After the reopening and resumption of “face to face” activities at the beginning of June, the summer season at Merigar West was full of courses and events, despite the rules against the spread of Coronavirus limiting the number of participants. For this reason, and to involve those who could not move in this delicate situation, there was an opportunity to participate online in the courses and numerous webcast practices.
In July there were many events related to the Dance of the Vajra, which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary this year. There were weekend courses for beginners and for in-depth studies, and days dedicated to retreats of collective practices and Vajra Dance. In addition an intensive course on the Khalong Dorjei Kar Dance was held in which practitioners at Kunsangar North in Russia were able to participate together with those present in the Gönpa at Merigar. The course which was webcast allowed dance instructors and practitioners to study and dance simultaneously, despite the great distance.
There were many other initiatives, courses and retreats, including the intense training on the Semde practices of the First Level of the Santi Maha Sangha, with significant online participation and the collaboration of Kunsangar South for the Russian translation.
In recent years it has been customary to organize retreats inspired by texts written by our Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. In particular this year, for the practice retreat that began on August 6, we used the indications that the Master left at Merigar for the Easter 1990 retreat in his absence.
As explained in an issue of the Merigar Letter published that year, “… the Master has stressed that most of the practitioners in the Dzogchen Community have received many teachings, not only from him but also from other teachers. He said that what we are missing are not teachings, but practice, in order to make the teachings we have received concrete. So the Master has prepared a detailed program of practices for each day of the retreat.”
The daily program also included many moments of contemplative pauses and reflections, which we found inspiring and appropriate to the present situation.
The first morning thun opened with this reflection:
Observe, look in your Melong with awareness!
What are you lacking?
Is it true that you lack the teacher?
Do you lack the teaching or transmission?
Or are you lacking the practice to realize oneself?
How many teachings have you received?
How many transmissions have you received?
How many practices have you learned?
What is most important in curing an illness, to know the medicine, know the cure or applying the cure?
The second day:
Reflect on the 4 kinds of awareness!
What are the 4 kinds of awareness?
Why are they important?
What is the relationship between oneself and the 4 kinds of awareness? How can one apply these in practice?
The third day:
Observe one’s relationships of the Vajra, between teacher and students, between student and student, with whom we are traveling in the same boat.
Is this rapport important?
If so, why?
Then how is it maintained and collaborative?
What kind of problems manifest in this regard?
And how does one overcome this?
The program is still available here: https://www.merigar.it/site/assets/files/2629/programma_ritiro_6-11_agosto_2020_en.pdf
During the middle of August, some days were dedicated to new people, to introduce them to experiences of meditation, yantra yoga and Vajra Dance guided by various community experts.
Merigar receives many visitors including those interested in following the various meditative paths that we offer, and tourists who come for a walk in the lush nature. In order for visitors to immerse themselves in the particular atmosphere of Merigar there are special days during which volunteers present the main aspects of the Community, the teachings and the buildings. The tours include a visit to the library, where visitors can see the Tibetan texts and listen to explanations on Tibetan writing and culture.
In the second half of August the training course of the eight movements of yantra yoga for instructors began, followed by the training course for Breathe instructors, led by Fabio Andrico. Participation on site was limited to twenty people, but many others were able to take advantage of the online course, with the possibility to also have the translation into Chinese, thanks to the invaluable help of the tireless Vince Li.
The Training for Translators from Tibetan (now in its 18th edition), organized by the School for Tibetan Language and Translation and hosted in the Merigar library, started on August 28 and will continue until September 20. This year the participation is largely online and from all over the globe, despite the difficulties due to different time zones. Students from Argentina, the USA, Australia, Finland, Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK, Russia, Australia, and Hungary are connected in deepening and sharing interest in the Tibetan language as a tool for understanding more fully the teaching, mutually enriching each other thanks to different experiences.
The evolution of the Coronavirus situation does not allow us to organize major events at the moment. The week of the second year since our beloved Master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu left this earthly life will be dedicated to collective practices, both on site and via webcast. The program has been published on the www.merigar.it website, on the page dedicated to courses and events reserved for those who have received teachings from Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. These will be important days to unite the whole community once again in practice.
On our website you can also see some of the many projects we are following. https://www.merigar.it/en/members/donation-for-a-specific-project/
You can find a detailed account of the restoration of our wonderful Gönpa, of which the first part has been concluded. We are developing the project of the second part, which involves the renovation and restoration of the internal and external paintings, with the involvement of experts and consultants.
The Longsal symbol at the entrance to Merigar that welcomes practitioners and visitors has been embellished with a layer of pure gold leaf!
In these days work has begun on the path of awareness, a project started a few years ago and which involves the creation of a meditative / naturalistic path. The work has been delayed due to the emergence of environmental and hydro-geological problems which require in-depth analysis by experts.
Last year some instructors gave weekly experiential Yantra Yoga lessons for children in some of the local schools, and some adult classes for Yantra Yoga and meditation sessions were held at Merigar. This experience, which was very positively received by children and young people, will continue next year, and our offer, in collaboration with ASIA, will also extend to other cities.
Merigar’s accounts are updated on a daily basis and from the control carried out up to June 30, compared with the data relating to 2019, we can say that the economic and financial situation is under control and able to cope with ordinary management and various projects in progress for the current year and, barring serious unforeseen events, also for the year 2021.
The pandemic, with the cancellation of all scheduled events, has resulted in a significant drop in revenue, but also a reduction in direct costs. Thanks also to the 8×1000 contributions received through the Italian Buddhist Union and the constant generous support of members, we are facing the situation in a positive way.
The 2019 budget will be presented as soon as possible to all members of Merigar during the annual meeting which this year has been postponed and which will probably be held in October.