This account has been put together thanks to Elisabeth Crouzet and her mother Paola, on the occasion of a private visit of our Master and his family to Milan in August 1983. Rinpoche and the family were hosted at Elisabeth’s house for about three days, and during that time the Master made a drawing, repaired a damaru and did several other things. Elisabeth, her mother Paola and the Community of Milan, past and present, donated these things to Dzamling Gar for future auctions. It seems fitting to me to also describe other public visits that the Master made to Milan, during which he gave teachings.
Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche in Milan 1977 to 2016
This is a testimony of the teachings given by the Master in Milan. He came to Milan for the first time in 1977 and for the last time in 2016, a total of eight times.
After the retreat that took place in Prata in July 1977, he gave a series of teachings in Milan at the Dorje Tibetano, a restaurant with macrobiotic cuisine in via Garibaldi n.55 (now no longer existing) run by Cristina von Geispitzheim and Aldo Oneto. The retreat began on September 1st and ended on September 6th 1977.
Every afternoon he taught how to practice Yantra Yoga; in the evening he explained the “Tawa” or the point of view of the Dzogchen teaching and some practices such as the rite of the guardians of the teaching. On Sunday September 4th 1977, we went to Maccagno, a town on Lake Maggiore, to a villa belonging to the parents of one of our practitioners, Massimo, who passed away many years ago. The Master explained and we practiced the rite of the guardians.
In 1979 we organized a retreat in Gavirate near Varese from March 13 to 16 in the house of Anna and Giorgio Fiore. The Master arrived in Milan by train on March 13 in the morning, we went to welcome him at the central station and then we left for Gavirate with my car. It was a full moon day and in the afternoon he gave teachings on the ganapuja. Other teachings were fixation with and without an object, shiné, fixation with and without material things, the importance of the practice of the semzin and many other teachings. The Master taught in the morning and in the afternoon on the 16th the retreat ended and the next day, March 17th, we returned to Milan and he taught for another two days in Via Morigi n.3 where there was a gym for Yantra Yoga. Rinpoche remained in Milan until the morning of the 19th.
In 1981 he was in Milan on May 2nd and 3rd. He gave teachings at the Yoga Institute of Carlo Patrian in via Piatti n.2 (Carlo Patrian was one of the first people to bring Hatha Yoga to Italy).
The Master taught the Tawa, the point of view of Dzogchen, both in the morning and in the afternoon.
Then he attended a conference organized by Baba Bedi’s Aquarian Age Center and the theme was reincarnation. The Master spoke of the Tibetan tradition of the four main schools and the great Lamas that are reincarnated in order to continue the message of “Bodhicitta” with compassion.
By 1983 the Dzogchen Community of Milan had become more numerous and was always connected with Merigar and the Master. After the famous three week retreat in Campomolino (Cn) in August 1978, the Master told us that the area was interesting and to buy a house there in the future. After several contacts with homeowners in the area, thanks to some practitioners from Turin, we managed to buy a beautiful little house in the village of Batuira (Cn) in Piemonte. Rinpoche left his home in Formia with his son Yeshi for a private visit to Milan on August 3rd 1983 and then went on to Piedmonte and the village of Batuira at 1600 m. We went there in different cars and some practitioners from the Turin community also came with us. Once in Batuira the Master gave the property the name of Adzamgar.
Returning to Rinpoche’s visit to Milan, he only stayed for about three days. His wife Rosa and their daughter Yuchen were in Venice with Anna Humeres and Carlos Ramos, practitioners from Venice and were traveling in the vicinity of Merano when they had a minor car accident and were hospitalized in the local hospital. Even before leaving Rinpoche telephoned us to see if it was possible to go and pick them up and bring them to Milan. Aldo Oneto and Giuliano Casiraghi left by car for Merano and brought Rosa and Yuchen to Milan.
In Milan the whole family were guests at Elisabeth Crouzet’s house. The first day we went to the top of the Milan Cathedral. The next day, we went to the Montagnetta di San Siro with Yeshi and brought a kite to fly. It was a beautiful day but there was no wind.
Elisabeth said, “I was very happy to have the Master and his family in my home. I had never been so close to the Master so it was a great opportunity. In all the retreats that he has given, I have never had such intense contact with Rinpoche. During his time here he was always active; he wrote and drew, adjusted a damaru, and was always present in every gesture.”
In 1987 Elio Guarisco and Giulio Santi founded a center called “Terra Delle Dakini” (Land of the Dakinis) in via Alzaia Naviglio Grande n.12, and invited the Master to give teachings. Rinpoche came and taught on March 6, 7 and 8. He gave teachings in the evening of March 6th at the center, and on the last day in the late afternoon he explained the Ganapuja and we also practiced it. Then he gave a series of teachings at the Palazzo delle Stelline in Corso Magenta 61, both in the morning and in the afternoon.
Elio Guarisco and Giulio Santi offered the Terra Delle Dakini Center to the Master for the Dzogchen Community, a good program of practices was drawn up, including Yantra Yoga and invitations to masters.
In 1989 the Master came to Milan on 4, 5 and 6 February and gave a series of teachings at the PIME Institute in via Mosè Bianchi n.93, both in the morning and in the afternoon, with the final Ganapuja at the Terra Delle Dakini Center.
In 1990 Rinpoche returned to Milan on March 31 and held a press conference on Tibet in the early afternoon in the hall of the Leone XIII Institute, via Leone XIII n.12. After the press conference he gave teachings.
In 2016 the Master came to Milan on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s visit on 21 and 22 October and on 23 October he was invited and came to “Dribselling”, the center of the Dzogchen community in Milan. The Ling was established in Milan in 2010. The photos and the video in this account are from 23 October 2016 on that occasion. The Ling in Milan is very active, organizes courses on Yantra Yoga and Vajra Dance and practices in accordance with the phases of the moon and so on. Dribselling is located in via Sibari 15/A, Milan.
Returning to the year 1983, it was very important for the birth of Adzamgar, the second gar in Italy, (now no longer existing), located at 1600m., a lovely place in the high mountains, near a village called Narbonne. Adzamgar was very important for many practitioners and some did long retreats there, including solitary ones. I think it will be useful, in a future article, to tell the story by involving other practitioners who knew this place.
Thank you to Elisabeth Crouzet, who inspired the writing of this chronology, and for her gifts to Dzamling Gar.
Giuliano Angelo Casiraghi