Living Dharma Apprentice Program

Living Dharma Apprentice Program

Tara Mandala’s “Living Dharma” Apprentice Program is a unique summer apprenticeship program created to enable meditation practitioners of all backgrounds and experience levels a powerful way 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, and the compassion of 21 Taras are at the center of the practice mandala. The Living Dharma Apprentice Program brings all of this to life for you in a transformative five months!

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program provides safe and supportive conditions that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the rhythms of daily community practice together with a cohort of peers and guided by the Tara Mandala teachers and staff. This includes daily meditation practice, traditional rituals and ceremonies, three vegetarian meals, work-practice, weekly teachings, meetings with teachers and mentors, regular small group sessions and community councils, access to an extensive library and online courses, and much much more.

As a deeply experiential apprenticeship, the Living Dharma Apprentice Program is an essential step on your path to establishing a consistent daily practice, developing a more thorough understanding of Vajrayana Buddhist teachings, and cultivating a felt sense of connection and belonging within the Tara Mandala Sangha. 

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program provides a rare opportunity for you to experience what it feels like to live and practice in a traditional Buddhist training environment without having to travel across the world to an Asian Buddhist country. Where else can you on a daily basis connect over tea with like-minded friends, take walks among the pine trees with more senior practitioners, and have intimate conversations with experienced teachers? 

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

  • Support to establish and deepen a daily meditation practice.
  • Engaging in meaningful service work, what we call “work-practice”.
  • The 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 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 typical work practice schedule is below.  Work practice periods and days of the week will vary by participant depending on retreat schedule, area of service and needs of the center.   

7:10 a.m. Morning Meditation Practice – Tara Temple
8:00 a.m. Breakfast  
9:00 a.m. Work-Practice Period (9 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
1:00 p.m. Lunch
2:00 p.m. Work-Practice Period (2 p.m. – 4 p.m. /or/  5 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
5:00 p.m. Evening Meditation Practice – Tara Temple 
6:00 p.m. Dinner  
7:00 p.m. Personal practice, study, or public Dharma event

The three core pillars of the Living Dharma Apprentice Program: 

Meditation and Ritual Practice

  • Cultivate a daily meditation practice
  • Attend morning and evening practices in our Tara Temple 
  • Learn philosophy, forms and rituals for daily, weekly and sacred holiday practices
  • Participate in weekly Tsog offering with the community


  • Embody mindfulness as a way of life and practice as path
  • Practice the path of service in the kitchen, temple, housekeeping and land/grounds of Tara Mandala
  • Engage with Tara Mandala resident practitioners and retreatants as you take your practice off the cushion and into daily life
  • Experience the beauty and potentiality of noble silence and functional talking during work-practice periods

Dharma Study and Learning

  • Immerse yourself in a daily schedule centered around your growth, while being part of a larger community of practitioners dedicated to living a life imbued with the Buddhadharma.
  • Attend weekly teachings in our beautiful Trikaya Tara Temple with Tara Mandala Apprentice Teachers, and Senior Teachers, and other guest Dharma teachers on key aspects of Buddhist practice, history, and meditation
  • Access our Tibetan Buddhist Library with thousands of books and other resources, including online self-study programs offered by Tara Mandala.
  • Study and practice on your own and with your LDAP group

Who Should Apply?

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program is designed for individuals that have a sincere and deep commitment to exploring Buddhism in the Tibetan tradition. Ideally, applicants will meet most of the following criteria:

  • Enjoy a sincere interest in learning or going deeper in their understanding of Buddhist theory and practice 
  • Desire to nourish and strengthen their current daily meditation practice 
  • Able to engage in daily physical, psychological and spiritual work in the forms of practice, joyful effort and healthy communication
  • Eager and curious about experiencing living daily life in a remote wilderness with little access to modern urban adornments
  • Feel a calling to be in service to others, self and nature
  • Experience in attending prior Buddhist retreats

More Living Dharma Apprentice Program Details

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program begins May 1, 2023 and will run through September 30, 2023.  There is an option for practitioners to arrive as early as April. A two-month minimum commitment is required, with the option for staying up to six months. 

Tara Mandala will host seven retreats during the 2023 Summer Retreat Season.  Our Living Dharma Apprentices have an essential role as a valued resource that enables the 2023 retreat season to take place. We look forward to your generosity of spirit and service as we welcome our global Sangha to the land.  The support we provide to our summer retreatants is of vast and immeasurable merit.   

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program cost covers lodging, three organic, vegetarian meals a day, access to online self-study programs, 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 the vast beauty of the land and the opportunity to reconnect deeply with nature.


Prior to Summer Retreat season, participants will be offered rooms in Prajna Residence Hall. We will do our best to accommodate single occupancy, however double occupancy may be necessary in some instances.  During retreat season, participants will have the option of camping or shared dorm-style yurt living

Program Cost

The Living Dharma Apprentice Program is offered on a sliding scale with the intention of accommodating all interested practitioners, and to provide an opportunity for those who are able, to sponsor the participation of others.  

Costs per month:

Access Range $400-$600 / Sustainability Range $600-$1000 / Generosity Range $1000-$1500

You will be able to choose an amount 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. A refundable cleaning deposit of $200 is also required prior to arrival and will be included on the initial invoice.

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 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.


To apply for the Living Dharma Apprentice Program, please fill out the following application:


Learn More About Tara Mandala

Sangha is an important part of our practice, and we are honored you are considering taking this next step in your path to join us. More information about Tara Mandala, our history, and Lama Tsultrim Allione’s life work can be found using the links below:

Overview of Tara Mandala »

History »

Books by Lama Tsultrim »

Retreats at Tara Mandala »

Our Teachers »

Local Practice Groups »