* the Thun time unit is a hotly debated issue. There are people who claim that a Thun should last no less than 210 minutes and those who argue that 1 hour is quite enough - as well as the champions of the middle position, according to whom a Thun is either 90 or 120 minutes long.
As far as I know, in DC a tun is two hours minimum.
heart wrote:I counted together the minimum number of days of practice for "The Precious Vase" was something like six months full time practice, but you can split that up i daily sessions. If you do a session a day it will take you a few years getting trough it.
A few years only for the Base practices? Let's see.
Taking the shortest route - for those with the lowest capacity - the Base part of SMS would take 79 days excluding Three Roots (to which we ought to devote 21 days in retreat). Each day counts as four Thuns. Accordingly, if you do one Thun* a day, it would take you 316 days (plus the aforementioned 21-day retreat - or its non-retreat equivalent, which is to say 300,000 recitations).
Not sure if you already accounted for it, so just in case, for the three roots you have to do three weeks or 300 000 recitations on each of them, not three weeks altogether. Oh but you don't have to complete the three roots till you want to take the 3rd level exam (the rest has to be completed before taking 1st level exam).
Also, this all is assuming that you're totally into the SMS base practices and nothing else and spending at least two hours a day doing it.
As for how much SMS program can be done remotely... IMO, it depends totally on the person. If you understand most things from just reading the PV then maybe there's no need to go to courses. Except for kumbhaka (I am like a broken record I guess hehe) which you need for 7th lojong. Also if you don't understand you can get some CD's of courses on the Base too. I got two CD's from when Jim Valby did a couple weeks course in Merigar on the Base and I recommend it. Though maybe you'll have to write SSI about it, not sure if it's in the store. And you can also email your questions to the SMS teachers. Of course if you have the opportunities and inclination you can attend courses, I just personally don't think it's a must.
edit: I should add however, that I'm not into doing SMS so take the above with a grain of salt, it is just my perception.