March 2021 update — the center remains closed for large group events, due to COVID. Strictly no drop-in visitors please.
However, we are hoping that it will be possible to welcome you again in the near future! For households/pods of up to 8 people wishing to rent a single house at the center, please see www.blackmountaincenter.com, and email firstname.lastname@example.org to check availability. We are also on Airbnb at airbnb.com/h/tara-house-in-the-hills.Here is our standard retreat information, for your reference if considering a stay later in the year when we open up —
We are pleased to welcome everyone to our dharma events at the Padmasambhava Peace Institute. Please take the time to read through the following information before arriving for the retreat. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us on 707-632-5629 or email us.
Registration and Payment
Payment is by cash, check or credit card made in advance. Places are only confirmed on receipt of payment. To pay, please use the online registration form found on each event’s page. Please do NOT send any credit card details via email.
Check-in on arrival is required for ALL participants. Please ensure that you allow enough time to drive to PPI-Ati Ling, check-in and settle in before the retreat starts. At check-in you will receive your receipt for payment, be asked to read and sign a liability release form, get your job assignment and find out where you are staying. The registration/check-in office is the Dining Hall — the second building on the left as you enter the main camp area.
Driving to PPI
Please take care on Fort Ross Road, which is narrow and winding, and in some sections there are deep drainage ditches right at the road edge, often hidden by tall grasses. Coming up from the coast is somewhat safer than from Cazadero, but still requires care. Some local drivers go very fast, and do not stick to their side. We advise all guests to proceed slowly and with caution, and to sound the horn on blind corners if they wish.
The gift of dharma is one of the most precious offerings anyone can make, and is a source of great merit and joy. If you would like to sponsor partial or full attendance for someone in financial difficulty, please call 707-632-5629 to discuss how you could arrange such an offering, or email us.
Rooms are clean, comfortable, and heated, with single and double beds. There are no bunk-beds. A small number of semi-private shared rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis according to payment received. Screens are provided for some areas also. Toilets and showers are located down the corridor from the dorms. You need to provide your own bedding (ie sleeping bag and/or blankets, sheets if desired, and a pillow, as well as towels) or rent for $10 per event. Please note that temperatures at PPI can drop considerably at night, even in the summer.
Private rooms in the main Tara (lama) house may be available, for single or double occupancy. Bathroom is shared and co-ed. You do not need to bring bedding or towels — everything is provided. Please check with the registrar if rooms are available.
Children are always welcome at PPI, but we ask that parents who plan to bring their children contact us in advance to discuss supervision arrangements. Parents individually or collectively take full responsibility for retreat children’s welfare. Children up to 12 years of age must have adult supervision at all times.
There is a separate kid’s room within the main shrine-room. Children are welcome to sit, play or move around in there or in the shrine room as long as parents ensure that disturbance to others is kept to a minimum. If your child becomes very disruptive, please take care of him or her outside of the shrine room. We ask that other retreatants support and enjoy the participation of children in the retreat by practicing patience and understanding!
The corridor in the Manzanita Rooms building houses a collection of toys and books for children of all ages, and we also have a limited supply of artwork materials available. Children are welcome to play in the outdoor playground (swings, climbing net etc) by the staff house, but adult supervision is required. The asphalt area away from the shrine-room is ideal for riding trikes/bikes provided an adult stays close by, since cars continue to drive in and out occasionally.
There is no separate living-room or lounge at PPI for retreatants outside of puja hours or for older kids during the day. Please instead make yourself comfortable in the sofa corner in the dining-hall, the sofa area by the Manzanita Rooms, or any of the garden areas or terrace by Tara House. Note that the staff house is for residents only and retreatants should only go there for emergency purposes.
PPI is located in an area of high fire risk, whatever the current weather conditions, and we ask for everyone’s assistance in keeping the land safe. Fires, candles, and incense are never permitted. Campfire in the central area only by prior arrangement with the staff. Smoking is strictly forbidden at all times.
The property is home to many species of wildlife, and we respect their right to a safe and happy existence. At the same time we request visitors take responsibility for avoiding unwanted encounters with creatures such as rattlesnakes. Please stick to marked trails and avoid disturbing areas that may be an animal’s habitat. If you see snakes in the vicinity of the buildings, please tell a member of staff who will remove it carefully.
There are several sections of the buildings which contain dangerous machinery or equipment – please ensure that you and any children you are supervising observe all ‘Keep out’ signs.
The use of tobacco products and recreational drugs is not permitted at any time. Also, please do not bring meat or alcoholic drinks onto the property.
Telephone / Internet
Cell phones do not work at PPI or in much of the surrounding area. You can drive back up to the main road to make or receive calls if necessary — a 5 minute drive. A calling card can be used for making calls on the land-line during office hours if necessary (only during scheduled breaks). Our telephone number 707-632-5629 can be given to friends and relatives as an emergency contact.
Internet is available on a limited basis during retreats – wireless access is possible and we ask guests to be mindful of our bandwidth. Uploads/downloads of movies, photos, music is not allowed. Thank you for your understanding.
Laundry facilities will not be available during this retreat.
Lotus Light Store
The Lotus Light Store stocks practice items, sadhanas, photos, books, gifts, cards, CDs, thangkas and other art work, a selection of clothing including chubas, snacks, basic toiletries and items such as flashlights. Opening hours will be posted during the event. We accept cash, checks and credit cards. Due to the limited amount of cash held in the store, however, please ensure you bring enough change for offerings you wish to make during the event. Learn more about our store: Lotus Light
What To Bring
CUSHION FOR THE SHRINE ROOM if you think you will need to use more than the single one we can offer you! Chairs and small tables are available for those unable to sit on the floor.
Texts — for those who have the empowerments, please bring texts for daily puja (Wrathful Guru, Red Tara, Riwo Sangchod, Essence of Ongoing Yoga, Vajrakilaya, Protectors, Lion-faced Dakini, concise Chod) long-life prayers and Galaxy of Heartdrops. Copies of many texts, photos, thangkas and related books are available for sale at the Lotus Light store at PPI.
Any medication or toiletries you will need
Sleeping bag/bedding, blanket, pillow, towels, if staying in the dorms and not paying for bedding
Ear-plugs if you are disturbed by snoring, nasal strips if you’re a snorer!
Warm- and cool-weather comfortable clothing (layers work best)
Rain gear including suitable shoes for wet weather – Cazadero can get very wet
All meals are vegetarian. Food is prepared and eaten in the large kitchen/dining area in the center of PPI. Snacks and food are NOT allowed in the dormitories at any time. A refrigerator is in the dining-hall for individual retreatants’ use, along with a table for people to leave their food items, boxed/bagged and clearly labeled.
We offer a range of fresh fruits, gluten-free and organic whole-grain breads, and stock both dairy and soya milks. However, if you follow a restricted or specialist diet and require items such as vegan spreads, desserts (eg wheat-free cookies) or drinks (eg rice or nut milks), please be sure to bring your own supplies, since in order to keep our costs competitive, we cannot guarantee that we will provide all such items.
If you have a serious food allergy or medical condition we should know about, please contact us as soon as possible. (All information kept strictly confidential). We regret that we are unable to accommodate anyone with serious peanut or tree-nut allergies, as we cannot guarantee non-contamination by other food products.
Traditionally, an offering is made to the lama after teachings or empowerments, whether in the form of money, gold, a katag or simply flowers. Tibetan offering scarves (katags) can be purchased at the Lotus Light Store, and envelopes for monetary offerings will be provided. Offerings can also be made during the retreat for Tsog and Butterlamps. Please bring enough cash in the denominations you need, as the store only has a very limited amount of change it can provide for offerings. (Please note: If Tsog donations are greater than Tsog expenses, any excess Tsog donations may be used for other retreat expenses.)
Shrine room and library are available for silent personal sitting or study outside of session hours.
If this information does not answer all your questions, please contact us as soon as possible by phone or email as detailed above, and we will do our best to help. We look forward to welcoming you to PPI for this auspicious occasion!