Page from Ngondro Commentary by Lama Tharchin Rinpoche

Lama Sonam Rinpoche has finished the section of The Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind to Dharma and will now begin the next Ngondro Teaching Series with the Seven Uncommon Inner Preliminary Practices. What are these Seven?:

  1. Going for Refuge
  2. Bodhciitta
  3. Mandala Offerings
  4. Vajrasattva Meditaiton & Recitation
  5. Guru yoga
  6. Phowa
  7. Severance Practice and Dedication and Aspiration Prayers

On November 5th we will begin with Going for Refuge and the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro Oral Reading Transmission, also known as Lung. Join Lama Sonam Rinpoche and translator Cy Kassoff for these live stream teachings streaming from in front of our Guru Rinpoche statue at the Pema Osel Ling Shrine Room.

Get your livestream link at:

Ngondro Program Participants will receive the streaming link in your email. Watch for it.

There is no charge for these teachings but registration is appreciated. Registration includes live streaming with full access to the video recorded teaching.


Join Tulku Jamyang Rinpoche and Lama Sonam Rinpoche

8:00 am Vajrakilaya Daily Puja with Tsok
10:30 am -12:30 pm Ngondro Teaching

Visit for the Vajrakilaya Puja link

Online viewable text (Text will become live prior to session):

Page turning guide (For physical texts):

essence of refuge


The essence of the refuge practice is unshakable, unchangeable faith and devotion. Without this kind of faith and trust, your mind cannot open. When your mind opens, it becomes soft and receptive. Buddha’s compassion is like a hook which catches the ring of your faith and devotion. Without faith, there can be no real connection to dharma ~ not blind faith, but rather intelligent faith, free from any doubt or confusion because dharma is pure and faultless, Buddha’s mind is like the sun shining on a snow-covered mountain. With devotion, the rays of your faith can melt the snow of Buddha’s nectar of blessing. 

~  Lama Tharchin Rinpoche
Ngondro Commentary
© 2000 by Bero Jeydren Publications

tavish refuge 1
Refuge Ceremony ~ Tavish Nink with Lama Tharchin Rinpoche

photo source: Sonam  Famarin
with permission to post by Tavish Nink

Join Lama Sonam Tsering Rinpoche November 5th, 2020 10:30 am – 12:30 pm Pacific to receive the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro Lung (Oral Transmission) and series of Ngondro Teachings on the Preliminary Practices beginning with Refuge.

Visit the Vajrayana Foundation website at to receive the livestream link.


Different ways of offering the mandala

Of the two kinds of mandala that are described, the accomplishment mandala and the offering mandala, it is the latter that we shall discuss here.

In the Ancient Translations’ tradition of the Secret Mantra Vehicle, the most widely known mandala is the one with seven piles, representing Mount Meru, the four continents, and the sun and moon.

There are other traditions, with eleven, fifteen, and thirty-seven piles, and ones that are even more elaborate.

In particular, the texts of the Great Perfection’s pith instructions speak of the mandala of the body of manifestation, which is the one that has just been mentioned, the mandala of the body of perfect enjoyment with eight piles, and the mandala of the absolute body with five piles.

In the original Indic texts related to the New Translations, there are numerous rituals for the mandala offering, including those of the masters Sucharita and Nishkalankashri, but the most important one, described by the great masters Buddhaguhya, Kambala, and others, uses twenty-three piles—Mount Meru, the four continents with their subcontinents, the seven attributes of royalty, the treasure vase, and the sun and moon.

Mañjushrikirti and Nishkalankavajra also used mandalas of essentially twenty-three piles, but with the difference that the former substituted one’s own body for the treasure vase while the latter offered all kinds of treasures such as sapphires. Jetari taught a mandala with seventeen piles.

From these and other traditions there evolved a large number of different practices here in Tibet. Of these, the followers of the Kalachakra offer mandalas with nine piles and twenty-five piles, obtained by adding Rahu and Ketud to the seven – and twenty-three-element mandalas respectively.

In both cases, details such as the disposition of Mount Meru and the continents follow the Kalachakra tradition. Other traditions have mandalas with more or fewer elements, but they all share the arrangement of Mount Meru and the continents common to both sutras and tantras, and they aretherefore accepted as being in agreement with the third chapter of the Treasury of Abhidharma.

Nowadays the detailed mandala that is best known and most widely used in all the different schools is the thirty-seven-element mandala said to have been composed by Chögyal Pakpa Rinpoche. It consists of the twenty-three piles to which have been added the four particular attributes of the four continents, the eight offering goddesses (the Lady of Charm and so on), and the canopy and victory banner. This is the mandala that is most practiced.

Dudjom Rinpoche – A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom – Shambhala Publications