Local Practice Groups
Overview of Tara Mandala and the Satellite Sangha Program
For the past five years, Tara Mandala’s Satellite Sanghas have been loosely organized groups that have all operated in a variety of ways. At this time, due to the current maturity and stability of the groups, Lama Tsultrim and the Tara Mandala Board of Trustees are introducing a more formalized structure for these Satellite Sanghas. The purpose of this new system is to create clarity, organization, and support for the Satellite Sanghas. In doing so we will be better able to share the teachings, support practitioners and benefit beings.
There are two parts to this structure. The first part relates to the way that each individual Satellite Sangha is governed and is called The Mandala. The mandala principle (a center surrounded by the four directions) is the basis for the structure. The second part is known as the Net of Mandalas and describes how the single mandalas relate to each other and to Tara Mandala.
The Single Mandala
The Mandala represents the group structure and division of responsibilities within one Satellite Sangha. This Mandala or Mandala Committee is in essence, the steering committee or governing board of the Satellite Sangha. There are five roles in the Mandala, each corresponding to the position and attributes of one of the five Buddha Families. The title and responsibilities for each position, along with the qualities and location of the respective Family within the Mandala, are listed below.
Please note it is not required that a separate individual hold each role. If a Satellite Sangha does not have enough individuals to cover each role, but they are able to show they qualify in all other ways for inclusion under the structure, the Satellite Sangha may have individuals who hold multiple roles in order to meet the responsibilities of the Mandala Committee Roles.
The Mandala Committee
Title: Teacher or Practice Coordinator (if there is no Authorized Teacher in the group)
Mandala Location: Center
Responsibilities: Overall leadership of the sangha. Schedule, lead and coordinate practices. Lead meetings and organize meeting agendas. Submit reports to the Satellite Sangha Coordinator at Tara Mandala about the activities of the group.
Qualities: The White Buddha Family is the element of space and represents the transformation of the poison of delusion into the Wisdom of the Dharmadhatu (the expanse of reality). This position holds the energetic space for the sangha.
Mandala Location: East
Responsibilities: Assist to develop the study aspect of the Sangha. Work closely with the Buddha family role to organize study programs and prepare the necessary materials needed for the sangha. Take meeting minutes.
Qualities: The Blue Vajra Family is the element of water. It represents the transformation of the poison of anger into Mirror-like Wisdom. This position brings the aspect of clarity to the sangha.
Mandala Location: South
Responsibilities: Manage the finances for the sangha including, monthly reconciliation and reporting for accounts in accordance with Satellite Sangha Program guidelines. Oversee and coordinate fundraising events.
Qualities: The Yellow Ratna Family is the element of earth. This family represents the transformation of pride into the Wisdom of Equanimity. This position brings a grounded, enriching energy to the sangha.
Title: Marketing and Public Relations
Mandala Location: West
Responsibilities: Community outreach, community relations, and marketing including; updating the website, sending mailings, and publicity. Maintain a current list of membership. Assist to resolve conflict when it arises.
Qualities: The Red Padma Family is the element of fire. It represents the transformation of grasping into the Wisdom of Discernment. This position brings the relationship aspect to the sangha.
Title: Legal and Administrative
Mandala Location: North
Responsibilities: All sangha-related legal issues including compliance with Satellite Sangha Program Requirements, rental agreements and maintaining records. Oversee facility use for the sangha by managing the procurement and set-up of venues for all events.
Qualities: The Green Karma Family is the element of air. It represents the transformation of envy into All Accomplishing Wisdom. This position brings balance to the sangha.
Terms: The term for each position is three years. This term may be renewed for additional terms. All positions are appointed by consensus within the mandala governing structure. When a new person is joining the mandala, they come in to assist the outgoing mandala member for their first year and the current member’s last year. Consequently, if a current member wishes to step down, they must decide this by the end of the second year of their three-year term so that new people could apply for the position.
Requirements: Members of the Mandala Committee must be Sustaining Sangha members of Tara Mandala and have been involved with Tara Mandala for at least two years. One can volunteer or be nominated for a position on the mandala by the Buddha family person. All nominations must be approved by the current Mandala Committee position holders. The original creation of a Mandala begins when a Buddha family person is appointed by Lama Tsultrim. The Buddha family person then appoints other the Mandala Committee members. The additional members of the Mandala do not need to be approved by Lama Tsultrim.
Decisions: Decisions are made by consensus whenever possible and with a majority vote when consensus cannot be reached.
Meetings: The Mandala Committee is asked to meet regularly, no less than four times a year, with a recommendation to meet six to twelve times a year.
Compensation: The Mandala Committee operates on a volunteer basis, and Committee members receive no salary for their services as such members. Mandala Committee members may receive salary or other compensation for specific services rendered to the Satellite Sangha and/or Tara Mandala.
The Net of Tara Mandalas
How each Satellite Sangha relates to each other and the whole:
The drawing of interacting mandalas is a holistic map which is based on a vision that Lama Tsultrim had in 1987. During this vision, she saw a network of Dakini Mandalas surrounding the earth, creating a luminous web of protection and stimulation of spiritual growth. This network was formed by the linking of countless single mandalas that came into existence wherever the Dakini Mandala itself was practiced. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lama Tsultrim spent five years traveling around the world with numerous groups of practitioners and students establishing a series of Dakini Mandalas. The linking of these mandalas to each other is like that described in the Chakrasamvara Tantra.
Tara Mandala, located in Pagosa Springs, Colorado is represented by the large mandala in the center of the diagram. It is the central hub for all communication and support within the organizational structure. It is surrounded by other mandalas of varying size. These are the Satellite Sanghas located throughout the world. Each of these Satellite Sanghas is named for the area it represents followed by the name Tara Mandala. For example, there is a Boston Tara Mandala and a Key West Tara Mandala. Depending on the location and size of the Satellite Sanghas, there can a Regional Mandala that oversees the smaller ones. For example, there is the German Speaking Tara Mandala Satellite Sangha which oversees and supports the smaller mandalas located in various cities around the German speaking countries. These smaller mandalas report to and are guided by the larger Regional Mandala which in turn reports to and is guided by the central Tara Mandala.
The Satellite Sangha Program
Local Tara Mandala Satellite Sanghas continue to grow in size and capacity, contributing to Tara Mandala’s mission, extending the teachings of Lama Tsultrim and expanding the practice community. As the Mandala Committee develops and the activities of a local Satellite Sangha grow, the Satellite Sangha may decide to apply for the Satellite Sangha Program.
The Satellite Sangha Program incorporates the local Satellite Sanghas into the umbrella structure of Tara Mandala, allowing 1) the Satellite Sanghas to benefit from Tara Mandala’s 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, and 2) Tara Mandala to maintain control and oversight over the Tara Mandala brand and mission. Once an application is submitted and accepted, Tara Mandala will submit the necessary filings, thereby incorporating the local Satellite Sangha into Tara Mandala.
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