Posted in Tibetan Buddhism

Tara Mandala Retreat 2009, Day 1

6-30-09 Tara Mandala

I have arrived!  After getting up at 4:30, Michael driving me to the airport, going thru LAX security, 2 uneventful plane rides, and a shuttle trip with 3 fellow Californians – I’m here!

The land is beautiful.  It’s too far from the sea for me to hear her call, though.  I see some time with the ocean upon my return to the coast.  Even so, this is a place of palpable power, & I will enjoy it while I’m here.

The accommodations are posh.  The residence hall reminds me of old European hotels with the restrooms down the hall – except that the rooms are on a much larger, decidedly American scale.

My roommate, Marian, is also a journaler.  As a result, we haven’t talked much yet.  She got here first & unpacked before I arrived, thoughtfully leaving plenty of space for my stuff.

General Daily Schedule

6:00 & 6:15    Wake up conch

6:45                Practice at Prayer Flag Ridge

8:15                Breakfast

9:00                Karma Yoga

10:00              Teachings

1:00                Lunch

4:00                Teachings

6:30                Dinner

8:00                Teachings/Practice

I’m curious what the wake up conch will sound like!  My karma yoga assignment (i.e. work practice) is to clean the entryway of the Community Building.  I usually get kitchen duty on retreats, which I enjoy.  I guess the universe decided it was time for a change!  Works for me.

The retreat is silent from 9 pm to 1 pm the following day.  I look forward to the silence. 🙂

7:35 PM


  • Brown rice penne pasta w/ spinach
  • Cucumber green salad
  • Whole wheat garlic bread
  • Water

index_Stupa dusk9:10 PM

We met outside, on the west face of the stupa.  I walked over with Paula from Santa Monica, who I met on the shuttle.  She picked the cushion next to Tsultrim, & I sat by her.

We meditated in silence, then chanted Prajna Paramita.  We lit candles I carried them as we circumambulated.  I went around 3 times, which if I remember right, brought long life when done around the scarab in Luxor, Egypt, which I did in 2001.  We each picked a place for our candles.  I was the first person to set mine down.  I put it halfway up on the south side of the stupa.  Traditionally that side is associated with pride, but Tsultrim said it also represents feelings of inadequacy.  Its antidote is equanimity & its element is earth.  I want to develop equanimity & be grounded, so I chose that as my intention for the retreat.

We concluded our opening ceremony with a dedication of merit.  Afterward, I walked around it a few more times.  I rested my head against the stone of the south face.  It’s like a huge battery, tingling with power.

I’m having an adjustment period with the altitude, having gone from sea level to 8,000 feet.  I tire quickly.  If I rush, I get out of breath & can feel the lactic acid burn in my quadriceps.  Therefore, I don’t rush.  I allow plenty of time & practice walking meditation everywhere I go.


Ven. Dr. Myodo Jabo (Sandy Gougis) is a Zen Master and Priest in the Five Mountain Zen Order. She began studying Theravâdin Buddhism in 1998, adding Zen in 2003, and Vajrayana Buddhism in 2008. She currently practices in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions. Her Zen teacher is Most Ven. Wonji Dharma of the Five Mountain Zen Order, and her Tibetan guru is Lama Tsultrim Allione of Tara Mandala. In her free time, Myodo enjoys painting, jewelry making, and other creative endeavors.

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