Spiritual programme

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Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga Retreat – With Ven. Tenzin Namjong
From Monday, 14. January 2019
To Monday, 11. February 2019
Location : To be announced
Lama Tsongkhapa with his two chief disciples
Lama Tsongkhapa with his two chief disciples

The practice

Lama Tsongkhapa was a great Tibetan scholar, saint, and teacher of the 14th century, who founded the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

The guru yoga text of Lama Tsongkhapa is in verse form, eloquently expressing a visualisation, meditation on the seven limbs – prostration, offering, confession, rejoicing, requesting to remain, and to teach, and dedication – and a supplication prayer for the blessings and guidance of one's gurus, and to develop the realisation of guru devotion.

Within the practice, one recites the 5-line praise to Lama Tsongkhapa (called migtsema) in a way similar to a mantra, while visualising a flow of blessings from one's guru eradicating obstacles and developing realisations.

According to the advice of Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, if one keeps even a drop of the nectar of the name of this holy being, Lama Tsongkhapa, in a devotional heart, it plants the seed of liberation and one receives the fortune to practise and enjoy happiness from this life up to enlightenment.

The retreat

Lama Tsongkhapa guru yoga, combined with reciting 100,000 migtsema mantras (in Tibetan) is one of the nine traditional ngondro (preliminary practices) in the Gelug tradition. Many lineage lamas have recommended the guru yoga retreat to be done as the first preliminary, based on the understanding that receiving the guru's blessings is the source of all realisations of the path.

It is Ven. Namjong's sincere wish that any participant wishing to complete 100,000 recitations will succeed. To that end, the schedule will be adjusted to allow those with slower recitation speed to complete the mantra count. However, as Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche says, "retreat is not simply about reciting the mantra and saying some prayers. It is about making the practice effective for your mind, making it the quickest, most powerful way to transform your mind." Therefore, the retreat will also include:

  • Explanations of Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga practice and migstema mantra and visualisations based on commentaries by great Tibetan lamas
  • Extensive purification and accumulation practices including water bowls, mandala offerings, Vajrasattva recitations and prostrations to the 35 Buddhas
  • Taking of the Eight Mahayana Precepts
  • Lam Rim meditation
  • Trips to the Mahabodhi stupa for group practice

This an intermediate level retreat: it is best if participants have a solid basis in the Buddha's teachings and previous retreat experience, but the retreat is suitable for anyone who wishes to purify their mindstream, develop wisdom and receive the blessings from one’s spiritual friend.

The retreat leader will be Venerable Tenzin Namjong, a monk from Hawaii who has completed twelve years of the Geshe studies program at Sera Jey Monastery in South India. He has done the Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga retreat based on the personal instructions of Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche. He has completed many retreats during his breaks from studies and also has led several retreats including the Manjushri "nearing retreat" in early 2018 at Root Institute, which was greatly appreciated and enjoyed by all participants.

Please note that space for this retreat is limited. Those who are unable to commit to the full four weeks may be allowed to participate for part of the time, but priority will be given to those who commit for the whole time.

Tentative schedule

Mon 14 Jan  
2.00 pm Introduction by Spiritual Programme Coordinator (SPC)
4:00 pm Introduction to the retreat by Ven. Tenzin Namjong
6.00 pm Dinner
7.00 pm First Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga session with Ven. Namjong
Tue 15 Jan – Sun 10 Feb  
5.45 am Morning prayers including prostrations, & on days to be decided, Eight Mahayana Precepts
7.30 am Breakfast
9:00 am Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga session with Ven Namjong
11:30 am Lunch
2.00 pm Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga session with Ven Namjong
3.30 pm Break
4:00 pm Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga session with Ven Namjong
6.00 pm Break
7.00 pm Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga with protector prayers & purification practice
Mon 11 Feb  
5.45 am Morning prayers, final Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga session
7.30 am Breakfast
9:00 am Dorje Khadro Burning Offering Practice
11:30 am Lunch

Please note: this schedule is subject to change.

Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga Retreat – With Ven. Tenzin Namjong
General information about the spiritual programme

Our spiritual programme now runs from mid-September to mid-April.

On the appropriate dates in the Tibetan calendar year-round, however, we observe the standard pujas of the Gelug tradition and these are drop-in sessions which anyone can attend. If you are in Bodhgaya and would like to come along, please feel welcome to join us for:

  • Tara Puja
  • Medicine Buddha Puja
  • Guru Puja with Tsog
  • Protector Puja.

Unless otherwise indicated, registration is required for all events except:

If you wish to do a self-directed individual or group retreat separate from our spritual programme:

Guidelines of behaviour in a Dharma environment

Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.

To maintain a conducive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:

  • Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.

  • Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.

  • Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.

  • Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.

  • Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.

  • Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.

  • Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.

  • Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.

Please be aware:

  • * The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.

  • Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden and, due to our commitment to following His Holiness the Dalai Lama's advice and supporting his work, we do not share our materials and facilities with those who knowingly continue to practice Shugden against his advice.