Learning Dharma Skills at PSL

Living in the Heart of the Mandala

“I feel I benefited spiritually and in my practice more than any other way. Being around other people interested in the Dharma, practicing regularly with the sangha, and being able to attend Rinpoche’s teachings helped strengthen my faith, understanding, and commitment in ways I hadn't imagined.” -Bonnie

“I felt that by assisting to uplift the mandala, I strengthened my own personal practice and the community's efforts toward building Rinpoche's beautiful vision. I felt great satisfaction with this.” -Jack

“My time at PSL provided me the incredible opportunity to set down my self-centered struggles and join in something inconceivably larger, in the enlightened unfolding that is the Rinpoches’ mandala. While taking part in such unquestionably beneficial activity is an enormous blessing in itself, for me the greatest blessing was the chance to see all the places in my daily work where I was not practicing the Dharma. Of course, PSL is the ideal environment to bring all those blind spots slowly onto the path, and being in the presence of a realized master such as Khenpo Rinpoche allows such integration to take place as a joyful act of love rather than a grind.” –Emmanuel

“I think it is the most wonderful experience I've had in recent decades. In the Learning Dharma Skills Program, I was able to bring my years of work experience to PSL in a way that reinforced strong ethical and moral precepts, while at the same time benefiting the center. Having the Dharma be integral to my everyday routine also reinforced the path of the Dharma; it was something I lived—before breakfast, after dinner, even during dreamtime—in a way I'd not experienced before in my life.” -Carol

“Before I participated in the Learning Dharma Skills Program at PSL I think I did not fully realize the importance of the sangha and the relentless support that it provides. The community at PSL radiates with such love and joy that you cannot help but be uplifted in your practice and have a brighter view of the world. During my time at PSL, I read a quote from the Words of My Perfect Teacher in which Patrul Rinpoche says that we should consider any being who inspires true bodhichitta in us to be a buddha. I remember having that thought so often at PSL because of the myriad ways in which people expressed their love to me, and to everyone else present and elsewhere.” -Jeff

“I spent two months at PSL doing volunteer work, which I cannot even call ‘work’ because it was pure pleasure. I fell in love with PSL from the first time I saw it, and later with the people who lived there. I think that was the best time of my life. Of course, I had lots of beautiful moments before it, but nothing can compare to the time I spent there. I cannot describe everything that happened to me at PSL, but coming back home I was already a different person—more mature, more spiritual, and more focused on the Dharma path. I remember a couple of times I had to almost pinch myself when I stood on top of the mountain—I firmly believed I was in Dewachen because it just couldn’t get any better. I had so many beautiful, amazing moments that when I think of them I become speechless. I’m very grateful to everyone who made it all possible: those who built this sanctuary, the people who support PSL, and those who work there. Now looking back at everything I’ve been through since then, I’m sure that I couldn’t do it without the Dharma in my life, and without spending this precious time in PSL. I wish everyone could visit this wonderful place and have the opportunity to stay there. I’m sure I will be coming back to PSL again.” -Dinara

"This program allowed me the opportunity to come to Dzogchen retreats by working, and with so many different areas of work needed, anyone can find their niche. Padma Samye Ling is ideal for getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and having some peace and quiet for meditation and reflection. I met so many wonderful fellow Dharma practitioners of all different levels of experience, many of whom will be friends for the rest of my life. Most of all, I am grateful for the opportunity to hear the teachings of Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche, and to be in his presence day after day."  -Kirk

Vajrayana and the Art of Lawn Mower Maintenance

There is a never-ending amount of work to be done here. Whether you stay three weeks, three months, or three years, there will always be grass to cut or snow to shovel, mowers to fix, rooms to clean, pots and dishes to wash, and lunches to cook.

If I had thought that way four weeks ago, I would have missed . . . Refuge with Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche and his smile; the milky way; skies painted by Monet; gifts from people I just met; authentic human beings who care about your spiritual progress; learning to change a gear on a rider mower (that I broke); sanding a door and thinking, “That’s some of my habitual patterns being sanded as well;” thinking you can’t do something and then being asked to do it, because some people have more faith in you than you do; moving the buddha statue auras; watching the leaves turn colors on 500 acres of trees; changing prayer flags and watching the wind wait in anticipation; seeing where Khenchen Palden Rinpoche sat and looked out from his cabin; touching heads with Jomo Lorraine; listening to intelligent people talk about matters of the heart; watching chipmunks and deer walk around without fear; dragging drain pipes with the ATV; making friends with people you would never meet in your “normal” life; doing malas while circumambulating the gonpa; learning how to bow; reading on the sangha house porch while it pours rain and you stay dry; having access to as many books on Tibetan Buddhism as you can read.

Two weeks in, I realized it wasn’t Laia who was asking me to sweep the gonpa—it was Khenpo Rinpoche. How difficult is it to sweep the floors compared to walking across the Himalayas from Tibet to India?

Yes, there is an endless amount of work to do at PSL, just like there is an endless amount of work I choose to do on myself (and when it’s done I’ll come back). I leave here wishing I could stay longer. Even as we enter winter, I have a strong foundation to continue my spiritual practice, a sense of how we limit our potential based on a past that has very little to do with the present, a new group of friends with similar priorities, and a teacher that I will have forever. -Charles