Ancient Wisdom Engaged

Introduction to Vajrayana Practice, Personal Leadership, and Healthy Community

November 2020 – 2021

Modern life is a tide of input, drawing us deeper into this collective dream we call “Samsara”—an increasingly distracted life. Yet neuroscientist Richard Davidson says: “A distracted mind is an unhappy mind.”

The practices of the Namchak lineage, along with The Academy of Love and Learning’s “Learning as a Practice” help us to wake up from our dream.

We then can live a more happy, meaningful life—the life that we came here to live.

In November 2020, Namchak will launch year one of the Ancient Wisdom Engaged (AWE) program. This multi-year, non-residential study program offers students an introduction to the Vajrayana path of Tibetan Buddhism and to a unique form of personal leadership.

Designed around the Three Jewels of Tibetan Buddhism, the AWE program will give you experiences and tools so you can progress on your journey home to who you truly are.

The Three Jewels—Buddha (the practices), Dharma (the context for the practices), and Sangha (the community)— are equally important in creating harmonious inner and outer lives. However, in the West, to our detriment, we have historically overlooked the importance of skillfully being in relationship with others and building healthy communities.

Together, these Three Jewels transform both the inner and outer experience of life. By taking part in this  program, you will emerge with a deeper understanding of yourself along with tools you can use to engage in healthy community.

AWE Pathway

The AWE program provides an opportunity to join a small group of other committed students embarking on the Vajrayana path of Tibetan Buddhist practice, gaining tools to cultivate greater wisdom and compassion. This three-year, non-residential program will take you from foundational Buddhist practices through the Ngöndro (also known as the Preliminary Practices). The Tibetan methods woven with personal leadership skills from the Academy for the Love of Learning, aim to strengthen your practice in a supportive community—leading to greater awareness and skill in navigating life’s challenges. 

In the first year of the program students will:

  • Study the Three Jewels of Tibetan Buddhist practice
  • Learn foundational Tibetan Buddhist practices of Shamata, Tonglen, and Vipassana. 
  • Expand capacities for The Four Boundless Qualities: Compassion, Loving Kindness, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity. 
  • Cultivate Engaged Awareness in ActionSM, develop personal leadership skills, and learn to authentically connect with those around us.

In the second year, you will begin the preliminary practice of the Ngöndro, completing in year three of the program.

Path of Awakening

Participation in the first year of the program will prepare you to potentially join the second year of the AWE class in 2021, mentor Learning Circles in your area, engage in teacher training, and possibly work or volunteer with Namchak on an ongoing basis. While there is no guarantee that completion of the first year program will provide admission to the second year program, the first year program is highly recommended for acceptance into the second year program. Those who chose not to continue with the second year program may be offered other practice alternatives.

Your guides for the course: 

Namchak Khen Rinpoche and Lama Tsomo of the Namchak Foundation will lead the Buddha and Dharma work, sharing time-tested practices to help bring students out of contracted states of confusion and into ever-larger experiences of their true nature and of wholeness.

Aaron Stern, president and founder of the Academy for the Love of Learning, and his team will lead the Sangha element, teaching ways to integrate and sustain internal experiences using the Academy’s transformative “Learning as a Practice” approach. These practices will help you stay open as your internal identity shifts, creating inner fluidity and the ability to forge new and healthy patterns in relationships.

Awe Teachers

AWE Teachers (clockwise): Tulku Sangak* Rinpoche, Khen Rinpoche, Aaron Stern, and Lama Tsomo.

“Inner work goes hand-in-hand with outer work to create something powerful that can manifest in the world.” – Lama Tsomo

In the Ancient Wisdom Engaged Program you will:

  • Join an inspiring community of like-minded students engaged in personal and social change
  • Learn time-tested and science-backed Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices that you can use to decrease your stress, increase your focus, and improve your overall physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being
  • Be supported in launching a Learning Circle to explore shared learning & practice, and cultivate authentic, satisfying friendships that can last a lifetime
  • Develop foundational life and leadership skills for creating personal, interpersonal, and social change
  • Receive direct guidance and mentoring from Tibetan and Western experts
  • Make a unique contribution to ending the suffering of our interconnected challenges and create a world that works for all

Who Should Apply

This program is designed for those with an established daily meditation practice. We also ask that you complete the Always Smiling eCourses (either prior to or at the beginning of the program), commit to attending six of eight retreats that compose the Namchak annual program calendar.

Additional criteria to consider:

  • You have a commitment to diversity, equity, belonging, and team collaboration
  • You have an ability to commit an average of 6 hours a week to the activities of the AWE program; to attend our launch retreat this November, to participate in monthly cohort calls, and attend the weekend retreats that constitute this program.
  • You have an interest in developing personal and community leadership skills
  • You have curiosity or commitment to social justice work (on any scale)
  • You have a dedicated interest in meditation and daily personal practice
  • You have a willingness to learn & grow in new ways

At the heart of the program

The curriculum for the AWE program is a dynamic blend of ancient and modern wisdom, tools and practices. In addition to the Three Jewels of Tibetan Buddhism, our “personal, community, world” framework creates a holistic model for personal leadership and social change designed to meet the needs of the twenty-first century.

The framework at the heart of our program focuses on:

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Self-Awareness * Compassion  *Inquiry * Personal Vision & Values     * Critical Thinking * Mindfulness * Empathy  *Emotional Intelligence * Exploring One’s Life Purpose * Healthy Living, Self-Care & Well-Being Practices



Shared Leadership * Group Facilitation * Conflict Resolution * Effective Communication * Giving & Receiving Feedback * Working Skillfully With Projections * Anti-Oppression & Collective Liberation * Generating Collective Wisdom * Collaboration & Team Building

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Community Organizing * Outreach & Event Planning * Global Citizenship * Ecological Awareness * Systems Thinking * Social Networking * Creative Problem-Solving * Goal-Setting & Project Planning * Collective Impact * Dreaming Up The New Paradigm

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Program Elements

The Ancient Wisdom Engaged program is structured around the following program elements:

weekend retreats

Weekend Retreats

Retreats will take place with Namchak Khen Rinpoche, Lama Tsomo, and Aaron Stern. Occasional teachings will be offered by Tulku Sangak Rinpoche . All retreats will be held on Friday night, Saturdays and Sundays and will offered via Zoom/

mentoring calls

Mentoring Calls

Mentoring or coaching calls with Lama Tsomo and Aaron Stern are an integral part of the program. Students receive personal attention from Lama Tsomo and Aaron Stern, to discuss their practice, their lives, and the relationship between the two.

healthy sangha

Healthy Sangha

Personal leadership is a key aspect of this program. Leadership training and unique activities to foster self- awareness will be offered by Aaron Stern, founder of the Academy for the Love of Learning and their Leading By Being Foundation Programs.

coaching call

Personal Retreat

While consistent daily practice is key to seeing the benefits of meditation so is full immersion—otherwise known as retreat. To this end, you will be asked to take at least 10 days of personal retreat over the course of the program. Namchak teachers will guide you in preparing and structuring your retreat. Please note, the 10 days do not need to be consecutive and can be arranged to fit your schedule!

learning circles

Learning Circles

When we explore meditation in community, it becomes a richer experience. We keep coming back to the group to feel the deep connection and meaning. At Namchak we seek to provide Learning Circles with support and tools to create truly fruitful learning environments, apply spiritual insight in a group-oriented, practical way, and ultimately make the world a better place.

daily practice

Daily Practice

In order to fully integrate the lessons from the program, daily practice and reflection will be essential. The expectation is a minimum of 30 minutes of daily practice. This time will build your skills and help you bring your practice into the world around you. There will be times when reading or other homework is assigned in addition to your daily meditation practice.

“All learning happens in relationship.” – Aaron Stern


Tuition includes: access to the online learning and community portal; coursework; video, audio and written lesson; admission to all in-person retreats or livestream/on-demand access to retreats; monthly group mentor sessions; and administrative support.

It is our intention that no one is turned away from the program due to lack of financing.  If the cost of the program remains out of reach, please reach out to [email protected] to discuss payment plans or additional options. 

What’s not included in tuition: lodging, meals, and transportation for in-person events*; required books from required or optional reading list (text books).

*all programming will be online through Spring 2021

There are three registration categories available for the year-long program:

  • Supported – $650.00 – For those with limited financial resources who will benefit from participating in the AWE program. This reduced fee will be supplemented by the community.
  • Suggested – $950.00 – For those with sufficient financial resources who can pay fair value for the experience.
  • Sponsored – $1250.00 – For those with the financial resources and the desire to support access for others. Your fees, in excess of the actual cost of offering the AWE program, will be used to provide scholarships to those who cannot afford the full program cost.

“It’s time for greatness — not for greed. It’s a time for idealism — not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.” – Marian Wright Edelman


Applications for the 2020 – 2021 Ancient Wisdom Engaged program will be open until October 15th 2020.

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* Sometimes spelled “Sang-Ngag”