Obituary for David C. Petit (1955 – 2010) Co-Founder of Tara Mandala

Via on Oct 4, 2010

Lama Tsultrim Allione, her family, and the Tara Mandala community regretfully announce the death of co-founder David C. Petit. He passed away on July 22nd, 2010 at the age of 55 during the night. The cremation took place at the Tara Mandala Stupa, dedicated to Nyala Padma Duddul, which David  built between 1994-1999.

David’s sudden death in July has left his family, friends, and Sangha saddened by his loss and deeply inspired by the depth of his practice and his commitment to Tara Mandala. A short film, which was shot this past June at Tara Mandala Retreat Center, includes an interview and scenes of David Petit, husband of Lama Tsultrim and co-founder of Tara Mandala as well as stills of his cremation. To watch the movie, click here.

Tara Mandala has become one of the most innovative and beautiful retreat centers in the Western world. David was the foundational guiding force behind all of the structures and buildings at Tara Mandala, from the Stupa and first yurts & teepees to the recently completed, incredible three-story Tara Temple. David’s hands, heart, and mind transformed the center from Lama Tsultrim’s inspired vision to an earthly reality. He held an aesthetic and artistic standard which is reflected in everything at Tara Mandala, from buildings to the landscaping and gardens. Throughout his life, David maintained an interest in the arts, particularly painting. David was also an avid horseman who loved exploring the high country around Pagosa Springs. What many people did not know about David was that he was also a great practitioner of Dzog Chen. His main Tibetan teachers, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Adzom Rinpoche, and Tulku Sangngag Rinpoche, have confirmed an advanced level of tögyel (Leaping Over) through many signs at the time of his death. Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche said it was important that people know that he was a great secret Dzogchenpa.

David was born in Salem, Massachusetts to Margaret and Robert Petit, the third of six children. He graduated from the Eurythemeum College in Stuggart, Germany in 1981, where he studied Eurythmy (an expressive movement art), acting, choreography, directing, music, literature and philosophy. He lived in Europe for 13 years where he became a well-known dancer and performer and directed plays that toured throughout Western Europe, East Germany and Poland. While living in Germany he also studied Waldorf Pedagogy and eventually taught high school theater and Eurythmy.

He returned to the United States in 1986. In 1989, while working at the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Spring Valley, New York as a Eurythmy and drama teacher, David met Tsultrim Allione, whose three children went to the school. After they met, David embraced the responsibilities of co-parenting Lama Tsultrim’s children and shared her vision of creating a Buddhist retreat center where meditation could be practiced as deeply as it is in Tibet. In 1993, they found the beautiful land in Pagosa Springs that became Tara Mandala, a 700-acre retreat center in Burns Canyon, southwest of Pagosa Springs. They were married on the Tara Mandala land in 1998.

David will be deeply missed by his wife, Lama Tsultrim Allione of Pagosa Springs, his siblings Jasma Petit, Lenard Petit, Bobbi Petit, Leo Petit, and Chris Petit, and his father Robert Petit. His loss will also be deeply felt by his step-children, Sherab Kloppenburg, Aloka Sands, and Costanzo Ewing Allione,  who adored him, as well as his nieces, nephews, and grandchild. Costanzo, who has spent more than three years in solitary retreat and reads and speaks Tibetan, also apprenticed under David for many years, and has assumed David’s role of director of operations at Tara Mandala.

David’s love of life, beauty, nature, family and the dedication he brought to all of his endeavors will be remembered through the people he touched and the amazing work he left behind. For those who would like to see David’s legacy at Tara Mandala, a regular 10 am Sunday service, with a Dharma talk and short meditation, is open to the public as well as many open houses and other retreats throughout the year.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Tara Mandala, to which David gave his heart and life force. Donations may be made online at www.taramandala.org, by phone at (970) 731-3711 x105, or by mail to Tara Mandala, PO Box 3040, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

About Devon Ward-Thommes

Devon Ward-Thommes, M.F.A, R.Y.T., is a devoted yogini, a poet and essayist, and a practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga and Vajrayana Buddhism.  Her life’s passion is awakening loving-kindness through creative, embodied practice and sharing these experiences with others.

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