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Songs and Stories Of Milarepa, with Chris Stagg

Friday March 24 6:30-8:30PM & Saturday March 25 9AM-Noon & 2-4:30PM

forthcoming translation by Chris Stagg

forthcoming translation by Chris Stagg

Milarepa (c. 1052-1135 CE) is perhaps Tibet’s most renowned Buddhist yogi and saint, and Milarepa’s songs are filled with expressions of his great realization. They cut right to the heart of the wisdom which leads to liberation.

Chris Stagg will lead us in a weekend of singing and instruction on the life and lessons of Milarepa, starting with his life story on Friday evening. We will both learn about and get a taste of Milarepa’s tradition of singing dohas through Chris’s exposition and our own direct experience of singing.

Chris is an accomplished Tibetan translator and professional musician and music teacher. He is the translator of the forthcoming The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa (available on Sept. 5, 2017 from Amazon or Shambhala Publications)

“Milarepa and his songs have been perhaps the greatest source of spiritual inspiration for all Tibetan Buddhists. For a long time, there has been a need for a new and accessible translation of these extraordinary songs. Christopher Stagg has worked with contemporary masters of the lineage and his translation is accurate, lucid, and inspiring.” —Ringu Tulku (from the Shambhala Publications book page

Friday Night Schedule

  • 6:30-7:00 PM:  Registration-Snacks
  • 7:00-8:30 PM:  Singing & instruction

Saturday Schedule

  • 9:00-9:30 AM:  Registration-Snacks
  • 9:30-10:15: AM  Meditation
  • 10:30-Noon:  Singing & instruction
  • Noon-2 PM:  Lunch
  • 2:00-2:45 PM:  Meditation
  • 3:00-4:30 PM:  Singing & instruction/Q&A

Register Now!

Please enjoy this version of Aspiration For The World, by His Holiness The 17 Gwalwang Karmapa,

Music and Arrangement by Tyler Dewar & Chris Stag


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More “Aha!” Moments from the Winter Retreat


Although it can be challenging to express the impact of receiving teachings directly from masters, we asked those who attended the winter retreat to recall their personal moments of deep insight and inspiration. The remarkable presence and words of Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyalsten, Acharya Lhakpa Tshering, and Mitra Mark Power brought forth many moments of sudden insight during this year’s Winter Retreat. Please enjoy more “aha” moments and photographs from the retreat. (Click the photos for a full size version. Earlier “ahas” and photos are here.)

“Lama Tenpa’s discussion about our terror of being isolated, disconnected, and separate enabled me to consider my loneliness in a new way. It doesn’t scare me. (At this moment, anyway!)”

“Love the term non-dual present moment. A refreshing term for emptiness.”


“I didn’t realize that I would be spending the weekend with family. I consider Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso to be one of my primary teachers and his presence was palpable.”

“Just relax—relaxation… I know ‘no duh’ but I can take this in more deeply now. “

“I found Acharya Lhakpa’s opening teaching on the ground of the union of the two truths, the path of merit and wisdom, and the fruition of the two kayas to be very powerful— as well as his reminder not to denigrate the ‘relative truth’, because if you do, it’s not a real union.”



Join us next year for the Nalandabodhi East Coast Winter Retreat, and discover your own “Aha!” moments with our esteemed teachers and friends. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

Much gratitude to Karen de Luna for taking and providing these great photographs from the retreat.

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“Aha!” Moments from the Winter Retreat


Our second East Coast Winter Retreat provided a precious time and space to listen, contemplate, and meditate with our beloved teachers. We had the great privilege to receive powerful teachings from Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyalsten, Acharya Lhakpa Tshering, and Mitra Mark Power. After the retreat, we asked participants to share some “aha!” moments of insight they experienced. Please enjoy a few “ahas!” and photographs below. (Click the photos for a full size version.)


“Lama Tenpa stated that ‘our nature is nondual present mind’, and that we can return to it by falling in love with the present moment in every moment. The key is to change our attitude with the present moment. So simple and true, yet I need to be reminded of this in every moment.”

“Lama Tenpa’s reminder to bring our intelligence to the cushion was very helpful.”


“Discernment means not only knowing what to adopt and what to reject; it also means knowing when to do so and when to restrain my critical faculties and instead to cultivate equanimity.”

“Mental afflictions–concepts mixed with belief–are the things to notice and work with. Make friends with the present moment. Grandma is ready to hug you in present moment.”



More photographs and “Aha!” moments coming soon!

Much gratitude to Karen de Luna providing the lovely photographs.

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The Difference Between a Prison and a Monastery

The following is the second excerpt in a series from Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen’s teachings from the 2015-16 Winter Retreat. See the first here. Lama Tenpa will join us again this Dec. 30 – Jan. 3— info here.

The second instruction for entering into retreat is: return to the present moment. Whatever you’re doing— walking, eating, sleeping— let it be meditation. Let it be mindfulness. The essential point is to stay in the present moment. Relax. Be in the present moment. And appreciate.

Relaxing alone is not it. We can space out, get drunk or get high… that’s not it. It’s important to be in the present moment. But we often treat the present moment as the least desirable thing. We’re bored; we want to try different things to get away from it. The present moment could be scary or ugly to us— our hell. We look for everything elsewhere. We pray about the future— “may I become…”

But the Buddha’s teaching is that the present is everything. We might regard the present moment as our samsaric hell, but we need to examine that and shift our attitude.

What’s the essential difference between a prison and a monastery? Is there no Buddha in prison? Because there’s no Buddha statue there? If there is no Buddha in prison because there is no Buddha statue there, then there is no Buddha in our heart, because there is no Buddha statue there either. Buddha is everywhere— all pervading. And if Buddha is there, then dharma and sangha are there too.

In many ways, a prison is nicer than a monastery. You have TV, a playground, a full breakfast… And you can sleep— at a monastery, you have to wake up at 3 or 4 AM! An American prison facility is so comfortable that Tibetan monks could go on retreat there!

The essential difference between a prison and a monastery is that no one wants to be there in prison. If you don’t want to be there, then that’s your prison.

So, we don’t need to change our place, wherever we’re at, right away. We just need to change our attitude. We need to say to ourselves “I’m OK to be here.” We need to accept.

The first function of wisdom and compassion is to accept things as they are. Without acceptance, there’s no wisdom or compassion— or devotion. If we don’t accept, our prison is worse. If we accept— if we change our attitude— then even wha’t spainful and ugly can be transformed. That’s the beginning of change, of transformation. Try to see the monastery in the prison, the nirvana in samsara.

author-lama-tenpa-largeSo, first, relax. Sometimes we don’t even know how to do that. We are stuck in our mindset. Then, develop an appreciation of nowness— the present moment. If we’re not willing to be in the present, our meditation is just a prayer for the future— a speculation. Appreciation of the present moment is through acceptance. If we accept the present moment, then our practice will go well.

Interested in this year’s retreat? Click for info. And get last year’s teachings for over half off.

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It’s Not So Important… Relax!

ALTG_2- 496×581The following is the first excerpt in a series from Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen’s teachings from the 2015-16 Winter Retreat. Lama Tenpa will join us again this Dec. 30 – Jan. 3— info here.

When we enter into a retreat, it’s important to consider “retreat from what?” What are we retreating from? Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen suggests that we consider it a retreat from “important things to do.” If we think: “this retreat is very important for me to do,” that’s a little bit wrong. Think of your retreat as not important— very ordinary— as in the Mahamudra notion of ordinary.

Listen! Excerpt from Lama Tenpa’s teaching (MP3 available here) 

If we’re filled up with “important things to do,” then we cannot relax. If everything is serious, then everything becomes a problem. If our dharma activity is so important, then it becomes mere worldly dharma. If we become very serious, then we’re really “half dead!”

Every meditation instruction says “relax”— especially Mahamudra.  And we are not relaxing, then forget about meditation. So, first, relax… loosen up. Lama Tenpa says, “my Buddha is not serious…. I don’t like serious teacher… Look at Khenpo [Tsultrim Gyamtso] Rinpoche, how crazy he is! He’s not serious. That’s why I chose him.” And the paths of Mahamudra and Dzogchen are relaxation— not serious.

So, consider your retreat a retreat from all important things. The first instruction for entering into retreat is: relax.

Interested in this year’s winter retreat? Click for info. And get last year’s teachings for over half off.

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