Support for Living Dharma Program Participants
Tara Mandala Living Dharma participants are given the opportunity to apply Vajrayāna Buddhist teachings and practices to all aspects of their life and work. Creating such a shift in perspective requires significant effort on the part of the participant, and a supportive practice community will support this work. The foundation for such transformation includes commitment to daily meditative practice, service, a curriculum of Dharma teachings and practices, regular Councils, and the support of a practice community.
After a few weeks Living Dharma participants will be assigned a Spiritual Friend, or Kalyanamitra, who acts as a mentor and who can guide Feeding Your Demons® sessions as developed by Lama Tsultrim Allione. Kalyanamitras are Authorized Teachers who have undergone long-term study with Lama Tsultrim. It may be necessary to connect with Kalyanamitras via phone or Skype.
Council is a gathering for community members to meet and share their experiences with each other and other residents. It is held in a traditional Council format with a talking stick, where only one person speaks at a time. It’s a great place to practice listening as well as opening our hearts.
Some retreats are closed to the community, as drop-ins may disturb the flow of the retreat. However, particpants are invited to attend retreats that are open to drop-ins as their work schedule allows. Program participants always have the option to fully pay for a retreat, register through the Registrar as a regular retreatant, and not be of service for that period of time with the exception of participating in normal Karma Yoga.
During the winter, participants have the opportunity to take a two-week personal retreat with the rest of the Tara Mandala residents during the Losar season (usually February or March). Individualized practices during this retreat are usually designed by Lama Tsultrim.
There are occasional opportunities to take refuge and Bodhisattva vows, and these will be announced as they occur. All community members have the option to participate or not.
There is no compensation offered to participants in the Living Dharma program, with the exception of personal needs and travel expenses. We are making changes to the Living Dharma Program for 2019. Please check the website in the spring of 2019 for new information on program components. Currently, Tara Mandala offers Living Dharma participants the following:
- Three daily vegetarian meals, vegan and gluten-free options usually available
- Housing, either in a shared yurt or a shared room during the winter, or a camping site for your tent in the summer
- Access to laundry and shared bathing facilities
“Dana” is a Pali word that means generosity, and it is usually given in the form of money. Since the time of the Buddha, there has been an interdependent relationship between the teachers of the Dharma and the recipients (the students). In addition to teachers, Living Dharma participants also receive Dana. Retreat managers will make announcements concerning Dana to each retreat. Retreatants will give Dana to the Living Dharma participants as a group, which is divided amongst them at the end of each retreat by the Living Dharma Program Coordinator. Dana is a means for the retreatants to thank and support those who make the retreats possible. It should not be relied upon as sole financial sustenance.