Many people are probably wondering how we are doing at Kunsangar North during this uneasy period for all of us since our center is self-sufficient due to renting the premises to friendly Sanghas. It was actually the first time we have encountered such an experience and after thinking it out and consulting each other we decided to apply everyone’s experiences and ideas and listen to all the proposals.
After summarizing, we took some measures: some of the staff were sent on vacation, the unoccupied dormitories were closed, and the electricity and the heating were shut down. We did not want to part with any of our friendly staff, but we had to reduce all the salaries. All the people involved reacted to these measures with understanding, and some of them took on the responsibilities of those who had to take vacation leave.
Our warm and cozy canteen which also served as a place for the celebration of different events and entertainment — where we watched movies, played music, sang karaoke and held workshops — was closed and we began to serve meals in containers as takeaways. We bought disinfecting lamps and disinfected all the surfaces from time to time. We also drained the pool to save on costs and we don’t use the sauna any more.
I am sure that if all the people who stay in this area were not practitioners and were not able to work with circumstances, they would have begun to panic with such drastic changes! But, having done our best, we relaxed and started to enjoy the situation. We saw some potential, the seed of new activities.
We quickly organized a sewing shop and began to sew masks for our Vajra kin who work with homeless people and collaborate with hospitals. Of course, we don’t run such projects to make money. We make the masks out of fabrics that were intended for Lungta, which is the reason they are very bright and elegant. We also started to have some orders, which brings in some income.
Finally we set up a potter’s studio and conducted charity auctions to support the Gar. We produce completely different and unique pieces. Now we have started to make numerous holders for Namkha and Dadars, sets for Sang, Serkyem, and Ganapuja (a plate and a glass), and the people sewing make beautiful packing bags for them.We also decided to create a vegetable garden in order to provide our canteen with fresh vegetables.
We have around 20 people now on the Gar’s premises — some Gakyil members, employees, volunteers, karma yogis and several people who have been « stuck» here since the pre-quarantine period. All together we have begun to refresh the area, clear the forest, do the space zoning. Everyone has found an occupation after his or her heart — some people take care of the vegetable garden, men saw away dry branches and trees, and one Gakyil member works in the boiler house. In general, there is a lot of work that we do by ourselves.
Of course, we try to use this time to make minor repairs. We would like to give our Gar a new look, wishing that other people find a clean and beautiful place. One of our precious employees has great experience in house painting and plastering and she joyfully took on this job.
Our Santi Maha Sangha instructors support us greatly. They conduct retreats online, many of them refuse to take offerings and all the money goes to support the activities of the Gar. We are immensely grateful to them for this.
There are a lot of practices going on at the Gar online, we constantly dance, everyone does his or her own personal practice, and now the Gar, at the time of great changes, is more than ever a place of practice.
This situation has brought us together even more and we understand that the most important thing for every member of our big Vajra family is to continue supporting our Community and the Teaching for the benefit of all beings.