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Sphere of Refined Gold – a six week fall retreat

Sphere of Refined Gold and Vajrasattva Practice Retreat - October 1 - November 12, 2021

Sphere of Refined Gold Retreat Fall 2021


We are delighted to announce that from the 1st of October until the 12th of November 2020, Gomde Pyrénées will host the next retreat in our ongoing series: a six week retreat based on the teachings from the Sphere of Refined Gold.

The retreat schedule will be per usual for this series:

  • Morning group practice of Vajrasattva including sang and white sur offering 
  • Afternoon practice of  Vajrakilaya,protectors, and red sur offering
  •  Four individual practice sessions in one’s own room, cabin or tipi
  • One group session to watch video teachings each day before lunch.


We have a very limited number of spaces available for the retreat, so in order to be fair we will assign rooms and spaces in the order of emails received.

To apply, please email retreatinpyrenees@gomde.fr

Please be sure to use only this address for applications.  If you email the old account or other gomde.fr accounts we might not see your retreat request. We will then send you a full registration form. Here we ask some basic questions and you have the opportunity to indicate room/hut/tent preferences as well as any special dietary restrictions or information we might need to know to meet your needs.  Please also do not send messages via any other platform or to any person individually  to register. We appreciate your understanding that multiple messages only serve to confuse the process.

When is the retreat?

The retreat will take place from October 1st through November 12th 2021. This includes one day in the beginning and a day in the end to settle in and to phase out of the retreat, but the 26th of September is the latest date to arrive in Gomde Pyrénées (please note added info on arrival date in below paragraph), and the 13th of November is the earliest day to leave.  Please remember the travel time required to get to and from Perpignan when planning your arrival or departure–especially if you plan to travel to Barcelona airport.

Please note that due to a slight change in Lama Tenzin’s travel schedule, the official start of the retreat will be moved to October 1. Thus, the dates for the retreat will run from October 1-November 12. However, for those who have never done this retreat before we ask that you still plan to arrive at Gomde on September 26 so that you have some time to familiarize yourself with the place, and to ease into the practice schedule.  If you have previously completed this 6-week or 3-month retreat, we request that you plan to arrive by September 30 at the latest. Thank you for your understanding!

Who is guiding the retreat?

Our retreat master is Lama Tenzin Sangpo. Lama- la has led all the previous retreats in this series and is very helpful in giving advice for everyone’s individual practice. When he is in residence, Lama will lead the two daily group sessions, share explanations with us during the daily teaching sessions, and is also available to answer questions.

What are the prerequisites for the retreat?

To participate in the retreat one would ideally have received:

  • the Vajrasattva empowerment in the Chokling Tersar Lineage
  • teachings on  Sphere of Refined Gold from Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche or another highly qualified master.

The minimum prerequisites are to have a strong foundation in Buddhist practice through both study and time spent in retreat, and to have received teachings on the great perfection from a highly qualified master.  If in doubt, one should ask Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche if it would be beneficial to participate in the retreat.  If you have additional questions about your eligibility, please let us know and we will discuss them with Lama Tenzin

What are the facilities and accomodation like?

Gomde Pyrenees is a beautiful old house in the Pyrenees mountain range of France, not far from the Spanish border. The closest city is Perpignan, a 1hr30min drive on very narrow and windy mountain roads. 

Each retreat participant will have their own room. There are rooms in the house, 3 available meditation huts on the grounds, and two big tipis (very sturdy pyramid-shaped tents on platforms) available for participants.

If you are happy to camp in a tent regardless of the weather, we are also able to accomodate you and will help you to set up a practice area in the shrine room. The weather in the fall is usually quite warm and pleasant.

Rooms are of varying sizes, but all have beautiful big windows and most have quite a good view.  Rooms do not have attached bathrooms, and there are only four toilets and four showers available in the house for participants to use. Please come prepared to practice patience and take it as an opportunity for meditation while waiting to use the bathroom!  

The closest store of any kind (petrol, pharmacy, cash machine or groceries) is also a 1 hour drive, so please understand that this is a remote place and come prepared with all supplies that you will need during your stay!

Expectations to contribute through your Dharma service job

Gomde is a dharma center bought and built through the kindness of donations and volunteer labor. We cannot try to be a hotel, so when coming to Gomde for the retreat please expect that we will all work together to make the retreat happen, including the preparation of rooms and the daily tasks to keep the house clean and functioning. All retreatants will be assigned a Dharma Service job. We will tailor these according to your physical capability and interests, but in order to function smoothly, we all need to help to the best of our ability.

Shopping and Mailing Supplies

Please plan ahead and bring all things, especially medication with you when coming to Gomde.  The closest shops are over an hour’s drive from Gomde and 1 person does the shopping for the food of the whole group once every 5-7 days. Thus it simply does not work well to ask helpers to do any personal shopping for participants. 

It is theoretically possible to use Amazon to ship packages but the postal services are not always timely and so should you need to purchase personal items before coming to Gomde, we advise that you arrive early and allow extra time in your schedule to shop in Perpignan where there are many large stores for any necessities.  If you would like to mail yourself a care package, please leave ample time for delivery and contact us several weeks before the retreat begins so we can arrange to pick it up at a drop point in Perpignan rather than taking chances with lost packages.

What is the discipline in the retreat?

The point of any retreat is to step out of our day-to-day communications and mindless talk. In our experience, many people like to embrace silence and the extremely rare opportunity for interrupting discursive speech in this 6 weeks. However, the reality of our current housing structure where workers and retreatants are in closer contact, and rooms are not totally secluded means that we do not keep a strict policy of silence. We do suggest that if one is in need of a mindful conversation, please try to move to our beautiful outdoor spaces so that this will not distrub others. Thus the default mode of the retreat is mindful speech, and we should do our best to avoid meaningless chatter, both inside the group and silence with the outside world. If we respect this discipline we can use this amazing opportunity of time, space, and a supportive group to progress on the path. If you prefer to practice a stricter discipline of complete silence, you are encouraged to wear an “In Silence” name tag and to take your meals to your room or to a more secluded location. We appreciate everyone’s willingness to be flexible on this issue and to practice patience and understanding with each other.  

Please note that Gomde’s internet is extremely slow and unreliable. For this reason we ask that it is reserved for staff use only during the retreat. We will change the wifi password the morning of the retreat boundary closing and open it again after the boundary is lifted at the end.  If you need a French sim card please make sure you bring it with you to Gomde as there is no place nearby to purchase this. And please be aware that 4G service is erratic in remote mountain locations. For this reason we discourage people from planning to do regular remote work from Gomde.

IF you have an emergency please discuss with the retreat managers.

Is it possible to participate for a shorter time?

Depending upon the number of applications, there might be a possibility to participate for either the first or second three weeks.  Please understand that preference is given to people who can commit to doing the full retreat.

If you can only do half of the retreat, please let us know of your interest. If the retreat is not full, we will confirm your possibility to participate in a three week retreat by September 1.

With love and appreciation for your continued practice,
The Sphere of Refined Gold Program Team




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