Foundational Practices (Ngondro):

The Brilliant Basics 

Build or deepen your daily spiritual practice with the very foundation of all Buddhist traditions.

Foundational Practices (Ngondro): The Brilliant Basics of the Buddhist Path, Part I

Self paced videos

Join us if you want to:

  • Develop a daily practice.
  • Break through reactive patterns.
  • Settle your mind.
  • Ease into confidence.

This series includes:

  • An introduction to the Foundational Practices (Ngondro)
  • The Four Thoughts That Turn Your Mind to Dharma: The Preciousness of Human
    Birth, Impermanence, Cause and Effect, and Defects of Samsara
  • Recorded teachings allow you to set your own schedule
  • Guided meditation audios.
  • Recorded monthly meetings with main teachers our lamas.
  • Supplemental recorded teachings on sutras that anchor key points of practice,
    newly translated by the 84,000 project.
  • First time in the west, focus on Adzom Drukpa’s ngondro text Lamp Lighting the
    Path, a companion to Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche.
  • A reading list to further learning.


Self-paced videos

Tiered pricing $450/$400/$350

For questions: [email protected]

These practices are the heart of the Heart Essence (Nyingthig) teachings. “The whole of the ancient transmission essentialized into a single stream” says Adzom Drukpa.

Come and meet this stream for the first time, or further your practice with a fresh immersion in the principles of awakening. This course is self-paced, with live online Lama and peer support, enriched by the writings of Adzom Drukpa for the first time in English.

Part I:

Foundational Practices (Ngondro) Brilliant Basics of the Buddhist Path Part 1 is a 20-week, beginning to intermediate course, for those seeking an introduction to the Dzogchen path. It is specifically taught for students who might be contemplating or ready to start a multi-year practice of Ngondro in the Longchen Nyingthig, Heart Essenceof the Vast Expanse Tradition.

Part 1 out of three parts, will cover an Introduction followed by The Four Thoughts: The Preciousness of a Human Life, Impermanence, Karma, and the Defects of Samsara. The course consists of videos and short audios that can be watched or listened to over and over, for an indefinite period of time. Self-paced/asychronous/continually offered.

Part 1 is taught by Lama Rigzin Drolma, one of the founders of Dawn Mountain, and Dr. Nathaniel Rich, a translator for the 84,000 project who brings some extraordinary insight into the course brought forth through the recent translations of sutras.

Each subsequent part will have its own pricing and registration based on the length/number of
recordings that will be included in the course. These can be paid with a monthly payment plan
by contacting [email protected].

Foundational Practices (Ngondro): The Brilliant Basics  Part 2: Mahayana’s Unique Practices

Starting with Refuge, Bodhicitta, Vajrasattva, Mandala Offering and Severance

Live meetings begin September 16th !
Self-paced videos and audios with live online meetings

(Part 2 has separate pricing from Part 1)
Part 1 required prior to registration to Part 2.
There will be a Part 3 forthcoming in 2024.


Live Meeting Dates:

These dates are subject to change. All times listed in CST

Meeting dates soon to come.

Self-paced videos

Tiered pricing $550/$500/$450

For questions: [email protected]

PART II focuses on practices unique to Mahayana that opens us to Dzogchen realization. We meet refuge and make it our own, then enhance it by cultivating the open heart of Bodhicitta. This is already a huge step forward. We purify obstacles with the Diamond Being, Vajrasattva, further our passionate generosity through mandala offering and the practice of severance.  

Weekly short videos and audios at a pace that gives you time to pace yourself and gain familiarity with each aspect of the teaching. You will naturally become steeped in these practices, fully prepared to engage in the traditional accumulations if you wish. 

Readings: We draw extensively on Adzom Drupa’s vivid instructions in his Lamplight for your Path, which wrote to make all the profundity of these teachings easily accessible to us, and a powerful complement to Words of My Perfect Teacher. You will receive the pre-publication new English translation which Adzom Paylo Rinpoche requested of Anne C. Klein, Lama Rigzin Drolma.

Brilliant Basics is a course open to all interested persons. It serves as an in-depth introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Part II is for folks who have already received training on the Shared Foundational practices in any of the Tibetan traditions. If you are unsure if your training is adequate, please send a short paragraph on your experience to [email protected] with Ngondro Query in the subject line.

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Our goal is to support your understanding, practicing, and genuinely digesting absorbing the famous foundational practices. Patrul Rinpoche called them even more profound than later practices. This is what we explore. We welcome everyone whatever your tradition.

Part 1 of this ongoing series is common to all Indian-based Buddhist traditions; Part 2 delves into with uniquely Mahayana material to provide trainings key to tantra and Dzogchen.  

The course is also a rare opportunity to experience a unified stream of practices under the consistent guidance of the same teachers, Lamas Rigzin Drolma and Namgyal Dorje, for the duration of the course. 

This full course is also available as a self-paced self-study course and can be joined at any time. We will learn to explore for ourselves how tradition meets the issues of your everyday lives, preparing us to meet daily circumstances with an increasingly open, untroubled heart, while also being kind to ourselves and to others at the same time. 

A unique element is our inclusion of the newly translated Lamp Lighting the Path by Adzom Drukpa (1842-1924), which explicitly connects us with classic Indian Buddhist sources and the living heritage of the wide circle of Jigme Lingpa’s dharma heirs and their followers.  Adzom Paylo Rinpoche asked Lama Rigzin Drolma to translate this work into English. We provide it to program participants to strengthen our connection with the lineal blessing of the Adzom Drukpa transmission. 

Another special feature is the inclusion of  carefully selected sutra teachings. Sutras are the common inheritance of all Buddhist tradition and  relate to every  type and stage of practice across all Buddhist traditions.  

For seasoned practitioners, this program is an opportunity for re-inspiration. For newer students it is an opportunity  to carefully learn the details of foundational practices—how to recite and sing in English or Tibetan, how to deepen through establishing a daily practice, and how to go about maintaining the continuity needed to complete accumulations, if you so wish, while taking account of your own life situation.Finally, we see the entire spectrum of these teachings as furthering our relationship to all life, and to our own lives, for the benefit of the social and natural worlds in which we live.  

In brief, this  multimedia program brings you a coordinated sequence of video/podcast teachings and guided meditation audios, with live monthly support from the teachers, as well as a monthly peer support meeting.

This is part one in an ongoing series. Through future installments Dawn Mountain will cover the entire Ngondro!


Begin the year 2023 focused on daily practice with guidance and community!

Course Instructors

Anne C. Klein, Lama Rigzin Drolma, M.A., Ph.D. Professor in Religion and former Chair, Rice University, author/ translator of seven books, including Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse and the forthcoming Lamp Lighting the Path. A Founding Teacher of Dawn Mountain.

Harvey B. Aronson, Lama Namgyal Dorje, Ph.D. LCSW Psychotherapist and a founding teacher of Dawn Mountain. Author of Love and Sympathy in Theravada Buddhism and Buddhist Practice on Western Ground.

Nathaniel Rich, M.A., Ph.D. 84,000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, Translation Team and Grants Committee member; Buddhist Texts Translation Initiative (Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara), Visiting Scholar and Executive Committee member.


Having all the support material is very helpful, really a dream come true. A few times I have felt
discouraged in my practice but now knowing that there are teachings to watch and listen to is
very inspiring and uplifting in my practice.

“Aren’t we ever so lucky to hear Lama Rigzin’s distilled years of experience in a
supportive and intimate  fireside chat format like this ? A treat. A real gift!”

“I enjoyed the self-paced format of the course the most. This was the deciding factor in me
registering for the course. I likely would not have taken the course had it not been offered in a
self-paced format. Secondly, I liked the pre-recorded videos and audios as they did an excellent
job of explaining the basic concepts and practices and I could revisit them at my leisure.”

“It feels like the best companion I could have for my ngondro practice. I tried to practice and
accumulate ngondro on my own before this course but it was quite hard and felt like something
was missing. I feel so grateful to the Lamas for having created this course. It honestly means a
lot to me and I’m very happy that I have finally managed to find the way to keep up with it on a
daily basis.”

“I like that there is so much material to help me go deeper into these practices and learn
them on an even more personal level. The audio and videos make me relate all of this to
my own circumstance and living in a way that is new and refreshing for me.”

“I love the pace. It’s perfect for me since I’m new to Tibetan Buddhism.”