“The most Profound and Highest Practice is Ngondro” ~ Chakhung Wangdrak Rinpoche

” His Holiness talks about how impertinent that every accomplishment we have in the dzogpa chenpo and the meaning of the nature of that teaching to penetrate our midstream depends on our ngondro and our preliminary practices…

Other people take the most ‘advanced esoteric’ practice as the supreme and highest practice and give less importance in the ngondro. But for me the most profound and highest practice is ngondro.

And the reason why, dzogpa chenpo practice is dependent entirely on our success and the same of any of the higher practices, it depends on how strong we lay the foundation of our ngondro. When we practice we should understand that and understand where to place our energy and focus on ngondro practice…I just want you to remember to please keep up your practice,  particularly your ngondro accumulation.” 

Chakung Wangdrak Rinpoche
Mountain Retreat
Pema Osel Ling

Chakung Jigme Wangdrak Rinpoche is the Spiritual Director of the
Abhaya Fellowship  El Cerrito, CA

You are warmly invited to attend in person
(non-residential) or online.

with Chakung Wangdrak Rinpoche
MARCH 31 TO APRIL 2, 2023

Vajrayana Foundation’s 2023 Annual Ngondro Retreat
at Pema Osel Ling and Livestream begins on April 1st ~ 9th

April 1st and 2nd ~ Sam Bercholtz on Awakening Body, Speech, and Mind. April 3rd, Tulku Thadral Rinpoche will give the Refuge Vow, Bodhisattva Vows, and the Oral Reading Transmission for the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro and Dudjom Lingpa Troma Nakmo Ngondro. 

The Retreat continues through the 9th with Teachings and Questions & Answers from Tulku Thadral Rinpoche, Lama Sonam Tsering Rinpoche, Amy Green, and Ivan Bercholtz with Ngondro Practice and Accumulation Sessions with Choying Wangmo and Stefan Graves. Arrangements can be made for your personal Ngondro Accumulation Sessions.

To learn more, visit the Vajrayana Foundation website.


2022 Vajrayana Foundation Annual Ngondro Retreat

2022 Vajrayana Foundation
Annual Ngondro Retreat
April 9th ~ 17th

In~Person at Pema Osel Ling and by LiveStream
Covid vaccination is required for in-person attendance.

The Oral Reading Transmission (Lung) will be given by Lama Sonam Tsering Rinpoche on April 11th and 17th and the Refuge Ceremony on April 11th. Mark your calendar.

 Both the Lung and Refuge Vows must be received
in real time and in its entirety.

2021 Livestream Refuge Ceremony from  Pema Osel Ling

The Refuge Ceremony has generally be given once a year during the Ngondro Retreat. If you have not received the Refuge Vows or would like to refresh your Refuge Vows, please don’t miss this opportunity.

Sam Bercholz 2016 Annual Ngondro Retreat
Samuel Bercholz returns to Pema Osel Ling on April 9th & 10th for the first weekend of the Ngondro Retreat with featured lecture on:

“Understanding the Student-Teacher Relationship”

and will include commentary on Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche’s
A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar. Sam will also share his personal dharma stories enjoyed and loved by everyone. All Ngondro Retreat participants are requested to have a copy of A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar which is available through the Vajrayana Foundation Bookstore, the Dharma Treasures as well as from the publisher, Shambhala Publications.

If you order A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar  from Dharma Treasures online and plan to attend the Ngondro Retreat in person, you can arrange to pick up the book when you arrive.

2021 Ngondro Faculty – Livestream from Pema Osel Ling
We welcome back our Ngondro Faculty, Lama Sonam Tsering Rinpoche,
Amy Green, Drubpon Pema Rigdzin, Stefan Graves and Choying Wangmo
and also welcome Lama Sonam Rinpoche’s translator, Cy Kassoff.

In addition to the Lung and the Refuge Ceremony, we will receive teachings, advice and instructions for practice, participate together in group Ngondro practice and group practice with accumulations, our own private practice session and Questions and Answers with Lama Sonam Rinpoche. During the retreat, we offer daily tsok and butterlamps with Daily Practice and on the Holy Days of the Medicine Buddha – Saturday April 9th, Guru Rinpoche Day – April 11th and on Full Moon Day – Saturday April 16th.  If you wish to make tsok, butterlamp offerings or offerings for the Ngondro Retreat, there will be opportunity during the registration process or you can make it here.

To register and for additional information

If you are a current Ngondro Program Participant of the Vajrayana Foundation and attend the Ngondro Retreat in-person at Pema Osel Ling, remember to get you 10% discount on the registration fees. (No discount is offered for food or lodging.) 

See the Ngondro Retreat Schedule here.


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