Calm Abiding and Special Insight
- Vajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture
- 19950 Kings Creek Road, Boulder Creek, CA, USA
- Jul 3 - 7, 2019 (5 days)
- Commuting - $384.00 Camping - $500.00 Women's Dorm - $660.00 Men's Dorm - $660.00 Women's Quad - $704.00 Men's Quad - $704.00 Private Room- Double bed - $908.00 Private Room- Twin Bed - $908.00 Private Cabin - $1,068.00
- -Learn meditations for developing Calm-Abiding - the practice of developing single-pointed concentration, resulting in a calm, clear and focused mind.
- -Explore meditations in special insight - the investigation into the ultimate nature of reality.
- -Gain an understanding of Mahayana Buddhist approaches towards engaging in all actions for the benefit of others.
- -Strive to see world as it truly is, not as it appears—ultimately a more enlightened way of seeing.
-Two sessions of teachings with meditations and a tea break
-Break time for rest, hiking, yoga, personal time
About This Event
Who is it for?
Beginners are welcome and encouraged, as well as more advanced students wanting to review the stages of the path in an experiential format.
What is it?
Calm-Abiding (shamatha) and Special Insight (vipashyana) are two of the three principal aspects of the Buddhist path (the other being ethics).
Calm-Abiding is the practice of developing single-pointed concentration, resulting in a calm, clear and focused mind that can be used as a basis with which to conduct special insight—the investigation into the ultimate nature of reality.
Special Insight confronts the distorted view of reality that we share. The Buddha said these distorted views arise from our mental afflictions—such as attachment and anger—which are the root causes of our suffering. This distorted view of things leads to craving and attachment to the things we like and aversion to the things we don’t like. This in turn often leads to frustrations and dissatisfaction – the fundamental suffering nature of all things.
Join Geshe Gelek as he returns to Vajrapani for this illuminating retreat on Calm-Abiding and Special Insight infused with the Mahayana approach of engaging in all actions for the benefit of others. He will guide us on how we can use these wise teachings of the Buddha to generate the mind that strives to see the world as it truly is, not as it appears—ultimately a more enlightened way of seeing. Geshe-la will use the following texts, which unfortunately aren’t available yet in English:
Calm Abiding by Gu-ge Yons Dzin Lobsang Tenzin
Short Text on Critical Point of Emptiness by Yong Zin Yeshe Gyaltsen
As Geshe Lhundub Sopa described so clearly:
Mere shamatha is not sufficient for achieving either individual liberation from samsara or the Mahayana goal of perfect enlightenment for the benefit of others. Nor can those final goals be achieved by vipashyana alone. Tsongkhapa says that if it is dark and you want to see a painting clearly, then you need a butter lamp that both shines brightly and is undisturbed by wind. If the lamp is bright and clear but flickers in the wind, then you will not be able to see the painting clearly. If there is no wind, but the light from the lamp is weak, then you will not be able to see the painting clearly. In the same way, you can cultivate an understanding of emptiness – the ultimate nature of reality – using inference and logic, but the profound truth of emptiness is much clearer when seen through meditation. To have a direct realization of emptiness, you must have the very deep and profound meditation where all other senses, sense consciousnesses, and thoughts stop, so that only one consciousness – the wisdom penetrating to the depths of the truth – remains. Only if you have the unshakable stabilization of shamatha combined with penetrating insight of vipashyana can you see reality clearly.
Training in the Mind of Calm Abiding, Geshe Lhundub Sopa, Mandala magazine article.
Calming the Mind, Gen Lamrimpa.
Realizing Emptiness, Gen Lamrimpa.
Both of Gen Lamrimpa’s books are short, very readable and crystal clear.
Please plan on arriving between 3:00 and 5:00 PM on the first day of the retreat
Please plan on departing approximately 2:00 PM on the last day of the retreat
Consider reviewing our accommodations
For more detailed information, please see our FAQ
If you are interested in serving as Course Liaison for this retreat, please apply here.
Fees (includes accommodation, 3 meals a day, and facility costs)
The base fees listed above reflect the true cost of hosting visitors and are higher as a result. If you are financially able, we encourage you to please pay these fees. That said, we also offer subsidized fees designed to allow as many people as possible to attend. These fees are supported by generous contributions to Vajrapani Institute. You can access those fees by using a discount code that will be provided to you at registration checkout. The accommodations are the same for both options.
10% membership discounts are also applicable for members (please contact the Main Office)
Financial Aid/ Scholarships
We want to make retreat available to everyone. With this in mind, we will gladly work out a payment plan with you.If you need even more assistance, we offer several scholarships. Please note that the scholarship deadline is one month before retreat begins.
For detailed information on setting up a payment plan, please see Financial Aid: Payment Plans
To see if you’re eligible for a scholarship and how to apply for one, please see Financial Aid: Scholarships
If you have additional questions after reviewing the guidelines for payment plans and/or scholarships, please email the Office at (contact info blocked)
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.
“Retreat offers a situation where it’s possible to fulfill our basic human potential and develop all the positive qualities within ourselves.” – Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Venue HighlightsLocated off the grid in a remote forest location within the Santa Cruz Mountains our contemplative retreat center offers private retreat cabins and group meditation retreats . Everyone comments about how quiet and peaceful it is once they arrive and how the mind naturally settles. We have a beautiful Meeting/Meditation Hall that’s been blessed by 30 years of spiritual practice. Beautiful walking trails around the land and a longer hike with views of the Monterey Bay. We are also blessed with a number of stupas on the land. The main one is situated within close proximity to the main building. The others are up on Lama’s Ridge where the private cabins are located. Stupas are symbolic of the unlimited mind of all enlightened beings. Shakyamuni Buddha taught that performing spiritual practices at a stupa would have the same effect as making offerings to the Buddha himself.
AccommodationsOur main lodge building contains:
Women's Dormitory with 14 beds
Men's Dormitory with 12 beds
Two Semi-Private Dorms with 4 beds each
Four Private Rooms with a double bed each
One Private Room with a single bed
Two shared women's and men's bathrooms
We also have seven private cabins situated on a beautiful ridge above the Lodge. There is a shared private indoor bathhouse as well as outdoor showers with a fabulous view of the surrounding mountains. The private cabins have single beds and can be set up for double occupancy with the addition of a cot bed (for our group retreat participants only).
Lastly we have 36 camp sites around the land for you to bring your own tent to. Size of sites vary and can accommodate a 2-4 person tent. (tents are not provided and camping is only allowed while attending a group retreat)
- Free Parking
- Ceremony Space
- Gluten Free
- Dairy Free
Menu/CuisineVajrapani Institute is renowned for the deliciousness of its vegetarian cooking. Our meals are fully vegetarian and nutritionally balanced to offer you a supportive retreat experience. We can accommodate gluten, dairy, and soy allergies, as well as those on a vegan diet. We also have hot tea, pour-over coffee, and fresh fruit available at all times.
Breakfast: Includes hot porridge, stewed fruit, granola, yogurt, boiled eggs, and toast.
Lunch: The largest meal of the day, includes a grain, vegetable dishes, vegetarian protein, and salad.
Dinner: A lite meal with soup, salad, cheese, hummus, bread, and gluten-free crackers.
DirectionsLocated in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Boulder Creek, CA at the end of a five-mile dirt road on the border of Castle Rock State Park. While secluded, we are relatively close to the San Jose and San Francisco airports. About an hour to an hour and a half drive respectively.
If you are using a navigation system in your car or on your phone we recommend inputting the address of one of our local businesses, The Mountain Store at 125 Pool Drive in Boulder Creek CA 95006. Once your navigation system takes you there, you will drive less than a quarter of a mile on Pool Drive, turn left on Kings Creek Road, and follow Kings Creek Road for 5 miles. You should see occasional signs that let you know the distance left to travel and some prayer flags hanging over the road to let you know you are on the right path!
100% deposit refund for cancellation 30+ days before event.
50% deposit refund for cancellation 15-29 days before event.
0% deposit refund for cancellation 0-14 days before event.
The remaining balance (total price minus deposit) is due upon arrival.
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ReviewsWrite a review - tell others about your experience.
Josh Freund February 13, 2020
The Intro to Meditation retreat was really lovely. We were in meditation for about four hours a day -- plenty of good practice to get our meditation muscles in shape. Our teacher Elaine was kind, warm and caring, the food was amazing, the lodging was great, the location was beautiful. Highly recommend!
Carole Rey February 10, 2020
I had a great experience during the 4 days retreat. The logging was very clean and it was comfortable enough. The staff were very friendly. The nature surrounding was beautiful and quiet. I learned a lot about meditation with the teachings, I was able to connect to my true inner peace. The teachers were very loving, kind, compassionate, inspiring. I highly recommend this place.
Lori Michetti February 09, 2020
Just finished a 3 day meditation retreat at the Vajrapani center in Boulder Creek. The facilities were simple and comfortable. The food was primarily vegan and tasty. The staff was welcoming. The resident teacher had a nice voice and teaching style. After the first dinner it was a silent retreat so few distractions from the meditation practice. It was fairly intense but I learned I have potential.
Nicole Zito January 17, 2020
My visit to Vajrapani for the New Year's Vajrasattva retreat was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! Everything was wonderful, the retreat leader, Elaine was very skillful in her teaching method and had a very practical approach of sharing the Dharma. The location of Vajrapani was very conducive for retreat, very peaceful and vast, off the beaten path, the land and trails were beautiful. The women's dorm was very comfortable. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The food was amazing. I would definitely recommend a visit to Vajrapani for a group retreat or individual.
Ali Pef January 08, 2020
This retreat was truly special and transformational. There is a prominent energy shift when you come into the Vajrapani institute grounds. I felt charged with bliss and seriously relaxed. The staff are warm and welcoming and the food was really delicious based on wonderful recipes and made with the freshest ingredients. I had a wonderful time meditating at the stupa's and hiking the peace trail. Elaine, who was teaching the retreat made the mantras and prayers very understandable and her approach emphasized how important it was to focus on visualisation as well as reciting the mantra. After this retreat, I have a better understanding of the purpose of the Varjassatva purification practice and how to build on my own practice. Practising sitting, walking meditation and prostrations I was able to attain a sense of inner peace and blissfulness through the period of the course and saw positive changes in myself and when interacting with others when I left the retreat. Venerable Gyatso, who was assisting with teaching the course explained the translations of the mantras and read us stories about Buddha, which also helped understand the practice better. This retreat impacted me deeply and I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the New Year!! I am so grateful to Elaine, Vajrapani and everyone who made this retreat possible!!
Eliza Hannah January 06, 2020
This is an exceptionally beautiful, peaceful place in the redwood mountains. The retreat leader managed to adeptly address the various needs of a group with varied levels of experience so that everyone felt included and nurtured. Great community feeling! Staff is organized and attentive and food is fantastic.
Tal Abbady January 05, 2020
I just finished five-day Vajrassatva retreat at Vajrapani Institute, under the guidance of Elaine Jackson. It was a remarkable, transformative time. I've come away with a deep sense of renewal and gratitude for the existence of such a facility, its staff, and to Elaine for her profound teachings. Vajrapani is situated in a stunning, wooded area in the mountains - and its purpose is to facilitate the spiritual experience of its guests and affiliates. This was evident in the comfortable lodgings (I stayed in the Women's Dorm), the delicious vegetarian meals, the kindness of staff and the dharma teachings I received there. I feel so fortunate for my time at Vajrapani and highly recommend it to anyone seeking to disconnect and look within - whether in group retreats where you'll meet wonderful people or on solitary retreat. It's a precious gift.
Kyra Wiens January 02, 2020
Grateful to have spent five days in group retreat under the guidance of Elaine Jackson. Vajrapani is both simple enough to allow clear practice, while also catering to every retreater’s need for a comfortable and nurtured experience. Teacher Elaine is truly gifted.
Henry Cleveland January 02, 2020
Private stand alone cabins in the woods. Silent ridge. Rooms spacious enough for yoga practice. comfortable warm, plenty of windows. each has a deck looking onto hillside. Prepared food delivered daily plus cereals and stocked refrigerator available 24/7. Soul warming spiritual aura everywhere. Buddhist temple and sanctuary available. 3rd private retreat there. been there 5 other times in group retreats.
James D. Arena January 01, 2020
This is my 20th year at Christmas retreat. I've seen so many changes in environment and staff, but one thing is the same; the incredible love that the staff always emminate. That's why I come back every year. The Buddha spirit is strong.
Andre Jackson December 17, 2019
I loved the retreat center and my overall experience while I was there at Vajrapani. I wanted and needed a quiet place to reflect, have a practice without external obligations and to kind of reset; I needed time for my going to unravel and allow my head space to be in the moment and to be in a state of complete surrender. I was however a little dismayed by the road condition getting to the center and can only assume that it's very expensive to even gravel it, but it may something to address. Overall, my experience was excellent, i loved Kai's energy and the food was delicious.
Sharon Parker December 17, 2019
I recently attended a meditation retreat at Vajrapani. I found the accommodations to be very comfortable, the setting magnificent, the teacher very knowledgeable and approachable, the material "enlightening".... and the food divine. The staff was warm and welcoming. The entire retreat experience was memorable. I am looking forward to attending additional retreats in the future.
Naomi Tzril Saks December 08, 2019
From the kindness showed to me at drop off, to the exquisite simple perfection of the well appointed cabin, to the lovingly prepared meals delivered nearby each day and most importantly, the deep solitude, my week-long silent personal retreat was beyond-words sublime. The beautiful Vajrapani staff and community have manifested a sanctuary to remember the essential nature of our being. Dear all, I am profoundly grateful for the love and exquisite care that you and consciousness have poured into this sanctuary and land. Thank you, thank you, thank you. With love, Naomi
James Corbett November 27, 2019
I enjoy getting away for a few days at least once a year at one of Vajrapani's retreat cabins to let my mind quiet down and experience the joy of pure awareness.
Losang Tendrol November 04, 2019
I attended the Chenrezig initiation and teachings given by Khensur Rinpoche Losang Jampa and the one week compassion meditation retreat led by Elaine Jackson. Both retreats were unique in the depth of knowledge and level of practice that they offered. Vajrapani offers authentic Buddhist teachings in a serene, low key, sacred space. The Center is professionally managed and the vegetarian food is superb.
Michelle Nguyen October 29, 2019
Stayed in a ridge cabin at Vajrapani for a retreat. Cabin had beautiful views and center is in the center of redwood forests. There are amazing hiking trails, and the course itself was perfectly run. Recommend without reservations
Nadezhda Wein-Duffy October 25, 2019
I am a repeat retreater at Vajrapani Institute and always enjoy my time there. The food is healthy and flavorful, the setting is beautiful and I always feel the staff do their best to thoughtfully design and support beneficial retreats. All the teachers that I have studied with there were impeccable. I would highly recommend this retreat center to anyone with an interest in Buddhist retreats.
Victor Quintanilla October 21, 2019
I am so incredibly grateful for this precious jewel of the Vajrapani Institute, the magnificent and profound teachings of Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche, and the kindness of the community. I would highly recommend the Vajrapani Institute to anyone seeking to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism, particularly those seeking to follow in the footsteps and teachings of the Dalai Lama.
Bill Gimbel September 09, 2019
Just spent a week in group retreat and fell into the seduction of the land, facilities, and people that create of the three kayas of Vajrapani Institute.
David B August 19, 2019
I camped in a tent, they have amazing camping spots in the redwoods. The main building with cafeteria, bookstore, library, and prayer room. The library was one of my favorite places, to read after the meditation and teaching sessions at night. They have lots of tea available at all times.
Anonymous July 29, 2019
I felt cared for and supported by both the Staff and the Land. Attending Family Camp has been one of my best decisions as a mother. Thank you!!!!
Michelle Nguyen July 07, 2019
Rejoice that there is a place like Vajrapani in these times. Imagine a place where the purpose is entirely to help all sentient beings and to promote and support education and wisdom. I just came back from a calm abiding retreat here and cannot say enough how wonderful the experience was. The institute is situated in a redwood forest adjacent to Castle Rock- the setting was so beautiful and peaceful. When not in sessions, I was able to take day hikes which were themselves worth the entire stay. Many thanks to Steve and Wanda who were so lovely.
Leopoldo F Villela July 02, 2019
This retreat or exploration as Glen called quoting Alan Wallace, was excellent. Glen methodical, sequential and easy way to present these topics was wonderful, congruent and engaging. His competency with the material is superb and wide. The meditation part adds an experiential component that is moving and deep. I am thankful for his knowledge and humanity.
Joel Zighelboim July 01, 2019
I attended a 4 day retreat here and found it to be a wonderful, peaceful, beautiful nurturing environment, including the natural location, the facilities and the people involved. All facilities functioned well, including many resources such as library and hot drinks, the meals were fresh, healthy and provided with great spirit. Highly recommend this institute for retreat.
Jennifer Kim July 01, 2019
Their spiritual program is fantastic ... very authentic lineage of Buddhism with knowledgable, caring teachers. Love their land and food as well. The whole place is designed to help foster inner awakening.
Louis Buchetto June 17, 2019
I've just returned from a four-day retreat at Varrapaini; this was my first visit there. From the gracious reception to the warm and appreciative good-byes intention of caring for each other was deeply felt, and the land holds special energy in and of itself. Much Gratitude.