November 4, 2012

Margha Program Overview

Registration for the Margha Program in 2018 will open in early November. Check back later for more details or contact the Margha Coordinator margha@naturaldharma.org.

Current Margha program participants can access the Margha Program Resources:

About

Margha means “path” in Sanskrit and refers to the path to enlightenment envisioned as a process of deep, gradual and individualized development. The Margha Program—in the spirit of its name—is a path-based curriculum that provides an opportunity for students to train thoroughly and deeply in a variety of meditative practices, in a way that is flexible and recognizes the uniqueness of individual students.

The nonsectarian Margha Program is modeled after traditional Tibetan Buddhist curriculum and alternates year to year between practices of “Bodhicitta” and “Natural Meditation.” Lama Willa, who is trained in the Kagyu, Shangpa and Nyingma lineages, continues to work closely with a number of students to adapt these practices for Americans.

Participation in the Margha Program includes retreats, monthly practice groups, selected readings, as well as mentoring relationships with associate teachers and practice-leaders. Registration is renewable yearly each Fall. Full completion of any one annual segment of the Margha Program results in a Certificate of Completion and may serve to fulfill prerequisites for specific programs, retreats and practice-leader training.

Margha 2017

The Margha program content alternates year-to-year between “Natural Meditation” and “Bodhicitta”, which may be completed in any order. Some participants choose to work with each set of practices for multiple years.

The 2017 Margha Program focuses on Natural Meditation: the practices of Shamatha, Vipassana and Open Awareness as transmitted in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. These practices take participants on an experiential journey to discover and deepen their relationship with the nature of mind. The alternate year’s program will focus on the Bodhicitta practices of loving kindness and compassion, including Lojong. Participants learn a series of contemplative practices to deepen in love, self-compassion, compassion for others, wisdom, forgiveness, sympathetic joy and equanimity. The curriculum, a thorough distillation of traditional Tibetan Buddhist training, was created jointly by Lama Willa Miller and Lama John Makransky for the students of Natural Dharma Fellowship, with the intent to support participants to build a strong foundation for a life of spiritual practice. It is supported and transmitted by these guiding teachers, as well as a circle of dedicated Mitras (mentors) well-trained in these practices.

The yearly program begins each December with a Welcome and Orientation Meeting. The “kickoff” for the Margha teachings happens at the NDF January retreat which students participate in either onsite, via live-stream, or later by listening to audio downloads of selected teachings. It is strongly recommended that Margha students attend at least one retreat a year onsite.

Mitras and Monthly Groups and other Resources

Each Margha student is assigned a Mitra (Dharma Friend/Mentor) and a Margha group. Most groups have 1-2 Mitras and a small group of participants. During monthly sessions, the Mitras offer teachings and guided meditations, provide support and answer questions related to the Margha practices. Also, students offer invaluable support to each other as they explore the practices and teachings together. As a Margha Student, you have access to curriculum-specific resources on the NDF website, including reading materials and audio-tapes of teachings. A suggested reading list is also provided to complement the teachings. You will meet three times a year for individual interviews with your Mitra.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can participate?

Margha is open to anyone, beginners and seasoned practitioners alike, who has made a connection with Lama Willa or other teachers through Natural Dharma Fellowship and who wishes to pursue the teachings and a commitment to practice at a deeper level.

Q: Where is the Margha Program located?

Margha practices are introduced by Lama Willa Miller and other teachers during the week-long retreats in January and July, held at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH, and by Mitras during monthly meetings. For 2017, there are groups located in Portland/Yarmouth, ME; Newton, MA; Springfield/Sunapee, NH; Cambridge, MA; North Andover/Andover, MA; Philadelphia, PA; and two Remote Groups that meet via Zoom (like Skype).

Q: What will be expected of me as a participant?

  • Daily-ish practice, approximately 20 minutes 5 times per week.
  • Required readings
  • Attendance at most monthly meetings. Your participation in monthly meetings is a powerful and integral part of your own experience in the Margha Program and benefits your fellow group members as well.
  • Participation in the January and July week-long retreats, either onsite (standard retreat fees apply), or via live-stream video or audio download.

Q: What dates and time frames should I be aware of?

  • Registration for each year’s Margha Program occurs in the Fall.
  • Monthly meetings are December through October, with the exception of January and July when retreats are taking place.
  • Graduation Ceremony is in early November.
  • Registration for retreats begins 6 months in advance, and they often fill up immediately.