Practitioner in Residence (PIR) Program

Buddhist Study, Practice, and Community

UPDATE 04/05/22: At this time we are not accepting applications to the PIR program. Check our calendar for the latest programming information.

The Practitioners In Residence (PIR) Program is an opportunity for experienced Buddhist Vajrayana practitioners to immerse themselves in a residential community centered on daily practice and study at Tara Mandala Retreat Center, situated in the beautiful San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado

This retreat-like experience will allow long-time Vajrayana practitioners to set down the concerns of worldly life and direct their energy towards intensive study and practice.  The Practitioners in Residence Program starts in November 2021 and runs through May 2022. An extended application and assessment would be required for those seeking to extend their stay beyond May 2022. Individuals who wish to remain on the land during Tara Mandala’s onsite retreat season (June to August 2022) can apply to our work exchange program for the summer.

We have space for four to five individuals to participate in this program. PIR participants staying until May 2022 will be housed in the Prajna Dormitory Hall in individual rooms with shared bath facilities. During the 2022 onsite retreat season, participants that are accepted to the PIR program, may also apply for our summer work exchange program and stay on at Tara Mandala. If accepted, they would need to move out of Prajna and into a tent cabin or yurt.

Overview of PIR Program

This Program is centered on the following core components to enrich a practitioner’s experiential container in Dharma practice:

Community Practice and Ritual Arts

Tara Mandala holds daily community practice at 5pm, weekly Tsogs, as well as morning Fire and Naga Pujas on auspicious days. PIR participants are expected to participate and lead these community practice sessions (after training) and receive training in the ritual arts. Training will be offered in holding the roles of Drummer, Umdze (chant leader), and/or Chopon (activity leader) during community practice, including morning pujas. Other training (such as torma making) may be offered as well.

As a part of the PIR program, it is suggested that a practitioner lead or attend five community practices per week, two to three morning pujas per month, and Tsog every Wednesday evening. Our weekly Tsogs (tantric feast offerings) are a time when the whole community comes together to practice, make offerings, and enjoy each other’s company during the fall/winter/early spring months. Upon applying, a practitioner will be asked to submit a daily practice schedule to be followed for the program duration.

Personal Semi-Retreat Experience

Participants of this program need to have a well-developed Vajrayana practice of at least 5 years before applying. Participation in Tara Mandala’s lineage programs for several years or more fulfills this requirement. Most importantly, each participant must have the guidance of a spiritual teacher or mentor who advises and provides support on setting goals for the practitioner’s personal practice time. Tulku Ösel Dorje will be available as Resident Lama to support program participants with occasional meetings or teachings. As part of the application, references from spiritual teachers and peers will be requested to ensure the participant’s preparedness to undertake intensive personal practice as well as participate in group practice.


Photo by Josh Brownlee


While living at Tara Mandala as a PIR, you will have access to the full library, which includes hundreds of titles on Buddhism and teaching videos on ritual arts. An orientation to the library will be provided and you are encouraged to utilize it for self-study during your stay. You will also have access to our resident library of videos and instruction guides and other reading material.  Free access to two of Tara Mandala’s self-paced online courses will also be provided.  Please note Wifi access at Tara Mandala is available only in the Temple and the Community Building. 

Karma Yoga

Offering service to the community provides the chance to incorporate your practice into daily life. We ask that all participants commit to two (2) hours of karma yoga per day, five days per week. All service should be completed with the mind and heart of compassion in action while maintaining your personal boundaries (e.g., Noble Silence).  Areas of service could include: housekeeping, kitchen, Dakini Store, or temple support.


To be considered for this program, a practitioner must:

  • Have 5+ years  in Vajrayana Buddhist practice or similar Buddhist path.
  • Have completed at least one (1) solitary retreat in a Buddhist tradition.
  • Submit three (3) spiritual references from teachersor spiritual mentors that know the applicant’s level of practice history (not personal references).
  • Be at least 25 years of age.
  • Agree to abide by the Five Precepts throughout the extent of participation in the program. (This agreement will be formalized in writing and with official signature.)
  • Agree to the Tara Mandala Code of Conduct and Ethics, Liability Waiver, and other policies. (Documents will be provided once application is considered and accepted through docusign.)

Timeframe & Dates

The program will open on November 15, 2021. This program is for six (6) months with the option to extend the stay by applying to our work exchange program during the summer retreat season. Individuals may apply before November 15 and exact start dates would be determined once accepted.*

*For those visiting the USA from another country, please make this information known in your application, so we can arrange your length of stay according to tourist visa regulations. 


Covid Protocols

Proof of a Covid vaccine is required upon application. In addition, a negative Covid test 2-3 days before arrival is required to keep all community members safe. We continue to monitor the status of Covid-19 and adjust our Covid protocols as is warranted and/or required by the local and state health officials.


Lodging, Meals, and Accommodation

PIR Participants will reside in Prajna Dormitory Hall, in individual rooms with shared bathrooms.

A vegetarian lunch will be provided 5 days a week. Daily breakfast, dinner, and weekends meals are self-serve with food provided.  Specialty personal foods are not provided, but storage space is allowed for a small amount of personal items.

PIR participants are responsible for providing their own transportation to and from the retreat center. See this page for more information about transportation to and from Tara Mandala. Tara Mandala does have a rideshare forum.

Photo by Josh Brownlee

Financial Commitment

Upon acceptance into this program, the financial commitment includes:

  • $300 per month to cover food and room/board.
  • A $300 non-refundable deposit to hold a spot, due within 10 days of acceptance into the program as will serve as a last month’s payment.  Automatic monthly payments due one week before the next month.
  • $200 refundable cleaning deposit.
  • You will have the opportunity to offer Dana to teachers that offer Dharma Talks during your stay.
  • Participants receive a 10% discount for use in our Tara Mandala Dakini Store.

Cancellation Policy

If we receive your written Cancellation Request 15 days or more before your start date you will receive a full refund minus the $50 non-refundable deposit. If we receive your written Cancellation Request 14 days or less before the program begins, you will receive a credit for your first month, less the $50 non-refundable deposit, to be used within one year. If you pay upfront for all months, the remaining months will be refunded. If you need to leave the program after arriving, there will be no refund for the current month, and we will refund the remaining months paid.


Program Commitments

PIR Participants are required to attend an orientation meeting on their first day and must agree to Tara Mandala’s Code of Conduct and Ethics, Covid protocols, and policies for living in the community for the duration of their stay. All participants will be asked to sign an emergency release form and liability waiver. Tara Mandala reserves the right to ask participants to leave the program and land, if their behavior disrupts other participants and/or community members or they do not abide by the expectations of this program in regards to practice, study, and karma yoga and our Code of Conduct.

Participation in the program includes residential housing. When accepted into the program, you acknowledge and agree that your right to use Tara Mandala as a dwelling during your program stay creates a licensor-licensee relationship between you and Tara Mandala.  You further agree and acknowledge that your use of Tara Mandala housing does not create any landlord-tenant relationship between you and Tara Mandala.