Tibetan hand drum

Chöd: Ultimate Compassion Practice

Dr. Lama Alta Brown

April 8–11, 2022

Tuition $0

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The English Version of the Surmang Chöd

Chöd is a practice of compassion. As Vajrayogini, meditators offer the visualization of their body to the beings they invite to three feasts. The feasts are the activity of the Buddha Vajrayogini. Through her activity, the energies of the “god-demons” are transmuted. The demons, whether negative emotions, illness, or hostile beings in other realms, are transformed into companions and friends. This is the ultimate practice of generosity. This is the magic of compassion.

This compassionate activity is so effective that it has been used for many centuries to heal mental illness in Tibetan communities. During periods of pandemic it was the Chöd practitioners who ministered to the sick and dying. You can learn more about Chöd practice at EverydayChöd.com.

Chöd is also a Mahamudra practice. It can be practiced from the perspective of mahayana or vajrayana. For this reason, mahayana practitioners and vajrayana practitioners canpractice together in the same practice situation. These two groups will simply have different kinds of experiences. Both are welcome, provided they have taken Bodhisattva Vows or are willing to take them at the retreat. 

PLEASE NOTE: this registration page is for attending on Land at Drala Mountain.
If you want to register for the ONLINE portion, please follow this link.
Please review and understand SMC’s current COVID-19 policy before visiting SMC.

Participants Can Expect

  • The opportunity to take Bodhisattva vows
  • The opportunity to participate in two sessions of the Daily Practice of Chöd
  • Q&A sessions about the practice
  • Explanations concerning the most important aspects of the practice, including the role of the “god-demons”
  • Instructions on the use of the Chöd damaru, bell, and kangling
  • Instruction on the abbreviated Chöd practice

Prerequisite

This program is for experienced Chöd practitioners and those interested in becoming Chöd practitioners. Participants need to have an active meditation practice, such as with shamatha or vipassana meditation.

Participants must have taken the Bodhisattva Vow or be ready and willing to take the Vow at the retreat.  

If you are trying to decide whether this retreat is for you,  please contact Lama Alta Brown at alta@everydayChöd.com. You can learn more about Chöd practice at EverydayChöd.com.

Required Texts

Participants will need to have the full and modified abbreviated Offering One’s Body: The Daily Practice of Chöd practice texts with them during the retreat. Experienced practitioners should bring their texts with them to the retreat.

New practitioners will need to select the $25 materials fee during registration to receive the texts during the retreat.

Anyone registering less than two weeks prior to the start of the retreat will have the option to purchase xerox copies of the texts upon arrival for $9. 

Program Preparation

Chöd damaru and bell

Tibetan hand drum

Tibetan Hand Drum (damaru) courtesy of Himalyan Art Resources item 3314345

It is recommended (but not required) that new Chöd practitioners purchase in advance and bring with them a Chöd damaru and bell. A personal damaru and bell is strongly recommended for those who have Chöd as their main practice. A Chöd damaru and bell can be found at the following locations:

  • Vajra Vidya Retreat Center–Crestone, CO
  • Tara Mandala–Pagosa Springs, CO
  • Tibet Gallery–Boulder, CO
  • Old Tibet–Boulder, CO
  • Dharmaware–Woodstock, NY
  • Potalagate.com– Eugene, OR
  • many others can be found online

Optional Suggested Reading:

  • Women of Wisdom, by Tsultrim Allione
  • Machig Labdron and the Foundations of Chod, by Jerome Edou
  • Machik’s Complete Explanation, translation by Sarah Harding

Bodhisattva Vow Preparatory Suggested reading:

  • Becoming Bodhisattvas, by Pema Chödrön
  • Entering the Way of the Bodhisattva, by Khenpo David Karma Choephel

Schedule

Friday April 8th

2-5pm                    Arrival and registration

5:30pm                  Welcome & Orientation

6:00-7:00pm         Dinner

7:00pm                  Bodhisattva Vow meeting  

7:30-8:00pm         Bodhisattva Vow

8:00pm                  Introduction to Chöd Practice

 

Saturday April 9th

7:30-8:30am           Breakfast

9:00am-12:00pm   Daily Practice of Chöd session

12:30-1:30pm          Lunch 

2:00-3:00pm          Individual interviews with Lama Alta Brown

3:00-3:30pm          Q&A session

3:30-4:30pm          Critical aspects of the Chöd practice

4:30-5:00pm          Tea break

5:00-6:00pm          Discussion groups

6:00-7:00pm          Dinner

7:30-8:30pm           Damaru and bell instrument instruction

 

Sunday April 10th

7:30-8:30am           Breakfast

9:00am-12:00pm   Daily Practice of Chöd session

12:30-1:30pm          Lunch

2:00-3:30pm          Tsok (Feast Practice)

4:00-5:00pm          Individual interviews with Lama Alta Brown

6:00-7:00pm          Dinner

 

Monday April 11th

7:30-8:30am          Breakfast

9:00-10:30am        Abbreviated Chöd practice 

10:30-12:00am       Q&A session (online prioritized)

12:00pm                 Blessing line (END of program)

12:30pm                 Lunch

Scholarships

Click here to learn more about Financial Assistance and Scholarships.

Recording

Presentations, Q&A sessions, and the Abbreviated Chöd practice session will be recorded. Daily Practice of Chöd sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings will not be recorded. Recordings will be available for registered participants to download for 30 days after the program ends.

Heart Gift

Toward the end of your retreat you will be asked if you would like to make a heart gift to the teacher. In Shambhala and other wisdom cultures, people often make heart gifts to those who have made receiving precious teachings possible. The heart gift is purely optional and based on personal inspiration and gratitude. The amount is not important, just your inspiration to give, connect, and explore the cycles of generosity and offering. A Paypal link will be provided to make a heart gift to Lama Alta Brown directly. Cash or checks will also be accepted from participants at SMC.

Dr. Lama Alta Brown

When Trungpa Rinpoche arrived in Boulder CO, Lama Alta immediately connected with him and studied as his student. After Trungpa died she studied, and continues to study, with Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. She was introduced to Chöd by Khenpo Tsültrim at the monastery in Pullahari, Nepal. He supervised her practice while she did an individual 3-year Chöd retreat. Eventually, he began to send her students. She has been practicing Chöd since 1996 and has been teaching this practice since 1999.

Dr. Brown completed her doctoral work at the University of Southern California, specializing in Buddhist Ethics. She wrote her dissertation on Mediation as a Bodhisattva’s Practice of Peace. She subsequently taught at the University of California at Berkeley through The Graduate Theological Union where she emphasized aspects of Buddhist ethics. She also taught for The Semester in India program through Antioch University and, for five years, taught weekend retreats through The Immaculate Heart college center at The Retreat Center La Casa De Maria. Dr. Lama Alta Brown currently leads an international Chöd sangha. Much of her training in compassionate activity developed out of her experience as the mother of six children.

Program Details

Registration takes place from 2– 5 pm on your program start date. All participants and volunteer staff must check in at our Guest Registration house. Please arrive before 5 pm to check-in and settle into your accommodations. Your program begins with dinner, followed by an orientation. The Guest Registration house closes at 5 pm after which no one is available to provide information or orient you to your accommodations. All programs usually end at 12:30 pm on the program's departure date, followed by lunch. Further specifics regarding your program's schedule will be available upon arrival. If applicable, you will receive an email from the program coordinator in the week prior to your program with any additional information you may need.