Practitioner in Residence (PIR) Program

Buddhist Study, Practice, and Community

The Practitioners In Residence (PIR) Program is an opportunity for experienced seasoned 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

If you are a long-time Vajrayana practitioner, this retreat-like experience will allow you to set down the concerns of worldly life and direct your energy towards intensive study and practice for a minimum of six months and up to one year with option to renew. An extended application and assessment would be required in order to extend your stay past one year. 

We have space for up to four individuals to participate in this program. PIR participants would live in the Prajna Residence Hall in individual rooms with shared bath facilities or in a and or a retreat cabin/yurt, if available.

Overview of PIR Program

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

Group Practice

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 feasts) 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. We expect that each practitioner will be engaging in solo and group practice at a minimum of three times per day.

Personal Practice

Undertaking a personal retreat is a serious and life-transforming experience and designed for the serious practitioner. Participation in Tara Mandala’s lineage programs for several years or more also qualifies.  Participants of this program need to have a well developed vajrayana practice of at least 5 years before applying. 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. Spiritual support from Tara Mandala’s teachers is also available if desired.  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. 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 Tara Mandala’s self-paced online courses will also be provided per year.

Practitioners will have the opportunity to participate in Tara Mandala Virtual Retreats and Online Courses at a discounted rate. Please note: in order to take advantage of this offer, you will need to bring your own laptop. Wifi access is available only in the Temple and the Community Building.

Karma Yoga

Offering service to the community offers the chance to incorporate your practice into daily life. We ask that all participants commit to two 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, etc).

Areas of service could include: housekeeping, kitchen, Dakini Store, or Temple support.


To be considered for this program, a practitioner must:

  • Have 5 years plus 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 teachers, or spiritual mentors that know the applicant’s level of practice, history, etc.
  • Be 25 years old or older.
  • 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 Communication Agreement (document will be provided once application is considered and accepted).

Timeframe & Dates

The program will open on November 15, 2021. Individuals may apply before then and exact start dates would be determined once accepted. There will be the option to extend your stay beyond one year after submitting an extension application and receiving approval, and based on mutual agreement.

A Covid vaccine and 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 make changes to Covid protocols as is warranted and 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. Two queen rooms are available with their own shared private bathroom for an additional charge. Solo cabins and/or small yurts may also be available but depends on staffing levels on the land.

A vegetarian lunch will be provided 5 days a week. Daily breakfast, dinner and weekends meals are self-serve with leftovers or one can make their own meal 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 renewal application would be required for a second six month stay in the program.
  • 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, 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. Tara Mandala reserves the right to ask participants to leave, if their behavior disrupts other participants 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.