Exploring Hidden Lands

Join Dr. Ian Baker for a journey through these ancient and contemporary practices, fostering a deeper understanding of human potential and the pathways to its realisation.

About This Course

This comprehensive seminar series with Dr Ian Baker delves into the profound realms of Dzogchen and Tantra, exploring both the outer and inner dimensions of spiritual pilgrimage. Across four parts, participants will journey through the hidden-lands of Beyul Pemako in the eastern Himalayas, understand the transformative power of obstacles and adversities, and discover how Dzogchen practices can enrich everyday life.

In the final words of his book, The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibets Lost Paradise, introduced by H.H. the Dalai Lama, Ian Baker writes:

“We feed on mystery, whether the enticements of unknown lands or a masked dancer revealed more perfectly by what she hides. The scrolls describing the beyul lead us similarly into wonder, for they are accounts of processes of the mind as much as in the external world. There is no real separation or boundary between ourselves and the world around us, and an ever-present wildness and radiance lies at the heart of our tamest vistas.”

Course Format

Parts I: Outer and Inner Pilgrimage in Dzogchen Tantra

In this seminar Ian Baker will speak about his explorations of Beyul Pemako, ‘the Hidden-Land Arrayed Like Lotuses’, in the eastern Himalayas, from the perspective of Dzogchen and Tantra, and the ways in which primal nature can support spiritual awakening and the unfolding of our innermost potential.

Beyul refer to secret or hidden dimensions of nature and paradisiacal realms in remote parts of Tibet and the Himalayas described by Padmasambhava in revealed scrolls. Beyul have outer, inner, secret and ultimately secret dimensions, corresponding to levels of initiation in the Buddhist Tantras.

Guided on his own journeys to hidden-lands by some of of the greatest Dzogchen masters of the 20th century, Ian will share their insights into how obstacles and adversities engage deeper levels of our being, and transform experience.

Discussion periods will further explore Dzogchen as an existential disposition that can enrich our own and others’ lives beyond the limits of formal practice.

The Tibetan tradition of hidden-lands will also be explored in terms of the ways in which we relate to our inner and outer environment, as well as contemporary approaches to spiritual practice, education, and inquiry in an increasingly insecure world.

Part II: Outer and Inner Pilgrimage in Dzogchen Tantra (continued)

This seminar will go into greater depth in regard to the kind of practices that Tibetan adepts have undertaken on their journeys into inter-worlds of spirit and matter, based on the non-dual perspective of Dzogchen (Ati Yoga) and imaginal and embodied practices (Maha Yoga; Anu Yoga) of Vajrayāna.

With reference to Pemako-related guidebooks (neyig) and spiritual biographies (namthar), the seminar will specifically explore the interconnected nature of the Four Mudras (catumudrā) as practices that expand awareness and transform human experience, both individually and collectively.

Specific techniques, such as the transpersonal integration of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ elements, will be discussed in the context of ‘taking nature as the path’.

Part III: Approaching the Great Perfection

Drawing both on textual sources and contemporary scientific research, this seminar will explore the relationship between tantric ‘completion stage’ practices, such as Tummo, and the resultant ‘great perfection’ stage of Dzogchen / Mahamudrā, in the realisation of altruistic, self-transcendent states of awareness and action, as well as enhanced health and vitality (as measured, for example, by increased blood flow to the brain). Attention will be given to analogous methodologies in ancient Greece, as well as contemporary adaptations, towards a deeper, cross-cultural, interdisciplinary understanding of human potential and the methods by which it can be realised.

Part IV: Nourishing the Subtle Body 

The Tantra and Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism refer to Chulen (Sanskrit: rasayāna) as ingestible substances that promote health and longevity while aiding spiritual practice and realization.

Beginning with a review of the category of herbal medicine (auṣadhi) in Patañjali’s Yogasūtra as a support for yogic ‘accomplishment’ (siddhi), this seminar will explore the historical and contemporary use of medicinally active substances and formulations (chudlen, rasayāna) for opening subtle energy channels (nadi), nourishing the life force, and supporting contemplative practices based on expanded perception, insight, and awareness.

Suggested Reading:
The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, pp. 193-194, 217, 256-257, 277, 299-300, 458, 466;
Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices, pp. 229-241.


What's Included

The Teacher

Dr. Ian Baker is a distinguished anthropologist and cultural historian with advanced degrees from the University of Oxford and the University of Strathclyde. Recognized by National Geographic as one of seven u2018Explorers for the Millennium,u2019 he has conducted extensive field research in Tibet’s Tsangpo Gorge region, specifically in Beyul Pemaku00f6, the ‘hidden land arrayed like lotuses.’

Baker has authored seven critically acclaimed books on Himalayan and Tibetan cultural history, environment, art, and medicine, and contributed to various academic publications on subjects like yoga, sacred geography, and entheogenic substance use in Buddhism. Having studied under prominent Tibetan Buddhist luminaries, such as Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche, Dudjom Jigdral Dorje Rinpoche, and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, he also co-founded The Vajra Path with Dr. Nida Chenagtsang. This platform is dedicated to presenting Vajrayu0101na Buddhism in the contemporary world, merging ancient wisdom with modern perspectives.

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