On Collaboration in the Dzogchen Community

Edited excerpts from a Talk by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu given on April 6th, 1994, Bermagui, Australia

I want to say a few words about our Community. Community means practitioners. Practitioners means people who are living in the same transmission, in the same boat, traveling towards realization in the same way. That means that we must know how to collaborate with each other because if we don’t know how to collaborate, or if we are not collaborating well, we can have problems with the transmission and with the guardians. So we try to be aware.

We also have the responsibility of the teaching and the transmission. That is not solely the responsibility of the Teacher. People always think that the transmission and the teaching are taken care of by the Teachers. But what is a Teacher really? I am a practitioner. Now you are a student, but maybe tomorrow you will also be a Teacher.You are also on the path and you have that responsibility. For that reason, we practitioners collaborate with each other and that is called community.

Community means: if a boat is crossing a very big river, and if there was no other means to cross that river, then everybody in that boat forms a kind of community. The community is in the boat to travel beyond the river, so if we create problems on board we are not collaborating and then we can’t get safely to the other shore. So, for practitioners it is very important to collaborate. This means also that for Dzogchen Community people who are in different places, it is very important to collaborate with each other. It is not always necessary to be in one place. There are many ways of collaborating.

Centers with a hierarchical system have a number one center, and then lower ranking numbers two, three, four, etc.; and they send each other envoys, formal letters of communication and the like. This system does not really correspond with the principle of the Dzogchen teachings, we do not do it in this way, but we do want to collaborate. So if we are really traveling towards realization and we need this collaboration until total realization, then we must continue and find a solution.

I feel that collaboration is very important because there is no way we can continue the Dzogchen Community, the teachings and the transmission without it. The continuation of the Dzogchen Community does not mean just groups of people in centers who meet together for a few days, and then everyone disappears. That is not the principle. The principle is the transmission. During a retreat I am explaining every day, transmitting mantras, methods, etc. Then what do you do? You practice these methods and you apply them. To use what you have learned, you also need the circumstances and possibilities. You cannot do all practices everywhere. A practice like the “Guru Yoga of the White A ” you can do at any moment, going to work or in your house.

But for having realization or a concrete benefit in our life, it is not sufficient to do the white ” A ” occasionally and remain in this presence a few minutes. You need to do more. Though maybe you do not have the opportunity at the moment, perhaps one day you will. If you have the possibility one day, what will you do? Where will you go? In which way will you practice and develop your knowledge and your understanding? For this we need the right circumstances. That’s why I am trying to create different Dzogchen Community Gars. Gar means a main place for meetings and for applying practices.

In any case, I think it is important that people who are really interested in the teaching have a small piece of land. When there is land, we can have a Gar. We can also do things like Santi Maha Sangha training in the Gar. Then the Community becomes something more alive and concrete. I think that is important for everybody who is interested in the teaching. Of course, if someone listens a bit to the teaching, and then goes back home and lives only in a personal way with no wish for a continuing contact, such a person has too little commitment for a project of this kind. However, it is important for Community people to work in the direction of collaboration.

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