Description

The Foundations of Buddhism is an online program series in five installments, designed to cover the foundational concepts and philosophies of Buddhism in a way that is self-paced and easily reviewable. Suitable for both beginners and seasoned practitioners, this course provides an excellent opportunity to uncover or revisit some of the most fundamental ideas at the root of the Buddhist tradition.

The Life of the Buddha looks at the biography of the historical Buddha, both before and after his Enlightenment. This timeless story provides a glimpse at the conditions that led to his decision to leave royal life in pursuit of spiritual awakening and freedom from suffering. With special attention paid to the female figures that influenced his path, like Sujata the dairy girl and his wife Yasodhara, Lama Tsultrim’s telling of this crucial story is rich with anecdotes and personal reflections, making it excellent both as a first exposure to Buddhism as well as a re-visiting of this beautiful ancient story.


In this new online program, Lama Tsultrim Allione teaches on the history and philosophical meaning of the Heart Sutra, the most widely beloved condensation of the Prajnaparamita literature. But despite its brevity and pithy nature, the Heart Sutra can be an easy source of confusion for those new to Mahayana philosophy. With the famous passage “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form,” one might miss that within the clever wordplay is the very foundation of the Middle Way.

Lama Tsultrim says of this essential text, “Our heart is the core of our body. We can do without our arms and legs, and so on, but we can’t do without our heart. It’s said in Buddhist teachings that, at the time of death, the consciousness distills into the heart. This Heart Sutra is the core of the whole thing. You boil it down, and this is it.”

Opening the Heart Sutra includes:

·      2 hours of video teachings

·      Mp3 download of the teachings and The Heart Sutra read by Lama Tsultrim.

·      PDF download of the Heart Sutra (in English and in Tibetan).

Through guiding participants line-by-line through the sutra, program participants will receive a functional overview of Mahayana philosophy and gain deeper insight into the world of this treasured text.


Chöd, the practice of severance, is a profound ritual for dealing with fears, illnesses, and difficult emotions. Developed in the 11th century by the great Tibetan yogini Machig Labdrön, the practice of Chöd slowly transformed from an obscure practice lineage into a cornerstone of multiple schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

The practice of Chöd is a unique blend of the Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Tibetan Shamanic traditions, with deep philosophical roots in the Prajñāaparamitā (Perfection of Wisdom) literature. The practice is lively sung with accompaniment by a ritual drum and bell, creating a ritual environment that is rich with many layers of symbolic and energetic depth.
 
Chöd practitioners in Tibet were long renowned for their supreme healing capacity, especially in instances of epidemic disease. They would be regularly called upon to lead funerary activities, especially in cases when people have died from contagious disorders, due to their miraculous ability to deflect illness and work with unseen forces. While early Tibetologists erroneously classified Chöd as an “exorcism” ritual, Machig’s practice is in fact often regarded as the supreme peaceful ritual offering. Instead of banishing or fighting with negative forces, the Chöd rite facilitates the ceremonial offering of one’s own body as sustenance for the various guests included in the feast. Through this profound act of love, one's self-clinging is undermined and awakening naturally dawns. 
 
Healing comes when fear, fixation, and self-clinging are cut through, based on nurturing instead of fighting what assails us, ultimately giving rise to an awareness of the empty nature of afflictive emotions.
 
For the first time, Tara Mandala is offering a complete online training in the Chöd practice developed by Chögyal Namkha’i Norbu Rinpoche. The course includes over 9 hours of streaming video teachings, audio/video downloads, and other practice supports. All materials are located on our online learning platform for on-demand viewing. 
 
The practice of Chöd includes the use of traditional ritual instruments. For beginners, a Chöd drum and bell are the only necessary implements, both of which are available from the Tara Mandala bookstore.
 
Sustaining Sangha discounts are available. For program-related inquiries, please contact Jocelyn Meli at joss@taramandala.org. For technical support, please contact support@taramandala.org.

Machig Labdrön was an 11th century Tibetan yogini most well-known for developing the practice and teachings of Chöd (Cutting Through) as well as many Nature of Mind practices. She was recognized by the great scholars of her day to be an authentic master and had thousands of disciples, both men and women. Machig Labdrön is one of the few Tibetan women to establish practice lineages of her own, and her Chöd lineages can be found in nearly every school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Although she is most well-known for her teachings on Chöd, the core of Machig's teachings is meditation on the Nature of Mind. The nature of mind is not the thinking mind, but the Nature of Mind itself that underlies our thinking mind. It is the basis for teachings on Mahamudra, Dzogchen, and Prajnaparamita. 

Machig's method of perceiving this basic nature was through directing one's awareness towards awareness itself. When we turn our awareness back at itself, what do we see? The true nature of reality reveals itself experientially through this kind of direct practice, rather than through analysis or intellectual rumination.  

In this program, participants will be lead through the final teachings that Machig offered to her students, known as "Machig's Last Instructions." These pith instructions cover the most essential and profound aspects of the great yogini's teachings, including her own proclamation, "This old lady has no instructions more profound than this to give you."

Lama Tsultrim Allione found and translated the namthar (hagiography) of Machig Labdrön for her ground-breaking book Women of Wisdom in the 1980s. In 2007, she was formally recognized as an emanation of Machig by two of the principal holders of Machig's lineage. Since then, her main work has been to collect and re-establish the lineage of Machig Labdrön.

Filmed in the Tara Mandala Temple in the summer of 2014, this intimate dialogue between two of Buddhism’s most renowned female visionaries received a tremendous response from those in attendance. It surpassed all expectations with incredible honesty, humor, and depth.

In 1964, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo became the second western woman to be ordained as a Buddhist nun, and went on to spend 12 years living in a remote cave in the Himalayas. Later, she established the Döngyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in India with the intent of creating a place for quality spiritual education for Himalayan nuns, an historically under-serviced community in a highly patriarchal society.

Just six years after Jetsunma, Lama Tsultrim Allione took ordination with HH The 16th Karmapa in Bodhgaya, and lived for four years as a nun. Inspired to become a mother, she returned her vows and started raising a family in Italy, where she met and studied with Chögyal Namkha'i Norbu Rinpoche. She began teaching, and eventually found her way back to the United States, where she became one of Trungpa Rinpoche's first authorized teachers. She is the founder and Spiritual Director of Tara Mandala Retreat Center in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, which is currently entering its 22nd year offering intensive Tibetan Buddhist study, practice, and retreat.

Run Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes.



The first three installments of our Intimate Dialogue Series feature inspiring dialogues between four of the most distinguished trailblazers in western Dharma: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel, Krishna Das, and Lama Tsultrim Allione.

With honesty, warmth, and vulnerability, these groundbreaking pioneers share their own personal adventures in the Dharma, offering a fascinating look at the different paths that wind from West to East.

Each Dialogue can be purchased individually for $35, or you can buy all three for $85 (a 20% savings). This package deal includes:

Intimate Dialogue with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo & Lama Tsultrim Allione 

Intimate Dialogue with Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel & Lama Tsultrim Allione

Intimate Dialogue with Krishna Das & Lama Tsultrim Allione

Total Run Time: 4 hours, 52 minutes.. 


Feeding Your Demons™ is an accessible and effective approach for dealing with negative emotions, addictions, fears, trauma, and self-defeating patterns. Based on the ancient Tibetan Buddhist practice of Chöd, FYD reverses the paradigm of fighting with our demons, instead prompting us to investigate their causes and feed these fragmented aspects of our psyche with love and compassion. By releasing the pent-up energy trapped in these internal conflicts, we can effectively heal and transform them into allies in our life.

This course is the first installment of a three-part series:

FYD II will explore more in-depth demon and ally work, body mapping, family lineage demons, and partner work. 

FYD III will be a Feeding Your Demons facilitator training program, available to all FYD students who have completed FYD I and FYD II, or Kapala I and Kapala II.

The Riwo Sangchöd is the most widely-practiced sadhana for the Tibetan practice of sang, smoke offering. Sang is a an ancient and powerful practice for purifying sickness, removing obstacles, accruing merit, and paying karmic debts. This particular practice was revealed as terma by the great treasure revealer Lhatsun Namkha Jigme in the 17th century, identifying it as the men-ngag, or secret instruction, for his Dzogchen teaching cycle known as the Rigdzin Sogdrup (Attaininment of the Life-force of the Vidhyadharas). It was through the performance of this ritual that he was able to remove all obstacles to the Dharma in Sikkim and revealed it as a secret land of the Buddha's teachings.

By making offerings to the Buddhas & Bodhisattvas, Dharmapālas, Dakinis, and all sentient beings as well as to our 'demons,' obstacle makers, and obstructors, we are able to avert negativity and increase positive circumstances for all beings.

Sang is one of the most quintessentially Tibetan practices in Buddhism, with many layers of meaning and application . While the outer benefits of creating auspiciousness and removing obstacles are more commonly spoken about, the true inner meaning of the ritual unveils profound pith instructions for Dzogchen practice. Lama Tsultrim's intimate understanding of this level of meaning brings these teachings to life as she guides participants through the text, revealing the manifold interpretations of each line in this beautiful sadhana.

In the online course, participants will receive a live video transmission for the Riwo Sangchöd on Sunday, May 3rd at 10am PDT by Lama Tsultrim, as well as unlimited access to Lama Tsultrim's pre-recorded video teachings on the sadhana. Her rich instructions will provide each participant with a true understanding of the meaning of the practice, while our new online learning platform offers ample support for performing your own Sang offering, with additional instructional videos and mp3 downloads from Anna Raithel, Tara Mandala's head chöpon (ritual attendant) and umdze (chant leader). You will receive a downloadable PDF text and commentary, complete with photos for fire and shrine set-up, and instructions for doing a simple practice with stick incense or incense powder.

The program fee of $95 goes towards operational costs at Tara Mandala Retreat Center, as well as our continued online program expansion. Scholarships and sustaining sangha discounts are available.

Green Tara Online Course with Lama Tsultrim Allione