The Four Wings of the Tara Rokpa Centre

The Four Wings of the Tara Rokpa Centre2018-07-10T11:30:40+00:00

The TRC is said to “fly” on four wings. Click the titles below to find out more.

Farm dam at the Tara Rokpa CentreThe therapy wing of TRC activity focuses on emotional and physical healing retreats. Many people leading stressful urban lives benefit from just slowing down and being at TRC with few distractions. The clean air, crystal clear water, vast space and natural surroundings are in themselves ‘healing’. TRC provides visitors with the opportunity to catch up on much needed sleep.

Healthy vegetarian food, mainly organic and locally produced, is served on most workshops and retreats.

TRC is the headquarters of Tara Rokpa Therapy for Southern Africa. This is a unique system of psychotherapy or healing for the mind, based on a fusion of ancient Eastern wisdom with modern psychotherapy. It was developed between 1988 and 2013 by Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche. He was a Tibetan Lama and doctor of traditional Tibetan medicine. He worked in collaboration with Western professionals (art therapists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists, social workers and massage therapists.) It is open to everyone and not dependent on following a particular spiritual path.

Yoga retreat in the Octagon meditation hall, one of the Four Wings of activity“Our society, with all its modern wonders and conveniences, bombards us with stimulation while at the same time largely depriving us of what is natural and  wholesome on this earth. Our education tends to develop the intellect in a way which is not balanced with emotional and practical experience.

The aim of the therapy programme is to assist many people in understanding themselves and others in the world through acceptance and compassion for ourselves and others close to us.”
~ Akong Tulku Rinpoche ~

The work is essentially self-exploratory, but where possible local support groups are formed. Further help and twice yearly workshops are held with a visiting senior therapist, who guides participants through the modular process.

TRC therapy activities include:

  • Annual Tara Rokpa Therapy family Easter Camp
  • Occasional related training courses and workshops

TRC offers 2 – 5 day courses from the programme ‘Learning to Relax’ and ‘Working with the Elements’ for groups of people wishing to explore these aspects.

Other healing workshops hosted to date include different forms of yoga and body awareness work:

  • Tai Chi
  • Chi Gung
  • Ayurvedic and Vegetarian Cooking
  • Art Therapy
  • Biodanza

Relaxing massage, and pampering beauty therapy sessions can be arranged at the Centre.

The facilities may be hired by like-minded individuals, families and groups for workshops.


Meditation retreats at the Tara Rokpa Centre, one of the Four Wings of activity

Although many of the activities at TRC are not Buddhist and are presented by other facilitators, everything presented by the Centre itself is inspired by, and infused with, the values of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. We believe that the strength and transformative power of this tradition comes from the unbroken line of teachers, recognised by the previous generation as having internalised and actualised the Buddha’s teachings. This line extends back to the Buddha himself.

The emphasis in the Kagyu tradition is placed more on practice than on academic study, although academic study is acknowledged to be of great importance. Practice refers both to formal meditation practice and the practice of compassion and wisdom in daily life.

The residents of the centre hold regular Dharma pujas or recitation sessions, which visitors are welcome to join. The centre also hosts regular courses by local and overseas teachers authorised to teach in the Kagyu tradition. These courses are usually weekend to ten day courses. We are fortunate to also have longer, more advanced retreats every year run by experienced meditation teachers. The week long Christmas retreat is also very popular.

Rob Nairn, dharma and mindfulness teacher

In March 2012 we held two six month closed Ngondro retreats with Alan Muller: the first for women, the second for men. During Lama Yeshe’s visit to launch the retreat, he announced that this will be the venue for Kagyu six month retreats for practitioners from across the world. Since then this venue has been used for shorter Ngondro retreats for individuals or groups, as well as by other committed individual Buddhist practitioners. During Drupon Rinpoche’s visit in September 2017, he confirmed that TRC is an excellent place for practice.

Spiritual teachings and retreats from other traditions and faiths may be held if approved by our spiritual director at Samye Ling, in Scotland.


Tara's Waterfall near Groot MaricoThe community around Tara Rokpa is working towards consciously embracing the fourth wing of Dr. Akong Rinpoche’s work in Africa – The Environment.
It is, for us, not just about nature, but it encompasses all aspects of how, and where we as humans have an impact on our Biosphere.
We are guided in this also by the ‘108 things to do’ from the Karmapa’s Environment Conference, in March 2009.

So we are working on an overarching whole systems design for Tara Rokpa, which includes:

  • One Planet Living guidelines, that have been workshopped and form the basis for our long term vision and goals.
  • A policy of Zero Waste, in which we have taken the guidelines of the international Zero Waste movement to minimise waste production and recycling.
    This has applications in the day-to-day living to the selection of office materials, building materials etc.
  • A Permaculture design for the properties owned by TRC. This guides our working with all the elements:
    • Water – To preserve this scarce resource we are including rain water harvesting, Storm water control, reduction of water use, recycling and re-use of ‘waste’ water;
    • Earth – The zoning of the areas according to their use, the establishment of sustainable food production systems, the use of earth as building materials, erosion control;
    • Fire – The introduction of renewable energy sources, mainly from the sun, such as the solar powered pump in operation at Tara’s retreat house;
    • Air – The preservation of vital greenbelts for wild life, recreation, oxygen production and of creating space for us to learn from the intricate workings of our biosphere;
Our building development programme deserves a special mention. Wherever possible we design and build with local resources, both from a material point of view as well as with local labour. We have fine examples of adobe, slate (the local stone) and strawbale buildings.


Rokpa creche at the Tara Rokpa CentreRokpa in Tibetan means help. The motto for Rokpa is ‘Helping where help is needed.”

In 2008 Rokpa International offered TRC a long term loan to purchase a piece of land, now known as the Training Centre as Akong Tulku Rinpoche wanted us to establish a residential practical skills training centre for disadvantaged youths with a focus on young women.

To date we have renovated the buildings on the land and built accommodation for the caretaker and his family as well as the Tirisano crèche for the local children.

Skills training in basic woodwork, sewing and ‘permaculture’ vegetable gardening have been undertaken over the past few years. There have been 2 attempts at running basic literacy classes for the local community.

The current ongoing formal activity is supporting Tirisano crèche which runs each morning. This is currently used by 14 children from 1 – 6 years old and is run by 2 local women.

Skills training and work has also been provided by the Department of the Environment’s Working for Water scheme, which fells invasive trees in watercourses. This will hopefully benefit 10 unemployed local youths. We are hoping to find uses for the felled trees.

All local staff employed are gaining skills in housework, catering, building and gardening.

We support ongoing HIV/AIDS education, testing and counselling. Many in the valley have been assisted to get relevant identity documents. 6 families have been assisted to get state land for housing. Second hand clothes are sold at very low cost to operate a community fund for assistance with sickness, death, orphans and some education needs.

We hope in the future to develop more formal skills training in:

  • Permaculture – organic vegetable growing/processing
  • Woodwork, building skills (with a focus on eco-building)
  • Housekeeping and catering

We need committed volunteers to help set up and secure funding for more long-term community programmes. Email tararokpacentre@gmail.com if you can be of assistance.