Stars at Dawn: Stories of Our Buddhist Foremothers as Guides and Inspiration

  • Tara Mandala Tara Mandala
  • Pagosa Springs, Colorado, United States
  • Sep 6 - 9, 2019 (4 days)
  • Camping - $320.00 Dorm Yurt, Men's - $392.00 Dorm Yurt, Women's - $392.00 Commuting - $320.00 Prajna 3-Bed Female Dorm/Family Room - $432.00 Prajna Double - $580.00 Prajna Queen Shared-Bed - $700.00 Prajna Queen Single - $980.00

About This Event

A Storytelling, Writing, and Practice Retreat

As wisdom rises, women seek connection with each other and with inspiring stories of strong women who have gone before. Until recently, Buddhist women—particularly Buddhist laywomen—have had few role models to turn to for inspiration and guidance. This retreat will open a window to our foremothers: the “first” Buddhist women (Maya, Mahaprajapati Gautami, Sujata, Yashodhara, Mrigi, Sundarinanda, Siddhartha’s harem wives), and others, , including goddesses or yakshis who embody the sacred feminine and whose stories in the ancient Mahayana and Pali literature have been largely suppressed by patriarchy. These stories of mothers, wives, daughters, solitary spiritual aspirants, and upholders of the Dharma hold an essential place at the root of all Buddhist lineages and schools. Together they valorize the women who participated at the dawn of Buddhism, presenting a more complete and gender-balanced picture of what actually took place. Like hidden termas, these women’s stories have reemerged during this time of awakening and wisdom rising.

Together we will tell stories of Buddhism’s first women, weaving insights with contemporary meanings and our own lives, through discussion, practice (walking and sitting), and journaling in an open process of discovery and sharing.

This retreat is open to all who identify as women.


Praise for Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha’s Life

“Garling shows us how women had determining agency in creating the Buddhist movement, skillfully helping us extricate ourselves from the patriarchal version.”

— Robert Thurman, Columbia University

“The great and brave women who brought equality to the dharma shine through rare and rich stories of their lives.”

— Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“A well-researched, intelligent, and sensitive retrieval of women’s lineage stories from the dawn of Buddhism.”

—Judith Simmer-Brown, Naropa University

“Empowers women to reclaim their shared Buddhist heritage.”

— Lion’s Roar

Suggested Dana: $160 – $200


"One cannot force or grasp a spiritual experience, because it is as delicate as the whisper of the wind." - Lama Tsultrim Allione.


Venue Highlights

Bordered by the San Juan National Forest and Southern Ute Tribal Land, Tara Mandala Retreat Center is on 700-acres of rolling hills and meadows adorned with many varieties of wildflowers, ponds, and forests. The land itself is a mandala with a stunning peak in the middle surrounded by four valleys. Retreat cabins are scattered across the landscape designed for deep retreat, and at its heart, is the extraordinary three-story Tara temple which celebrates the sacred feminine. The center has a Community Building, where residents and retreatants convene for meals, and other activities.


Tara Mandala offers a large residence hall (Prajna Residence Hall) for luxurious accommodations. Rooms have single or double beds. Private or shared bathrooms are available. Toiletries and towels are not supplied, so it is recommended that retreatants please bring their own. Retreatants can stay in one of our two Dorm Yurts. These yurts house 8-10 beds. We also offer a large camp-ground, for those who want to get back to nature for their retreat accommodation. For those who are camping and staying in yurts, showers are available in the Community Building, a short walk away. There are plenty of cubicles in the bathrooms to store your toiletries and personal belongings.


  • Free Parking
  • Kitchen
  • Coffee/Tea

Menu Types

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Organic
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Nut Free


All meals are delicious, vegetarian, made with all organic ingredients, and served buffet style. Kitchen staff ensure an abundant offering for every meal, in a variety of styles and culinary traditions. We offer tea stations in the Community Building and Temple, with a wide selection of teas and coffee, open 24 hours.


We are 90 minutes from the La Plata County airport in Durango (DRO) and 4 1/2 hours from the Albuquerque airport. The closest international airport is Denver (DIA). Our retreat land is a 25 minute drive from Pagosa Springs. You are responsible for arranging your own transportation. There are several options for ground transportation including professional shuttle services and rental cars from the airports in Denver, Durango, and Albuquerque. For ground transport from Durango Airport to Tara Mandala, we recommend Wilderness Journeys Pagosa. With this service, group discounts can be arranged for $50 each person, each way. A custom reservation is $100 one-way, $190 round trip. In addition to the options listed, you may be able to share a ride with other retreatants coming from various locations. There is a rideshare group listing to help you facilitate a rideshare at: (contact info blocked)

Thank you!

We're glad you've joined our retreat community. See you around :)

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Why Retreat?

We asked people why they go on retreat, here's what they said:

I'm having a baby in October and want to focus my practice so I can be present and calm! Laine

Retreat Guru's Vision

We believe human beings are innately wise, strong and kind. This wisdom, although not always experienced, is always present. Going on retreat is a beautiful way to reconnect to our basic sanity and health. Our aspiration at Retreat Guru is to inspire people to experience authentic retreats and reconnect with their innate wisdom, strength and kindness.

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