Support for LDVs

Support for Living Dharma Volunteers

Tara Mandala volunteers 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 volunteer, 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 LDVs 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.

Support LDV KalyanamitraPhoto credit: Josh Brownlee
Photo credit: Josh Brownlee


Council is a gathering for volunteers to meet and share their experiences with each other and with staff. 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.

Three Yana Retreat

During the month of June, we offer partial participation in the Three Yana Retreat to all LDVs who make a three-month or longer commitment that includes June. The Three Yana retreat covers the development of Buddhist practice, from the life and teachings of the Buddha, to the Bodhisattva practices and Mahāyāna philosophy, and finally to Tantric Buddhist practice. More information on these retreats can be found under the program descriptions.

During the Three Yana Retreat, volunteers participate in the early morning practices, the afternoon teachings, and the evening practices. Volunteers work during the mid-morning sessions; these sessions will be audio taped and made available.

Photo credit: Josh Brownlee
Photo credit: Josh Brownlee

Individual Retreats

Some retreats are closed to the community, as drop-ins may disturb the flow of the retreat. However, LDVs are invited to attend retreats that are open to drop-ins as their work schedule allows. Volunteers always have the option to fully pay for a retreat, register through the Registrar as a regular retreatant, and not volunteer for that period of time.

During the winter, LDVs 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 cost to participate in the Living Dharma program, with the exception of personal needs and travel expenses. Tara Mandala offers LDVs 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
Photo credit: Clinton Spence
Photo credit: Josh Brownlee


“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, volunteers also receive Dana. Retreat managers will make announcements concerning Dana to each retreat. Retreatants will give Dana to the volunteers as a group, which is divided amongst the volunteers at the end of each retreat by the Volunteer 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.