Historically, Lama Tsultrim’s vision for Tara Mandala has been to create a retreat environment that is open to families with children. This provides children, our future, with the opportunity to develop a positive relationship with the Buddhadharma.
Because the Buddhist traditions of Tantra and Dzogchen are both paths of integration rather than renunciation, we believe the presence of children is not detrimental to the retreat environment within certain boundaries.
We believe that many parents would be prevented from coming on retreat if they could not bring their child, for example, if the child is too young to leave at home. We also believe that children benefit from being at Tara Mandala. However, we also recognize the value for parents to have time without their children to practice and that retreatants like a quiet environment. Retreatants should be prepared in advance for the possible presence of children at retreats.
To support a positive retreat environment for all participants, we have articulated the following guidelines for families with children between the ages of 3 months and 13 years (these do not apply during the Family Retreat):
• Children should not be brought to teachings or practice sessions.
• Children are welcome at ceremonies, tsogs and empowerments but should not be allowed to run around unsupervised during these ceremonies.
• Children are welcome to visit the temple between sessions if they are supervised. Parents should introduce their children to the temple and explain the protocol and meaning of the shrines in an age appropriate way.
• Parents need to bring their own childcare person. The childcare provider may be the other parent or someone else who will be responsible and respectful. That person must be 17 or older. The caregiver and child will be charged for housing and food and will be fully responsible for the child’s safety and welfare.
• On very rare occasions, Tara Mandala may make some exceptions to this policy based on the practice experience of the parent and the behavior of the child. This exception must be pre-approved by Lama Tsultrim and the Executive Director.
• The Children’s Temple (yurt) is available for children as an indoor play area at all times. We will provide materials for drawing, games and puzzles. Parents
should supplement with creative safe, non-toxic materials. Gifts of Dharma books or children of all ages are welcome. Parents or caregivers are responsible for supplying anything they have used and for leaving the yurt clean.
• Parents will be allowed to commute to closed silent retreats where children are not allowed. They should understand that they are required to attend all sessions.
• During partially silent retreats parents and children will eat on the West porch and children will not be asked to be silent there. This should be clearly announced
by the retreat manager at the beginning of each retreat. Retreatants wishing to avoid children can choose to dine in the Dining Room or the South side of the Community Building.
• A few Prajna Residence Hall rooms may be available to families in locations less likely to create disturbance to other residents. We ask parents to be mindful of sound in Prajna Residence Hall, within reason, and to abide by the 9:00PM sound curfew. For this reason, some families prefer to camp so their children have more freedom.
• Tara Mandala is a natural wildlife sanctuary and some of the buildings are not childproof. There are bears, mountain lions, and snakes on the land. Please make sure that your childcare provider and your child respectfully comply with any restrictions and boundaries as directed by Tara Mandala staff members. If exploring the land, they must carry bear spray with them at all times.
• Tara Mandala is not responsible or liable in any way for any accidents or injuries that happen to your child.
Thank you for your cooperation.
– Tara Mandala Board of Trustees