Living Dharma Apprentice Program

Living Dharma Apprentice Program

Tara Mandala’s “Living Dharma Apprentice”Program is an immersive summer residential practice experience that enables meditation practitioners of all backgrounds and experience levels to deepen their engagement with and understanding of Vajrayana Buddhist practice. 

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program offers a rare opportunity for you to experience what it feels like to live and practice in a traditional Buddhist community without having to travel across the world to an Asian Buddhist country. Tara Mandala is one of the few practice places in the world where the lineage of Machig Labdrön, an emphasis on the Sacred Feminine, the teachings of Lama Tsultrim Allione, and the compassionate presence of 21 Taras, are present to create a vibrant practice mandala. The Living Dharma Apprentice Program brings all of this to life for you in a transformative five months! 

In 2024, Apprentices who practice on the land for a minimum of five months will be eligible to enroll for free participation in our first-ever Autumn Month-Long Practice Retreat (est. $1,000 value). This retreat, October 5 – November 2, 2024, is an unique opportunity to deepen your practice under the tutelage of four Tara Mandala senior teachers. Read more below

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program starts in May and goes until October, with a minimum commitment of two months. We offer a safe and supportive practice environment that allows you to participate in the rhythms of daily community practice together with a cohort of peers, and guided by the Tara Mandala teachers and staff. 

The daily schedule is informed by traditional Vajrayana Buddhist practices and powerful practices developed by Lama Tsultrim. This includes morning meditation, Tibetan Buddhist rituals and ceremonies, three vegetarian meals daily, community work-practice, weekly teachings, meetings with teachers and mentors, regular small group sessions and councils, access to an extensive library and online courses, and much much more.

As a deeply experiential program, becoming a Living Dharma Apprentice can be an essential step on your path to developing a consistent daily practice and deepening your understanding of Vajrayana Buddhist teachings. You will also be able to cultivate a sense of connection and belonging within the Tara Mandala Sangha with practitioners from all over the world. 

Please join us this Summer to connect with like-minded friends, take walks among the pine trees with fellow practitioners, and enjoy intimate conversations with experienced teachers.

Here’s what the Living Dharma Apprentice Program offers you:

  • Support establishing and deepening a daily meditation practice.
  • Engaging in meaningful community work, what we call “work-practice.”
  • A rare opportunity to learn and practice in a traditional Buddhist environment dedicated to the Sacred Feminine.
  • A healthy, mindful lifestyle in a safe, secure community setting at Tara Mandala Retreat & Practice Center.
  • The ability to meet and form supportive, encouraging, and inspiring friendships with other like-minded practitioners.
  • A revitalizing and restorative connection with nature, living close to the land on 700 acres of beautiful southern Colorado wilderness.
  • The unique experience of fully immersing yourself in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha with weekly teachings, rituals, mentoring, councils, meetings with teachers, and more…

Daily Schedule

A sample, everyday practice and work schedule is below. The specific work schedule and days may vary depending on various factors: 

7:00 a.m.   Morning Meditation Practice
8:30 a.m.   Breakfast  
9:30 a.m.   Work-Practice Period (9:30 am to 12:30 pm)
1:00 p.m.   Lunch
2:00 p.m.   Work-Practice Period (2 pm to 4 pm or 5 pm to 7 pm)
5:00 p.m.   Evening Practice – Tara Temple 
6:30 p.m.   Dinner  
7:30 p.m.   Personal Practice, Study, or Community Dharma Event

The LDA Program’s Core Pillars:

Meditation, Work, and Ritual Practice

  • Follow a daily schedule centered around practice, while being part of a larger community dedicated to living a life informed by Buddhist teachings.
  • Cultivate a daily meditation practice.
  • Attend morning and evening practices in the Tara Temple.
  • Participate in monthly Tibetan Buddhist “sacred day” ceremonies and practices.
  • Engage in work as a mindfulness practice, taking your practice off the cushion and into daily life.
  • Immerse in the fostering of wisdom and compassion as a way of life and practice path.
  • Practice generosity of serving the community, whether in the kitchen, temple, housekeeping, or land and grounds of Tara Mandala.
  • Experience the power of noble silence and “right-speech” to support healthy relationship-building with others.

Dharma Study and Learning


  • Learn the basics of Buddhist philosophy, forms, and rituals.
  • Attend regular teachings in the Trikaya Tara Temple with Tara Mandala Apprentice Teachers, Senior Teachers, and other guest Dharma teachers on various aspects of Buddhist practice, history, and meditation.
  • Access our Tibetan Buddhist Library with hundreds of books and resources, including online self-study programs offered by Tara Mandala.
  • Study and practice together with your fellow apprentices.

Who Should Apply?

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program is designed for individuals who have a sincere commitment to exploring daily practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Ideally, applicants will meet most of the following criteria:

  • Enjoy a sincere interest in learning or going deeper in their understanding of Buddhist teachings and practice. 
  • Desire to nourish and strengthen their daily meditation practice. 
  • Able to engage in daily physical work as a form of practice, with joyful effort and kindness in communications with others.
  • Eagerness and curiosity about living in a remote wilderness environment with little access to modern urban life.
  • Feel a calling to be in beneficial service to others, and by extension, to all beings.
  • Have some experience with meditation practice and preferably have spent time in a Buddhist retreat environment.

More Living Dharma Apprentice Program Details

The Summer of 2024 Living Dharma Apprentice Program officially begins May 1st and will run through September 30th. There is an option for practitioners to arrive as early as mid-April. A two-month minimum commitment is required, with the option for staying up to six months. 

Tara Mandala will host approximately sixteen retreats during the 2024 Retreat Season which spans from May until November. Living Dharma Apprentices have an important role in supporting the 2024 retreat season. It is essential that all LDA’s have a generosity of spirit and motivation to work in service to our global Sangha as they come to the land to nourish their practice. In this way, the support we provide for our summer retreatants is of vast and immeasurable merit to ourselves and to the world. 

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program costs cover lodging, three organic vegetarian meals a day, access to online self-study programs, in-person dharma talks and teachings, one-on-one meetings with teachers and program coordinators, cohort council circles, access to the Tara Mandala library, and of course, weekly days off to explore the vast beauty of the land and reconnect deeply with nature.

Free Autumn Month-Long Enrollment

In honor of Tara Mandala’s 30th Anniversary, in celebration of our Sangha and all of our Living Dharma Apprentices, we are delighted to announce this special opportunity for inbound apprentices this 2024 season. This year, Apprentices who study on the land for a minimum of five months will be able to redeem free registration in the Autumn Month-Long Practice Retreat happening October 5 – November 2, 2024. Read more about the retreat here, and register!


For Apprentices who arrive before the Summer Retreat Season, housing will be in rooms in the Prajna Residence Hall. We do our best to accommodate single occupancy, however, double occupancy may be necessary. Once the retreat season begins in May, participants will live in comfortable, large outdoor tents or share dorm-style yurt accommodations.

Program Cost

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program is offered on a sliding scale with the intention of accommodating all interested practitioners. Costs per month: Access Range $400-$600 / Sustainability Range $600-$1000 / Generosity Range $1000-$1500

You can choose a monthly amount that feels appropriate to your financial resources within any of these three ranges. If accepted into the program, the amount you choose will remain your monthly amount for the duration of your time in the program. We encourage interested applicants to apply for our EDI and Evada scholarships. 

Two months of program fees, plus a refundable cleaning deposit of $200, are due 10 days after program acceptance prior to arrival (minimum $1000), with the remaining fees due monthly, prior to the beginning of the month.

Cancellation Policy

If we receive your written Cancellation Request 30 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 29 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 paid 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.

Application Page

Living Dharma Apprentice Program 2024

April 1 – September 30, 2024

Tara Mandala’s Living Dharma Apprentice Program is a unique summer experience designed to enable meditation practitioners of all backgrounds and experience levels to deepen your engagement with and understanding of Vajrayana Buddhist practice. Tara Mandala is one of the few practice places in the world where the lineage of Machig Labdrön, an emphasis on the Sacred Feminine, the teachings of Lama Tsultrim Allione, and the compassion of 21 Taras are at the center of a vibrant practice mandala. The Living Dharma Apprentice program brings all of this to life for you in a transformative five months!

Registration applications are reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis. Some meditation practice experience and a minimum commitment of two months are required in order to be accepted into the program.