Living at Tara Mandala

The Land

Tara Mandala is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, 30 minutes from the town of Pagosa Springs. The land itself is held as sacred as it is the actual Mandala of Tara, as well as a never-ending source of exploration and wonder. The terrain features rolling hills, meadows, forests, ponds and stunning beauty. Winter means sparkling snow and cold nights, and the summer brings both heat, monsoon rains and many rainbows, though the nights are still very cold. The high elevation (7,500′), bright sunny days, and wilderness setting create a beautiful landscape with varied climate conditions. In the summer, because of the altitude and dryness, it is advisable that you drink 3-4 quarts of water a day for 2-3 days prior to arriving. This will help avoid headaches, irritability, insomnia, and other high altitude sickness symptoms upon arrival.

There is no smoking allowed on the land.

Photo credit: Clinton Spence

Our Structure

The Tara Mandala community is composed of our Spiritual Director Lama Tsultrim Allione, our Executive Director, about a dozen core year-long residents, seasonal staff, year-long and summer LDVs, and individuals participating in both solitary and program retreats. Additionally, some core staff and Board members do not live at Tara Mandala but assist us from around the US and abroad.

Community decisions are made by the three-member Executive Council in conjunction with core residents. While major decisions are not made communally, input from all community members is always taken into serious consideration.

Living In Community

Living in community at Tara Mandala is a wondrous and rare opportunity to get to know people deeply, practice Dharma, and to share all aspects of life; at the same time, it can be very challenging. One reason for this is that all space at Tara Mandala is communally shared. Since we are all responsible for the care of that space and our impact on it, we look for all our volunteers to be mindful of cleaning up after themselves and being aware and considerate of others.

Particularly in the summer, Tara Mandala is a very busy and dynamic retreat center. As a result, scheduling details and other information can change very quickly, and community members must be flexible, resilient, and energetic and have a keenness for spontaneity, while also having a sense of groundedness and stability. All Tara Mandala residents and volunteers abide by a Communication policy, which is based on Non Violent Communication, in order to facilitate the healthy functioning of our community.

Photo credit: Josh Brownlee

Buddhist Practice

While on the land, all community members follow the Five Precepts. In taking these precepts, we agree to refrain from: Stealing, Lying, Killing, Sexual Misconduct, and Intoxication by drugs or alcohol. We also attempt to integrate the Six Pāramitās of Generosity, Ethical Conduct, Patience, Diligence, Concentration, and Wisdom into our lives and interactions with one another.

Tara Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center, and our Spiritual Director, Lama Tsultrim’s, primary focus is the lineage of Machig Labdrön and the Ka-Nying (Kagyu-Nyingma) traditions, as well as Feeding Your Demons®, a practice developed by Lama Tsultrim. Our group practices focus on Shamathā, Prajñāpāramitā, Green Tara, Machig Labdrön, Chöd, and White Dakini (Tsogyal Karmo). We provide volunteers with instruction in Shamatha meditation during the Three Yana Retreat.

During the summer season, morning practice, usually either Shamatha or Prajna Paramita, is required group practice. In the winter both morning and evening practices are required for the whole community.

We welcome and honor all forms of spiritual practice. Any spiritual practices that fall outside of group practice are expected to be practiced on your own time.

Daily Schedule

A general daily schedule is as follows:

  • 7:00am (in summer)/ 7:30am (the rest of the year) 45 min Morning meditation
  • 8:15am Breakfast
  • 9am-1pm Work
  • 1-2pm Lunch break
  • 2 – 4pm Work
  • 5pm Evening practice: Sadhana or Tsog (Feast Offering in the Tantric tradition)
  • 6 or 6:30pm Dinner
Photo credit: Josh Brownlee
Photo credit: Josh Brownlee

Karma Yoga

Karma Yoga is time set aside during the day to perform community chores. Everyone, including retreatants, participates in daily tasks such as sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms, and doing dishes after meals. Karma Yoga is a path of service, and an opportunity for residents, volunteers, and retreatants to integrate mindfulness and work.

Communication

During the summer, LDVs will be informed about events and announcements at our 8:45am morning meetings. In the winter we come together for weekly Tuesday meetings. Additionally, the Volunteer Coordinator will keep you posted about events via the community board and emails.

Due to our remote location, some cell phone company services do not work on the land. Therefore, landline phones are made available to volunteers in cases of emergency.

Note: USPS does not deliver to our physical address.

You may have FedEx and UPS packages sent to you at our physical address.
4000 U.S.F.S. Road #649
Pagosa Springs, CO, 81147

Please use the following address for all your other personal mail:
Tara Mandala
P.O. Box 1983
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

Photo credit: Josh Brownlee