The Apprentice Programme
The Apprentice programme is for those who seek the guidance of a Lama in their personal practice.
'The apprentice programme means that you have a relationship with a spiritual teacher who recognises your face immediately, remembers your name, knows who you are, and knows about your life and your practice. In Tibet, it was not difficult for committed practitioners to get advice and guidance from Lamas. But in the West it is rare to have a close personal connection with a spiritual teacher.' - from the Apprenticeship information.
The Aro Lamas dedicate most of their time to their apprentices - but occasionally teach at public events, in order that others may have access to their lineage. On such occasions they are happy to answer questions and provide general advice.
Apprenticeship is an altogether different mode of interaction. A Lama is a spiritual guide who: knows you personally; follows the details of your life and spiritual development; answers your questions on that basis; and, will devise your individual course of study and practice.
The relationship is warm and informal. Apprentices may communicate extensively with their Lamas by email and telephone, and meet them for personal interviews. Apprentices also interact with the Lamas in small groups, at social gatherings, spontaneous teaching occasions, and in the course of project work.
Apprentices are entitled to attend apprentice-only retreats with their Lamas, and often also with other Aro Lamas. Apprentice retreats are less structured than public retreats - but more intensive. They involve a focused sense of practice, teachings attuned to individual needs and questions, and the enjoyment of close friendships within the sangha.