In April this year the planned retreats and courses at Namgyalgar were suspended due to Government regulations pertaining to the Covid pandemic. Nonetheless ongoing online activities such as collective practices, open and restricted Yantra Yoga and Breathe sessions, and Santi Maha Sanga Base and Level One study online with Arnaud are happening. A Sangha retreat, which was scheduled for late September at the Gar, coinciding with the anniversary of Rinpoche, will now be held online due to ongoing Covid restrictions and border closures in Australia.
Whilst it’s been very quiet at the Gar in terms of retreat activities it has however been busy in other regards as Namgyalgar enters a new phase of evolvement.
New private caretakers have been appointed, an Airbnb is being created, and the Gakyil’s in the process of seeking Council approval to extend the Gar’s original development application and to build a retreat cabin.
Also the Gakyil has used this year also to carry out lots of much needed repairs and maintenance to some roofs, gutters and down pipes, the water pump, swimming pool and the sewerage system, etcetera. As well a new kitchen has been added to the Gekö’s flat, in what was a dressing-room, which will enable the house kitchen to be included in the Airbnb rental.
It was hoped over the past year that someone suitable would manifest from within the Community to fulfil the Gekö position but this didn’t happen so the Gakyil decided to seek private caretakers who could also operate Airbnb at the Gar. Hence in July a couple, Joe and Carol, who are of good character and very well-suited for the role, were appointed. They, along with their teenage daughter, are in the process of moving to the Gar, slightly delayed by border closures, to take up residence in part of the Gar’s house. Remaining areas of the house will be used for Airbnb and by the Dzogchen Community during and in between retreats.
During their first phase of moving to the Gar, Joe did some extensive lawn mowing, brush cutting and began a pine tree eradication program. He also attended to some equipment repairs, and commenced organising the tool shed and preparing a maintenance manual as well as a fire plan for the Gar. Past Gekö, Topgyal, is kindly assisting Joe with passing on some Gar maintenance knowledge and advice.
On the other hand Carol, who has been a trusted Airbnb host for over seven years, is helping to create an Airbnb at Namgyalgar and has prepared a report for the Gakyil to consider. She’s confident that as the Gar is a perfect sanctuary for those wanting to escape to a reflective place nestled in nature, and it’s located in the Glasshouse Mountains where people love sight seeing, the Airbnb will be successful.
In considering the formation of the Airbnb venture the Gakyil is very mindful of maintaining a balance with regard to the Dzogchen Community’s use of the Gar. In so doing four specific times per year will be reserved for retreats and courses during which time Airbnb operations will cease. Any additional community activities will be negotiated outside these four times according to the Airbnb bookings schedule.
Outside the time of retreats, Dzogchen Community members can visit the Gar to use the Gönpa, Dance Mandala, library, bookshop, etcetera, and also to stay overnight or a little longer, by making arrangements in advance with Joe and Carol.
As the Gar’s original Development Application, which allowed for some structures that haven’t been built, will expire on 31 August, the Gakyil has been considering the options. These include either letting the DA lapse and not doing any more development, or applying for an extension and revision of the DA so an outdoor dance mandala or a retreat cabin can be constructed. These options, their implications and the financial aspects were communicated to Namgyalgar members, who were invited to vote on which ones they preferred. The outcome was that the majority of the Gakyil has agreed to apply to extend and revise the DA and build a cabin for personal retreat and sometimes for Airbnb use. Money was kindly donated to lodge an application and special funds reserved in Namgyalgar’s bank account, plus funds being raised from within the Community, will be used to build the cabin. That is, as long as the approval is granted by the Council to do this.
As for the operational costs of the Gar it’s anticipated that the Airbnb, once it’s up and running, will generate sufficient income to cover these.
And so in summary the Gakyil, in consultation with community members, is charting new territory with this brave new unfolding adventure, as a way to try and retain Namgyalgar for as long as is possible while enhancing it with the construction of a cabin so practitioners will be able to undertake personal retreats.