The Vajrayana Foundation Ngondro Program

Early Beginnings…. 
      by Becky Loy for Vajrayana Foundation

Photographer unknown. Taken at the Pema Osel Ling Retreat Center

Lama Tharchin Rinpoche
and Lama Sonam Tsering Rinpoche began planning the Ngondro Program with Vajrayana Foundation staff in the fall of 2012, with the objective of providing to serious students of the Dharma the structure and guidance needed to complete their Dudjom Tersar Ngondro from start to finish.

The Program was announced in February 2013 with an email detailing the unique Program components:
• A Personal interview with one of the lamas once a year
• Senior student advisors to give personal support by email or phone
• Video webinar teachings by one of the lamas every other month
• Video study and discussion groups led by senior students on alternate months
• Annual in-person Ngondro Retreat.


Photo by Jeremy Umal Espino ~ Ngondro Participants 2013

Students began signing up immediately, and many attended the Ngondro Retreat in March, which began with Sam Bercholz’s first teachings at Pema Osel Ling: Establishing the View: The Golden Key to Kyabje Thinley Norbu Rinpoche’s  A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar.

On April 21, 2013, Lama Tharchin Rinpoche gave the first Ngondro Program video conference teaching to a group of 36 Program members from the US, Europe, Mexico and the Pacific Islands. In it he welcomed the “new Tersar Lineage Holder guys”.  He said,

 “I want to say how much I’m happy all of you are willing to do Dudjom Tersar Ngondro. In this generation, by His Holiness Thinley Norbu Rinpoche’skindness, we established pretty well all the Dudjom Tersarteachings. But [for the] next generation we have to keep these things going. 

“His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche told me to take care of the Tersar tradition. My life meaning is only I want to serve dharma. People who do practice, that is my main focus, the meaning of my life.  All our sangha is my special friend; and particularly, those who do more practice, that is closestto my heart. All of you willing to do Ngondro, please continue. I am dedicating my body, speech and mind,anything I can, to the Dudjom tradition. We have to be willing, responsible, to hold that doctrine lineage.”

This talk was part of a very auspicious weekend at the Pema Osel Ling Retreat Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains, beginning with Yangthang Tulku Rinpoche (1930-2016) giving sublime Dzogchen teachings on Garab Dorje’s Three Words That Strike the Vital Point, and concluding with a Kurukulle jinsek (fire puja) led by Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, Tulku Jamyang Rinpoche, and Lama Sonam Rinpoche in order to magnetize all positive circumstances for Pema Osel Ling and the whole sangha.

The Ngondro Program has expanded in scope and offerings and has continued without interruption from 2013 to the present.


9th Annual Ngondro Retreat streaming online in 2021 … In the Box: (top) Lama Sonam Tsering Rinpoche with Lotsawa Cyril Kassoff, (middle box left) Amy Green (middle right) Drubpon Pema Wangyal Rigdzin (lower Left) Choying Wangmo (lower right) Stefan Graves