by Mark Alston- Follansbee
All photos courtesy of John Shannon
“It is wonderful to practice with practitioners from all over the globe. It means so much to those of us who live here to have the joy of practicing with you on Khandroling.” – Paula Barry, Yantra Yoga Instructor
Tsegyalgar East’s 3rd Annual Summer Sangha Retreat recently concluded with up to fifty practitioners together on Khandroling, The Land of the Dakinis. With concern and love for our precious Master and his health, we practiced the treasures he has given us all day and into the evening for eight days. While all the teaching and practices were essential, I am left reflecting on the harmony and collaboration among all of the participants. This retreat really felt like the Community Rinpoche has taught us to be.
Organized by the Blue Gakyil’s Miranda Shannon and Nancy Paris with a wonderful complement of qualified teachers, we practiced, danced, listened and studied. The wild – and unpredictable – weather played its part, especially during the full moon Ganapuja in the Vajra Hall when the thunder and lightning surrounded our practice. We were all grateful for the enormous work Community members have done that built our Vajra Hall with its Universal Mandala and kept us safe from the elements. We’re also grateful to be able to drive all the way to the top of the hill and park near the Hall.
“It was wonderful to see so many old friends and meet some new and eager to learn practitioners,” reflected Mariano Gil, one of our Santi Maha Sangha instructors who taught and led practices on the short Tun, Ganapuja, and Guru Yoga, among other practices. “I thought the organization was great and I was able to focus on my courses and also attend fellow instructors dance, yoga and Santi Maha Sangha sessions. This area and this land hold so many memories of teachings and times with our precious Master, it was humbling to participate as an instructor for the first time. Thanks to everyone!” Thank you, Mariano, and to all our excellent instructors.
Nancy and Miranda created a daily program to ensure both new and old students of Rinpoche would have a good retreat. It was an excellent mix of practice and theory every day that kept us all engaged. The Community has many qualified instructors either at the Gar or in New York. To have a qualified Khaita Joyful Dances instructor for the retreat, the organizers brought Alejandra Krasnogar, an instructor in Vajra Dance and Yantra Yoga as well, from Argentina to teach and lead the daily Khaita dancing. Rinpoche would have been happy to see the joy and energy of these practices.
The Vajra Dance was taught and practiced daily under the generous and caring instruction of instructors Bodhi Krause, Carisa O’Kelly and Robert Czabanski from Poland. Bodhi focused on the Dance of the Dimension of Space (12A) and Carisa and Robert on the Dance of the Three Vajras. Bodhi Krause was a founding force in the establishment of these wonderful summer retreats at Khandroling, which he refers to as the Mount Kailash of the Vajra Dance.
Paula Barry, who taught Yantra Yoga and Pranayamas with Naomi Zeitz, said, “It is wonderful to practice with practitioners from all over the globe. It means so much to those of us who live here to have the joy of practicing with you on Khandroling.”
“It was a great inspiration and joy to dance and practice with our Vajra brothers and sisters on our sacred land Khandroling. Truly great to have this profound recurring dream together,” said Michael Katz, a Santi Maha Sangha instructor who taught and led practices including the 25 Spaces of Samantabhadra and the Purification of the Six Lokas.
“I had a wonderful time at this year’s Summer Sangha Retreat at Khandroling, said Brian Harris from Boston. “Community support has been a crucial factor for me in gaining confidence in these teachings. The rich array of practices that Rinpoche has taught us for discovering our real condition and exploring its implications are unparalleled. At times, this very richness has been overwhelming; however, whenever I feel the need to find my bearings, Ati Guruyoga refreshes my view and sets everything in proper perspective.
“I appreciate both the opportunity to deepen my acquaintance with traditional Tibetan wisdom and the invitation to knowingly participate in a reality beyond the limits of space and time. This mode of engagement has enlivened my sense of interdependence, not only with fellow dharma practitioners or humanity but with all sentient beings of the six realms.”
Brian concluded that “for as long as I can remember, my habitual bearing in daily life has been one of reserve, holding back from engagement so as to preempt the risk of being hurt. My pursuit of the paths of transformation and self-liberation has clarified my understanding that there is no way out but through. Rather than treating spirituality as a form of escapism, I have come to realize that the only way to establish myself and all sentient beings in causeless joy is the complete integration of ordinary experience in its natural state. I am deeply grateful to Chögyal Namkhai Norbu for introducing me to this beautiful and authentic vehicle of liberation.”