On the afternoon of Sunday, February 26, 2017, the last day of the Tibetan Fire Monkey Year, a surprise celebration was held in the Dzamling Gar Gönpa in Tenerife. After a short Ganapuja, followed by an offering of thanks to the Teacher, instructors, collaborators, and donors, the International Dzogchen Community made a special presentation to thank Chögyal Namkhai Norbu for 40 years of teaching. Two of Rinpoche’s students who were present at the first retreat he gave in Subiaco, Italy in 1976, Fiorenza (Poupé) Cozzi and Nancy Simmons, read a moving speech in Italian and English respectively expressing the entire Dzogchen Community’s heartfelt thanks to the Teacher.
This was followed by Pelzom Films’ short documentary film of photos and interviews about the Subiaco retreat. The event concluded with a wonderful presentation of several new Khaita dances, the last one performed by some of the young children at the Gar.
The following is the English text of the speech of thanks read by Nancy Simmons.
Precious Master, Beloved Rosa, dearest Vajra Brothers and Sisters here at Dzamling Gar and around the world,
We are here today to celebrate you Rinpoche and the fortieth year of your transmission of the Supreme Ati Teaching to the thousands of us who have become Dzogchenwas, members of the International Dzogchen Community in these four decades.
Rinpoche, when you in your great generosity and compassion accepted our request and began teaching a first group of fortunate students in the summer of 1976 at Subiaco in the Apennine Mountains of Italy, we were inspired by the profundity and clarity of your instruction and made happy by the joyous atmosphere of freedom you emanate and advise. It is then we learned about and began the discovery of our real condition. We had no idea. Our ignorance was total. A second retreat happened that same year in December in Sardinia at Costa Paradiso and by the way we are still in paradise, no surprise, this time in Tenerife at Playa Paraiso. We have followed you to many places. You have never ceased to lead us, to amaze us, teaching ever more people in hundreds of retreats, giving a constant gift of your life and energy with loving care to help us reach the ultimate goal and avoid the obstacles of our relative existence.
Like a wise doctor who knows the right medicine for each of his patients, you have guided us and been our example. You are the great master who has pointed out the way, simply and clearly, presenting the sacred methods in their essence, allowing us to receive their fruits. There is no one like you. You are the powerful flow of a sacred river, dissolving the barriers of language, culture, race, and religion. Accompanied by laughter and play, dancing and singing, you have shown us the road to travel, the Great Path. We have heard you Rinpoche. We have followed you and we always will.
We want to express our gratitude for the countless aspects of your accomplishments, for the hidden teachings you have revealed, the commentaries you have written which have illuminated the understanding of so many, for your endless hours of work through days and nights, months and years. As if that were not enough for one magnificent life, you are also a great pandit, the great erudite master whose groundbreaking research on the ancient history of Tibet and of its culture has awakened not only the West but importantly has given the people of the Land of Snow knowledge of their vast and precious cultural heritage and restored their very identity. You, who are also expert in the realms of Tibetan medicine, astrology, geomancy, art, music, and dance, are helping your people rediscover what is their own. There is not a scholar in Tibet who has not cited you and many know your works by heart.
In your homeland you are celebrated as a great master and exalted guide. Because of your efforts schools have been built, colleges for study and practice founded, new hospitals and clinics have opened their doors to the suffering. You have completed projects in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, and Burma to benefit the poor and defenseless. You have supported thousands of Tibetan students and monks in their studies through the ASIA Foundation that you established. Here in the West you created the International Shang Shung Institute that has opened its doors in a number of countries, expanding awareness of Tibetan knowledge in order to help humanity in the quest for progress, greater harmony, and happiness. To do so, you have taught and spread knowledge of Yantra Yoga, the Khaita dances, Tibetan medicine, and the Tibetan language in which all the teachings of the Buddha have been preserved.
You are the creative and continuing source of magnificent projects which further all you have at heart for the benefit of beings. Most recently a few months ago in the town of Arcidosso, where Merigar, the first center of the International Dzogchen Community was established in 1981, you opened a splendid museum of Tibetan history and culture, the only one of its kind in Italy, that will enable also future generations to come into contact with this rich culture.
Today, forty years from when you began to spin the Wheel of the Dharma in the West out of the depths of your compassion, we the practitioners of the International Dzogchen Community across the world celebrate you and your achievements with deep gratitude.
We implore you with all our hearts to continue to transmit the precious Ati Teaching until all sentient beings free themselves in the pure dimensions.
Thank you Rinpoche. Thank you everyone.