Courses and retreats often include visits to the Mahabodhi Stupa for extra blessings and inspiration. Many also incorporate pilgrimages further afield, as we are located in an area surrounded by very significant pilgrimage sites.
Being in retreat
Gifting yourself the opportunity to do retreat is a very special venture. It will take you away from your conventional life and support your discovery of becoming an "inner being".
Retreats require discipline, flexibility and energy. It may take a few days to settle into the schedule; it's good to relax and enjoy the process.
You will be asked to relinquish technology including your mobile phone and, for some courses, participate fully in periods of silence. This might be a new experience for you. It is designed to support your spiritual journey by reducing distractions and giving you the space and time for reflection.
Being part of a retreat is about the collective experience of all participants. You will all be in this together, supported by your retreat leader, as well as our Spiritual Programme Coordinator and all the family at Root Institute. You won't be alone!
Our intermediate courses are ideal for those who are looking to challenge themselves beyond foundational Buddhist philosophy. Having said that, each course or retreat is open to anyone who may wish to attend.
In our first year, 2016–17, a small, enthusiastic and harmonious group of students gathered from all over the world; the programme continued in 2017–18, and we are now inviting applications for our third year.
Basic Programme (BP) students are also able to participate in the short-courses of our spiritual programme which bring inspiration from a range of teachers to complement their understanding of Buddhism, and enables them to meet many like-minded people and create meaningful and rewarding friendships.
To study the subjects of BP 3rd year at Root Institute it is not compulsory to have studied the subjects of 1st or 2nd year. Students can join the programme at any stage. Having said that, to get maximum benefit from these 3rd year subjects, one needs a foundational understanding of Buddhist philosophy, so having done at least an introductory course is advisable.
An updated motivation letter is asked from returning students who completed 1st or 2nd year of BP at Root Institute.
3rd Year – September 2018 to April 2019 – Engaging in the Bodhisattva Way of Life
The Basic Programme has been specifically designed by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Spiritual Director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), to provide a balanced approach to the combined academic education and practice of meditation that characterizes the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This makes the study and understanding of the philosophical subjects of immediate and practical benefit. The Basic Programme has been structured around a schedule of teachings, meditations and discussion groups alternated with meditation retreats, so as to encourage the integration of the teachings into one's practice with a view to gaining a personal experience of them.
Tutor – Sally Ong, 2011 graduate of Master Programme subjects: Ornament of Clear Realisation & Supplement to the Middle Way & 2007 graduate of Basic Programme at Instituto Lama Tzong Khapa (Italy).
Subjects of study
Mind and Cognition: The way the mind knows phenomena and the mental factors that constitute the basis of our daily experience
Tenets: The philosophical systems or tenets of the four main schools of ancient Buddhist thought
Heart Sutra: Emptiness and the phenomena qualified by it
Stages of the Path: The stages of the path to enlightenment of beings of low, middling and great capacity
Mahayana Mind Training (The Wheel of Sharp Weapons): The law of actions and results, or karma, and the states of mind that shape our future experiences
Engaging in the Bodhisattva Way of Life: The six perfections – generosity, morality, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom – and how to practice them in everyday life.
Sublime Continuum: The buddha- or tathagata-essence that exists within every sentient being
Ornament for Clear Realization, Fourth Chapter: Outlining the bodhisattva's meditation on the aspects of the three exalted knowers by way of a union of calm abiding and special insight for the purpose of attaining enlightenment
Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra: The four classes of tantra with emphasis on the generation and completion stages of the highest yoga tantra.
Root Institute for Wisdom Culture is now approved as an institution eligible for the grant of student visa (S-5) to foreign nationals coming for Buddhist Studies for a period of up to 5 years, or for the duration of their course of study, whichever is less. Application must be made from the student's home country. (For further information, contact our director.)
If you are interested in enrolling in the Basic Programme at Root Institute:
Please download and complete this application form – including the section on the required obligations you will have to follow as a residential student at Root Institute (unless you clearly indicate that you are planning on staying outside Root Institute campus)
a letter explaining your motivation to join the programme.
We hope that offering a complete, residential Basic Programme, over a five-year period, six-and-a-half months each year, will make Root Institute for Wisdom Culture an attractive place for beginning and more advanced students and practitioners alike.
Because our region of India is rich in the heritage of Buddhism – with many holy places where the Buddha and his disciples resided, meditated, and taught – Root Institute offers an array of pilgrimages to these sites throughout our spiritual season.
Our pilgrimages are designed to facilitate an "inner spiritual journey" – with opportunities to practice, connect, and revive one's inspiration from places in the outer environment blessed through the realisations of accomplished beings over millenia.
The beauty of such pilgrimages is that everything is organised for you; free of practical hassles, you can relax and enjoy the time and space to receive blessings and inspiration from holy places with the company and support of warm-hearted, like-minded people.
As Lama Zopa Rinpoche, explains:
Normally when people go on pilgrimage, they are just like tourists; maybe they take some pictures, and that's it. They don't use the places to collect merit or to meditate or to get some benefit for their minds. If it's just like sightseeing, then it won't be that much benefit.
The point is to use the pilgrimage to purify our mind and collect as extensive merit as possible. By doing pilgrimage, we receive blessings from the holy places where enlightened beings, great yogis, and bodhisattvas, have practiced.
is held principally at the Mahabodhi Stupa, though extensive light offerings are also made at Root Institute
allows people from around the world to sponsor lights, pujas and prayer flags, and
includes reading aloud each evening all the names of sponsors and their prayers of dedication.
Each Festival of Light & Merit includes
Extensive light offerings
Tens of thousands of electrical light offerings create the illusion of a starry sky surrounding the Stupa itself, a beautiful and inspiring sight. Together with the thousands of electrical lights at Root institute, these lights are offered and dedicated each evening by Root Institute on behalf of sponsors.
Three special pujas
Three specific pujas are specially arranged:
Guru Puja with Tsog
with monks from the Bodhgaya branch of Namgyal Monastery.
Hanging of blessed prayer flags
Traditional Tibetan Prayer Flags are blessed, raised beside the Mahabodhi Stupa and dedicated on behalf of sponsors. The blessings of which are spread across the Stupa grounds and inner Bodhgaya city.
In addition, all the offerings are dedicated to:
the long lives of our holy gurus
the preservation and spread of the pure Dharma
the temporal and ultimate happiness of the sponsors and their loved ones
the quick enlightenment of all sentient beings
peace and harmony around the world and
the removal of all obstacles and the quick success of FPMT projects.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche has advised Root Institute that each single recitation of the actual light offering prayer is equivalent to the number of lights offered. Therefore, on one night during the 15 Days of Miracles, if 100,000 lights are offered by 10 students, according to Rinpoche’s advice, one million lights would be offered on that night alone!
Sponsorship of FLAM also helps the Root Institute family
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:
Medicine Buddha puja
Lama Ch'opa ts'og offering
Unless otherwise indicated, registration is required for all events except:
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.