From True Self to the Bare Fact of Being

Upcoming Events

Shoreline, WA ~ Dakini Mountain Fundraiser

December 15, 2019
Join us for a morning of restoration and rejuvenation. Offering a Bliss yoga class and guided meditation, followed by Golden Chai and brunch. One hundred percent of proceeds will be donated to the Buddhist Yogi's Dakini Mountain project. Creating an off-grid retreat center for the respite and refuge for anyone to discover the presence of natural peace.   $50. Space is limited to 10 participants. Contact Kundini to RSVP: or 206.588.9275
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Santa Cruz, Ca ~ Dakini Mountain Fundraiser

December 15, 2019
The Santa Cruz community of Buddhist Yogis invites you to a special fundraising event for its beautiful new retreat center, Dakini Mountain, located in the pristine, Tahoe National Forest. The evening will include [...]
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Ngakpa Seminary, Level 2

With Pema Khandro

December 18, 2019
The Ngakpa Training offers in-depth study of Vajrayana Buddhism. The five year curriculum focuses on a study of Vajrayana Buddhist history, philosophy and practice, focusing on the Inner Tantras of the Nyingma Tradition, also known as MahaYoga, AnuYoga and Dzogchen. These studies alternate with one on one dialogues with the Lama in phone classes, private […]

Solstice Celebration and Charity Benefit for Dakini Mountain

With Pema Khandro

December 22, 2019
All friends and Members of Ngakpa International are cordially invited to a Soulstice Celebration and Charity Benefit for Dakini Mountain Retreat Center - an inspirational semi-formal evening with a Webcast of Pema Khandro Rinpoche, Live Music with the songstress Marya Stark, Buddhist Art Show, and Thangka Sale brought to us from the Lotus Gallery in Nepal. General Admission: $25 - $35 VIP Admission: $54 - $108  -  Includes General Admission, plus Pre-party from 6-7pm with Tapas, Refreshments & Rare Thangka Pre-sale SCHEDULE 6pm - VIP Pre-Party 7pm - Webcast with Pema Khandro Rinpoche 8pm - Live Music with Marya Stark 9pm…
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New Years Retreat ~ Vajrasattva

January 20, 2020
Begin the New Year with a Day-long meditation retreat. You will practice Vajrasattva meditation, the practice cherished by Tibetan Buddhists for clearing past karma and restoring confidence and awakening compassion wisdom of your innermost mind. This retreat will be held in Los Angeles, Seattle, Santa Cruz, Grass Valley and Berkeley led by the Buddhist Yogi’s Sangha’s Meditation Instructors and Group Leaders [...]
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Buddhadharma quarterly is featuring an article I wrote on waking up while facing crisis.

Buddhism orients around finding freedom from suffering through changing the way we see ourselves. This is the teaching of non-self (anatman).

The idea of non-self is not just a philosophical or abstract issue. Quite practically – it could lead to seeing oneself in a way that fosters adaptability, fluidity and responsiveness.

This paradigm also represents a shift from experiencing “self” as separate from our world. For example, in one environment you may be a mother, in another a friend, in another a son, in another a business person. It is natural then to ask, which is the real you? The idea of non-self reconciles these contradictions and affirms the scope of possibilities for what we are. It implies that what we are is made up of open ground. It implies interdependence with others and our circumstances. Buddhist ideas of non-self reframe the way we see what we are so that we focus on our fluid, contextual and open-ended nature.

It would be easy to fear that non-self implies a void, being no one, or a lack of self esteem. But in Dzogchen, the great completion teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, the notion non-self is framed as a shift from conceptualizing what we are to paying attention to the experience of being. In a sense this allowing the bare fact of being be more predominant than concepts. Ideally, this is what happens in meditation, a sense of tuning into presence. Then a second key Buddhist idea becomes apparent – the notion of Buddha-nature – that at the core of every person, our basic nature, is a wakeful presence. That wakeful presence is always there but we habitually disassociate from it in favor of a getting lost in concepts, moods and unquestioned assumptions. However sometimes, life offers us moments where we can see this process with a greater perspective. These moments of lucidity are revealing. We shift from missing the forest for the trees to then seeing the process of self, mind and attention as a whole.

No where is this shift more obvious than in times of crisis. Ordinary “self” concepts fall away but there isn’t a void there. Here is an excerpt from my article –

There are times like these in our lives—such as facing death or even giving birth—when we are no longer able to manage our outer image, no longer able to suspend ourselves in pursuit of the ideal self. It’s just how it is—we’re only human beings, and in these times of crisis we just don’t have the energy to hold it all together. When things fall apart, we can only be as we are. Pretense and striving fall away, and life becomes starkly simple.

The value of such moments is this: we are shown that the game can be given up and that when it is, the emptiness that we feared, emptiness of the void, is not what is there. What is there is the bare fact of being. Simple presence remains—breathing in and out, waking up and going to sleep. The inevitability of the circumstances at hand is compelling enough that for the moment, our complexity ceases….. The contrived self has been emptied out along with contrived existence and the tiring treadmill of image maintenance that goes along with it. What remains is a new moment spontaneously meeting us again and again.

Here is the full article at Buddhadharma Quarterly

Here is the full article in Spanish – translated by Victoria Varela

Pema Khandro
Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, humanitarian, and teacher in the rare lineage of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Raised in the west, ordained in the Nyingma lineage, enthroned as a tulku and trained as an academic, Pema Khandro presents both a traditional perspective and a modern voice. Read more at: