Kilung Shedra Curriculum
The nine-year program of study given at the Kilung Monastery shedra is comparable to that of other Nyingma institutions, with special emphasis on the Dzogchen-Longchen Nyingtik. A modern addition is study of Chinese and English in order to benefit the wider world.
Here is a brief outline of the Kilung shedra curriculum:
Year One: Tibetan language, including reading, writing, grammar, letter writing style, and calligraphy; training in memorization; history; a basic presentation of the principles of Tibetan Buddhist logic; study of Gyalsey Togme’s Thirty-seven-fold Practices of a Bodhisattva, and Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend; basic Chinese and English.
Year Two: Study of Sanskrit; intermediate Tibetan grammar and poetry; intermediate presentation of principles of Tibetan Buddhist logic; studies in sutra and tantra, instructions on the novice vows and their precepts, The Sutra of Individual Liberation; study of the Madhyamaka according to Aryadeva; study for discerning the middle way vs. extremes; further studies of Dharma history and literature; Chinese and English reading, writing, and speaking.
Year Three: Intermediate/high level Tibetan language, grammar, and poetry; re- presentation of the higher level of the principles of Tibetan Buddhist logic; in-depth history of the Dharma and its literature; root texts of vinaya, sutra, and shastra; five collections of Madhyamaka reasoning and more works by Nagarjuna; Longchen Rabjam’s Wishfulfilling Treasury; Asanga’s Abhidharma Samacchaya (“Compendium of Abhidharma”); mind trainings; introduction to basic sitting meditation (newly added);
Chinese and English reading, writing, and grammar.
Year Four: Signs and reasoning, reason, and science; the versified Vinaya Flower Garland Tantra; further study of Abhidharma; Chandrakirti’s Introduction to the Middle Way; Maitreya and Asanga’s The Sublime Continuum; the Guhyagarbha Tantra; the Application of Mindfulness; namthars (biographies of liberation—Milarepa, Patrul Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal, Longchenpa, etc.); Chinese and English reading, writing, speaking, and grammar.
Year Five: Study of the following texts: Maitreya’s Ornament of Liberation, Sakya Pandita’s Treasury of the Science of Valid Cognition, Jigme Lingpa’s The Treasury of Precious Qualities, Shantideva’s Bodicharyavatara; study of the Hinayana and Mahayana Abhidharmas; stabilizing meditation and shamatha; a short meditation retreat (newly added). Chinese and English reading, writing, speaking, and grammar.
Year Six: Study of the following texts: Dharmakirti’s Commentary on Logic; Sakya Pandita’s Differentiating the Three Precepts; Chandrakirti’s Introduction to the Middle Way; Longchen Rabjam’s Treasury of Philosophy and The Wish Fulfilling Treasure, Patrul Rinpoche’s Words of My Perfect Teacher, and condensed Prajnaparamita verses; meditation training and discussion of Vipashyana; receipt of empowerments and instructions relating to Vajrayana practice; beginning teacher training in Chinese and English.
Year Seven: Study of the texts, Exegesis of the Guhyagarbha by Lochen Dharma Shri, and Treasury of Oral Instructions by Longchen Rabjam; Vajrayana pure perception meditation; translation and teacher training in Chinese and English.
Year Eight: Studies of Longchen Rabjam’s Treasury of the Natural State, Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, and Treasury of the Dharmadhatu (Chöying Dzod); meditation on resting the mind; translation and teacher training in Chinese and English.
Year Nine: Studies of Longchen Rabjam’s Trilogy of Natural Ease and Four Heart-Essences; seventeen tantras; pointing-out instructions in Dzogchen meditation; retreat;
translation and teacher training in Chinese and English.
In the latter years students may also receive the entire cycle of Kama and Terma empowerments and instructions. Once the program is completed they may approach senior lamas to receive the most advanced teachings of Vajrayana and Dzogchen. Then, once they have received all of the important empowerments and instructions they may go into three-year retreat. Others may continue their studies after the nine years, possibly qualifying to become a Khenpo. As Khenpos they will teach in the shedra, to individuals, and throughout the community and beyond. Others become lay practitioners or go into three-year, or even lifetime, retreat.