Opening the Heart of Compassion – 2020
Aug 04

Opening the Heart of Compassion – 2020

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Thank you for joining us on this powerful inner journey to learn and embody the way of the Bodhisattva. 

A Bodhisattva is one who awakens, not only for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of others. The Mahāyāna (Great Vehicle) teachings emphasize the cultivation of compassion and wisdom as a way to walk the path with intelligence and care. We will explore the key historical developments that took place during this great period of development in Buddhist thought, such as the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras, Madhyamaka and Yogācāra philosophies, the concept of Buddha Nature, and the greater emphasis on compassionate motivation.  Meditations on the Four Immeasurables, including Tonglen, and Prajñāpāramitā (Transcendent Wisdom) will also be taught.

May it benefit you and all beings!


This 8-week online course will consist of a balance of lectures, discussion, study and practice so that the teachings can become integrated into your body, mind and spirit. You should find everything you need to orient yourself on this page.  Please read through to the bottom so that you don’t miss anything.

Note:  The course technically begins with the “Downloads” Section. Begin with that page and be sure to mark it “complete” (red button at the bottom of the page) or you will not be allowed to proceed to the next section.


Weekly Lessons:

  • Two-hour lecture/webcast – Saturdays with Lopӧn Chandra
    • Dates: August 8,15,22,29 – Break Week – September 12,19,26, & Oct 3
    • Time: 10am-12pm PT (california)
      • Find local time here
    • Zoom Link
      • Meeting ID: 896 5492 9866
      • Password: 957338
    • NOTE:  Webcasts will be posted to the website by end of Monday following each webcast.


Weekly Meditation Practice (in person attendance required) – choose one of the following

  • Wednesdays 5 pm to 7 pm Pacific Time with Assistant Teacher Ven. Dr. Myodo Jabo
    • Dates: Aug. 12, 19, 26, Sept. 2 – Break – Sept 16, 23, 30, Oct. 7
    • Zoom Link – Same as above
  • Thursdays 10 am to 12 pm Pacific Time with Lopӧn Chandra
    • Dates: Aug. 13, 20, 27, Sept. 3 – Break – Sept 17, 24, Oct. 1, 8
    • Zoom Link – same as above


Exam:   An optional oral exam will be given at the end of the retreat to those who wish to use the course to toward fulfilling a requirement in one of Tara Mandala’s long-term programs. 


Opportunity to take Bodhisattva Vows with Lama Tsultrim:  (for OHC students only) This online ceremony is offered to individuals who have already taken Refuge Vows (one year or more ago) with any teacher.  You will have a brief personal interview with Lama Tsultrim before a live ceremony on September 26, where you will take your vow.  Note: This is not a public event. Please do not share.
  • Register Here


Getting Started

Structure of the Site:  To navigate the weekly modules, scroll down to the ‘Course Content’ table below and select your desired week as they become available. Please remember to click the “mark as complete” text at the bottom of each page or you will not be given access to the following topic or week. You are free to return to any topic, at any time.


Downloads:  All worksheets or audio files will be available as downloads, in the week where they are introduced and will be added week by week to the “Downloads” section as well.


Discussion Forum:  At the bottom of every weekly overview page, you will find a “Comments” section where our teachers will post questions to help deepen your reflections. You can also use the space to ask questions and share your experience of that week’s lesson.  This section is where we can create a sense of community, connection and deepen our learning.  

Please jump in by sharing your intention for this course below!


  1. Ranna McNeil
    October 27, 2020 at 9:11 am · Reply


  2. Krista MacDonald
    October 5, 2020 at 7:55 am · Reply

    Hi Catherine, Carmen and all. Here is a poem I found that resonated with me. I thought I would offer it to you all. With love and respect, Krista

    by Marie Howe

    (after Stephen Hawking)

    Do you sometimes want to wake up to the singularity
    we once were?

    so compact nobody
    needed a bed, or food or money —

    nobody hiding in the school bathroom
    or home alone

    pulling open the drawer
    where the pills are kept.

    For every atom belonging to me as good
    Belongs to you. Remember?

    There was no Nature. No
    them. No tests

    to determine if the elephant
    grieves her calf or if

    the coral reef feels pain. Trashed
    oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;

    would that we could wake up to what we were
    — when we were ocean and before that

    to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was
    liquid and stars were space and space was not

    at all — nothing

    before we came to believe humans were so important
    before this awful loneliness.

    Can molecules recall it?
    what once was? before anything happened?

    No I, no We, no one. No was
    No verb no noun
    only a tiny tiny dot brimming with

    is is is is is

    All everything home

  3. Catherine Bell
    October 2, 2020 at 9:25 am · Reply


    Carmen, that was a gorgeous poem. I felt it. Here is something inspired by our practice this Wednesday night and the Rocky Mountains.

    Sit with soul

    Turquoise water and intoxicating bright yellow sun
    Deeply engraved twisted rocky river structures
    Creepy guy who won’t leave me alone, who’s stares make me cringe with disgust, reminding me it still isn’t safe for women to walk alone many places
    Grey spike castle mountain that beckons a salute
    Sand hoodoos that remind of the mystery of ancient times
    Alone in an amphitheater with butterflies as the play
    Grace in the voice on the telephone who has an incredible story to tell
    Pages of a book flip on the deep responsibility we all have
    Becoming aware of the varied fields we play in
    What we see, feel, smell, taste, hear, and think we become in that moment.
    Choose your perspective on the tempting mountain highs, the tough mid points, and tender valleys
    I sit. I sit with soul.

  4. Carmen
    August 24, 2020 at 2:57 pm · Reply

    I did not see a forum at the bottom of this week’s page. Here is a doha I wrote.


    Kind to offer a meal that took so long to arrive
    Nourishing to perceive the hands providing
    Witnessing such a gift like spring water that revives
    Sharing feasts of care endless and abiding

    Vulnerable as I am seen by you without screen
    This is something tender that needs protection
    And you kept my heart safe by promise and listening
    Shared moment of peaceful breath is perfection

    Without fear in moments there flowed energy between
    Wishing to water your hidden seeds in love
    If ever you have felt loved less, grief, lonely, or pain
    I’ll be here to hold you as you let go of

    Let me be your mirror, an avatar relaying your light
    Can you see your true nature just like I do?
    I’ll remind you with words by day and silence at night
    ‘Til we all realize that truly I am you

  5. Ahmee Hewitt
    August 15, 2020 at 3:11 pm · Reply

    I’ve been searching for the “discussion forum”. Is this it? If not, where can I find it? Thanks for any clarification!

    • Isabelle - Online Programs Tara Mandala
      August 15, 2020 at 5:35 pm · Reply

      This is it Ahmee… we are exploring forums… but for now, it’s here. There will be one at the bottom of each weekly overview page.
      Lopon Chandra will generally give some questions for reflections each week.

  6. Michelle Johnson
    August 15, 2020 at 9:51 am · Reply

    I am using the opportunity of the age of Covid to deepen my understanding and practice of the principles compassion and loving kindness. I believe that the practice of Loving Kindness is the essential practice to become for a Bodhi Sattva and I truly wish to become one, in order to bring enlightenment to the whole world.

  7. Helen Selmeczy
    August 11, 2020 at 5:59 pm · Reply

    My intention for this course is to absolutely saturate myself with these teachings. To learn and experience so I can be of benefit to myself and others to the most of my ability. These teachings have such a beautiful, powerful effect on me and are now my whole life. Thank you with my whole being for making these available to everyone.

  8. Teri Fogel
    August 10, 2020 at 12:28 pm · Reply

    My intention with my course is to deepen my vows to be a bodhisattva in this life to benefit myself and every other living being! I so wish to help and be that light for my family and everyone really. ❤️ Teri

  9. Kate
    August 10, 2020 at 12:20 pm · Reply

    My intention in this class is to practice and cultivate a heart-felt connection with all beings constantly in this life. I work alone a lot, from home, but a bit distanced from my husband and kids. When I walk in the house, no matter what is happening, I don’t want to feel slammed and overwhelmed, I want to feel embracing warmth and bring that with me wherever I go, even during this pandemic and its many challenges, even if a child is crying and angry over their homework and a dog just pooped in the house; and at work with others, even when there is danger or obstacles to growth or failures; and in the community as we nurture justice, compassion, and understanding and when things don’t go our way. Whatever happens, we can calmly embrace it with love and acceptance and just do what needs to be done. I want to be that consistently with compassion for myself and others; and as I’m getting older I want to model that more and more for others to help nurture a family and community built on love and kindness that lives well into the future, long after I’m gone and forgotten.

  10. Kate Curtis-McLane
    August 10, 2020 at 11:45 am · Reply

    I have taken (and LOVED) the class on the foundational teachings (“Sutrayana” or “Walking the buddha’s Path”) with Polly, and the Vajrayana class with Lopon Charlotte. I look forward to filling in the time period that comes between those two. Although we need to go beyond academic learning, a basic understanding of the history and philosophy of Buddhism seems to me to be a very useful tool, and I am super-psyched to be able to study this piece of it with Lopon Chandra. Emptiness and compassion have been cornerstones of my adult life, but I mess up all the time – with compassion for others, and especially with compassion for myself. So my goal is to learn to be more selfish. (I can’t believe I said that in a Buddhist class!)

  11. Carmen
    August 8, 2020 at 10:35 am · Reply

    My intention for the course is to understand how to practice being more compassionate with myself and others. I am the happiest and most at ease when I can really have compassion for myself and that opens my heart to be more available to everything else.

  12. Keelin Curran
    August 7, 2020 at 12:39 pm · Reply

    My intention is to open my heart to compassion and cultivate wisdom. To empathize with those who are suffering and reduce suffering. To better understand and learn the Mahayana teachings. Thank you for this opportunity to do so.

    • Isabelle - Online Programs Tara Mandala
      August 7, 2020 at 7:00 pm · Reply

      Welcome Keelin! Happy to have you with us.

    • Peter Crane
      August 9, 2020 at 8:35 pm · Reply

      So happy that this is being offered. Thank you. My intention is to learn the methods to be able to truly and completely help others and myself at the same time, especially now with chaos seemingly on the rise. And to get a better grasp on the initial Mahayana way of practice. Also very excited to delve into the reading list.❤️😄

  13. Linda Arcuri
    August 7, 2020 at 9:39 am · Reply

    I am thankful for the opportunity to deepen my commitment to Buddhism by learning more about the Bodhisattva path. I look forward to studying and practicing with fellow sangha members, and to hopefully bringing the teachings into my life in increasing ways.🙏

  14. Michael Friedlander
    August 5, 2020 at 5:44 pm · Reply

    My intention for this course is to improve how I react and interact with others. The Buddhist teachings seem to imply that an ‘other’ does not really exist and so it should be intuitive to maintain compassion and freedom from divisive thoughts but, I catch myself slipping all the time. I believe that the Path can help me grow into an expansive being. Cultivating compassion and wisdom then, are my intentions.

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