Retreat Resources

Weekly Schedule

Daily Practice in the Garchen Stupa (except during teaching events--please check Events schedule below)

Weekly Practice in the Garchen Temple (except during teaching and rental group events--please check Events schedule below)


Registration Deadline (meals deposit must be received by this date): December 23

Teachings & Empowerment:

December 30 (9 am - 5 pm): The Importance of Meditation Practice

To receive meditation instructions from a guru who fully possesses the practice is a great blessing that brings countless benefits. Receiving these direct oral instructions from Garchen Rinpoche may thus be one of the most meaningful events in our lives, and we are so fortunate to have this opportunity.

Rinpoche will give teachings in answer to the following questions: Why is it important to meditate? How do we begin, and what obstacles might we encounter during meditation practice? What are the potential errors, and what experiences may arise? How can we identify genuine meditation? What are the most important pith instructions? After giving instructions, Rinpoche will meditate with us.

Rinpoche on the importance of meditating: "You must train the mind like a muscle. If you want to train your body, you must exercise regularly. Likewise, if you want to train your mind, you must practice meditation on a daily basis; you cannot carry a heavy load with weak muscles. Training is a gradual process, and you must persistently, continually train your mind if you wish to overcome difficulties and gain strength. Every time you recognize a thought, your mindfulness has become that much stronger. Slowly you will gain in inner strength.

"In the beginning it is not easy to overcome very powerful emotions. . . .In the beginning you do recognize the emotions, but they still won't go away. That is because your mindfulness is not strong enough. You therefore must train the mind in all circumstances, not only when you encounter problems. [Ultimately,] no thought or emotion will trouble you anymore. Everything will be the same. Then, even though the body is in samsara, the mind is liberated.

Rinpoche on beginning to meditate: "Many people have received all these instructions on practicing calm abiding (shamatha), special insight (vipassana), Mahamudra, and so forth. They think, 'I really need to hurry up and get on with this. I will do shamatha for a little while, but then soon I need to integrate the practice of insight.' Actually, the best way of practicing if you are a beginner is to leave behind instructions on special insight for now. Just focus on calm abiding for a period of one month, or one year. Just say, 'I am going to focus on pacifying my thoughts.' This is the best way to progress. Do this for many months and get some stabilization. If you have any direct experience of meditation realization during this time, then go to the guru [or other lama] with that experience to seek further instruction in the way of progress."

December 31 (9 am - 5 pm): OM AH HUNG Vajra Recitation Instructions and Practice

Rinpoche will give teachings on the uniqueness and preciousness of the OM AH HUNG Vajra Recitation and how it helps our meditation practice. All mantras are contained within OM AH HUNG, and the Vajra Recitation of these seed syllables is an excellent method for maintaining awareness first given by Lord Jigten Sumgon, founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage. Rinpoche also will give instructions on how to do the recitation and practice it with us.

Rinpoche on the OM AH HUNG Vajra Recitation: "Whenever we are trying to stabilize meditation we can also work with our breath energy. It is said that mind and the subtle energies of the winds are mixed; the wind energy is like the horse and the mind is like its rider. That is to say, all types of thought forms and so forth are mounted on the subtle wind energies. We can stabilize these wind energies by the mental recitation of the syllables OM AH HUNG in conjunction with the breath. We breathe in through the nostrils mentally reciting OM, briefly hold the breath at the navel mentally reciting AH, and exhale through the mouth mentally reciting HUNG. This helps to stabilize the wind energies and pacify the many thoughts that arise in the mind. Until we reach the state where we can sit down and engage in very stable, clear, one-pointed meditation at will, we need to practice in this way."

Rinpoche further instructs: "For the OM AH HUNG Vajra Recitation you inhale air thinking OM, then the air moves down to below your navel. When it reaches the navel, you think AH. Below the navel visualize a small hot flame. When the inhaled breath meets with the flame, it fans it and makes it burn stronger. Eventually you will experience warmth in your navel area. When you exhale the air think HUNG. Since you are always breathing, with each breath you take you can practice OM AH HUNG. You do not need to visualize or pronounce the syllables; just think OM AH HUNG. The syllables are just a support for single-pointed dwelling. Once the mind is still, you can let go of the OM and HUNG and just focus single-pointedly on the AH-flame.

"You should do this practice at any time and especially before falling asleep. If you fall asleep with such concentrated awareness, you will eventually recognize the dream state and be fully aware while sleeping. When awareness develops further you will become clear and aware even during the deep sleep state. This Dream Yoga is part of the Six Yogas of Naropa practiced in Three-Year Retreat [and is taught more elaborately in the retreat]."

January 1 (9 am - 5 pm): Red Chenrezig Empowerment

Red Chenrezig is one of the root terma practices at Gargon Monastery in Tibet, and the Gargon lamas have been dedicated to this practice nonstop year round since the establishment of the monastery 400 years ago (except during the Chinese "Cultural Revolution"). A special prayer wheel spins throughout.

According to Guru Padmasabhava's prophecy in the great Guhyasamaja terma revealed by Ratna Lingpa, Tenzin Phuntsok, the first Garchen Rinpoche, was an emanation of Chenrezig. Furthermore, the prophecy states that if the cycle of Guhyasamaja teachings and the sacred objects contained in the terma reached Tenzin Phuntsok's hands, he would bring vast benefit to the sentient beings of future generations. As the instructions were clearly defined in the terma, Ratna Lingpa's son Tsewang Dragpa collected the terma objects and set out to travel from Central Tibet to the Eastern region of Kham in search of Tenzin Phuntsok. When they met, he offered the terma objects into his hands. Tenzin Phuntsok was overjoyed and . . . ate a small piece of the terma substances and his feet began to hover above the ground. Ever since, Guhyasamaja drubchens have been practiced regularly at Gargon Monastery, the Sky Fortress of the Lion, and the precious prayer wheel there began to spin without ceasing. Thus, signs that he would bring about the vast benefit of sentient beings became apparent, and the assembly grew enormously at this place. Gar Tenzin Phuntsok was appointed the main guru of the king of Nangchen, and from that time onward every incarnation of Garchen Rinpoche has become the main guru of the king of Nangchen.

Red Chenrezig (Gyalwa Gyamtso, Jinasagara) is a peaceful annuttara yoga yidam, generally depicted with consort and in either five-deity or nine-deity forms. The practice is of the father tantra lineage, with an emphasis on the upaya of compassion, completely transforming aggression. It incorporates an elaborate body mandala and completion stage and is ordinarily not done outside of three-year or other extended retreat. The practice is similar to Chakrasamvara in that it has outer, inner, secret, and very secret aspects along with a drubchen and fire puja. Everyone is welcome to attend the empowerment, but practice instructions, other than those given during the empowerment, will not be given.

January 2-4 (9 am - 5 pm): Dzogchen Bardo Teachings: Jigme Lingpa's Gongchig Gyatso

His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche will be teaching on the root text of Jigme Lingpa's famous Ocean of the Single Intention Bardo Prayer. This prayer was one of the heart practices of Garchen Rinpoche's Root Guru, Khenchen Münsel. Khenchen Münsel regarded the Ocean of the Single Intention Bardo Prayer as so dear that he composed two commentaries on it, the Illuminating Lamp: A Word for Word Commentary and the Secret Path of Luminosity: A General Meaning Commentary. Garchen Rinpoche received detailed instructions on the root text and these two commentaries directly from Khenchen Münsel himself. The root text and the commentarial literature explain how one may navigate the four bardos (or between states) of the natural bardo of this life, the bardo of death, the bardo of reality, and the bardo of taking birth.

One special feature about this bardo prayer is that it introduces techniques of dying and enlightenment after death according to the Dzogchen instructions of tregchö (cutting through) and thögal (direct transcendence). One is also shown how to recognize the profound arising nature of the three kayas as they appear in the bardo. This is a very precious opportunity to receive direct transmission from a great living master of this sublime tradition of training in enlightenment in this life, in death, and beyond. Rinpoche has not restricted these teachings; anyone who wishes to attend is welcome. A translation of the root text will be provided to all who come.

Preregistration is required for all events. To preregister for the Winter Teachings, please download the Winter Teachings Registration Form and email to By the preregistration deadline of December 23, remit your nonrefundable deposit of one day's tuition ($30) and 50% of the cost of meals you wish to purchase ($5 for breakfast, $8 for lunch, and $7 for dinner). Please note that in order to reserve meals, your meal deposit must be received by the deadline. Tuition for full days is $30 and for half days, including empowerments, is $15.

H.E. Garchen Rinpoche U.S./International Tour 2014