Retreat at Tsechen Kunchab Ling

Both the White Tara and Vajrakilaya retreats at Tsechen Kunchab Ling will be supervised solitary retreats. Khenpo Khenrab Woser will provide advice before you enter retreat, and also check in regularly during your retreat to answer any questions. Following the Vajrakilaya retreat, he will lead students in performing a Vajrakilaya fire puja.

A closed solitary retreat is a major spiritual and logistical undertaking.

Logistically, His Holiness has recommended that people who are not U.S. citizens or do not have a U.S. visa which permits them to stay in the country for the duration of their retreat undertake retreat in their home country. Doing retreat in your home country will also ensure that the language, weather and food is suited to your personal habits and experience. Non-U.S. citizens are welcome if their visa permits them to stay and they are comfortable with basic English.

Spiritually, those who wish to undertake retreat must first seek the approval of His Holiness the Sakya Trichen about whether they are ready to begin deity retreat at this time or if they should complete more preliminary practices first. You may seek His Holiness’ advice in person, or by e-mail to His Holiness at

Once you have secured any necessary visas to remain in the U.S. and have His Holiness’ spiritual blessing, if you wish to do the retreat at Tsechen Kunchab Ling, next it is necessary to request permission from the temple’s abbot, Khenpo Kalsang Gyaltsen to stay at the temple’s retreat center for the duration of retreat. If permission is received and space is available, an offering of part of the retreat cost is necessary to secure your reservation.

The generosity of kind sponsors has made it possible for Tsechen Kunchab Ling to construct a retreat facility on the temple grounds. Five retreat rooms are available at this time and more will be constructed over the coming years. If space is not available, you may consider doing retreat at a different time, doing the retreat at home, or finding another retreat facility.

The retreat format at Tsechen Kunchab Ling is a traditional closed retreat. More information on how this is to be done will be given during the retreat training sessions. You should know that after you are ritually sealed into your room and the retreat starts, you will have no outside communication and see only a few people you designate in advance: a lama, a retreat assistant, and your grocery delivery person.

Please note that in order to fully calm the mind, withdraw it from the world, and focus it on meditation, no phones or electronic devices will be allowed during your retreat. Just before your retreat starts, you will lock them and any other unneeded valuables such as money, purses, etc. away for safekeeping until your retreat ends.

During your retreat, you will prepare your own simple food in your retreat cabin.  Once a week, you will be able to purchase groceries charged to your credit card using a “shop from home” service from a local grocery store. Your account will be charged for the groceries which will be delivered to your retreat room.

Once every two weeks, your retreat assistant will collect your laundry, leave it at a local laundromat with a wash and fold service, and return it to you. Your account will be billed for the cost.

Please bring a good supply of any prescription medication you take sufficient to last for the duration of your retreat, and also remedies for common minor discomforts such as headaches, colds, constipation, etc.,

Please tell your family that they should not expect to hear from you for the duration of your retreat.  The temple will serve as your emergency contact. If something very serious arises for you or your family, the temple will pass messages to you.

Each retreatant will occupy their own private retreat room with a shrine, private shower and toilet, sink, sleeping mattress with pillow, straight chair, small dining table, refrigerator, microwave, and cook pot. Your sleeping mattress will also serve as your meditation cushion in order to conform to the traditional advice that a retreatant’s cushion should never grow cold.

You should bring everything else you need, including:

  • your preferred sleeping/meditation mattress/cushion
  • 2 sets of sheets for a single mattress, both fitted and flat. The extra set will allow the sheets to be periodically washed.
  • sleeping bag or blankets
  • alarm clock that does not include a radio.
  • offering bowls, images, everything you wish for your shrine except the shrine table and tablecloth
  • soap, towel and washcloth. Bring several as laundry is done only once every two weeks
  • trashbags, paper towel, toilet paper, etc.
  • a journal and pen
  • secondary meditation cushion if you desire.
  • Do NOT bring pets.

There are two types of costs for your retreat: 1) Basic offering and 2) Your own expenses.

1) The basic offering is deposited to a special fund to make it possible for the temple to build more retreat cabins in the future. It covers your retreat room and its long-term maintenance, repairs, furnishings, electricity, water, and insurance. The amount of this offering is based on your financial situation, with your monthly mortgage payment or rent as a rule of thumb. The minimum for those on the most limited budgets is $800 per month. The first half of your basic offering is due after His Holiness the Sakya Trichen’s and Venerable Khenpo Kalsang’s permission is received and reserves your reservation for your room. The second half is due when you arrive at the temple to begin your retreat.

2) Your own expenses. You will incur expenses for groceries, laundry, and other necessities. You will charge your groceries to your credit card. Before you start your retreat, you will need to pre-pay your credit card so that during retreat there will be enough money to cover your groceries. The temple will keep a list of your other costs such as laundry, etc. and you will reimburse the temple for these once the retreat is ended.  Also, it is customary to offer tokens of appreciation to the abbot of the temple and those who have assisted you during your retreat and the conclusion of the retreat.

If after careful consideration you feel spiritually and logistically ready to secure His Holiness’ and Khenpo Kalsang’s permission to undertake the retreat and reserve your space, please send an email to His Holiness through Chodrungma Kunga Chodron at, followed by an email to Khenpo Kalsang at the same address. She will assist you in contacting them.

If you have additional questions about the retreat, please contact Chodrungma Kunga at 301-906-3378 or  May your virtuous aspirations to undertake retreat swiftly and easily come to pass!