Dharma Training Program2021-09-17T07:16:17-07:00

Dharma Training Program

Sukhasiddhi Foundation’s Dharma Training Program is a study program introducing the principles and practices foundational to Vajrayana Buddhism.

Apply

Dharma Training Program

Sukhasiddhi Foundation’s Dharma Training Program is a study program introducing the principles and practices foundational to Vajrayana Buddhism.

Apply

The Program:

The Dharma Training Program is designed to optimize a deep dive into the Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhist path while allowing the flexibility needed to tend to one’s everyday commitments.

The program offers:

  • A systematic and experiential exploration of the teachings of the Buddha
  • Individualized instruction and relationship with a teacher
  • Guidance and support in establishing a regular meditation practice
  • The opportunity to study the program offerings with the support of a cohort of other learners but at your own pace and as your schedule allows
  • The option to continue studies in our more advanced multi-year programs
Apply

The Program:

The Dharma Training Program is designed to optimize a deep dive into the Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhist path while allowing the flexibility needed to tend to one’s everyday commitments.

The program offers:

  • A systematic and experiential exploration of the teachings of the Buddha
  • Individualized instruction and relationship with a teacher
  • Guidance and support in establishing a regular meditation practice
  • The opportunity to study the program offerings with the support of a cohort of other learners but at your own pace and as your schedule allows
  • The option to continue studies in our more advanced multi-year programs
Apply

Dharma Training Program Structure:

The Dharma Training Program curriculum is delivered in three-month modules three times a year (Jan-Mar, April-June, Oct-Dec). Each module consists of a six- or seven-week Sukhasiddhi Sundays Series, monthly dharma practice sessions, a one-on-one meeting with Lama Döndrup, and a kick-off daylong. The dates and times for the upcoming module are:

  • Kick-off Daylong with Lama Döndrup, on Sunday, October 10 from 9am to 2pm PDT
  • Sukhasiddhi Sundays series of six sessions of meditation and teaching starting Sunday, October 17, 9am – 11:15am PDT Silent Meditation and Teachings on the Two Truths | 11:30 am – 12:15 pm: Guided Tonglen Meditation
  • 3 Awake in the World sessions to help integrate the dharma teachings into daily life. Sessions are Saturday, October 23 and November 20 and December 11, 10am – noon (Pacific Daylight/Standard Time)
  • Private interview with Lama Döndrup, scheduled during the module, can be in person or by phone
  • Recordings of the previous Sukhasiddhi Sunday series, to be viewed at your convenience

All daylongs, classes and sessions are on zoom for this module. Session times are given in Pacific Time (ie, San Francisco time zone). All sessions are recorded and can be viewed later.

For more information on the Dharma Training Program structure, please see the Curriculum section at the bottom of the page.

Apply

Dharma Training Program Tuition

The cost of the Dharma Training Program is $375 for the first module that you participate in and $325 for each subsequent module. The payment can be made in total, or monthly payments.  If you need financial aid, there is a section in the application to indicate that.

Apply

Dharma Training Program Structure:

The Dharma Training Program curriculum is delivered in three-month modules three times a year (Jan-Mar, April-June, Oct-Dec). Each module consists of a six- or seven-week Sukhasiddhi Sundays Series, monthly dharma practice sessions, a one-on-one meeting with Lama Döndrup, and a kick-off daylong. The dates and times for the upcoming module are:

  • Kick-off Daylong with Lama Döndrup, on Sunday, October 10 from 9am to 2pm (Pacific Daylight/Standard Time)
  • Sukhasiddhi Sundays series of six sessions of meditation and teaching starts Sunday, October 10, Silent Meditation and Teachings on the Two Truths 9:00 am – 11:15 am PDT – Guided Tonglen Meditation 11:30 am – 12:15 pm PDT
  • 3 Awake in the World sessions to help integrate the dharma teachings into daily life. Sessions are Saturday, October 23 and November 20 and December 11, 10 am -12pm PDT
  • Private interview with Lama Döndrup, which can be in person or by phone
  • Recordings of the previous Sukhasiddhi Sunday series, to be viewed at your convenience

All daylongs, classes and sessions are on zoom for this module. Session times are given in Pacific Time (ie, San Francisco time zone). All sessions are recorded and can be viewed later.

For more information on the Dharma Training Program structure, please see the Curriculum section at the bottom of the page.

Apply

Dharma Training Program Tuition:

The cost of the Dharma Training Program is $375 for the first module that you participate in and $325 for each subsequent module. The payment can be made in total, or monthly payments.  If you need financial aid, there is a section in the application to indicate that.

Apply

The Hosting Community:

Sukhasiddhi Foundation is a spiritual center based in the Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhist tradition that offers a guided path of embodied wisdom, compassion, and kindness, rooted in practices arising from the divine feminine that are relevant to life and the world today.

The heart of our offerings comes from the Shangpa lineage. This feminine lineage dates back to the 11th century; the time of two awakened Kashmiri women, Niguma and Sukhasiddhi. This lineage is historically non-sectarian, non-dogmatic, and its inclusive teachings are a stream that flows through all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The profound teachings of these awakened dakinis (teachers) are elegant and penetrate straight to the heart of the matter, making them an accessible, relevant, and efficacious method for engaging in the world today.

We are located in the United States in Northern California, just north of San Francisco.

During the coronavirus pandemic all of our offerings are happening online.

The Hosting Community:

Sukhasiddhi Foundation is a spiritual center in the Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhist tradition that offers a guided path of embodied wisdom, compassion, and kindness, rooted in practices arising from the divine feminine that are relevant to life and the world today.

The heart of our offerings comes from the Shangpa lineage. This feminine lineage dates back to the 11th century; the time of two awakened Kashmiri women, Niguma and Sukhasiddhi. This lineage is historically non-sectarian, non-dogmatic, and its inclusive teachings are a stream that flows through all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The profound teachings of these awakened dakinis (teachers) are elegant and penetrate straight to the heart of the matter, making them an accessible, relevant, and efficacious method for engaging in the world today.

We are located in the United States in Northern California, just north of San Francisco.

During the coronavirus pandemic all of our offerings are happening online.

The Teachers:

CORE TEACHER AND RESIDENT LAMA: Lama Döndrup has been practicing and studying in the Buddhist tradition since the mid-1990’s. After five years of Theravadin Buddhist training, she immersed herself in the teachings and practices of the Shangpa and Kagyu Vajrayana lineages. In 2005, she completed a traditional three-year retreat under the guidance of Lama Palden and Lama Drupgyu with the blessing of her root guru, Bokar Rinpoche and was authorized as a lama. Upon her return to Marin County, she began teaching at Sukhasiddhi Foundation. In January 2020, as Lama Palden’s successor, she stepped into the role of Resident Lama, guiding the Center’s ministerial work. Lama Döndrup’s teaching style is thorough and clear yet with light touch as she supports the natural unfolding of each student’s innate wisdom and compassion. She aims to preserve the authenticity of the tradition while making the teachings and practices relevant and accessible to the lives of 21st century Westerners. In addition to her Buddhist practice, Lama Döndrup trained the Ridhwan School’s Diamond Approach for seven years and has a Masters of Fine Arts degree in piano performance. She is an active classical pianist and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area.

AWAKE IN THE WORLD SESSION TEACHER:  Susan Shannon, M. Div. is a seeker, teacher, earth and animal steward, and devotee of the heart. She has worked in the fields of Emotional Literacy and Restorative Justice for over 20 years, incorporating over 45 years of Buddhist practice and study from the Tibetan tradition. She’s worked with various diverse populations all her life including inmates, Tibetan refugees, the homeless, the differently-abled, at-risk youth, and has served as the Buddhist Chaplain to the men in San Quentin State Prison and Death Row. She currently resides in the San Juan Islands where she writes, provides spiritual coaching and tends her land.

The Teachers:

CORE TEACHER AND RESIDENT LAMA: Lama Döndrup has been practicing and studying in the Buddhist tradition since the mid-1990’s. After five years of Theravadin Buddhist training, she immersed herself in the teachings and practices of the Shangpa and Kagyu Vajrayana lineages. In 2005, she completed a traditional three-year retreat under the guidance of Lama Palden and Lama Drupgyu with the blessing of her root guru, Bokar Rinpoche and was authorized as a lama. Upon her return to Marin County, she began teaching at Sukhasiddhi Foundation. In January 2020, as Lama Palden’s successor, she stepped into the role of Resident Lama, guiding the Center’s ministerial work. Lama Döndrup’s teaching style is thorough and clear yet with light touch as she supports the natural unfolding of each student’s innate wisdom and compassion. She aims to preserve the authenticity of the tradition while making the teachings and practices relevant and accessible to the lives of 21st century Westerners. In addition to her Buddhist practice, Lama Döndrup trained the Ridhwan School’s Diamond Approach for seven years and has a Masters of Fine Arts degree in piano performance. She is an active classical pianist and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area.

AWAKE IN THE WORLD SESSION TEACHER: Susan Shannon, M. Div. is a seeker, teacher, earth and animal steward, and devotee of the heart. She has worked in the fields of Emotional Literacy and Restorative Justice for over 20 years, incorporating over 45 years of Buddhist practice and study from the Tibetan tradition. She’s worked with various diverse populations all her life including inmates, Tibetan refugees, the homeless, the differently-abled, at-risk youth, and has served as the Buddhist Chaplain to the men in San Quentin State Prison and Death Row. She currently resides in the San Juan Islands where she writes, provides spiritual coaching and tends her land.

Two Participants Share Their Experience:

Jenny Kimball
Sean Lim

JENNY KIMBALL, Salt Lake City | I really enjoy the female-led focus at Sukhasiddhi. I grew up a seventh-generation Utah Mormon and have a lot of distrust of religious hierarchy. Even in Buddhist groups I’m reticent to make any commitment or follow, but I really respect Lama Palden and Lama Döndrup. The teachings in the Dharma Training Program have helped me with many challenges. Green Tara practice and the Medicine Buddha practices help me in different relational fields — the things that are part of daily life and dealing with other people — than the other practices that I work with. With all that’s going on in the world, the yidam practices have been particularly helpful, because there’s a point where you can welcome everyone, including people you’re having difficulty with, into the practice. That’s so profound for a time like this, because there are so many voices in the world that are so difficult to hear. These times are stressful, but not nearly as stressful as if I didn’t have that kind orientation.

SEAN LIM, Oakland | I started getting interested in Buddhism when I was 15 — particularly Tibetan Buddhism. I have had a daily meditation practice for a while, but only recently has my sangha more become Sukhasiddhi. My practice has gone from focusing on calm abiding and chanting to starting to do the visualizations and such. I was looking for an organized way of deepening both my practice and understanding of the teachings. Lama Palden suggested the Dharma Training Program as a good way to prepare for longer retreats. I like that Lama Döndrup and Lama Pat have both integrated whatever is going on in the world with what we are doing in the program. We do many practices that dedicate merit and blessings to coronavirus. Lama Döndrup has also tried to weave in a lot about racism, bringing more awareness to that in our practice on and off the cushion. Even though I have my own practice at home, whenever I go to the Dharma Training classes, it enlivens my practice and feels like it brings the living juice of blessing.

Two Participants Share Their Experience:

Jenny Kimball

JENNY KIMBALL, Salt Lake City | I really enjoy the female-led focus at Sukhasiddhi. I grew up a seventh-generation Utah Mormon and have a lot of distrust of religious hierarchy. Even in Buddhist groups I’m reticent to make any commitment or follow, but I really respect Lama Palden and Lama Döndrup. The teachings in the Dharma Training Program have helped me with many challenges. Green Tara practice and the Medicine Buddha practices help me in different relational fields — the things that are part of daily life and dealing with other people — than the other practices that I work with. With all that’s going on in the world, the yidam practices have been particularly helpful, because there’s a point where you can welcome everyone, including people you’re having difficulty with, into the practice. That’s so profound for a time like this, because there are so many voices in the world that are so difficult to hear. These times are stressful, but not nearly as stressful as if I didn’t have that kind orientation.

Sean Lim

SEAN LIM, Oakland | I started getting interested in Buddhism when I was 15 — particularly Tibetan Buddhism. I have had a daily meditation practice for a while, but only recently has my sangha more become Sukhasiddhi. My practice has gone from focusing on calm abiding and chanting to starting to do the visualizations and such. I was looking for an organized way of deepening both my practice and understanding of the teachings. Lama Palden suggested the Dharma Training Program as a good way to prepare for longer retreats. I like that Lama Döndrup and Lama Pat have both integrated whatever is going on in the world with what we are doing in the program. We do many practices that dedicate merit and blessings to coronavirus. Lama Döndrup has also tried to weave in a lot about racism, bringing more awareness to that in our practice on and off the cushion. Even though I have my own practice at home, whenever I go to the Dharma Training classes, it enlivens my practice and feels like it brings the living juice of blessing.

How to Apply:

Applications for the next module are due September 30, 2021.

Once your application has been submitted, we will contact you to advise you of your acceptance into the program. If you are accepted, a welcome and daylong teaching for the new module will take place on October 10.

Please note that we are located in the United States in Northern California, just north of San Francisco, and this program will take place in Pacific Time.

For questions, please contact admin@sukhasiddhi.org.

Thank you very much for your interest.

Apply

How to Apply:

Applications for the next module are due September 30, 2021.

Once your application has been submitted, we will contact you to advise you of your acceptance into the program. If you are accepted, a welcome and daylong teaching for the new module will take place on October 10.

Please note that we are located in the United States in Northern California, just north of San Francisco, and this program will take place in Pacific Time.

For questions, please contact admin@sukhasiddhi.org.

Thank you very much for your interest.

Apply

The Curriculum:

The Dharma Training Program curriculum is delivered in three-month modules three to four times a year. Each module consists of a six- or seven-week Sukhasiddhi Sundays Series, monthly dharma practice sessions, a one-on-one meeting with a Sukhasiddhi teacher, and a daylong or online meeting.

The heart of each module is the Sukhasiddhi Sundays series. In the Sukhasiddhi Sundays series, participants learn a specific meditation practice and receive teachings that are a part of the Dharma Training Program curriculum. These topics will be further discussed in monthly dharma practice discussion sessions that are geared specifically towards integrating these teachings and practices into our daily life so that one comes into a lived understanding of the teachings. Participants will also have the opportunity for individual guidance in a one-on-one interview. Additional daylongs or online meetings will provide the opportunity to receive teachings on other curriculum topics and/or will provide another opportunity to check-in about one’s practice and study.

When entering the program participants will be given a checklist of the Dharma Training Program Curriculum requirements. The requirements can be met by attending the activities described above. Completion of the Dharma Training Program takes place when all the curriculum requirements have been fulfilled. At that time, one can one can apply for participation in the Bodhi Program, (the next level of study at Sukhasiddhi) or one can simply continue to attend Sukhasiddhi offerings as desired.

The following practices and foundational teachings make up the Dharma Training Program curriculum:

Shamatha of Mahamudra (calm abiding or concentration)
Shamatha of Mahamudra is the primary practice in this first level of study. Shamatha develops concentration and allows a practitioner to disidentify oneself from the constant stream of discursive thought.

Refuge and Bodhisattva Vows
The basis of practice in Vajrayana Buddhism is the taking and upholding of refuge and bodhisattva vows. Within the Mahayana, of which the Vajrayana is a part, one takes refuge from now until full and complete awakening in the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Noble Sangha. In addition, in Vajrayana one also takes refuge in one’s Lama and lineage, the Yidams, Dakinis and Protectors. It is understood that these objects of refuge support, guide and reflect our true nature to us, providing a bridge to our true nature and inner wisdom, which in actuality we have never been separate from but don’t usually recognize. In taking and maintaining the Bodhisattva vow we acknowledge our inseparability with all beings. We extend our loving kindness, compassion and efforts on their behalf as well as our own. We vow to fully awaken in order to liberate all sentient beings. Shantideva said that our bodhisattva vow is constantly being compromised by our habitual patterns of self-centeredness and ignorance. As aspiring bodhisattvas we continually open to and engage in the bodhisattva view and training.

The Shangpa Kagyu Lineage
The Shangpa Kagyu Lineage is unique in that it originated with two awakened Kashmiri women, Sukhasiddhi and Niguma. The profound teachings of these wisdom dakinis are pith, elegant, and penetrate straight to the heart of the matter, making them accessible, relevant, and an efficacious method as we engage in the world today. Studying the lives of the lineage masters increases confidence in the teachings, provides context for the practices learned in the DTP, and provides inspiration as we walk the same path that the lineage masters traversed.

Lujong
Lujong, a form of Tibetan yoga, straightens the subtle channels, promotes healthy circulation of prana, and increases vitality, strength and body/mind flexibility. This work with the subtle or vajra body facilitates realization of nondual true nature. Lujong instructions must be received from an authorized teacher.

Lojong, Mind Training
Lojong (mind training) turns the mind away from ordinary ways of reacting and towards the enlightened or bodhisattva way. Students learn and incorporate into practice and daily life the Seven Point mind training, 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva, Shantideva’s teachings on A Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, and the Paramitas (perfections).

Yidam Practice: Tara and Chenresig
At Sukhasiddhi, the first yidam meditation practices are usually of Tara and/or Chenresig, a female and a male embodiment of awakened compassion, respectively. Students may learn the practices in either or both Tibetan and English and receive the empowerments and teachings. These practices further develop shamatha (calm abiding), vipashyana (insight), and bodhicitta (awakened mind that inherently benefits others), and they provide an entry into the profound blessing and technology of Vajrayana.

Posture, Breathing
Correct posture is critical to maximizing the effectiveness of meditation. Breathing practices consciously unite body and mind. They facilitate the deepening of calm abiding and realization. On the level of the subtle body, they help to straighten the channels (Sanskrit: nadi; Tibetan: tsa) and allow the prana (energy or wind principle, Sanskrit: prana; Tibetan: lung) to flow properly. Posture and simple breathing instructions are provided at the start of most meditations. Further breathing techniques are taught on the level of Shangpa student in combination with advanced yidam and six yogas meditations.

Tonglen
Tonglen (taking and sending) is the primary bodhisattva meditation practice on the Vajrayana path. One develops compassion for the suffering of oneself and others. The suffering is liberated into awakened love, awakened mind, and healing energy. In the Shangpa lineage there is an extraordinary form of Tonglen practice, which serves to transform the way we experience and interact with our fellow sentient beings and greatly enhances our capacity to experience our buddha nature.

Cultivating Balance and Health
Sukhasiddhi emphasizes the value of living a balanced life that includes physical exercise, psychological well-being, healthy and satisfying relationships, meaningful work, service, and spiritual development.

Other Topics
The Four Noble Truths, Study of the Buddha’s Life, Motivation and Intention, Eight Worldly Dharmas, Four Immeasurables, Six Paramitas, Five Aggregates, Five Buddha Families, Eight Consciousnesses, Relative and Ultimate Truths, and more.

The Curriculum:

The Dharma Training Program curriculum is delivered in three-month modules three to four times a year. Each module consists of a six- or seven-week Sukhasiddhi Sundays series, monthly dharma practice sessions, a one-on-one meeting with a Sukhasiddhi teacher, and a daylong or online meeting.

The heart of each module is the Sukhasiddhi Sundays series. In the Sukhasiddhi Sundays series, participants learn a specific meditation practice and receive teachings that are a part of the Dharma Training Program curriculum. These topics will be further discussed in monthly dharma practice discussion sessions that are geared specifically towards integrating these teachings and practices into our daily life so that one comes into a lived understanding of the teachings. Participants will also have the opportunity for individual guidance in a one-on-one interview. Additional daylongs or online meetings will provide the opportunity to receive teachings on other curriculum topics and/or will provide another opportunity to check-in about one’s practice and study.

When entering the program participants will be given a checklist of the Dharma Training Program Curriculum requirements. The requirements can be met by attending the activities described above. Completion of the Dharma Training Program takes place when all the curriculum requirements have been fulfilled. At that time, one can one can apply for participation in the Bodhi Program, (the next level of study at Sukhasiddhi) or one can simply continue to attend Sukhasiddhi offerings as desired.

The following practices and foundational teachings make up the Dharma Training Program curriculum:

Shamatha of Mahamudra (calm abiding or concentration)
Shamatha of Mahamudra is the primary practice in this first level of study. Shamatha develops concentration and allows a practitioner to disidentify oneself from the constant stream of discursive thought.

Refuge and Bodhisattva Vows
The basis of practice in Vajrayana Buddhism is the taking and upholding of refuge and bodhisattva vows. Within the Mahayana, of which the Vajrayana is a part, one takes refuge from now until full and complete awakening in the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Noble Sangha. In addition, in Vajrayana one also takes refuge in one’s Lama and lineage, the Yidams, Dakinis and Protectors. It is understood that these objects of refuge support, guide and reflect our true nature to us, providing a bridge to our true nature and inner wisdom, which in actuality we have never been separate from but don’t usually recognize. In taking and maintaining the Bodhisattva vow we acknowledge our inseparability with all beings. We extend our loving kindness, compassion and efforts on their behalf as well as our own. We vow to fully awaken in order to liberate all sentient beings. Shantideva said that our bodhisattva vow is constantly being compromised by our habitual patterns of self-centeredness and ignorance. As aspiring bodhisattvas we continually open to and engage in the bodhisattva view and training.

The Shangpa Kagyu Lineage
The Shangpa Kagyu Lineage is unique in that it originated with two awakened Kashmiri women, Sukhasiddhi and Niguma. The profound teachings of these wisdom dakinis are pith, elegant, and penetrate straight to the heart of the matter, making them accessible, relevant, and an efficacious method as we engage in the world today. Studying the lives of the lineage masters increases confidence in the teachings, provides context for the practices learned in the DTP, and provides inspiration as we walk the same path that the lineage masters traversed.

Yidam Practice: Tara and Chenresig
At Sukhasiddhi, the first yidam meditation practices are usually of Tara and/or Chenresig, a female and a male embodiment of awakened compassion, respectively. Students may learn the practices in either or both Tibetan and English and receive the empowerments and teachings. These practices further develop shamatha (calm abiding), vipashyana (insight), and bodhicitta (awakened mind that inherently benefits others), and they provide an entry into the profound blessing and technology of Vajrayana.

Posture, Breathing
Correct posture is critical to maximizing the effectiveness of meditation. Breathing practices consciously unite body and mind. They facilitate the deepening of calm abiding and realization. On the level of the subtle body, they help to straighten the channels (Sanskrit: nadi; Tibetan: tsa) and allow the prana (energy or wind principle, Sanskrit: prana; Tibetan: lung) to flow properly. Posture and simple breathing instructions are provided at the start of most meditations. Further breathing techniques are taught on the level of Shangpa student in combination with advanced yidam and six yogas meditations.

Lujong
Lujong, a form of Tibetan yoga, straightens the subtle channels, promotes healthy circulation of prana, and increases vitality, strength and body/mind flexibility. This work with the subtle or vajra body facilitates realization of nondual true nature. Lujong instructions must be received from an authorized teacher.

Lojong, Mind Training
Lojong (mind training) turns the mind away from ordinary ways of reacting and towards the enlightened or bodhisattva way. Students learn and incorporate into practice and daily life the Seven Point mind training, 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva, Shantideva’s teachings on A Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, and the Paramitas (perfections).

Tonglen
Tonglen (taking and sending) is the primary bodhisattva meditation practice on the Vajrayana path. One develops compassion for the suffering of oneself and others. The suffering is liberated into awakened love, awakened mind, and healing energy. In the Shangpa lineage there is an extraordinary form of Tonglen practice, which serves to transform the way we experience and interact with our fellow sentient beings and greatly enhances our capacity to experience our buddha nature.

Cultivating Balance and Health
Sukhasiddhi emphasizes the value of living a balanced life that includes physical exercise, psychological well-being, healthy and satisfying relationships, meaningful work, service, and spiritual development.

Other Topics
The Four Noble Truths, Study of the Buddha’s Life, Motivation and Intention, Eight Worldly Dharmas, Four Immeasurables, Six Paramitas, Five Aggregates, Five Buddha Families, Eight Consciousnesses, Relative and Ultimate Truths, and more.

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Sign up for our email list for upcoming events, classes, retreats and community offerings.