A New Beginning for Tashigar Norte

It is with great happiness that we want to share our gratitude to all those who have continued their support for Tashigar Norte, Isla Margarita, Venezuela. Over the past three months we have had the joy of experiencing again what it is like to have our Vajra family participating in the Gar. We are very grateful to all those who have made this new beginning possible, which allows us to look very optimistically at our future. 

A special thank you to Anna Apraksina, Grisha Mokhin, Rita Renzi, Rosemary Friend and Francisca Fuentes for having visited us and restored the joy of sharing a specific Teaching program and making us feel alive again. Thank you Prima Mai for the intention and desire to be with us; we understand the circumstances that prevented your physical coming at the last minute, but you were with us in mind and heart (and by Zoom). 

To the visitors, some who came for the first time and others who were reunited with Margarita’s particular energy, showing understanding and gratitude due to the operative limitations we have, considering the size of the host team. Thank you for the constant recognition. Thanks to those always there, to those who year after year have remained firm in their commitment to supporting the Gar, even without having the possibility of enjoying it in person, specially to Fanny, Valter, Massimo and Ralf for your active participation in promoting this relaunch, and to all those who I did not mention but who are much more, infinite gratitude. I am not going to expand much further, and I will let those who have visited us tell you about their experience in recent weeks.

It is proven that the Gar can host events again without setbacks, that there is a feeling of security, a sense of change and better perspectives. Coming to the end of the season, just a few of us will remain, but with renewed energy and the hope of seeing you all more often and soon. 

Since the Gar still does not have resident instructors, it is not possible to develop a program of permanent activities. Until this condition changes, we will work on in-person programs for short seasons. Most likely from December to March. We will certainly try to organize some online programs (another good news is that our internet passed the test) in the interim. We take this opportunity to invite all those instructors of any of the disciplines linked to transmission who wish to come, to contact us. We can offer you free accommodation for now, and depending on how our fundraising activities go, we can contribute with part of their transportation. But for now it is not possible for us to commit to that part. 

Right now and until March 5th you will have the opportunity to contribute financially to Tashigar Norte through the online auction on CHNN Evolution Creations. Financially at this moment the Gar has a balance of six thousand dollars in its accounts, enough to get to the middle of the year. But there are general operative expenses to cover and restoration projects to execute according to the following list:

General operative expenses                                             US$ 20,000

Restoration and waterproofing of the Gönpa roof            US$   8,000

Partial restoration of the Gönpa floor                               US$    5,000

Additional restoration of the Gönpa floor                         US$    7,000 

(includes layout of the KDK mandala)

Restoration of dining room beams and water tank          US$    1,200

Restoration of the bedroom ceiling                                  US$    1,200

Total estimate                                                                   US$ 42,400

The good news is that an anonymous group of practitioners decided to buy “Casa Diego” in Zaragoza beach for US$ 40,000, to be paid in 4 years. The house was donated back to the Gakyil to be administered as a special place to visit. It will be restored with funds from the same group of donors, and will be available for visits on special occasions when the Gar hosts activities.  So, 10,000 for the current year budget is on its way.

Do your best and participate in the auction to help us to move forward. If you are interested in making a direct contribution, besides the auction, you can  write to us at rolocb76@gmail.com .

Remember that the Gakyil is responsible for half of Tashigar Norte’s general operative expenses. The other half comes from the contribution of the owners of houses and lots within the Gar. The possibility of becoming part of the Village of Tashigar Norte at bargain prices is still open. Visit tashigarnorte.org/houses 

Our last two investors, Massimo Catalfo and Ralf Strehle, in fact, already have legal resident status in the country. They followed the recommendations and suggestions we gave them and have been successful in their procedures.

To the digital nomads of the Community and general IDC members who wish to spend a season at the Gar, a favorable and auspicious place for the practice, with all basic services working, 5 minutes from the Caribbean Sea and with a Gönpa always open a few steps from home, write to us. We can make this easily happen.

With great joy and our deepest gratitude,

We are waiting for you.

The Tashigar Norte Family

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Return from Margarita Island

A bit of history

Almost every practitioner who has followed the Master around the world has been to Margarita Island in Venezuela at least once. The Master loved that island off Caracas and considered it a perfect place for him and his students, a place where he could practice his teachings and also relax by swimming in the turquoise waters of its beautiful beaches.

In 2002 the land that later became Tashigar Norte was purchased. Several practitioners have built beautiful homes here integrated into the surrounding landscape. At the top of the land was built the Master’s house, which enjoys a view of the entire Gar and also a view toward the sea.

In Tashigar Norte, from the early 2000s until 2013 the Master gave wonderful teachings in which many practitioners participated, coming from all parts of the world. In 2002, examinations to become instructors of Santi Maha Sangha, Yantra Yoga and Vajra Dance were held here for the first time. In 2002 many received formal initiation into its Longsal teachings, followed by a 2-week long teaching retreat. Margarita has also been an important place for teachings on the Jnanadakini Gomadevi: in March 2004 for the first time the Master gave instructions for the practice of Gomadevi, and in 2007 the Gomadevi Drubchen was held in the Gar that many will remember. These are just some of the important teachings received by Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche’s students in Tashigar Norte.

In addition to giving wonderful teachings, the Master relaxed by often going to Zarogoza Beach to swim, followed by a large number of practitioners who enjoyed the beautiful sea with him. We would go offshore, swimming slowly, then at a reasonable distance from the shore, sing the Song of the Vajra  together, relaxed and suspended between sea and sky. The Master also invented games for us to play in the water, such as the “liberation” or “Shariputra” game.

Teaching, practice and relaxation have always been the soul of Tashigar Norte, and I believe all the fortunate students who came to the island during those years enjoyed all this richness and abundance.

Unfortunately, in recent years the economic and political situation in Venezuela has plummeted, making it increasingly difficult to travel to Margarita Island. The last time the Master held a retreat in Tashigar Norte was in 2013, and slowly the Gar emptied out and remained silent for a long time.
However, amidst many difficulties, it was kept active and functioning as much as possible, thanks to the immense work carried out by the few remaining residents, especially Rolo and Marina who with great dedication and facing the difficulties with fortitude, kept “the fort” for all of us, so that in the future practitioners could return to enjoy this beautiful Gar.

And so it was….

Return to Margarita

Circumstances for an active return to Margarita seemed favorable in 2024, the 20-year anniversary when the Master first gave Gomadevi teaching and practice. The general situation on the Island had improved and a trip no longer seemed so impossible.

Talking with Fanny Santos Landsberg in March 2023 in Tenerife, it was thought that a program with Gomadevi Dance classes and practice might be of interest to several people willing to travel and reconnect with Gar and the Island. And so, as soon as the communication of a draft program was made public, the response was immediately positive and full of enthusiasm.

More people joined in by proposing additional practice meetings. In December and January, Grisha Mokhin and Anna Apraksina held practice retreats and classes on Santi Maha Sangha and Dance. In February, a group of about 25 people in attendance and others online were present to learn the Khalong Dance, connected via zoom with Prima Mai, who unfortunately for health reasons and with great regret was unable to come. Following and in conjunction with Losar until February 24, Gomadevi was practiced in both the long and short versions, supplementing them with the Dance of the Song of the Vajra.

A practice session was then devoted to the Master in his beautiful home, where his presence is still very much alive.

As he taught us, it is also important to relax, and we were spoiled for choice among the different beaches, all beautiful and rather empty. Long beaches to walk, crystal clear sea to swim in. A wonder. Lunches together, bagchen games and the pleasure of sharing made the stay a real joy.

The experience exceeded expectations, and I think all participants in this “reunion” felt strongly the connection between us. It was a meeting under the banner of harmony and collaboration, a pure Mandala at the center of which the presence of our Master is always strong and current. He is always our center, our inspiration and our guide.

I can only advise everyone to return to the Isla bonita, to our precious Gar, to help as much as possible to keep alive this gem, “Margarita,”  which I am sure has remained in the hearts of all who have known it. For those who have never been there, a good trip if circumstances permit, is recommended. You will be welcomed with kindness and loving care. Important: there is now very good Internet connection at the Gar, which can be further implemented if needed. For those who live in Tenerife, there is a direct flight to Caracas that leaves once a week from Tenerife North. Other possible flights are from Madrid, Lisbon, Istanbul, Russia and South American countries.

For those who would like to help Gar, there is an auction going on with several pieces of jewelry created by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. Here is the link: https://www.tashigarnorte.org/category/auctions

Rita Renzi

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These lines are a small tribute to the great richness that my stay at Tashigar Norte has given me.
After more than a decade and many hours of flying, the warm wind that stirs the palm leaves and lifts the dust that softens the contours welcomes me again to Porlamar airport. Recalled by the course for the Dance of Space of the Song of the Vajra and the call of Tashigar Norte, it was easy to fit into the organization of Prima Mai and Rita Renzi, whom I thank so much. Returning together. 
Behind us the weight of a daily routine burdened by anxieties of war that multiply and grow with their oppressive trail of pain, the unspeakable heartbreak of an ongoing genocide, family concerns.
I enter the wonder of the Gar’s suspended but not distracted time, the calm rhythm of the Dance class, alternating with joyous fleeting group sorties to the island’s beaches, the sea. The cormorants plunging into the deep. The little restaurants. The little girls selling purses and handbags made from bolivares of various denominations, the suffering of an economy at its lowest ebb. Children playing ball, some of us with them. Together.
Community, practitioners returning together to Tashigar Norte. A non-competitive race of welcoming and sharing, soup for those arriving, farewell dinner for those leaving. Losar at the comedor and the sharing of gifts. Practices. The Master’s house.
Different emotions and sensations come and go, as is normal. An intimate confrontation with the self, without drama. The beauty of many moments and quiet fullness as a constant. Some thoughts of the past, but without the mist of nostalgia, the images are clear and bright, like the faceted crystal ball that the Gakyil wanted to give us, as well as the careful organization.
On return, that right distance from the everyday that allows one to see and experience it without being overwhelmed by it, without giving in to repetitive automatism. An extra opening in the heart, a glimpse of blue sky and the furious, hot Lent wind of Tashigar.

Flavia Lepre

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 “Tashigar Norte, in Margarita Island, Venezuela has reopened after 10 years”. These were the words of Vajra Sister Janina Leon, it sounded like the Lion’s roar, a turning of the Wheel of Dharma, it was a call to go there and practice, learn, be present, celebrate  Losar, the year of the Wood Dragon with transformation, action, new beginnings, dance with life and let magic happen.

When our teacher talked about “magic” he did it in special ways and I felt with clarity that our teacher’s energy was inviting us to join this very auspicious occasion. There is a picture of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu that says: “I am with you in every moment. The question is: Are you aware of it?” 

So, I realized I had to do everything possible to attend our teacher’s call. The Vajra Dance of Space of the Song of the Vajra, Khalongdorjeikar, was going to be taught in Tashigar Norte with the joyous presence and collaboration of instructors and a group of practitioners. Everything was ready, inner energy moving towards the teachings.

This precious dance is practiced on a Mandala known as Khalong which had to be carefully drawn by a team of practitioners that worked with the circumstances and had it ready for the course, they just made it happen. What a wonderful team! And our Vajra sisters and brothers that stayed all these years at the gar sustaining it and standing there as real warriors with the unconditional help of local people that always respected and cherished our teacher. 

In Tashigar Norte the Gönpa is such a powerful place, vibrant and peaceful. We also did the practice of Gomadevi and dance the Song of the Vajra. The Mandala is so inviting you can dance anytime and in this sacred space, reconnect. I am so grateful for the supreme teachings.

I also feel very lucky for this expedition to Margarita Island and experience its beauty. The wind keeps your senses very open. The joy of swimming in the Caribbean remembering how our teacher liked to sing and moved his hands clapping the sea. His presence is everywhere, the five elements always present. 

Thanks, from my heart, to Prima Mai, Rita, Rosemary, Marina, Tanya, Rolo, Douglas. Supreme benefits were received through your work, and the collaboration and participation of many other Vajra sisters and brothers.

And, first of all, so infinitely grateful for your Teachings, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.

Marta Lopez Astrain

 

 

 

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