A Very Busy Summer 2023 at Merigar West

As summer draws to a close, even though the extreme weather of recent years makes us think, “you never know,” we are still in mid-September and autumn is approaching.

This has been a very busy summer at Merigar, and numerous events have taken place there.

The staff of Merigar, and the many practitioners who occasionally or continuously help with various activities, have been wonderful. Everyone did their best, and with the classic characteristic of our Community to adapt to circumstances, we managed to do almost everything we set out to do, to the satisfaction of the organizers and the participants.

On June 21 we celebrated World Yoga Day, offering three different events open to everyone, beginners, advanced, and children, attended by many local residents, some of whom regularly take our Yantra classes throughout the year.

On July 23, we opened Merigar for the entire day, offering guided tours and experiences of Yantra Yoga, Kumar Kumari, Vajra Dance, Khaita Joyful Dances and Meditation to our visitors. Favorable weather and expanded communication meant that there was a consistent flow of visitors throughout the day. Merigar, the wonderful place that it is, captivates all who come here. The atmosphere was pleasant and welcoming, and culminated in an aperitif and a concert that followed, held on the outdoor platform by a group of musicians from “Clazz”, high-level professionals, who were in the area for a series of concerts and offered to play at Merigar, happy to integrate into its special dimension.

In August we had two somewhat special events: Yoga Holiday and a mixed seminar introducing all our open activities. Both events were geared primarily to new people, and again we tried to publicize them through channels other than the usual ones. We still have many steps to take in this direction, but some positive feedback gives us hope for the future.

Toward the end of August another very nice concert was held in the Gönpa, by cellist Bernardino Penazzi from the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. 

Over 100 people followed the concert in religious silence, caught up in the notes of Bach and the maestro’s improvisations, from which the deep emotion and joy of being in a place intense and full of the Maestro’s energy shone through.

The dimension of sharing among us practitioners and extended to the territory was very evident in the various proposals for the “Library Talks”. This cultural event, which presents topics with various themes, is very welcome, because it allows us to offer glimpses into very different, enriching and stimulating worlds, which make the cultural life of Amiata and our Community interesting, and which always involves great collaboration. We hope that this formula will continue in the future and give space to new topics that are always welcome by all.

Of course, Merigar’s program is not limited to cultural events and open events to introduce ourselves to new interested people. Our main purpose is to study, practice and deepen the Teachings.

In this sense, in the wake of what we have been doing during the previous months and year, we have continued to offer viewing of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s Dzogchen Teaching retreats, supplemented by guided practice sessions related to them. This summer in particular, alongside the Song of the Vajra retreat, there were alternating practice sessions of the Song of the Vajra, the Dance of the Song of the Vajra and Guru Yoga, integrated with Contemplation practice. This formula was particularly successful and enjoyed by the participants.

In addition to a seminar on the First Level of the Santi Maha Sangha, which was held in presence and on zoom, we offered what seemed to us to be a format that follows the directions given by Yeshi Namkhai during the May retreat; that is, to listen to the Master’s words, and to be helped to understand and practice them by teachers who have studied their meaning in depth and have had concrete experience of them.

In this case I am referring to the seminar on the Rushen of the Longsal, during which, for the first time, excerpts from the Master’s videos were selected, interspersed with explanations by the teachers and practices together. This formula can certainly be improved from a technical point of view, but it seems to us to be very good and was much appreciated by those who attended.

All this took place while the exterior frescoes of the Gönpa were being restored, intense, delicate and demanding work, which extended well beyond the month that had been planned. The result was very beautiful, and can be enjoyed by all who visit Merigar these days, and for, hopefully, many years to come.  The termination of the work was celebrated with a party attended by the painters who were still at Merigar (many others had returned to their homes), the Mayor of Arcidosso, Rosa Namkhai,  local practitioners and guests, during which certificates of participation in this fine and meaningful work were distributed.

We again thank all the painters, the various volunteers who helped in the organization: Migmar Tsering and Dynamic Space; the cooks; the gekos, with their heavy  workload and difficult secondary causes; the entire staff of Merigar, employees and volunteers; and everyone who helped us with their moral support, even if only by forgiving our surely many mistakes.

This is how a family goes ahead, with joys and sorrows, misunderstandings and outpourings of affection, always, however, with the knowledge that in everything we do we try to apply what our Masters have taught us, for our individual and collective development, and to be of help to others, according to our abilities.

Unfortunately, this was also the summer that we had to say goodbye to our dear Igor Legati, a great loss for Merigar and for the whole Community. Igor set us an example throughout his life with his work, which was often not very visible but was constant, precise and punctual. Shang Shung Publications, which now finds itself without one of its key contributors, knows something of this. Igor worked until his last days, carrying out the tasks he was given, and for which he was always able to find help, collaboration, giving space and guiding others. This made it possible for him to translate and publish a great number of texts, which so many of us have today.

We accompanied him during the seven weeks according to Tibetan tradition, but perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he accompanied us….

So many have left us over the years and so many are arriving in the form of wonderful boys and girls and teenagers who open our hearts and make us understand the meaning of what the Master often told us: “Community and Teaching do not end now, but go on for centuries and centuries, for future generations!”

What a joy to be part of this plan!

Merigar Gakyil

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