Lama Tsultrim Allione, her family, and the Tara Mandala community regretfully announce the death of David C. Petit. He passed away on July 22, 2010, at the age of 55, due to a heart attack during the night. The cremation took place at the Stupa (a large, natural stone Buddhist reliquary symbolizing the path to enlightenment) which David built at Tara Mandala, in Pagosa Springs. Traditional Buddhist ceremonies will continue daily until Sept. 9.
David was born in Salem, Mass., to Margaret and Robert Petit, the third of six children. The family later moved to New Hampshire where he was raised. At the age of 16, he traveled alone to Europe and began studying in the Anthroposophic communities in England and Germany (founded by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, social thinker, and architect). David 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. Altogether, he stayed in Europe for 13 years where he became a famous 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. He returned to the United States in 1986.
In 1989, while working at the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Spring Valley, N.Y., as a Eurythmy and drama teacher, David met Tsultrim Allione, whose three children attended the school. 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 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.
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 and 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 he 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 a great yogi. His Tibetan teachers have confirmed an advanced level of realization through many signs at the time of his death.
David will be deeply missed by his wife, Lama Tsultrim Allione of Pagosa Springs, his siblings Jasma Petit, Lenard Petit, Bobbi Petit, Leo Petit, Chris Petit, and his father Robert Petit. His loss will also be deeply felt by his step-children, Sherab Kloppenburg, Aloka Sands and Costanzo Allione, as well as his nieces, nephews, and grandchild. Costanzo, who has spent more than three years in solitary retreat, speaks and reads fluent Tibetan. He apprenticed under David for many years, and will assume 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 a.m. Sunday service, with a Dharma talk and short meditation, is open to the public.