Past Events


Himalayan Melodies Meet Western Music: Buddhist Songs of Celebration and Compassion

On December 17, Jefferson Tibetan Society, in partnership with Unity, presented a special musical program that involved mantras with Lama Tashi’s chanting in combination with Western instruments. The program included traditional tunes from Lama Tashi’s Himalayan home region of Arunachal Pradesh in India, where as a child he participated in the community gatherings to celebrate a spiritual holy day that occurred at the end of the growing season. Lama Tashi has worked with Western musicians to create song sheets with English phonetics of Tibetan verses. He discussed these verses and then led the group in chanting them with instrumental accompaniment.

Tibetan Yoga and Meditation Practices for Serenity and Transformation

In this 8-week series held in October – November 2023, Lama Tashi guided us in rare rarely-taught, alchemical practices described in Mastering Meditation by His Eminence Chöden Rinpoché–  one of the greatest meditation masters of the modern age. These practices included:

  1. Physical movements to make the body supple and align the channels (nadis) and energy centers (chakras), so that subtle energy (prana) can flow optimally and clearly. 
  2. Breathing techniques (pranayama) designed to balance the right and left energy channels, pacify the mind, and attune the subtle energy system. 
  3. Foundational calm-abiding (shamatha) meditation practices to help the mind return to single-pointed clarity and lucidity. 

A Sacred and Sound Approach to Happiness: Five-Session Series

In this in-depth five session series held in Fall 2023 at The Center at Belvedere, Lama Tashi shared his powerful chanting, led  guided meditations and gave teachings on the following practices. Each session worked with a different deity and mantra that helped us invoke and embody a new dimension of happiness:

  1. Compassion and Altruism with Avalokitesvara
  2. Sacred Wisdom and Patience with Manjushri
  3. Self-Empowerment and Inner Strength with Vajrapani
  4. Mindfulness and Enlightened Healing with Medicine Buddha
  5. Protection and Contentment with Tara

Saga Dawa, the celebration of Shakyamuni Buddha’s birth and enlightenment

June 4, 2023

At 5:00 a.m. — There was an opportunity to take 1 day Mahayana Vows. 1:00 p.m. — meditation, reflection & prayers including recitation of the Heart Sutra for generating peace for our community & world, as well as for removing obstacles in our lives.

Rewilding the Heart, a Weekend Retreat with Lama Willa Blythe Baker

April 28 – 30, 2023 at Bridge Between the Worlds, Keswick, Va. 

From the Buddha to the Dzogchen yogis of Tibet, ancient masters have long relied on the power of the natural world to nurture peace and awaken insight. Following their example, we too can learn to commune with and receive teachings from the natural world. Join Lama Willa as we explore the power of trees, streams, ponds, open skies, leaves, birds, animals, and winding paths to open us to the meaning of meditation.

Rewilding the Heart is inner work that helps us attune to the wisdom and love that are always flowing around and through us, the non-conceptual voices of the natural world that seek to draw us home to our deepest being, our core of authentic compassion, kindness, and availability to extend ourselves to each other and the wider world.

Through rekindling our innate interconnectedness with the natural world, we simultaneously discover the spacious, luminous, and awake qualities of our own being. Within this web of interconnectedness, we discover that liberation from suffering and the freedom to realize our aspirations are not about transcending the human condition, but about finding the inherent freedom within it.

Witnessing the Wild, a public talk with Lama Willa Blythe Baker

Wed. April 26, 2023

With Lama Willa Blythe Baker, Founding Teacher and Spiritual Co-Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship

What would it mean to engage with meditation practice as an act of bearing witness? How do we meet the great uncertainties that seem to be a hallmark of our time? How can uncertainty and wildness awaken us? In this public talk, co-sponsored by Jefferson Tibetan Society (JTS) and Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville (IMCC), Lama Willa explored the concept of “witnessing” as a way to connect, center and eventually enter into intimacy with the world as the foundation for mindful action.

Losar (New Year) and Great Prayer Festival celebration

Saturday, February 25th

Lama Tashi led us in chants, meditation and a talk on the power of hope with the Lo Sar/ New Year of the Water Rabbit and the Great Prayer Festival time that is celebrated in honor of the Miraculous Deeds of Buddha Shakyamuni. 


Blessing of the Charlottesville EcoDharma Collective’s River ‘N Rocks Ecospot Refuge

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Riverview Park, 1908 Chesapeake St., C’ville VA 22902

Local Dharma practitioners representing 6 different Buddhist Dharma groups in our area have adopted a plot of land from the City of C’ville Parks & Recreation to create a serene outdoor meditation and yoga space. Trails to “meditation rooms” along the Rivanna River have been cleared, and a circle of large, flat river rocks invites peaceful reflection. This was a celebration and blessing for this land, as well as for enhanced peace and harmony for our Charlottesville community.

Multiphonic chanting by Lama Tashi, followed by teaching and group practice of the Heart Sutra

Friday Oct. 7, 2022

The Center at Belvedere, 540 Belvedere Blvd. C’ville VA, 22901.

The Heart Sutra is the best-known text of Mahayana Buddhism.  As part of the larger ancient Prajnaparamita (perfection of wisdom) Sutra, its deep and profound meaning is studied and practiced in order to embody the brilliance of wisdom & compassion, which is beyond all words.


Weekend retreat with Lama Willa Blythe Baker — Embodying Natural Awareness

April 19th – Sun. April 21st, 2019

This human mind—it never seems to stop for a moment. One moment we are thinking about the past. The next we are worrying about the future. Rarely do we dwell in the present moment. But when we do, we begin to discover there is more to this mind than busy-ness and distraction. There is another dimension of the mind, called in the tradition of Buddhism “natural awareness”. Natural awareness is the mind that dwells in the vivid and spacious immediacy of the present moment.

To dwell in natural awareness takes training. In the tradition of Tibetan meditation practice, two paths are traveled side by side. One path—the non-dual traditions of Mahamudra and Dzogchen—emphasize sharpening and training the mind. Another path—the practices of Buddhist tantra—recognize the the power of the body to catalyze the fruits of awakening. As the Hevajra Tantra states, “Great wisdom lives in the body.” 

When we combine these two approaches, it is possible to access natural awareness not as an idea or concept, but as an embodied experience. In the process, we are invited into the possibility that the fruition of meditation practice is closer than we think. 

This weekend meditation retreat explored techniques and approaches for becoming acquainted with natural awareness, as a lived experience.

This retreat was held at a lovely retreat setting, Akasha Retreat Center,, about 35 min. northwest of Charlottesville, with beautiful mountain views. 

Events prior to 2019

“Lo Sar” Tibetan New Year Celebration

Join us for our Tibetan New Year Celebration annually around February. We will be meeting for meditation, prayers, Heart Sutra recitation and sharing of the auspicious customs of the Mon Lam time of practice.  Social time with tea & snacks will follow at 11:30.   All are welcome!

New Years Eve Practices                                                                                                                   December 31st, 5:00pm to 7:00pm and January 1st, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m
We will be having special New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day practices and hope you’ll join us! We’ll be focusing on purification meditation practice (Vajrasattva), shamatha meditation, & the Heart Sutra for blessings for our wisdom practice. (Please note that we will be doing a form of Vajrasattva meditation that does not require having had the empowerment.) It’s a good way to end the year & start our new year off on the right foot. We’ll be dedicating our practice for personal purification, for the well-being of our center, and for increasing peace in our world.

Annual Lama Tsongkhapa Day Celebration

Join us December 5th, at 10:00am at the temple. We will start with 15th minutes silent meditation then we will be practicing “The Hundreds of Deities of the Land of Joy”. This is a recitation and reflection upon the 1st Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gedundrup’s writing entitled “The White Snow Mountain in the East” and is remembering the kindness of Lama Tsongkhapa…

Saka Dawa : SAGA DAWA

Holy Day & One Day Mahayana Vows

Continuing in our annual tradition,  June 2nd  at 5:30 AM   Tegchen Sojong (one day Mahayana vows) will be offered for anyone who is interested at our temple at 118 Olinda Drive. This is a wonderful opportunity to accumulate vast amounts of merit on an extremely auspicious day celebrating Buddha Shakyamuni’s birth, enlightenment & parinirvana.

August 2nd Chokhor Duchen
Saturday July 25th we observe Chokhor Duchen, commemorating Buddha’s 1st sermon, the Four Noble Truths. We will meet at 11:00 am for 30 minute meditation and a recitation of the Heart Sutra. This is a very auspicious time and hope you will join us. There will be an opportunity to volunteer after the session to help with the center. Please make it if you can!

Meditation Retreat March 15th and 16th 2014

Jefferson Tibetan Society is offering a day and half-day retreat in the Practice of Meditation. This will be a blend of Shamatha, Analytical meditation, Compassion and Bodhicitta meditation Practice. Ven. Gephal will be leading the analytical and compassion meditations and Dr. Sandy Newhouse will lead the shamatha meditation instruction.

 Wednesdays series  topic on “The Six Perfections”.

Special Saturday’s in July 2014

Saturday July 6th is H.H. Dalai Lama’s 78th Birthday. Join us in study/practice of H.H. Dalai Lama’s Book How to Paractice the Way to a Meaningful Life. In addition to the regular study and meditation, we will do some special prayers dedicated to the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Saturday July 13th — In addition to regular Saturday class at 11:00 am, we will celebrate Chokhor Duchen (officially falls July 12th) commemorating Buddha’s first sermon on the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha’s first sermon is called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, meaning the sutra (sermon of the Buddha) “setting the wheel of Dharma in motion”. It is typical on the day for Tibetan Buddhists to make pilgrimages to holy places, offering incense and hangind prayer flags.

Saturday May 11th, 11:00 am to 12:30 2014
Victor will be leading a discussion on the 4 schools of philosophical thought in Tibetan Buddhism and leading us in some analytical meditations in conjunction with our Saturday classes current emphasis. We are studying the meaning of emptiness and how to practice it though meditation

May 18th Shamatha Meditation Retreat 2014
One day retreat held at a quiet location on East Market Street, not far from Charlottesville downtown mall, with Ven. Gephel. The schedule will be 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. The day involves about 4 hours of silent meditation, divided into about 8 periods of 30 minute meditation each. Lunch will be provided at the retreat and several tea breaks.

The fee for the retreat will be $55. which includes a vegetarian lunch. This fee can be lowered for those who make a monthly pledge to the center or for those who have very limited finances.

Compassion Retreat – Tibetan Medicine
Workshop Downtown Mall, Charlottesville
Saturday Feb 2 10:00 am to 5:30pm and Sunday Feb 3rd 10:00am to 1:00 pm 2013

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Tsampa Ngawang, Tibetan Dr. & Lama from Mustang, Nepal , 10th generation Himalyan Tibetan medical doctor and Lama (Nyingma lineage) from Mustang, Nepal. He was featured in the beautiful film from the Virginia Film Festival: Advanced registration required. E-mail if you are not currently on our e-mail list and would like further information.

$60 Feb. 2nd and $30 Feb. 3rd or $80 for both days


Four Foundations of Mindfulness Retreat Dec. 31st and Jan 1st
We are excited to announce that Ven. Gephel will be teaching and leading meditation practice on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (from the Mahayana perspective) on Monday, December 31st and Tuesday, January 1st. This is a great way to end the year and start the new one in a very positive way

H.H. Dalai Lama’s Book- How to See Yourself As You Really Are

Saturday Buddhist Study/Practice Group Series: The focus is on His Holiness Dalai Lama’s book, How to See Yourself As You Really Are, a beautiful book translated by Jeffrey Hopkins which covers the key concepts of how compassion, love and insight work cooperatively with each other to progress on the path.

Past topic: Reviewing the Meditative Reflections — deepening our understanding, transforming ourselves into pure Dharma through meditation on these topics.

Saturday, February 25th, 2012 — Tibetan New Year Celebration!

Join us for our Tibetan NewYear Celebration with Ven. Tenzin Gephel Saturday, February 25th, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 at our temple at 118 Olinda Drive, Charlottesville. We willbe meeting for meditation, prayers, recitation of the Heart Sutra, atalk by Ven. Gephel, tea & traditional Lo Sar snacks. Ven. Gephel is in the process this week of makingthe various traditional auspicious offerings for the altar for the NewYear. Reciting the Heart Sutra and doing these other practices contributes to removing obstacles to one’s spiritual practice & life for the coming year. $10. suggested donation.

A Gift for the Village
at Vinegar Hill Cinema as part of the Virginia Film Festival
Showing at 10:00 AM
November 7th, 2010

The film tells the story of Blacksburg, Virginia artist Jane Lillian Vance and her long connection with a Buddhist healer named Amchi Tsampa Ngawang Lama of Jomsom, an ethnically Tibetan village on the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayas of Nepal. In 2007 a team of Virginians traveled to his village to deliver a thangka, or Tibetan life narrative painting. Along the way we visited the restricted area of Lo, in Upper Mustang, and documented the traditional way of life and the changes taking place there. Tickets are $7 at Vinegar Hill.
Puja in Honor of Geshe Jampel Thardo

Sun. Sept. 26th, 6:30 p.m., 2012 ANNUAL BUDDHIST PUJA & POT-LUCK with local Tibetan & Buddhist community in honor of Geshe Jampel Thardo’s kindness in teaching Buddhist practice for numerous years in Charlottesville and to honor his clear light meditative state realizations at the time of his passing from this world! Please bring vegetarian food to share for the pot-luck. Khenpo Ngawang Dorjee is kindly leading the puja for us. There is the opportunity to bring flowers & healthy snack food offerings for the puja. Any monetary donations given at the puja will be used towards an offering for Khenpo-la; any remaining donations collected will be donated to Geshe Jampel Thardo’s Tsang-pa Khamtsen at Drepung Loseling Monastery, India. They have a special need now for donations to help provide medicines for the elderly monks in the khamtsen.
The Four Noble Truths book by His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama

On July, 1996, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gave two days teachings on the Four Noble Truths at the Barbican Hall in London. This was the first time he had given these teachings to the west.
The Saturday meetings are led by Sandy Newhouse, Ph.D., one of Geshe Jampel Thardo’s most senior students, who has studied and practiced Buddhism for the last 30 years. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia and is a clinical psychologist.

“Mind Training for Cultivating Happiness”
Wednesday class finished the discussion of “Mind Training for Cultivating Happiness” based on Buddhist verses of “The Seven-Point Thought Transformation” on December 21st, 2011. Composed centuries ago, these verses teach us to respond to difficulties with patience and joy, gradually changing our attitudes about ourselves and others, we can enjoy peace of mind in every situation.

Ethics for a New Millennium movie with H.H. Dalai Lama
In honor of our new decade!

Part One: Saturday, January 16th, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Part Two: Saturday, January 23rd, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Ethics for a New Millennium is a film of an intimate talk H.H. Dalai Lama gave at the Royal Albert Hall in London. His Holiness speaks of a new and transformed outer world in this millenium. With warmth, directness and humor, he urges us to link individual happiness to an ethical vision of the world in which we care about others. Adopting an approach that blends realism and optimism, he recommends ways in which each of us can begin to make inner changes that will affect these problems.

Discovering Buddhism Series

Each week includes a 25 min. videotape from the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana tradition), shamatha meditation, brief prayers, discussion & question/answer time.

Saturdays, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; meets at JTS temple, 5 min. from U.Va.
Saturday, December 5th,
Saturday, December 12th,
Saturday, December 19th,
Saturday, November 21st,
Topic: “The Power of Meditation”
Saturday, November 14th,
Topic: “How to develop Bodhicitta”
Saturday, October 31st,
Topic: Understanding Taking Refuge in the 3 Jewels
Saturday, October 24th,
Topic: Transforming Problems
Saturday, October 17th,
Topic: Samsara and Nirvana – Understanding Suffering & Developing Lasting Happiness
Saturday, October 10th,
Topic: Meditation & General Discussion
Saturday, October 3rd,
Topic: “Impermanence, Death & Rebirth and Shamatha Meditation”
Saturday, September 26th,
Topic: “Overview of the Buddhist Path- Practice & Goals”
Saturday, September 19th,
Topic: “Karma & Our Spiritual Practice”

Special Prayer Ceremony: Anniversary commemoration of Venerable Geshe Jampel Thardo’s passing.
Sunday, September 20th, 7:00 p.m.
The puja for Geshe-la will be proceeded by a 6:00 p.m. potluck. It is traditional to bring flowers, candles and donations as offerings to the puja. All are welcome to attend.

Buddhist Study Group
Taught by Ven. Geshe Jampel Thardo

Last Wednesday evening topic was the classic text on Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend.
The text is a poetic rendition of 123 verses which covers the entire Mahayana (the Great Vehicle) path. It is known for its unusual clarity & memorable imagery; this text is frequently quoted in written and oral commentaries on other Tibetan texts.

Nagarjuna is generally considered to be one of the most important historic figures of Mahayana Buddhism
Excellent translation was provided by Jann Ronis, Ph.D.
candidate in Buddhist Studies, University of Virginia. This was of great benefit in allowing for Geshe-la’s profound knowledge of this topic to be presented, as well as participants’ questions to be fully answered.