Bridging Ancient Wisdom With Modern Awareness Through Feminine Leadership

Discover the path to embodied wisdom, compassion, and kindness at Sukhasiddhi Foundation, a spiritual center rooted in the Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

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2 January 2024

This post is sponsored content, paid for by Sukhasiddhi Foundation.

Sukhasiddhi Foundation is a spiritual center in the Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhist tradition offering a guided path of embodied wisdom, compassion, and kindness through a complete cycle of timeless practices rooted in the divine feminine that are relevant to life and the world today. Our organization offers an untainted transmission of the unbroken Shangpa and Karma Kagyu lineages in an environment of safety, awareness and heartfulness, allowing people of all cultural and gender identifications to develop their innate qualities and come into greater service in the world.

The heart of our offerings comes from the Shangpa lineage, a feminine lineage that dates to the 11th century, the time of two awakened Kashmiri women, Niguma and Sukhasiddhi. This lineage is historically non-sectarian and non-dogmatic, and the inclusive teachings are a stream that flows through all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. 

Our aim is to integrate this profound, ancient wisdom and spiritual technology with modern scientific and psychological understanding. Through engaging with the practices and one another, we cultivate self-reflection, emotional awareness, maturity, and conscious, skillful communication that provides space to discover our innate awakened nature. 

Sukhasiddhi Foundation was founded in 1996 in northern California by Lama Palden (Caroline Alioto), one of the first Western women to complete the traditional Vajrayana 3-year retreat and to receive authorization from Kalu Rinpoche to teach in 1985. After teaching in various centers with Kalu Rinpoche’s blessing, she decided to start her own center to ensure a safe, welcoming place for students, teaching traditional texts with a more Western approach.

Sukhasiddhi Foundation attracted students from other spiritual disciplines, and within a few years, Lama Palden was teaching both a three-year retreat for her most dedicated students and started the first multi-year program for those who wanted more advanced teachings applicable in the context of daily living.

After teaching classes, retreats, and programs as well as leading pilgrimages to Bhutan and India for 23 years, Lama Palden stepped down as Resident Lama in 2019 and assumed the position of Senior Lama, focusing on advanced students. Lama Döndrup (Jennifer Grant), who completed a 3-year retreat under Lama Palden’s guidance, stepped into the Resident Lama role and continues to develop and teach classes, programs of study, and retreats. Sukhasiddhi gave up its physical center during the pandemic and has been offering meditations virtually, attracting students worldwide. A new physical center is now being sought.

Sukhasiddhi Foundation is at the forefront of Buddhist organizations that offer a full spectrum of teachings for those wishing to engage in practices that benefit their communities. We provide teachings for different levels of engagement and commitment, from weekly drop-in meditations to multi-year study programs, covering general Buddhist principles to advanced teachings of the Shangpa/Kagyu lineage.  

Opening the Gate

A weekly Monday night meditation and discussion led by a long-time Sukhasiddhi practitioner. 7–8:30 PM (Pacific)

Tibetan Yoga (Lujong)

Led by two experienced Sukhasiddhi practitioners on Tuesday and Thursday mornings 9:30-11 AM (Pacific)

Dharma Deep Dive classes

A six-week series taught by Lama Döndrup in the fall, winter, and spring on topics of Mahayana and Vajrayana principles and practices

Awake in the World

A three to four-week series taught seasonally by Rev. Susan Shannon, a longtime Buddhist practitioner and inter-denominational teacher; that explores how centuries-old teachings are relevant in today’s world, bringing dharma into our lives in practical ways.

Depth Practice Programs of Study

These multi-year programs, initiated in 2001, are designed to provide a structured path for practitioners to move through over time. The structure begins at an introductory level and moves systematically through the Shravakayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Mahamudra teachings. In the deepest levels of study, students have the rare opportunity to practice and study the core curriculum of the Shangpa/Kagyu 3-year retreat while navigating daily life.

Daylong Teachings

Recent teachings included: a Green Tara Practice, a follow-up to Lama Döndrup’s article on Green Tara published by Lion’s Roar and two Chagdrukpa practices following empowerments given by His Eminence Kalu Rinpoche (lineage holder) in July 2023.

Summer Retreat

A weeklong retreat has been held in July for nearly 20 years at Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael.  Topics included Mahamudra, Wisdom of Milarepa, and Medicine Buddha.

Additional Offerings

Free or for purchase recordings, including Calm Abiding, Tara and Chenrezig meditations as well as in-depth teachings such as the Five Wisdoms, Four Immeasurables, Dependent Origination, and Vajrayana Theory.