teaching event
The Way of the Great Perfection
0 Videos

The Way of the Great Perfection

The new cycle of the All-Encompassing Path to Enlightenment 

The All-Encompassing Path to Enlightenment is the main study programme in Rigpa, for students of all levels: new, more advanced or in-between. In October 2023, a new cycle began, The Way of the Great Perfection, where we explore the main principles of the preliminary practices in a fresh way. These practices are a complete path in themselves and also the foundation for Vajrayana and Dzogchen practice.

How does it change us to reflect on suffering and impermanence, and on the ways we create our own pain? The point is that it shows us that we can turn our life around by finding a new direction that is spiritual rather than mundane. And when we set out on the path in that new direction, we carry within us a vivid understanding of how entrenched suffering is, and a warm love for all those who are floundering.
—> The talk will be given in English, with translations into French, German, and Spanish.

Please also see Dominique Side’s lates blogpost about the topic of renunciation: Buddhism is all about losing.


The programme of The Way of the Great Perfection

The whole path taught in Tibetan Buddhism has been clearly mapped out in the teachings over centuries. Many masters consider the preliminary practices, called Ngöndro in Tibetan, to be the main practice of this tradition. This also encompasses all the elements needed to prepare us to fully receive the Great Perfection teachings of Dzogchen, the highest and most direct stream of wisdom within the Buddhist tradition of Tibet.

So no matter where we are on our path, this new cycle will support us in taking it to completion. Our senior and most experienced Rigpa teachers will guide us through the key principles of the Ngöndro, helping us to discover or revisit these principles in a fresh, up-to-date, real life way. We will dig into the framework of these practices with an out-of-the box perspective while preserving their authenticity entirely.

For example, if we really had understood the Four Thoughts deep inside our bones, then the rest of the path would unfold effortlessly. 

We might recall Sogyal Rinpoche telling the story of a student who asked his teacher for an essential instruction. The teacher held his hand and said: “I am impermanent, you are impermanent. I am impermanent, you are impermanent. I am impermanent, you are impermanent. Simply practise this.” The student followed his teacher’s advice and went on to gain full realisation!
This is just one example of the fundamental buddhist principles that we will explore in the next phase of the All-Encompassing Path to Enlightenment with penetrative contemplations, group meditations, exercises and discussions.

And regardless of how many years we have been practising the Dharma, we can always remind ourselves that this life could be the best chance we have at meeting and realising the teachings, and we cannot be sure to ever have such an opportunity again in the future. As it is said,

The ground is our buddha nature,
The support is this precious human life,
The wonderful circumstance is meeting a spiritual teacher, and
The method is the pith instructions through which we can realise our true nature, the buddha.
Gampopa, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation

So, the goal of this multi-year programme of The Way of the Great Perfection is for us to arrive at a thorough and complete understanding of what the teachings tell us about the different methods and to reach a complete certainty on how we apply them in our practice and in daily life and ultimately realise the innermost nature of our own minds.

How will this happen? 

  • Rigpa‘s most experienced teachers will be holding monthly live sessions at their local centre, with sanghas gathering in person at centres and online and so connecting all together internationally.  These sessions have live translations and will be recorded and uploaded onto PrajnaOnline for delayed viewing.
  • For those who wish for continued support throughout the month, you will have the guidance of the weekly study sessions held by local and national teachers and instructors in-person or online, which include the pithiest teachings by Sogyal Rinpoche and other masters, together with crucial contemplations and meditations.
  • Additional material will be provided for those of us who want more detailed study.
  • The International Ngöndro Retreat each summer in Lerab Ling will be an occasion to come together internationally and further our understanding and experience, catch up on what we may have missed and receive personal guidance from Rigpa’s most experienced teachers. The date for this retreat is 13-21 July 2024. More information here.
  • The entire program can also be followed online at your own pace and will be delivered here on Prajna and on Moodle.

Dates and topic for the Monthly Live Sessions 2023/2024

  • Sunday 8 October @ 4pm Paris time // Patrick Gaffney teaches on The Key Principles of Preliminary Practices
  • Sunday 12 November  @ 4pm Paris time // Patrick Gaffney teaches on The Way to Receive Spiritual Teachings & Three Wisdom Tools
  • Sunday 10 December  @ 4pm Paris time // Ian Ives teaches on Precious Human Life
  • Saturday 13 January @9am Paris time //  Jan Van Der Breggen teaches on Impermanence

  • Saturday 10 February (Losar) 10:45 Paris time  // Ian Ives teaches on
    Buddha’s first teaching was about recognising the reality of suffering, not in order to make ourselves depressed or discouraged, but so that we can free ourselves and others from it. To realise our full enlightened potential, we need to recognise and wake up from habits that are holding us back, the vicious cycle of samsara, in which our deepest wishes and how we actually live work against each other. Through contemplation and reflection we can begin to recognise samsara’s futility and develop the discernment, courage and determination to walk down a different path.
  • Saturday 9 March @11am Paris time // Philippe Cornu teaches on Karma                                            KARMA, OUR FUEL THAT DRIVES SAMSARA
    We often have misleading ideas about what karma is. We confuse it with a destiny to which we are bound and cannot change. In fact, when we really understand what karma is, it gives us greater freedom and hope on our spiritual path. We realise the choice is ours: to put more, or less fuel into samsara. During this monthly live session we will have the opportunity to learn and contemplate more about what karma really is: the fuel for driving in samsara.

  • Saturday 13 April 13 @3pm Paris time // Alain Beauregard teaches on The benefits of Liberation LIBERATION, IS IT POSSIBLE IN THIS LIFE?
    No matter who we are, we all share the same wish to be happy and free from suffering. But when we are immersed in the responsibilities of this life and in all our frenetic daily activity, it may seem impossible to achieve liberation, that is only for special beings. But nothing could be further from the truth: when we realize the suffering caused by our way of living in samsara, a desire arises within us to be free from it, and the pracice of the dharma offers us the possibility of liberation in this life.

  • Saturday 11 May @11am Paris time // Kirsten Czeczor teaches on How to follow a spiritual friend
    From the moment we are born until we die, we are dependent on the kindness and help of others. Of all the life necessities - love, care, education etc. - the understanding of who we really are is probably the greatest gift we can receive. However, this gift cannot be given to us by our parents, nor by our worldly teachers, but only by someone who has already understood and realised it themselves and who also carries the blessing and experience of the lineage. This monthly live session explores the role of a spiritual fiend and how we can rely on his or her guidance. 

  • Saturday 8 June @11am Paris time //  Dominique Side teaches on Turning our minds to Enlightenment
    How does it change us to reflect on suffering and impermanence, and on the ways we create our own pain? The point is that it shows us that we can turn our life around by finding a new direction that is spiritual rather than mundane. And when we set out on the path in that new direction, we carry within us a vivid understanding of how entrenched suffering is, and a warm love for all those who are floundering.

    *Please note that times are determined according to the location from where the Rigpa Teacher will teach. We hope that we all can adapt to this fluidity–and the occasional unusual time. 

Some practical details about how to join the NEW All Encompassing Path to Enlightenment?

  • Gathering with sangha friends: As much as possible we hope we can gather (in person or online) with sangha friends for the monthly live sessions and weekly study. We also understand that this isn’t always possible, for this reason it’s also possible to follow in your own time on Prajna.
  • There are two ways you can participate in the programme:
    • 1: Monthly sessions only: Everyone in the Rigpa sangha can join the monthly live sessions without being registered for the AEPE. These sessions are available on Prajna for any Rigpa student who is registered to the Prajna Website (no need for a paid subscription).
    • 2: Join the full programme which includes the monthly sessions plus weekly study with your local sangha and other materials. Please register for the full programme with your national Rigpa.
  • Where do I find the programme? The monthly live sessions can be accessed via the blue Zoom button below; the weekly study materials as well as the additional materials can be accessed via onlinecourses.rigpa.org (not via Dharmakosha).

The aim of the Light of Dharma grant is to secure the teachings by sponsoring projects and programmes developed in Rigpa that use new channels to share the Dharma, in ways most adapted to these times of great unpredictability and fast-developing technologies.
All teachers are offered a small honorarium for their contribution to The Way of the Great Perfection. If you want to support the teachers and Rigpas projects, please donate to the Light of Dharma grant.

Related Materials