Padma Karpo Translation Committee
The Study Guide for PKTC Publications
We have published a range of books which together form a complete set of books for serious practitioners.  This page sets out how these books form a complete plan of study.

A General Book on Meditation
Most of our titles cover specific topics of the path to enlightenment.  However, we have a very clear and comprehensive guide to the actual practice of meditation.  This book has been very popular because of its clear and complete presentation of the path of meditation as taught in the Kagyu and Nyingma schools:
A Complete Session of Meditation by Tony Duff

Overview of Topics
Our titles cover the whole range of what needs to be studied by a person who is practising or who wants to learn about Tibetan Buddhism.  In particular, there are many books on Other Emptiness, Mahamudra, and Great Completion (Dzogchen).  You start with taking refuge and arousing the enlightenment mind (bodhichitta), and there has to be some development of the view with that.  Next there has to be an entrance into the Vajra Vehicle, which is done with empowerment.  Having entered the Vajra Vehicle, there are the preliminary and then the main practices of the particular practice to be undertaken.  There are two main practices, Mahamudra and Mahasamdhi or Dzogchen.  Mahamudra is usually practised either as the Four Yogas of Mahamudra or as essence Mahamudra.  Dzogchen is usually done through the two main practices of Thorough Cut (thregcho) and Direct Crossing (thogal).

Refuge and Bodhicitta
The course of study starts with:
Teachings of the Mountain Hermit of Mandong
This book contains two medium-length texts by the Hermit of Mandong.  The first text covers the practical details of taking refuge and the second covers the practical details of arousing the enlightenment mind.  The text on refuge is supported by our major publication on arousing faith in the Three Jewels of Refuge:
Unending Auspicious, the Sutra of the Recollection of the Three Noble Jewels with Commentaries by Ju Mipham, Taranatha, and Tony Duff
The text on enlightenment mind is supported by several free publications on this web-site concerning Shantideva’s famous text, Entering the Bodhisatva’s Conduct;
Commentaries on the Entering the Bodhisatva’s conduct

Sutra Practices for Gathering Merit
Traditionally, Buddhist lay people took the eight vows on new and full moon days in order to create positive habits, avoid negative actions, and to accumulate merit.  The standard liturgy and a complete explanation of how to use it and the meaning of the vows is here:
Liturgy and instructions for the Poshadha rite
A complete explanation of the monastic practice of eating as practised in Tibetan Buddhism, with liturgy and instructions included is here:
Oryoki and the Oryoki Chant
Verses to recite before undertaking any activity in order to make the activity auspicious are the Eight Noble Ones written by Mipham available here:
Free texts

The View and Practice According to the Sutras
The next step is to develop an understanding of the view at the sutra level.  The Buddha himself stated that he taught the sutra teachings in three, progressive steps known as “the three turnings of the wheel of dharma”.  The view and practice of the first turning of the wheel corresponds to the the path known as “The Lesser Vehicle”.  It contains teachings on renunciation followed by teachings on the absence of a personal self which, when practised, lead to a personal liberation.  People who are following the Tibetan Buddhist path will usually follow the teachings on renunciation but not practice the teachings that lead to a mere personal liberation.  They will pay close attention to the meaning of refuge and the good qualities of the Three Jewels as shown in the book mentioned above:
Unending Auspicious, the Sutra of the Recollection of the Three Noble Jewels with Commentaries by Ju Mipham, Taranatha, and Tony Duff

Taking refuge is a common basis for all of the Buddha’s teaching.  As well as that, the teachings of the Abhidharma are basic to all of the higher teachings, so it is necessary to learn certain parts of the Abhidharma teachings.  The Buddha himself said that there were six topics of all the Abhidharma topics that all of his followers should learn.  With that instruction as a basis, Zhan Ga Rinpoche compiled a text that clearly sets out these six topics, making it easy to learn them:
Six Topics That All Buddhists Learn

The next step is to arouse the enlightenment mind or bodhichitta, and then to practise the actions—called paramita—of the bodhisatva path.  One of the most popular texts for learning to do that is Shantideva’s Entering the Bodhisatva Conduct.  There are several translations of this text available.  The ones made directly from the Sanskrit are usually more accurate, for example, the translation made many years ago by Marion Matics is excellent.  There are often points in the existing translations from Tibetan of this text where the intended meaning does not come through clearly.  Padma Karpo of the Drukpa Kagyu wrote an excellent commentary on Shantideva’s text which explains each word or phrase of the original, adding just enough so that the original meaning becomes very clear:
A Bitwise Commentary on Entering the Conduct by Padma Karpo

The next step is to pay close attention to the meaning of emptiness.  That is because coursing in emptiness is the basis for all of a bodhisatva’s conduct.  As a preliminary to that, it is necessary to gain a clear understanding of the two truths.  For that, we have a short but very clear presentation of the two truths by Dza Patrul:
A Practical Guide to the Two Truths

For the teachings on emptiness, it has to be understood that the Buddha’s teachings on emptiness are found in both the second and third turnings of the wheel of dharma.  Tibetan Buddhist schools have differences of opinion over how the teachings on emptiness are presented within the second and third three turnings of the wheel.  The Gelugpa and much of the Sakya school maintain that the ultimate teachings of emptiness are to be found in the second turning of the wheel, in the teachings most commonly called Madhyamaka or the Middle Way.  For those schools, the ultimate view of the bodhisatva and the way to practise that view are found in the Prajnaparamita teachings of the second turning of the wheel.  However, for the other Tibetan Buddhist schools—and note that this is the majority of them—such as the Kagyu, Nyingma, and Jonang schools, the ultimate view of the bodhisatva and the way to practise that is found in the teachings of the third turning of the wheel.  It is noteworthy that the Buddha himself says in one of the third turning of the wheel sutras that he did turn the wheel of dharma in a progressive sequence of increasingly profound teachings and that his ultimate sutra teaching was given in the third turning of the wheel.

Now the view of the Gelugpa school and much of the Sakya school that the teaching of the Middle Way is the ultimate teaching has become very well known and popular amongst non-Tibetans.  The view of the Kagyu, Nyingma, and Jonang that the teachings of the third turning contain the ultimate teaching of the sutras is less well known.  In general, the study program here follows the latter understanding.  In particular, because there has been so little practical material presented from the understanding that the ultimate teaching is contained in the third turning of the wheel, there is a strong emphasis on texts which very clearly explain that approach.  Note that the general name used in the Kagyu, Nyingma, and Jonang schools for that approach is “emptiness of other” or “Other Emptiness” (Tib. gzhan stong or zhantong and note that this is mostly mis-spelled these days as shentong).  What that really means is the ultimate presentation of the Buddha’s teachings in which non-dual wisdom of is shown.

PKTC has put a special emphasis on preparing texts on the Buddha’s teachings of the non-dual view as found in the third turning of the wheel.  The following texts are invaluable for understanding that view and the practice of it as well.  There is a very important point here, which is that it has often been thought that Other Emptiness is purely a philosophical view, one that only entails polemic argument.  In fact, it is a very practical view and there is a very distinct style of meditation practice that goes with it.  It is also very important to note that the true view of Other Emptiness does not reject the Middle Way view and practice, usually referred to as “emptiness of self” or “Self Emptiness”.  Rather, it incorporates the view of emptiness of a self and the practice of Middle Way meditation into the overall view and practice of Other Emptiness.  In this way, a person who follows the view and practice of Other Emptiness actually accomplishes the entire bodhisatva teachings contained in the second and third turnings of the wheel.  The following selection of key texts from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is particularly important because it not only shows the view of Other Emptiness as one containing the teachings of both second and third turnings of the wheel, but also shows that Other Emptiness is not dry philosophy, but a very practical teaching.  The selection even includes an instruction manual on the practice of Other Emptiness meditation.

First, there are three sutras from the third turning of the wheel which show the Other Emptiness teaching of the Buddha:
The Noble One Called “Point of Passage Wisdom”, A Great Vehicle Sutra
The Sutra Petitioned by the Householder Uncouth
Maitreya’s Sutras and Prayer with Padma Karpo’s Commentary

One of the main champions in India of what later became known in Tibet as Other Emptiness was the Indian master Maitripa.  Therefore, the next book to study is:
Maitripa’s Writings On The View
This book contains the most important writings of Maitripa concerning the view and practice of it.  It contains a complete commentary to each of Maitripa’s several texts, written by the author so that the main points being made by Maitripa can be understood.  A free sampler of a few of the teachings in this book is available on the free texts pages.  These teachings are particularly treasured by all Kagyu followers because they are the source from which the entire Kagyu view is derived.  Anyone learning the view of the Kagyu tradition should read these texts.

In general, we can say that the Nyingma and Kagyu view is exactly the same at the sutra level.  One of the very popular texts on Other Emptiness on the Nyingma side is the very famous text by Ju Mipham which lays out the Other Emptiness view and the debates around it very clearly:
The Lion’s Roar That Proclaims Zhantong by Ju Mipham Namgyal

After reading the texts contained in those books, there are several more books that clearly present the Other Emptiness view, each one from a different perspective.  First, there is Milarepa’s most important song of the view An Authentic Expression of the view of the Middle Way in a book with long explanations of that and another important song of Milarepa on the view.  Importantly, this book contains an introduction to the Other Emptiness view that is particularly clear and which clears away many mis-conceptions concerning Other Emptiness in a very easy-to-understand way.  This book was written for practitioners as well as scholars and both will benefit:
Instructions for Practising the View of Other Emptiness, A Text of Oral Instructions by Jamgon Kongtrul

Next is a text by the second Drukchen of the Drukpa Kagyu school, which has a complete overview of the Kagyu view and practice.  Again, the author provides a long introduction that clearly shows the meaning of Other Emptiness and clears away mis-conceptions about it in an easy-to-understand way.  One of the very interesting things about this book is that it joins the sutra understanding of Other Emptiness to the non-dual view of the Kalachakra tantra as understood in the Kagyu school.  The text features debates between the Second Drukchen and Gelugpa scholars who came to debate with him, in their attempts to prove that the second turning of the wheel is where the ultimate teaching is to be found.  The second Drukchen’s replies show very clearly how the ultimate view taught in the sutras by the Buddha is in fact the view of tantras:
A Juggernaut of the Non-Dual View, Ultimate Teachings of the Second Drukchen, Gyalwang Je

Finally, there is Lama Tony’s magnum opus.  This is a thorough exposition of the meaning of the other empty, non-dual teachings of the Buddha, explained in a way that has not been seen before in books on Other Emptiness:
The Other Emptiness, Entering Wisdom Beyond Emptiness of Self

The Vajra Vehicle or Tantric Practice
The Preliminaries
In order to be empowered into the Vajra Vehicle, it is usual to engage in a series of preliminary practices.  Each school has its own preliminary practices.  An example of the preliminary practices for Kagyu Mahamudra can be seen in the book:
“The Complete Path for the Ocean of Profound Meaning”, An Extensive Liturgy for the Visualization Procedures of the Mahamudra Preliminaries with a Listing of the Key Topics of the Main Practice
This book is a very extensive Drukpa Kagyu liturgy that contains all the aspects of the four types of practice to be done for the Kagyu Mahamudra preliminaries.  It is also a very beautiful composition.  For Great Completion, there are also many liturgies.

For Longchen Nyingthig preliminaries, there is the major resource:
Longchen Nyingthig Preliminary Practices, with texts, commentaries, and support materials

Entrance: Empowerment
The next step is empowerment, which is the actual entrance into the Vajra Vehicle.  A book by Lama Tony Duff explains empowerment fully and shows in particular the meaning of the fourth empowerment:
Empowerment and Atiyoga by Tony Duff
There is a guide to the Kalachakra empowerment here:
Free texts

Blessings are an all-important part of Vajra Vehicle practice.  They are brought down by devotion to the guru.  There are many techniques for arousing devotion and then bringing down the blessings of the guru.  For the Mahamudra side, there is the book of spiritual songs sung by the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa:
Dusum Khyenpa’s Songs and Teachings
There are songs of Milarepa and the great Drukpa Kagyu yogin Gotshanga here:
Free texts
For the Nyingma side, there is the Condensed Chronicle, which chronicles the life of Padmasambhava and which can be read out as a devotional practice:
The Condensed Chronicle by Orgyan Padma

The Main Practice: Development Stage
There are two main levels of practice within the Vajra Vehicle: Development Stage and Completion Stage.

Development Stage consists of creating and then developing as a deity.  In the Nyingma Tradition, one of the most important instructions for Development Stage as a whole is called “Four Nails Pinning the Key Points”.  An excellent explanation of the entire instruction was given by Dza Patrul:
Key Issues of Visualization: The Four Nails Pinning The Life-Forces
One of the core texts of Longchen Nyingthig is a text by Jigmey Lingpa which explains the whole of deity practice within the context of innermost Dzogchen.  It also has a further explanation of the Four Nails teaching.  As Chatral Sangyay Dorje Rinpoche once said, “These two texts (Patrul’s and Jigmey Lingpa’s) are crucial for anyone doing deity practice, especially for those practising Dzogchen”:
A presentation of the Instructions of the Development Stage Deity, “A Stairway Leading to Akanishtha”
A book on Chod Severance practice, based on the core practice of Longchen Nyingthig Chod shows this particular style of deity practice:
Longchen Nyingthig Chod, Sound of Dakini Laughter

The Main Practice: Completion Stage with Signs
Completion Stage with signs is the practice of the vajra body done using the physical body.  It is also known as channels, winds, and drops practice.  It is extremely secret.  Chogling Tesar and Longchen Nyingthig texts at this level are available privately from us.

The Main Practice: Completion Stage without Signs
Completion Stage without signs is the direct practice of innate wisdom.  In the Nyingma it is Dzogchen or Great Completion practice and in the new translation schools, such as the Kagyu, it is Mahamudra.

The Main Practice: Mahamudra
The dharmakaya dakini hearing teachings are one of the fundamental teachings from which the entire Kagyu teachings derive.  This book includes the original texts of Telopa, Naropa, and Marpa that contain the very root of Kagyu lineage practice, especially teachings on Mahamudra given from Tilopa to Naropa:
Bodyless Dakini Dharma: The Dakini Hearing Lineage of the Kagyu: The Five Part Mahamudra of the Kagyus
In general, There are two main systems of Mahamudra practice in the Kagyu tradition.  The first is the graded system in which the practitioner goes step by step through the Four Yogas of Mahamudra.  The second is the sudden system in which the practitioner goes directly into the final realization, a system called Essence Mahamudra.  The early Kagyus emphasized Essence Mahamudra, though in later times it has become more common to follow the approach of the Four Yogas.  Collectively, the texts in this group show both approaches in detail.

Of all the texts available in the Collected Works of Gampopa—one of the earliest Tibetan Kagyu masters—Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche felt that the ones that were most worthwhile were the ones in which Gampopa’s private sessions with his most advanced disciples were recorded.  In these sessions, Gampopa showed Essence Mahamudra again and again.  These texts might be the very best exposition of Essence Mahamudra available in writing because they are not merely theoretical like those in Moonbeams of Mahamudra but are intensely practical and personal:
Gampopa Teaches Essence Mahamudra, Interviews with his Heart Disciples, Dusum Khyenpa and Others
Gampopa also taught the practice of Essence Mahamudra in a specific, five-part format.  This teaching spread through most Kagyu schools where it became known as “Five-part Mahamudra”.  It is frequently used nowadays as the way to teach Essence Mahamudra:
Gampopa’s Mahamudra: The Five Part Mahamudra of the Kagyus
The next book contains all the texts on Mahamudra of the fourth Drukchen of the Drukpa Kagyu, Padma Karpo, who was one of the greatest Tibetan authors.  It includes the famous Notes on Mahamudra which is widely used these days as the basis for teaching Mahamudra, including to Westerners.  It includes a particularly clear presentation of the Four Yogas of Mahamudra and their sub-sections:
Drukchen Padma Karpo’s Collected Works on Mahamudra
The second Drukchen of the Drukpa Kagyu, Gyalwang Je, wrote a book that clearly shows the view in relation to the non-dual tantra Kalachakra and how that relates to the sutra view of the Kagyus:
A Juggernaut of the Non-Dual View, Ultimate Teachings of the Second Drukchen, Gyalwang Je

The Main Practice: Great Completion
The highest level of Great Completion (Dzogchen) is called “innermost, unsurpassed” or “Nyingthig” meaning quintessential.  It has two main main practices, called “Thorough Cut (thregcho)” and “Direct Crossing (thogal)”.  We have specialized in preparing the really important texts on Thorough Cut and Direct Crossing for the sake of practitioners.

Some of the books mentioned above have a presentation that fits with the teachings of Great Completion and are an important adjunct to the main Great Completion teaching.  They are:
Six Topics That All Buddhists Learn
A Practical Guide to the Two Truths

Thorough Cut
The main way that Thorough Cut is taught in the Longchen Nyingthig transmission is through the Three Lines that Strike the Key Points teaching of Garab Dorje.  By far the most popular practical text on it is the text by Dza Patrul, one of the main early lineage-holders of the teaching.  The very best commentary on Dza Patrul’s text that we know of is one by one of the current Tibetan masters Ontrul Tenpa'i Wangchuk; it covers every single word in depth and has astounding blessings with it.  Dodrubchen Tenpa’i Nyima wrote two excellent commentaries on the Three Lines practice with clear explanations of how that leads to Direct Crossing (thogal) practice.  These four texts as a group are probably the most important resource for Thorough Cut practitioners.  Another favourite is Flight of the Garuda by Zhabkar:
The Feature of the Expert, Glorious King by Dza Patrul
About The Three Lines That Strike Key Points by Dodrupchen III
Condensed Advice on Great Completion’s Thorough Cut by Dodrupchen III
Relics of the Dharmakaya by Ontrul Tenpa'i Wangchuk
Flight of the Garuda, A Complete Explanation of Thorough Cut by Zhabkar

Following that, there are very popular, general texts on Thorough Cut.  First, there are two from Zhechen Gyaltshab IV of Zhechen Monastery, the master of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.  These are intensely practical texts:
Essential Points of Practice: A Manual of Basic Instructions on Thorough Cut
Words of the Old Dog Vijay
Then, there are two excellent general texts, also very popular.  The first is by Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje, the previous Dudjom Rinpoche.  He himself said that his disciples should keep the text nearby always.  It started as the initial talk given to a set of three-year retreatants which he later wrote into a text.  It gives an exceptionally clear presentation of what a practitioner does and is well-known for having many blessings.  The second is by Ju Mipham; it is very famous because it was written for the city-dwelling yogi or urban yogi and avoids all the complicated talk of teachings given for those living in the monastery:
Alchemy of Accomplishment by Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje
The Way of the Realized Old Dogs, Advice that Points Out the Essence of Mind, called “A Lamp That Dispels Darkness” by Ju Mipham Namgyal

After that comes a series of texts dealing with individual, crucial subjects for the practice.  First is a book of two texts by Shakya Shri.  The first text explains the topic of introduction to the nature of mind; this is a gem because this subject is rarely explained in writing.  The second text details Thorough Cut practice and also includes some instruction on inner Parting into Sides (rushen) of mind.
Peak Doorways to Emancipation; Great Completion Texts on the Introduction to the Nature of Mind and Thorough Cut from the Collected Works of Shakya Shri
Next comes a text on the method of preserving, by Mipham:
The Method of Preserving the Face of Rigpa, The Essence of Wisdom by Ju Mipham
Next comes a text on differentiations, a subject almost not written about ever.  This was taught to Lama Tony in private by Tsoknyi Rinpoche with the wish that, after being translated, it could be used by Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s students when he explained it.  It is applicable to all Thorough Cut practitioners:
Differentiating Non-Distraction and So Forth

Direct Crossing
Little is written about Direct Crossing because it is a practice that is transmitted privately and not much can be said about it in writing.  However, this short but complete text on Direct Crossing can be purchased, by those who qualify:
Key Points of Direct Crossing, called “Nectar of the Pure Part”, by Khenchen Padma Namgyal

There is also the text from the Chogling New Treasures called Kunzang Thugtig and its commentary.  The two cover the whole path of Thorough Cut and Direct Crossing.  They are available to qualified practitioners on request.

The culmination of the entire course of study, and its practise, is found in Jigmey Lingpa’s Guidebook Called “Highest Wisdom” (Triyig Yeshe Lama), which covers the entire path of Great Completion, both Thorough Cut and Direct Crossing:
A Guidebook to The Stages of Path of the Primal Guardian According to Longchen Nyingtig Great Completion

In that way, we have created an unsurpassed set of texts needed for a full program of study when travelling the path of the Vajra Vehicle, especially those needed by Dzogchen practitioners.  Books on other topics, such as instruction guides on translation, Tibetan grammar texts and explanations, and so on are also available both on the free pages and from the main page of books for sale.