Upcoming Retreats

  • Commuting – $255.00
  • Women's Dorm – $390.00
  • Men's Dorm – $390.00
  • Women's Quad – $540.00
  • Men's Quad – $540.00
  • Private Room- Twin Bed – $690.00
  • Private Room- Double bed – $690.00

Cultivating the Mind of Enlightenment

Geshe Thubten Sherab

November 30 - December 3, 2023

Join us in this very special retreat with the wonderful and clear teachings of Geshe Thubten Sherab.  Geshe la will draw from his decades of teaching, studies, and deep practice to guide us in connecting with our own innate wisdom, love, and compassion.  Together we will generate and deepen our cultivation of the mind of Bodhicitta, the ‘enlightened mind’ that wishes to achieve enlightenment in order to lead all beings into that same state.  Through looking at Ultimate Bodhicitta and Conventional Bodhicitta we will deepen our understanding and practice, helping move this profound material from head to heart.


This retreat is be a combination of daily teaching and meditation sessions, as well as opportunities for Q & A with a highly experienced teacher.


“… it would be great to practice bodhicitta during both happy and painful times, both good and bad times, both while alive or dying, both in this life and future lives. It brings benefit to both oneself and others. It brings the benefit of both temporary and ultimate happiness.”
– His Holiness the Dalai Lama


More About Bodhicitta


Bodhicitta is a Sanskrit word meaning “the mind of enlightenment” or “the awakening mind”—the mind that wishes to achieve enlightenment in order to lead all other beings into that same state.


There are two levels of bodhicitta called Ultimate Bodhicitta and conventional bodhicitta. Ultimate Bodhicitta is the realization that the ultimate nature of all phenomena is the emptiness of inherent, or independent existence. To realize this, we need to cultivate two types of conventional bodhicitta called aspiration bodhicitta and application bodhicitta. Aspiration bodhicitta is wishing that all people be free from the causes of suffering and to have the causes of happiness. It is a state of mind that does not necessarily include compassionate activities. Application bodhicitta is performing actions that bring benefit to others; you really do something to help the people that you were thinking about when you were practicing aspiration bodhicitta.


Ultimate and Conventional Bodhicitta are the heart teachings and practice of Mahayana Buddhism. There is no way one can achieve Full Enlightenment without developing them. Also, one needs to cultivate them to find more peace, inner joy, and happiness while on the path in samsara and to be more helpful and beneficial to others.


As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “If you want to fulfill your own wellbeing, you should practice bodhicitta. If you want to fulfill the wellbeing of others, you must practice bodhicitta. If you desire temporary happiness, practice bodhicitta. If you want long-term, ultimate peace, practice bodhicitta. You must practice bodhicitta even when dying because it will help in future lives and you will be able to die peacefully. You practice bodhicitta while alive because it will make life meaningful. If you practice bodhicitta when happy, it will protect you from becoming arrogant and being distracted. If you practice bodhicitta when suffering, it will give you courage and you will not feel low and depressed.”


Student Level

Students of any experience level will have an amazing opportunity to learn and grow from this course.  People encountering Buddhism for the first time will benefit from the concise overview of  this Buddhist heart practice of cultivating Bodhicitta and the ample opportunities to ask questions.  More experienced students will find it a valuable way to deepen their understanding and practice. 


Teacher’s Offerings

Traditionally, spiritual teachings are considered priceless; remuneration of our teacher(s) 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.


Additional Information



About Varjapani Institute


Vajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture was the first Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Center in America.  Vajrapani aims to provide a friendly and conducive environment for people of all nationalities to learn and put into practice the teachings of the Buddha, and connect with other Dharma practitioners.  Located on 70 acres of secluded land within the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz mountains, Vajrapani Institute has been an immersive space for people of all backgrounds to find and deepen their spiritual practices, with the main goal of bridging the gap between the head and heart of practice.


About Retreat Fees (includes accommodation, 3 meals a day, and facility costs)


The collected registration fees include all accommodations, 3 nutritious vegetarian meals a day, and general facility/operating costs.  Retreat registrations help support the center to keep everything operating, allowing us to invite so many precious teachers, and to hold this precious space of 70+ acres of secluded redwood forest to allow guests to have the quiet, contemplative space to continue spiritual growth.


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 needed. If more assistance is necessary, we offer several scholarships. Please note that the scholarship deadline is one month before retreat begins.

Our utmost goal is to helps as many beings as possible to have the gift of retreat. If you have additional questions after reviewing the guidelines for payment plans and/or scholarships, please email the Office at office@vajrapani.org.




Geshe Thubten Sherab
Geshe Sherab was born in Manang, Nepal in 1967 as the second of five sons. He attended Kopan monastery at the age of 9 around 1976 and was ordained by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche. After 10 years of study in Kopan, he went to Sera Je Monastery for further studies in 1987, and graduated as a Geshe at the end of 1999. After that, he joined Gyumé Tantric College for a year and went on to teach young monks at Kopan for a year. In 2001 he was sent by Lama Zopa Rinpoche to New Mexico–to serve and help at…
Learn more about Geshe Thubten Sherab