpo Rinpoche closed the third session of Nitartha in 1998 with a week-long series of teaching and spontaneous songs on the view of mahamudra.


The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche Director and Principal Teacher

The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Nitartha's Director and principal teacher, the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, is acknowledged as one of the foremost scholars of his generation in the Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Rinpoche is the founder of Nitartha International, a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to preserving the ancient literature of Tibet in computerized formats. He is a graduate of the Karma Shr Nalanda Institute at Rumtek and has completed courses of study in English and comparative religions at Columbia University. He lias traveled and taught extensively in the West since 1980 and supervises the activities of meditation centers in Europe and North America Rinpoche lives in Vancouver, British Columbia He is known for his intellect, sharp humor and the lucidity of his teaching style.


Acharya Tenpa Gyaltsen and Acharya Sherab Negi Gyaltsen graduated from Karma Slui Nalanda Institute at Rumtek where they both excelled in their studies under some of the greatest living scholars in the Kagyu lineage. Acharya Tenpa currently resides and teaches at Kamalashila in Hamburg, Gennany, and Acharya Sherab is responsible for the educational program at Lava Monastery in Kalimpong, India.

A Typical Day

A day at Nitartha starts with morning exercises followed by breakfast at 7:30 AM. and analytical (contemplative) meditation. It continues with classes, main course teachings by Ponlop Rinpoche and Acharya Tenpa Gyaltsen, study periods, discussion and debate groups. Mealtimes provide opportunity for particularly animated questions, comments, and observations between participants about the day's teaching and practice. There is one day off per week. Because Nitartha is a residential program, there are plentiful opportunities to question and relate to the principal teachers before and after classes, during breaks, and while serving and attending.

The 2001 Summer Program Courses

The following courses will be taught this summer:

Studies in Hinayana and Mahayana Schools

This course examines the fundamental views of the traditional Hinayana and Mahayana schools, and provides the student with an overview of the key points of understanding within the schools. This field of study, in its broadest scope, ranges from such key Abhidharma views as the four marks of impermanence, egoless- ness, suffering and liberation up through the Mahayana understandings of mind-only and emptiness.

The Collected Topics

This course forms the foundation for all other studies in the Buddhist view, using a text compiled by Acha- rya Tenpa Gyaltsen specifically for Nitartha Institute. It presents the definitions and basic concepts that are key to an understanding of the Buddhist philosophical tradition. Drawn from Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye's Treasury of Knowledge and other sources, the course explores what we really mean by mind, perception and phenomena.


Taught by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, and the main course for Nitartha 2001, this is one of the foundational texts in the educational curriculum of all Tibetan lineages. This course will continue with the teachings begun by Rinpoche last summer, but is open to all students. The

Ornament of Clear Realization

(Skt. Abhisamaya-alankara) is attributed to Maitreya and was recorded by the great Buddhist master Asanga in the fourth century. Its focus is the paths and bhumis, and the stages of realization on the Buddhist path. The commentary by Mikyo Dorje, the Eighth Karmapa, is an extensive work dating from the 16th century.

Classifications of Mind

(Lorig) In precise detail, this course explores how mind perceives its world. The principal text used for this study, Classifications of Mind, is by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.

Advanced Lorig (Returning Students)

This will examine a second text by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche based on the Classification of Mind teachings. In it, Khenpo Rinpoche deepens the understanding of certain key points in the Lorig and challenges students to debate and clarify the points for themselves.

Madhyamaka Analysis (Returning Students)

Students will continue to deepen their understanding of the Madhyamaka analyses through in-depth explorations and discussions.

Tibetan Language Class

Introductory Tibetan will be offered as an elective two evenings a week. This course will assume no prior knowledge of the language. Students can expect to acquire a foundation in the Tibetan alphabet, calligraphic skills, pronunciation, and spelling.

Nitartha Institute

Since 1996, teachers, students and translators have been gathering annually as a community based on the example of a Tibetan shedra. Nitartha Institute brings the 1,200-year-old Tibetan Buddhist tradition of learning, contemplating and meditating to North America in an enriching and practical way.

At Nitartha, participants are trained to uncover and experience the nitartha, or definitive meaning, of the Buddha's teachings. Under the close guidance of some of the most eminent teachers in the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages, participants are inspired to take their practice and understanding of these teachings to a new level in an atmosphere of generosity, humor and precision.

For More Information:

For more information or to receive an application, contact: Mike Munro, do 88 Bayview Rd., Halifax, NS B3M 1L9, CANADA. Phone: 902431-5499, Fax: 902-429-0990, Email: Or check the web site at: ä_æ

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