-Introduction to the Middle Way Part II The Essence of Chapter 6-11

“Buddha gave one name to the nature of mind, and that name was shunyata.”
Tulku Urgen Rinpoche

We invite you to take part in a new approach in Rigpa Shedra Studies: a weekly program held over 15 weeks (September 13 – December 20).

In this module we will study the essence of Chapters 6-11 of a classical Dharma text on the Ten Paramitas and the Middle Way View: Chandrakirti’s Introduction to the Middle Way, covering the paramitas of wisdom, skilful means, aspiration, strength, and primordial wisdom, culminating in the ultimate ground of Buddhahood.  The emphasis will be on Chapter 6, the paramita of wisdom.

Also if you have not followed the teachings on chapter 1-5, you are welcome to join. Khenpo Tashi will take the most important verses from chapter 6 and use them to help us understand the Middle Way view, and to get a sense of how to bring the View into our daily lives and practice.

The course will allow you to join a weekly teaching taught by Khenpo Tashi Tseten. The classes will be live-streamed on a weekly basis (Fridays) with a mandatory review session scheduled for the following week. In order for the teachings to make a lasting impact, a profound change, it is really important for all of us to commit to joining all of the review sessions live. To make this possible we will offer review sessions on different days and times.

As for the teachings by Khenpo Tashi Tseten, if you cannot make it for the live streaming of the session with the Khenpo, there will be the option to watch a recording of the session in your own time.

The Text

The Introduction to the Middle Way is an adventure into the heart of Buddhist wisdom through the Madhyamaka—or Middle Way—teachings. Chandrakirti’s classic commentary on the meaning of Nagarjuna’s Root Verses of the Middle Way has been accepted throughout Tibetan Buddhism as the highest expression of the Buddhist View on the sutra level. 

The Middle Way View seeks to avoid the extremes of eternalism and nihilism, or existence and non-existence, when investigating the nature of reality. 

With Jamgön Mipham’s commentary, it is a definitive presentation of the Wisdom of Emptiness, a central theme of Buddhist teachings. This book is a core study text for both academic students and practitioners of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.

Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche says:

“This text, the Madhyamakavatara, is an indispensable text that is widely studied both in Buddhist philosophical schools and Buddhist meditative schools, and Chandrakirti’s method of establishing the view in this work has been one of the most venerated throughout the ages. Now that Buddhism is taking root in the West, I feel it is important for at least some of us to pay attention to the study of the view and how it is to be established.”

Who can apply?

Students who have studied Chapters 1-5 (Part I) in the Rigpa Shedra, either in the intensive program or in the form of a weekly course online. If you haven’t studied Part I of this text, and you have a strong interest in studying the view, you might still be able to join (depending on number of places that are still available). It is important that you have at least 2 years of meditation experience, and have followed courses on compassion, Bodhicitta, and/or Mind Training. Damien Van Effenterre will give a short introduction before the course starts about the text and what we have covered especially for those who haven’t studied chapter 1-5.

This course is recommended for students who wish to develop their understanding and practice of the paramitas, and especially, how to bring in the Middle Way View. It falls under the category of teachings of the Sutra Mahayana.

It is highly recommended for Rigpa teachers, instructors and practice holders for whom a thorough knowledge and personal experience of Shunyata is essential. 

“A correct understanding of the view imparts confidence and independence; it is like creating a suit of armour for oneself. It helps in the development of a clear-sighted, enduring devotion towards the teacher and the teachings, immune to whatever vagaries and difficulties may occur.”   
Helena Blankleder and Wulstan Fletcher –
Translators of Introduction to the Middle Way

You can follow this program as a stand-alone course on Madhyamaka. It is also good preparation (but not mandatory) for anyone who aspires to attend Khenpo Tashi Tseten teachings on the Gyü Lama (Uttaratantra Shastra) by Maitreya in 2025.

For an explanation by Khenpo Tashi Tseten on the shedra-plans for the coming four years (including both intensive and essential options), click here.

Why join?

The View, as presented in the Madhyamika texts, is the essential foundation of stable spiritual progress. Khenpo Tashi Tseten will show clearly how to bring in the view in our lives, including our practice.

What is it like to study with Rigpa Shedra?

Following this program will give you an experience of shedra-like studies at a gentle pace. Sally Burgess, a student who has followed the Rigpa Shedra teachings for the last few years, says:

I love the Rigpa Shedra. For me it has really been like finding a home in Rigpa. I enjoy the friendship, the opportunity to study outside a single national group or mandala. The teaching and learning strategies in the shedra are great (the review sessions and, yes, the quizzes too) and I’ve found myself  ‘stealing’ ideas for my university teaching and for the Spanish Rigpa sessions I am involved with. The opportunity to study in a structured way in which we are actively involved (not just recipients) is also really important. Perhaps most importantly I know that I am following a ‘curriculum’ approved and established by Khenchen Namdrol. I know I am in very safe hands.

The Teacher

Khenpo Tashi Tseten is a brilliant young khenpo from Namdrolling Monastery in South India. He is considered to be one of the most promising Khenpos of his generation and has been teaching at the Rigpa Shedra for many years. He works closely with Khenchen Namdrol, assisting him in any way he can and following all his teachings. Together with the wealth of his knowledge and the clarity of his explanations, he has a rare capacity to tune into students’ understanding and needs, which makes his teachings truly inspiring and illuminating. 

To watch a short extract of Khenpo Tashi teaching click here.

The Translator

Damien Van Effenterre is a Rigpa Senior Teacher. He was the director of the Rigpa Shedra for eight years, while also studying the traditional treatises and translating for shedra classes in Pharping, Nepal.

Review Session Teachers/Instructors

Europe/Australia:
Verena Pfeiffer – Rigpa senior teacher and Rigpa Shedra teacher

Europe/Asia/Australia:
Damien Van Effenterre – Rigpa senior teacher, Rigpa Shedra translator

Jane Gray – Rigpa teacher, Rigpa Shedra instructor, President of Rigpa Australia’s board, has studied in the Rigpa Shedra

Europe/US:
Martina Cotter – Rigpa Shedra instructor, has studied in the Rigpa Shedra as well as at Rangjung Yeshe University in Nepal

Lily Ng – Rigpa teacher, Rigpa Shedra instructor, has studied in both the Rigpa Shedra and in the Milinda Programme 

Chantal Bergers – Rigpa teacher, Rigpa Shedra teacher and executive director of the Rigpa Shedra

Supported by Rigpa Shedra instructors from different countries

Practical Information

Dates and Times

This weekly course will be offered from September 13 – December 20, 2024.

Schedule for the live teachings by Khenpo Tashi Tseten:

Friday 2:30 – 4:30 pm Paris time (please convert to your own time zone). For people who cannot join the live session, there will be an edited version available soon after the live teaching which you can watch in your own time.

Provisional schedule for the review sessions
(depending on the number and location of participants there will be different options to choose from)

Australia:
Wednesday evening 5:00-6:30pm AET *
Thursday evening 5:00-6:30pm AET *
Europe:
Wednesday morning 9:00-10.30am CEST*
Wednesday evening 7:00-8.30pm CEST* (19:00-20:30)
Thursday morning 9:00-10:30am CEST*
Thursday evening 7:00-8:30pm CEST* (19:00-20:30)
US/Canada:
Wednesday 10:00-11:30am PDT*/1:00-2:30pm EDT*
Thursday 10:00-11:30am PDT*/1:00-2:30pm EDT*

* Times will change when we move to winter time (EU/US) or daylight saving time (AUS).

Time Investment per Week

One 2 hour teaching session live-streamed with Khenpo Tashi Tseten (Tibetan-English). If you are unable to attend the session you will be able to watch the recording, which will take 1 hour (in English only).

Plus One mandatory 1.5 hour live review/practice session with a shedra review teacher/instructor.  In the weekly review sessions we will recall the main points together, contemplate on parts of the text, and discuss the meaning with our fellow Dharma students. We will meditate so it becomes a deeper experience, and learn about ways to bring our insights into our daily life and practice.

In addition, we also recommend 1-2 hours for study assignments and contemplation homework during the week. This will allow you to really immerse yourself more deeply into the topic of Shunyata, and make it an integral part of your day. 

In total, the time-investment will be around 3.5 – 5 hours a week.

Language

Khenpo Tashi Tseten will teach in Tibetan, with translation in English. All review classes are held in English.

Cost

Recommended: 325 euro 
Concession: 250 euro 
(For those with low income, and/or Rigpa teachers /instructors/ practice holders)
Sponsors: 450 euro
(Sponsors help to support other students who wish to follow this course but may not have the financial means)

Please note: this fee is provisional, might still change, depending on the number of participants.

If you can’t afford the fee, please still apply, as there may be different possibilities for supporting you in your studies.

Application Process

If you are interested in joining this course, please let us know by filling in the application form. We will get in touch with you and will be happy to answer all the questions you might have. If needed, we can explore together to determine if this program is appropriate for your needs.

Note: the application is not yet a commitment on your side but will allow us to get to know and contact you. The commitment to join our program only comes at the time of registration, at which time payment will also be due.