Upcoming Retreats

  • Commuting – $261.00
  • RV/Camper Van – $363.00
  • Women's Dorm – $399.00
  • Men's Dorm – $399.00
  • Women's Quad – $552.00
  • Men's Quad – $552.00
  • Private Room- Twin Bed – $705.00
  • Private Room- Double bed – $705.00
  • Private Cabin #1 - "Vajrapani" – $780.00
  • Private Cabin #2 - "Chenrezig" – $780.00
  • Private Cabin #3 - "Vajrayogini" – $780.00
  • Private Cabin #4 - "Chakrasamvara" – $780.00
  • Private Cabin #5 - "Tara" – $780.00
  • Private Cabin #6 - "Yamantaka" – $780.00

Transforming Problems Into Happiness – an Experiential Mind Training Retreat

Don Handrick

March 14 - 17, 2024

About the Retreat

Transforming miserable conditions into necessary conditions that help us move along the path to enlightenment has great benefit, especially in the exceptionally difficult times in which we live. … If you cannot make use of every condition that arises, both undesirable and desirable, you are in danger of losing the Dharma, and you will never achieve the unsurpassed and lasting happiness of enlightenment.” – Lama Zopa Rinpoche


Just before the Buddha attained enlightenment, Mara and his demon army shot scores of arrows at him, but as the arrows approached, they turned into flowers and fell harmlessly at his feet. Similarly, life never has a shortage of arrows that are flung at us either, whether they’re the everyday frustrations and annoyances or the more serious and challenging problems we are sometimes forced to face. In the same way that the Buddha turned Mara’s arrows into flowers, many of the past and present practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism utilize the teachings of lojong, or mind training, to transform their suffering into exactly what is needed to progress in their spiritual practice and attain happiness.


In this residential retreat we will examine the instructions in a short text by Jigme Tenpe Nyima and the advice given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on that text, as well as practice advice from other great masters of lojong, to aid us in the process of accepting and even welcoming adversity as a necessary and helpful support for our practice of the path to enlightenment. Our exploration of this timeless teaching will aim to reveal its richness and depth, and discover the practical advice for transforming all our thoughts to respond to our problems and difficulties with more compassion and insight. The retreat setting is a unique opportunity to immerse ourselves in the study of this important subject through the addition of daily meditations, discussion groups, and mindfulness practices between sessions to aid in integrating the teachings into our lives.

Registration Closes

March 11, 2024



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.


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.


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.







Don Handrick
Don Handrick is a touring teacher for the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), sharing the Dharma with centers and study groups in North America and other parts of the world, both in-person and online. Don’s study of Buddhism began in 1993 after reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Over the next two years he practiced with Sogyal Rinpoche’s organization, until he began attending classes in 1996 with Venerable Robina Courtin at Tse Chen Ling in San Francisco. Don left the Bay Area in 1998 to attend the FPMT’s Masters Program of Buddhist Studies in Sutra…
Learn more about Don Handrick