Upcoming Retreats

  • Women's Dorm – $175.00
  • Men's Dorm – $175.00
  • Women's Quad – $175.00
  • Men's Quad – $175.00
  • Private Room- Full bed – $175.00
  • Private Room- Single Bed – $175.00

This is a Pay-It-Forward Retreat: See below for details.

A Practical Guide to True Happiness: Spring Lam Rim Retreat

Elaine Jackson

March 27 - April 5, 2020


All Levels

Silence Level

Partial Silence

What is it?

If you are attracted to Tibetan Buddhism, but haven’t yet managed to take the plunge and explore what it’s all about, or if you have attended a few teachings and are eager to learn more about the Buddhist path to true happiness, this could well be the ideal course for you.

Comprising a combination of daily teaching and meditation sessions, as well as group discussions and opportunities for Q and A with a highly experienced course leader, this retreat is based on the time-honored “Stages of the Path to Enlightenment” (Lam Rim) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. As the name suggests, the “Stages of the Path to Enlightenment” offers a comprehensive, step by step guide to the Tibetan Buddhist teachings on the journey to full awakening. It is a synthesis of all the main topics addressed in the Buddhist Sutras (canonical scriptures). Subjects covered include: impermanence, karma, death and rebirth, developing loving-kindness, compassion and the awakening mind (bodhicitta), the ultimate nature of reality, and more.

This class will also teach you the fundamentals of Buddhist meditation, and give you the tools you need to begin or to further develop a daily meditation practice. Throughout the week, you will learn about the theory and practice of meditation, and will also be led in guided meditations on the subjects presented in class.

Who is it for?

Beginners are welcome and encouraged, as well as more advanced students wishing to review the stages of the path in an experiential format.

Retreat Background

A one-month meditation course was established in 1971 by Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu. Since then, the course has been held every year, attended by thousands of seekers looking for meaning and happiness in their lives. The course is based on the Lam Rim, or Stages of the Path teachings of the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism. This teaching format provides a systematic and practical approach to the Buddha’s teachings.

If Nepal is too far and too expensive for you to visit, join this unique retreat, modeled after Kopan Monastery’s month-long November course, right here in California!

For a fascinating glimpse of the way that Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche (our founders) used to teach Lam Rim back in the Seventies, check out YouTube.  The featured excerpt is called “Making the  Most of Your Life.” We invite you to join this course, and make the most of yours 🙏!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tp4EDY_Xro&t=526s

Suggested reading

Additional Information

If you are interested in serving as Course Liaison for this retreat, please apply here.

This is a Pay It Forward Retreat!

There are no fees for this retreat.

That’s right. No fees. The retreat is offered to anyone who participates. It’s an experiment we started at 2012’s Kopan West- Lam Rim retreat in the spirit of making the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) freely available to all.

If it is being offered, who pays for my retreat?

Your retreat has been sponsored by someone who came before you and by past benefactors. Because it’s a gift, you can’t pay them back – but you can pay-it-forward by making a contribution that will allow future retreatants to experience the same generosity.

How does this donation system work?

At the end of the retreat, you will have the opportunity to make a donation based on what feels right in your heart. 100% of the proceeds will go towards supporting future retreatants to keep the generosity going. No pressure or questions asked. Let your heart decide what you would like to offer.

Is there a deposit?

A $175 deposit is required to reserve a space. Your deposit will be refunded as long as you attend the retreat in full. No refunds for cancellations.

How do I choose the accommodation?

Once you start the registration process, you’ll see details of the accommodations that are available from camping, dorms, or private rooms. All accommodations are made available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Is partial attendance allowed?

In order to provide the most conducive conditions for retreat, we hold full time, residential retreats only. This allows the group energy to build and minimizes distractions, so you can gain the full benefit of retreat. See our FAQ for more information. Some exceptions can be made for special circumstances and will need the approval of the teacher and our Community Relations Coordinator (CRC) before the retreat begins. Please contact our office at office@vajrapani.org.

Teacher’s fees

Traditionally, spiritual teachings are considered priceless; remuneration of our teachers is not included in the fee information detailed on this page. Instead, we invite you to consider bringing a cash donation with you to express your gratitude for the teachings. Participants get a chance to present a cash offering to the teachers on the last day of the retreat and this is supplemented by a donation from Vajrapani Institute. Please note that we don’t offer a credit card option for teacher’s fees.


Elaine Jackson
Elaine Jackson is a founding member of Vajrapani Institute and has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1977. She has studied with many of the greatest Buddhist teachers of our time including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Thubten Yeshe, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche and many others too numerous to list. Elaine is known for the warmth and humor with which she teaches. In particular, she loves sharing the wealth of practical insights she has gained from her years of retreat and service within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Elaine served as Executive Director of Vajrapani Institute…
Learn more about Elaine Jackson