Teachings July 1-5, 2015
by Margaret Jasinski
Photos by Sean Quinn
The excitement before Rinpoche’s arrival was palpable as Tsegyalgar East made the final preparations for a retreat with our esteemed teacher, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu from July 1-5, 2015. Rinpoche was greeted by a host of Community members, khatas in hand, dancing in honor of his arrival. With the nature of time and a most auspicious occasion, the five- day retreat moved quickly from beginning to end. Three hundred retreatants came from many regions of North America and Europe. A student newly introduced to Dzogchen traveled from Brazil. When asked about his experience, his broad smile and enthusiasm communicated that his travels were fully rewarded.
Throughout the week any activities and presentations supported Rinpoche teachings. Mornings began with Yantra Yoga taught by Naomi Zeitz. Jim Valby presented an explanation of Ganapuja. Several experienced students commented on how listening to this presentation was additional support to their previous experience. Lynn Newdome spoke about a new and exciting offering for the Community: a series of thirty sessions related to the text The Precious Vase and Santi Maha Sangha training. This course of work will begin in September. It can be accessed remotely.
Retreatants were given up-to date information about the post-earthquake activities of A.S.I.A. in Nepal by John Shannon and via a video made and narrated by Andrea Nasca, the long time secretary of ASIA USA. The outreach activities of this organization are both critical to the well -being of Tibetans living in Nepal. In addition, an update on the Dzamlingar Project was given by Diane Kramer. This presentation helped for all to envision a new home for the International Dzogchen Community in Tenerife and to offer support that will later materialize into accommodation at the Dzamlingar. Anasuya Weil and Caroline Hotaling of the Shang Shung Institute presented information about this vital source of Tibetan Medicine. The expansion of classes and offerings of the Shang Shung Institute is underpinned by Rinpoche’s vision.
A full moon Ganapuja was offered at the Schoolhouse in Conway followed by a round of Khaita dancing. Khaita was enjoyed at this venue as well as at the Mohawk School gymnasium and as a special treat at Khandroling on the final day of the retreat. Khaita and Vajra dancing are special activities anywhere, yet at Khandroling, the site where Rinpoche manifested the Vajra Dance terma, the dynamism of dance and movement somehow seem enhanced by the structural beauty of the pavilion and the natural beauty all around. Khandroling is a special place to learn Vajra Dance and Prima Mai offered an introductory class.
The Community auction had a new carnation this year: it was a silent auction. Much work was done by the organizers, as the foyer of Mohawk School became a showcase of treasures that were bid upon to raise funds. A big draw was a hat that Rinpoche wore in Australia. There was also a photograph of Rinpoche, a box of berries in hand, during his initial visit to Khandroling. Gorgeous thankas and interesting items attracted much attention; there was even an “offering table” with a pair of Tibetan felt boots. Meanwhile Evolution Creations were very popular for onlookers and bidders alike. Evolution Creations are individual pieces of jewelry made by Rinpoche for the purpose of raising funds for Dzamlingar. There were about twenty pieces available. They created quite a stir along with praise for his artistry, and more than that, the empowerment of each piece. The bidding was competitive and the winners looked stellar wearing their new adornments.
A special evening of dance was presented by the Derghe Dancers, who happen to be from eastern Tibet, as is Rinpoche. The sound and movement of their performance was made more familiar to the audience through the practice of Khaita. The troupe came from New York and enjoyed a luncheon with Rinpoche the next day. A troupe of practitioners from Tsegyalgar joined by a couple from the Czech Republic performed Khaita afterwards to much applause and enthusiasm.
We Must Discover Our Own Condition
A synopsis of Rinpoche’s teachings
by Margaret Jasinski
When we receive teachings, we are looking for something. When we hear Rinpoche, we are listening very carefully with the hope that we will understand. We have tremendous confidence in our teacher. We use our minds to guide us. We may hope we will get a special message and possibly achieve liberation. When we are seeking and hoping, we are in the experience of the dualistic mind and while we know this intellectually, we tend to remain in duality vision. As Rinpoche reminds us, by resorting to the habit of thinking with subject and object we are making secondary cause continuously.
By attending the retreat, in some respect our circumstance is similar to that of Rinpoche when he was with his teacher, Changchub Dorje. Rinpoche related the story of how he was hoping for special initiation from his teacher and eventually he received a formal ceremony that satisfied his mind. Rinpoche did not know that before staging this elaborate ritual Changchub Dorje gave Rinpoche initiation in a dream when he first arrived. Rinpoche observed that Changchub Dorje was not giving formal teachings; he may not have even seemed like a teacher because was busy working in the community. Eventually Rinpoche learned that he was receiving Dzogchen teachings; every day through being with his teacher he was receiving teachings and this was part of his understanding of Dzogchen. Similarly, Rinpoche continuously gives Dzogchen teachings to his students although they are not formal teachings.
When we relax our dualistic point of view, not going after something we are seeking with our mind, like a specific message or teaching, then we have a chance to be with what is beyond the mind: non-intellectual understanding that is underpinned in our human experience. We are especially mindful, willing and enthused when we are at retreat and we listen to Rinpoche teach,when we dance or sing Khaita and at Ganapuja etc. Rinpoche reminds us to be aware present and mindful, not only at retreat but in all circumstances such as sitting, walking, eating, preparing food etc. when we are mindful of our condition and circumstance, then we have the greatest chance to be with the experience of our life because we are not distracted. Rinpoche said, “Everything we learn with our experience.”In addition, he stated that the nature of experience is emptiness ( dharmakaya) and so if we were paying attention to what we are doing, not with the lens of ego which is limited and therefore limiting-but if we bring attention to the essence of our experience, then we have a chance to be in greater contact with our lives which are alive expressions of the three states of being. Through contact we have moment to moment opportunity to integrate the limitations of body, speech and mind. Rinpoche reminded us, “Life is for discovering our real nature.”Through being present we gain capacity because we brought relax (?) our ego structures and the range of emotional charge attached to our personal view. Emotion is characterized by attachment, ignorance and anger in combination with pride and jealousy. “Emotions are self -liberated when relaxed, this is the main path for total realization.” If we pay attention, our capacity reflects faith and devotion. If we are attached to illusory vision, we think everything is concrete. By contrast, when we are being present we have the possibility of being in a state of contemplation and if we are truly paying attention we are not dominated by the mind. As Rinpoche reminds us, “ This is not so easy.”
Rinpoche also reminds us with patience and emphasis, “It is important to understand the real essence of the teachings.” Dzogchen is not a tradition, book etc. We are opening ourselves to familiar pattern of our condition of body speech in mind. The way we think, the way we judge: all of this is the way we are conditioned by many external factors. If we observe well and pay attention, we may discover “something alive, concrete.” In order to find something both alive and concrete, we are challenged to be relaxed enough in the experience of our lives to be with what is alive: this is one of the qualifications of human beings we are naturally alive. At the same time, we must not be dominated by our minds. When we are with the experience of our own aliveness, then we are not judging or thinking were not distracted and were not going after something. “We concentrate and integrate with movement: we integrate our energy, everything.”
Everyone without exception has the experiences suffering. Rather than struggling with our personal condition, we discover what is the cause of suffering through being present and noticing what we are doing with our body voice and mind. This develops capacity through the agency of daily experience. In day-to-day presence, awareness and mindfulness we are making secondary cause for clarity to manifest. When we experience clarity, we come closer to the second statement of Garab Dorje, we have no doubt. When we are without doubt, then “ everything is perfected in dharmakaya, not anything is missing.” The teacher has this knowledge, it is not notebook it is not intellectual. This knowledge is alive through our teacher, and by association, the teacher gives contact with true nature. We use Ati Guru Yoga, the essence of the transmission, to give the possibility of integrating body speech and mind through the path of development and accomplishment. We pronounce “A” and learn to be in the primordial state, through this we feel that presence and relax. This requires re-educating the mind so the mind has no power for distraction. Rinpoche said a practitioner can do Guru Yoga for days and try to remain focused and relaxed, then the mind can’t use you, you use the mind.