There was much joy and laughter as Rinpoche arrived to spend a month at Namgyal Gar North in the Glasshouse Mountains in Queensland, Australia.
Fresh off the plane and Khaita sessions were in full swing, filling the valley with Tibetan songs and Rinpoche’s amusement at our well-intentioned attempts to learn the dance steps. ‘Khaita is a practice in being present’ Rinpoche reminded us as we tried again, overcoming our self-consciousness and diving in, left feet and all. ‘Better’ he remarked with a smile, and then, ‘now repeat!‘ And so we did —on into the night.
Soon all the participants began to arrive for our six day retreat and the Gar was alive with smiles, hugs and greetings as old vajra friends (from all parts of Australia and as far afield as Europe, New Zealand and Israel) caught up on news and newcomers were welcomed into the fold. There was fabulous catering by a local company as well as our own cafe run by Cairns volunteers to raise money for the development of a community building on the Gar. Work will begin soon on the both the building and seven retreat units which Dzogchen members can purchase usage rights to on a long-term basis. You can read more about it here.
The teachings began as Rinpoche introduced us to the Rigpai Khujug, the famous text translated by Vairocana, considered one of the earliest Dzogchen teachings from Tibet. In spring the song of the cuckoo heralds the growth of all trees and plants upon which all humans and animals depend for their existence. So too the Dzogchen teachings with its principle of discovering true nature of mind, offer spiritual sustenance to all sentient beings.
On the first day Rinpoche gave a brilliant explanation of Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen, which, if you thought you had heard before, felt like you were hearing it for the first time. Then each day with clarity and wisdom, our Master explained how the six verses of the Rigpai Khujug give an understanding of the Dzogchen base, path and fruit.
Illustrating the teachings with stories, examples from daily life and his dreams, Rinpoche stressed the importance of practicing Ati Guru Yoga and being present in daily life. ‘ If my students only did this I would be very happy,’ he said. ‘ There’s no need to go after complicated practices, going in the essence is most important.’
The days passed quickly with other activities like the AGM, a Community meeting, a walk around the land, instruction for newcomers and of course, each evening, Khaita.
We were also lucky to benefit from the teachers travelling with Rinpoche, Laura Evangelisti and Adriana dal Borgo, who were conducting courses before and after the retreat: Vajra Dance teacher training, Yantra Yoga teacher training and Kumar Kumari.
A lottery and auction on the last night raised around $50,000 AUD, which will go towards the building development projects. Namgyalgar North still has a lot of fundraising ahead and hopes to have Stage One completed before Rinpoche’s return in November 2015.
After I arrive home I transfer some quotes I jotted down from Rinpoche’s recent teachings to post it notes for my computer screen: “Dzogchen principle is not believing, but discovering. The past is past, don’t think too much about the future, relax and enjoy your life, Dzogchen is for living now. Attachment is the cause of fear. Any movement is yantra. Anything you do without attachment is practice. When you are being present you have no problem, everything is perfect.”
Thanks to all those hardworking folk who made the retreat a reality and thank you Rinpoche, yet again, for traveling so far to bring the precious Dzogchen teachings to us.
See you next year!
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