Frequently asked questions:
1. What makes Tara’s Triple Excellence online meditation program different from other meditation programs?
Tara’s Triple Excellence (TTE) is an online meditation program that guides you through all three levels of Buddhism from the Vajrayana (link to Vajrayana page) perspective, the tantric form of Tibetan Buddhism. This program is unique in that it presents an authentic path to full awakening. Faithful to its ancient meditation tradition as practiced in India and Tibet, TTE is a comprehensive program that gradually guides you through the practice and understanding that is necessary for awakening. Tara, a female embodiment of enlightenment is the source of the Triple Excellence teachings and the center of all practices, guiding you from the beginning to the very end of the path.
2. What is the structure of the Tara’s Triple Excellence online meditation program?
- Twice daily practice sessions begin with four preliminary practices which help focus your mind and open your heart. The main practice sessions (one morning and one evening) guide the practitioner, step-by-step, into a deeper relationship with the Buddha’s teachings.
- The main part of practice changes every day according to the content of each Excellence, incorporating the three activities that are crucial for liberation: study, reflection, and meditation. These experiential contemplations, while rigorous and effective, are designed to be accessible even to people with a busy work schedule.
- The main part of the practice session concludes with the dedication of merit, the goodness, or virtue, which we have gathered by working to uncover our compassionate heart. At the end of every session, we share this goodness with all sentient beings rather than keeping it exclusively for ourselves. Spreading the goodness out into the world insures that it will not disappear. Instead, it increases when we dedicate the happiness to all sentient beings.
- After the conclusion of the dedication of merit, we review the session with post-meditation reflections, where we reflect on how our meditation practice went. This ensures that we make progress rather than fall back or get stuck in our practice.
- The practice sessions concludes with the Mindfulness Instructions for the day, offering different ways to integrate the contemplations into your daily activities.
3. Can I combine TTE with my other practices?
Yes, but according to Lama Tenzin it is important to choose one main practice. It is best if you can make Tara’s Triple Excellence your main practice, your priority.
4. Is this program suitable for beginners?
Yes, Tara’s Triple Excellence is recommended for beginners as well as experienced meditators. TTE takes us through the Buddhist Path in an orderly progression from Sutra all the way to highest Tantra. We all come to it with varying levels of experience and understanding. What you bring to this set of teachings is unique, and what you take away is also yours alone. Don’t worry about what ‘should’ be in your mind and experience. This program gives you daily support and authentic teachings.
5. Do I need to have a guru to enroll in Tara’s Triple Excellence?
No, however, a personal teacher is very important in Vajrayana Buddhism. In order to be able to travel on this fast track, we, as the adepts, need to possess or develop devotion to the teacher and the yidam deity. As part of the TTE practice, you will be asked to visualize Tara as inseparable from your own root guru or teacher. The term root teacher, or guru, refers to the teacher who has pointed out the nature of your mind. If you have no root teacher yet, think of “the teacher” as the one who has given you the most inspiring teachings and instructions. When visualizing Tara as indivisible from your teacher, you don’t need to change her form, but merely think that your teacher’s compassionate heart and mind is the same as Tara’s. If you have no teacher, don’t worry, just imagine that Tara is your teacher.
6. Can I do just one of the two practice sessions a day?
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has arranged this program so that participants can have enough time and repetition to let each teaching sink into their hearts. This is why there are two similar practice sessions each day.
However, the most important thing is not to feel stressed about the program. We have to somehow find the middle way: not becoming stressed out about our practice, but also not becoming too loose, lax and lazy about it. If on particular days, your daily schedule really does not allow you to spend much time on the Triple Excellence, it is recommended to do at least the morning contemplation. Then, throughout your daily activities, be intensely aware of the points that are taught in the mindfulness training at the end of the morning contemplation.
7. What do I do if I miss an evening practice?
You may want to repeat both the morning and evening contemplation of the day you missed. Or if you feel that you have taken the topic reflected upon sincerely to heart simply move on to the next day.
8 Can I repeat sections of TTE?
Yes, when you register for each Excellence, you are given extra time as we anticipate you may want to certain teachings and contemplations more than once. For example, in the First Excellence, you are given about 24 weeks to complete 18 weeks of lessons. If you have completed the entire First Excellence and you are beyond the 24 weeks, you are welcome to repeat the First Excellence again at 75% off. You can download the audio files for free and listen to them anytime. However, for access to all the materials, including the video’s you will need to re-register.
9. Can I take a break from the Tara’s Triple Excellence program?
Yes, many people taking the program have circumstances which obligate them to take a break, such as illness, or changed family circumstances. This is why we incorporate extra time which allows one to take short breaks when practice becomes difficult.
If you have experienced great difficulty, such as sickness or a health emergency or a death in the family, please email Tatiana and we have the option of extending your program time based on your personal circumstances.
10. Can I be registered for all three Excellences at the same time?
It is not possible to be registered for all three Excellences at the same time. When you have completed the First Excellence and your access time has expired, you are welcome to register for the Second Excellence. Upon completing the Second Excellence Part 3 you are required to take a short quiz and an interview prior to registering for the Third Excellence.
11. Why can’t I immediately start with the Second or Third Excellence?
Completing The First Excellence is a requirement to move onto the Second and Third Excellence. Due to the nature of these teachings we are obliged to check carefully every participant who wants to practice the Third Excellence.
12. What are empowerments and do I need them to do Tara’s Triple Excellence?
Empowerments are the foundation of the practice of the Secret Mantrayana. They are like a ticket and gate to the practice. In order to be really able to practice, we must receive the ripening empowerments, the liberating instructions, and the supportive reading transmissions. In order to get an empowerment, we must rely on master, a teacher who is endowed with realization and experience.
Every year, the TTE team organizes an annual Tara retreat in Nepal during which Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche bestows the three empowerments (outer, inner, and secret) required for the Third Excellence. Rinpoche also gives a particular empowerment at one of his centers when he travels around the world. All TTE retreats and empowerments are announced on DharmaSun.org/calendar or on our TTE facebook page: TarasTripleExcellence
If it is difficult for you to travel to a retreat or seminar to receive the empowerments, you can discuss your situation with a senior TTE member during the Third Excellence interview.
13. What if I have challenges with some of the content in the daily contemplations?
Tara’s Triple Excellence includes a moderated forum where you ask questions or seek advice from other seasoned practitioners. You may also contact one of our moderators via email.
14. Can I share the material with others?
At the request of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, please do not distribute these files to anyone else. These are profound terma teachings that must only be accessed by the individual who received the teachings and practices accordingly. Otherwise the seal of secrecy will be broken, which is harmful to the Dharma, the teacher and the Sangha. All program content – print, video, audio – is meant only for your own personal practice. Rinpoche has made it completely clear that he does NOT wish these files to be copied and/or distributed beyond those who are actually training through this program. Thank you for your understanding and commitment. Please commit to Maintain the Seal of Secrecy.