Feb 26

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council Annual Update

As we present you with our annual Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council Update, we’re excited to share progress to help Tara Mandala be a welcoming place of practice where hearts are opening, minds are widening, and awareness is rising. 


As the Tara Mandala EDI Council, we appreciate that deep and meaningful change takes time. It’s hard work, in an environment that has historically had challenges. That’s why our intention is to be as thoughtful and caring as possible and not merely check the boxes or rush through a long list of initiatives. Instead, we’re building a good foundation for our community rooted in Buddhist values of compassion, understanding, and respect. Each step we take as a Council reflects our unwavering dedication to fostering a culture where all individuals who come to practice and work at Tara Mandala feel seen, heard, and valued.


It’s exciting for us to note that in 2023, the presence of equity, diversity, and inclusion in our day-to-day interactions and practices at Tara Mandala became even more visible. From the language we use to the programs we offer, we took significant steps to actively integrate EDI principles into every aspect of our community life.


Even so, we recognize that cultural shifts are inherently complex and sometimes slow to see. We understand that welcoming diversity goes beyond mere acknowledgment of the problems or a wish to solve them; it requires us to do the difficult ground-work of examining our––conscious or unconscious––biases, challenging inescapable systemic barriers, and cultivating an environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging. The good news is that as a community we are up to the challenge!


So, as we delve into our annual overview and share a few highlights from this last year, let us reflect on what it truly means to welcome others with wide-open hearts and minds. Let us recommit ourselves to take up the discomfort of change and growth and celebrate the beauty of our different paths and experiences. Together, we continue to strive towards a future where EDI is not just a goal or a plan but a nourishing and supportive lived reality for all of us who practice together at Tara Mandala.



2023 saw Tara Mandala launch a groundbreaking project with the birth of our very first Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Course, designed and led by the amazing Lopön Karla Jackson-Brewer. This live online course isn’t just a run-of-the-mill training—it is a dynamic exploration of race, history,

and language, and navigating the ins and outs of challenges such as systemic oppression, racist bias, and microaggression in our daily lives.


Our Tara Mandala staff, board members, and teachers participated enthusiastically in the two eight-week sessions offered in 2023. Guided by Lopön Karla, we jumped into meaningful discussions, breakout rooms, and role-playing to deepen our understanding of these crucial issues. With each week’s reflections, journaling, and thought-provoking readings, we all emerged with new insights and perspectives.


But that’s not all—due to the overwhelmingly positive response, we decided to take things up a notch and create a new Tara Mandala public program offering: Transforming Racism: An Inner Journey to Wholeness through Cultural Literacy & Tantric Practice. Catchy, right? The first public session with Lopön Karla kicked off on February 6th, and the energy was powerful! Participants were excited to begin their journey by co-creating agreements that will foster a safe and supportive space for this deeply transformative work. 


Of course, we’ve just launched our first public EDI course, but we want to pause and acknowledge the significance of this program being developed and offered by Tara Mandala. In a world where EDI efforts are under attack and facing setbacks everywhere, we are committed to leading by example and doing the work to help our community be of the greatest benefit to the world. By weaving together EDI principles with the timeless wisdom of Buddhist teachings, we’re supporting our teachers and staff––and now the wider Buddhist Sangha––to walk a shared path towards a more awake and compassionate world.


Whether you’re a seasoned Vajrayana practitioner or just dipping your toes into the waters of mindfulness, we invite you to enroll in the upcoming session of Transforming Racism and join us as we grow and learn and heal together.


Photo credit: Josh Brownlee

In 2023, the Tara Mandala EDI Council focused its attention on bringing more awareness to the sacred Land of Tara Mandala and created a Land Acknowledgment that is posted on our website here


As we move deeply into our equity, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) work, we were called to explicitly honor the sacred Land upon which our community lives and practices. Today, we invite you to join us in a moment of recognition and reflection as we share

with you our Land Acknowledgment—an expression of our commitment to fostering deeper awareness and respect for the ancestral grounds of Tara Mandala. 


In crafting this acknowledgment, we have sought to weave together threads of history, culture, and spirituality, acknowledging the Indigenous peoples who have stewarded this land for generations. It is a gesture of humility, gratitude, and solidarity—a pledge to honor the past, engage with the present, and cultivate a future rooted in justice, peace, and harmony.


As you journey through these words, we invite you to allow yourself to feel the whispers of the land echoing through your being. May we be inspired to practice with a deeper sense of reverence, to listen with an open heart, and to stand in solidarity with all beings who call the sacred place of Tara Mandala home.

Land Acknowledgment:


Honoring the Indigenous Ancestors of the Sacred Land of Tara Mandala


Tara Mandala is located on ancestral Ute and Pueblo land in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado. For generations, the people of the Ute and Pueblo Nations have resided on this sacred land, forming a deep and symbiotic connection with the natural living ecosystem of rivers, mountains, canyons, lakes, and forests.


Tara Mandala is committed to recognizing the long history of the Ute and Pueblo Tribes, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Mountain Ute Tribe, and all Ute, Diné, Apache, and Pueblo tribal communities whose ancestral roots are intertwined across this region. We acknowledge that centuries of subjugation, physical and psychological violence, occupation, and forced removal have caused profound harm to the Ute and Pueblo people, as well as to Indigenous communities around the world. 


We invite you to join the Tara Mandala Sangha in our aspiration to foster a world where the rights, cultures, and voices of Indigenous peoples are remembered, respected, valued, and uplifted. We honor the resilience, strength, and cultural heritage of the Ute and Pueblo Nations, and are grateful for their teachings, ceremonies, and ways of being that inform and enrich our Buddhist understanding of interconnectedness, spiritual practice, and reverence for the Earth.

Since adopting this Land Acknowledgment, the EDI Council has been working on ways to integrate our intention to bring the simple yet profound act of acknowledging the land that we sit upon more fully into our Buddhist practice. Whether you’re sitting in the Tara Mandala temple or your meditation space at home, we want to encourage an activation of the boundless potential for healing and transformation that lies within each of us when we acknowledge a deep sense of connection and interdependence in 

 this way. We invite you to integrate this intention into your own practice by locating yourselves similarly on your own ancestral lands. Try taking time in your practice to recognize local indigenous groups and acknowledge the causes and conditions that are supporting you and your practice.

We’re also encouraging our teachers to integrate this practice into their retreats and teaching settings. You may begin to notice how they’re starting to experiment with their own unique ways of offering meaningful land acknowledgments in various practice settings. We’ve drafted a resource document to be shared with our Sangha leaders, Teachers, and Staff to assist with the crafting of simple heartfelt messages. Over time, these materials and training supports will be integrated into our Teacher Training Program. 


The Land Acknowledgement is one small step towards a deeper connection with the local indigenous communities living on their ancestral lands near Tara Mandala. In the future, the EDI Council hopes to create the conditions for local Native American elders to be part of our rituals on the land and to offer Tara Mandala as a place where their voices can be heard. In 2023, the Council facilitated a donation to our local Archuleta County food bank this year as a small gesture towards our intention to grow our connections with the local community. 


Going forward, we are committed to exploring more ways to be deeply thoughtful and caring stewards of the sacred Tara Mandala land. We will continue to share updates as our activities develop further. 


Next, if you haven’t already heard, we’d like to introduce you to the Thousand Arms Sangha, our newest addition to Tara Mandala’s rich tapestry of Sangha and heartfelt practice connection.


Launched in 2023, the Thousand Arms Sangha is a beacon of light for LGBTQIA+ practitioners within our global, network-connected Tara Mandala family. Every second Monday of the month, we come together in a sacred space to meditate, share our experiences as practitioners, and simply be together.


The magic of the Thousand Arms Sangha isn’t in what they do or achieve, it’s in the simple act of being together. In a world that often demands so much of us, the Thousand Arms Sangha offers a sanctuary where there are no expectations, no judgments, just pure, unfiltered community.

The sense of belonging and connection practitioners find in this space is deeply nourishing. There is nothing to learn, nothing to accomplish, no one to be. It is just a group of people coming together and being in a community with each other. 


As we look ahead to the coming year, our hearts are brimming with excitement and anticipation for the Thousand Arms Sangha. We’re eager to see how gathering regularly to practice can help small groups of people from various parts of the globe deepen their connections, broaden their horizons, and continue weaving the threads of love and acceptance that help to connect instead of separate.


Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or just beginning your journey, we invite you to check out the Thousand Arms Sangha. All LGBTQIA+ identified individuals are welcome—we’re saving a spot just for you!


Here’s to another year of growth, love, and community. We can’t wait to see what 2024 holds for us all. Until then, may your hearts be filled with peace, your spirits with joy, and your journey with endless possibilities. See you soon! 🌈💖


Photo credit: Deborah Howe

2023 also saw the continuation of the monthly meditation sessions for the BBAIPOC community.  Each month, the BBAIPOC group, led by Lopön Karla Jackson-Brewer, explores a particular theme that may reflect the impact of major trends, conflicts in the world, and the suffering we experience personally and see in the world.  

For example, throughout the year, the group has called upon Tara in her many manifestations, to help guide the members in taking their practices off the 

cushion and having an energetic impact on the world. They have also worked with Feeding Your Demons®, to help move the blocks that arise in their lives. The BBAIPOC group will continue to meet in 2024 and explore how the practice of wisdom and compassion can support all of us in transforming our obstacles into enlightenment.


No matter what your background with Tara Mandala has been or how much experience you may have in Buddhist practice, we wholeheartedly invite you to be part of the Tara Mandala journey toward greater empowerment, wholeness, and awakening through our commitment to greater equity, diversity, and inclusion in our Sangha. 


As we step into the stream of Tara Mandala’s 30th year and remain committed to supporting the

ongoing growth and development of our Sangha, the EDI Council is involved in rich discussions and actively moving projects forward in the following areas: 



  • – Integration of the EDI and Land Acknowledgment statements into the Tara Mandala Teacher Training Program
  • – Honoring and Celebrating diversity: Bringing new teachers and voices to Tara Mandala
  • – Establishing local contact and relationships with indigenous elders
  • – Reenvisioning and offering SAWS as an online program
  • – Establishing a fund for supporting EDI initiatives
  • – Ensuring the strength of the EDI Scholarship Fund


Yours in Dharma,

The Tara Mandala EDI Council

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