About Wise Heart

About Our Programs

Wise Heart Youth Programs are dedicated to providing a safe and joyful space of connection, where participants can uncover and make contact with the fullness of their True Nature: an infinite source of love, compassion and wisdom.

A popular annual event since 1994, Family Camp is now known as “Wise Heart Family Camp.” Its purpose is to offer children a foundation in traditional Tibetan Buddhist thinking and practice, to remind or instruct parents in the basics of philosophy and rituals, and to foster the values of Dharma in daily life. In a delightful mix of play and structure, both kids and adults have the opportunity to do an art project or two, meditate in age appropriate groups, enjoy a docent-led nature walk, learn how to offer water bowls, do a fire puja and other traditional rituals, participate in or applaud a talent show, and much more.

In 2008 Vajrapani Institute formally hosted it’s first weekend camp for teens. However, it really started two years before that, with “teen tracks” taking place during the original annual Camp event, Family Camp.

The organizers of Wise Heart Teen Camp are deeply aware of the competitive, fast-paced, often stressful (and sometimes toxic) environment today’s teenagers are growing up in. The teen years are a time when so much wonderful potential can find expression, but this is also a sensitive time of transition. Our modern culture does not do enough to support young people through this important life stage. Wise Heart Teen Camp seeks to fill this gap.

Wise Heart Teen Camp provides teens with a safe space where it’s possible to: experience trust, respect and connection; relax into sharing feelings, concerns and insights; learn Buddhist principles, practices and techniques; catch a glimpse of the “basic goodness” each one of us already possesses. As Wise Heart Teen Camp Director, Julia Hengst, puts it, ‘Teen Camp empowers teens by showing them how to connect to bigger sources of positive power…”

First launched in the summer of 2014, Wise Heart Young Adult Retreat helps participants cultivate open-heartedness, compassion and wisdom as well as specific tools for handling everyday challenges. We do this through meditation (walking and sitting), listening to teachings on Buddhism, having deep discussions as well as through art, body movement, relaxation exercises, games, being in nature and other fun activities. Together we are growing a community that is authentic, joyful, aware, kind and dedicated.

Lama Yeshe’s Vision

“Dwelling deep within our heart, and within the heart of all beings without exception, is an inexhaustible source of love and wisdom, and the ultimate purpose of all spiritual practices, whether they are called Buddhist or not, is to uncover and make contact with this essentially pure nature.”

About Our Host Vajrapani Institute

logo-1aVajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture supports the transformation of spiritual teachings into experience through contemplative retreat. As a spiritual community serving the needs of retreaters in all traditions, we are nurtured by the energy of our Tibetan Buddhist founder Lama Thubten Yeshe and our spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche, by our teachers and holy objects, and by the stillness of the California redwood forest.

Vajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture is affiliated with the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition and is dedicated to preserving Lama Tsong Khapa’s rich living tradition of wisdom and compassion.

In 1975, the first American course with Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche was held at Lake Arrowhead in California. During the retreat, Lama Yeshe was asked what would be a good name for a center in California. Lama immediately said “Vajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture.”

As more students gathered and more teachings were given, the students were inspired to make it happen. In 1977, thirty acres of land in the Santa Cruz Mountains were donated for a center and Vajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture was born.

In December 1978, students began to arrive on the land with only the clothes on their backs and their faith in the Lamas. In Volkswagens and mobile homes, people came with their families to live in tipis and shacks made of carpet remnants so that they could build a thriving center.

Our Programs