Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

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Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby JKhedrup » Thu May 30, 2013 3:58 pm

Hello there.

I was speaking to a friend who sometimes attends programs at a large Kagyu centre in the USA associated with HH Karmapa UTD. He enjoys the programs very much but expressed a little bit of frustration regarding the accessibility of the tradition.

He indicated to me that even for practitioners who complete the ngondro, only a few tantric practices like the Karma Pakshi Guru Yoga are available. Many of the yidam practices (such as Gyalwa Gyatso) and teachings on Mahamudra are only accessible to graduates of the three year retreat. This was frustrating as tantric practice is an important aspect of the lineage and he felt a little bit shut out of much of what the tradition has to offer.

I am wondering is this is generally true for most Karma Kagyu lamas or perhaps this is a unique way of doing things at that particular centre.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby Knotty Veneer » Thu May 30, 2013 4:12 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I am wondering is this is generally true for most Karma Kagyu lamas or perhaps this is a unique way of doing things at that particular centre.


In my experience long retreat in the Karma Kagyu tradition anywhere in the West does mean following the Jamgon Kongtrul devised curriculum pretty much to the exclusion of all else. Fine for monastics and lamas-in-training but not very flexible for people who would like to specialize without going through all the main guru yogas and Yidam practices first.

I would like to see a greater range of long retreat options available in KK monasteries. Maybe just not enough people are asking?
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu May 30, 2013 4:35 pm

I received Mahamudra instructions at a short retreat before I had even taken refuge!

Karma Pakshi Guru Yoga? From my first encounter with one of my teachers.

Yidam practice outside of retreat? Sure, after you have completed Ngondro.

Empowerments etc...? From the word "go".

So, from my experience, no, it's not like that. It really depends on the teachers and the level of commitment you show.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby Dhondrub » Thu May 30, 2013 5:24 pm

This really pretty much depends on the Guru. F.e. the three elders of the lineage Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso and the late Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche taught hundreds of westernes without three years retreat all the different tantric practices of Kyerim and Dzogrim as well as Mahamudra and Maha Ati.
So it is not about the Karma Kamtsang per se. But maybe it is the policie in KTD which is a monastery, so it would be understandable that Khenpo Khartar would like to strengthen the monastic Sangha and the institution of Retreat-Lamas. That being said I know at least one person, who is a disciple of Khenpo Khartar who practices Phagmo without 3 years retreat.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby conebeckham » Thu May 30, 2013 5:37 pm

It's possible to practice the so-called "more advanced practices" outside of a three year retreat, but it's not pubically "encouraged" for a variety of reasons. Chief of which is, IMO, that it's best to practice those things in a three year retreat!

Still, if one is serious, and diligent, it's possible......but it depends on relationship with a teacher.

I'm not sure what "specializing without going through the Guru Yogas and Yidams, first" means, though. Quite frankly, there's not much to specialize in, aside from those practices!
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby Knotty Veneer » Thu May 30, 2013 6:43 pm

conebeckham wrote:I'm not sure what "specializing without going through the Guru Yogas and Yidams, first" means, though. Quite frankly, there's not much to specialize in, aside from those practices!


What I meant was that generally according to the curriculum that's usually followed in KK 3-yr retreats one does all the major guru yogas (Marpa, Mila, Gampopa, Karma Pakshi) and the main yidam practices (Phagmo, Khorlo Demchog, Gyalwa Gyamtso) and maybe in a 2nd 3-yr retreat one may be allowed to specialize.

However if one wanted to just spend a long retreat on just one guru yoga or one yidam practice or chod or something else, the facilities in major Western KK retreat centers (and I only really know of Karme Ling and Samye Ling) don't seem be there. You have to do the established curriculum as far as I know.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby Stewart » Thu May 30, 2013 6:53 pm

Knotty Veneer wrote:
conebeckham wrote:I'm not sure what "specializing without going through the Guru Yogas and Yidams, first" means, though. Quite frankly, there's not much to specialize in, aside from those practices!


What I meant was that generally according to the curriculum that's usually followed in KK 3-yr retreats one does all the major guru yogas (Marpa, Mila, Gampopa, Karma Pakshi) and the main yidam practices (Phagmo, Khorlo Demchog, Gyalwa Gyamtso) and maybe in a 2nd 3-yr retreat one may be allowed to specialize.

However if one wanted to just spend a long retreat on just one guru yoga or one yidam practice or chod or something else, the facilities in major Western KK retreat centers (and I only really know of Karme Ling and Samye Ling) don't seem be there. You have to do the established curriculum as far as I know.



Certainly at Samye Ling you can do retreat on pretty much anything you are able to do.

The 3 three year retreat on Arran for men and on Holy Island for women, follow the traditional set of practices, one of my friends is in his third 3 year retreat and he is focusing on Mahamudra using Ngedon Gyamtso, but they have other places you can do personal retreats.

There used to be a one year retreat where you done Ngondro for 6 months then 6 months of Pakshi Ladrup (or whatever you chose) Up at the Garwald cottages. It was quite popular.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby conebeckham » Thu May 30, 2013 7:17 pm

I think it's possible to do a retreat on any practice or group of practices one wishes, provided one has the transmission and instructions....

There are a few good reasons why standard curriculum exists. First, it's a lot easier to teach a group of people the practice, than to teach specifically to each individual. In three year retreat, teachings (and often, empowerments) are given as retreatants continue through the program.

Second, Group Practice is an important part of many of these practices--Druppas and Jinseks are engineered for groups. It's possible to do as an individual, I guess, but much more difficult.

Still, I know of practitioners who have chosen to specialize in certain practices and have gone into solitary retreat with the support of Kagyu Lamas here in the West. This kind of thing is pretty rare, though, considering the amount of dedication, knowledge, and diligence one would need. More commonly, three year retreat graduates may go back into retreat to "specialize."
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby smcj » Thu May 30, 2013 7:51 pm

There are teachers at centers that will teach the more advanced practices outside of the 3 year retreat, but only if they think that you are prepared for it. So look around. Check out websites and stuff from legitimate Kagyu centers. Sukhasiddhi in Marin County I think is pretty liberal about this, liberal being a relative term...
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby Clarence » Thu May 30, 2013 7:51 pm

Were you reading: http://www.tinfoilushnisha.wordpress.com? Similar topic today but then about the efficacy of doing a 3-year retreat.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby Knotty Veneer » Thu May 30, 2013 8:06 pm

Stewart wrote:
Certainly at Samye Ling you can do retreat on pretty much anything you are able to do.

The 3 three year retreat on Arran for men and on Holy Island for women, follow the traditional set of practices, one of my friends is in his third 3 year retreat and he is focusing on Mahamudra using Ngedon Gyamtso, but they have other places you can do personal retreats.

There used to be a one year retreat where you done Ngondro for 6 months then 6 months of Pakshi Ladrup (or whatever you chose) Up at the Garwald cottages. It was quite popular.


As an old Linger, I did one of the those Garwald retreats back in the '90s - but they stopped I think 12-15 yrs ago. I think on Arran/Holy Isle the traditional format is still the only show in town unless one has done a previous 3-yr retreat. I am not against this but I think it would be nice to have another option for long retreat. I know several people, myself included, would like to do something like this but don't wish to do four years as it is at Samye Ling or have a particular practice they'd like to get more deeply into in a longish retreat. As I said above, perhaps it's just that enough people have not asked.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby JKhedrup » Thu May 30, 2013 8:45 pm

Dear Clarence,

No, I didn't see that article but thank you for posting the link. It is interesting to hear the opinion of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche himself on what his vision is for people who complete the 3 year retreat.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby practitioner » Thu May 30, 2013 9:25 pm

http://kagyu.com/en/dharma-path

Lama Norlha Rinpoche's dharma path program contains all the practices of the 3 year retreat and is designed for students who cannot go for a 3-year retreat or aspire to do one in the future. Obviously it takes longer than three years to complete.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby smcj » Fri May 31, 2013 12:33 am

practitioner wrote:http://kagyu.com/en/dharma-path

Lama Norlha Rinpoche's dharma path program contains all the practices of the 3 year retreat and is designed for students who cannot go for a 3-year retreat or aspire to do one in the future. Obviously it takes longer than three years to complete.

There ya go. Problem solved! :twothumbsup:
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby Stewart » Fri May 31, 2013 12:47 am

Knotty Veneer wrote:
Stewart wrote:
Certainly at Samye Ling you can do retreat on pretty much anything you are able to do.

The 3 three year retreat on Arran for men and on Holy Island for women, follow the traditional set of practices, one of my friends is in his third 3 year retreat and he is focusing on Mahamudra using Ngedon Gyamtso, but they have other places you can do personal retreats.

There used to be a one year retreat where you done Ngondro for 6 months then 6 months of Pakshi Ladrup (or whatever you chose) Up at the Garwald cottages. It was quite popular.


As an old Linger, I did one of the those Garwald retreats back in the '90s - but they stopped I think 12-15 yrs ago. I think on Arran/Holy Isle the traditional format is still the only show in town unless one has done a previous 3-yr retreat. I am not against this but I think it would be nice to have another option for long retreat. I know several people, myself included, would like to do something like this but don't wish to do four years as it is at Samye Ling or have a particular practice they'd like to get more deeply into in a longish retreat. As I said above, perhaps it's just that enough people have not asked.


Man we must know each other!, I lived at Samye Ling in the 90's...and the 00's....

Yeah Arran/Holy Isle is the standard format....Gendun (who lived at Garwald) is on his third 3 year retreat...he's doing his own practices though.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby Jinzang » Fri May 31, 2013 1:05 am

If your friend is not well on his way to finishing ngondro, he shouldn't worry about how to get the three year retreat practices.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby ngodrup » Fri May 31, 2013 7:19 am

Again,
I think it is very much related to the style of the Lama.
It seems that a student could discuss it with their Lama,
and the sequence seems fairly standard. Mahakala
either before, during or after Ngondro completion.
Then Vajrayogini, followed by Chakrasamvara-- one would
typically recite at least a million of each mantra.
The empowerments seem to be given somewhat easily
in various Kagyu lineages. And, one could receive
Mahamudra teaching anywhere from beginning,
middle or end.

It seems that Dummo is not typically taught outside
of three year retreat. But the week long Phowa retreat
is fairly accessible.
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:39 am

My friend has completed one full accumulation of the ngondro. It was just a question about the style of how one's spiritual practice in the tradition unfolds.

Personally I have no problem with emphasizing the basics- I myself do daily prostrations in the context of ngondro as I find it very grounding. But the question is more like, are there two different Karma Kagyu traditions in terms of practice style? One for three year retreat graduates, and one for those who may have completed preliminaries but for various reasons cannot go into retreat?
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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby heart » Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:12 pm

JKhedrup wrote:My friend has completed one full accumulation of the ngondro. It was just a question about the style of how one's spiritual practice in the tradition unfolds.

Personally I have no problem with emphasizing the basics- I myself do daily prostrations in the context of ngondro as I find it very grounding. But the question is more like, are there two different Karma Kagyu traditions in terms of practice style? One for three year retreat graduates, and one for those who may have completed preliminaries but for various reasons cannot go into retreat?


In my first Sangha this was certainly true, if you didn't do three-year retreat you got very little besides maybe some mind instructions and one of the Guru yogas from the Karma Kagyu tradition. But as you can see here; http://tergar.org/programs/what-is-the- ... iberation/ Mingyur Rinpoche don't hold back anything from his students. So things are changing for the better :smile: .

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Re: Accessibility of Karma Kagyu trad. without 3 yr.retreat

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:05 pm

Is there any word on when Mingyur Rinpoche may start teaching again?
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