My Dzogchen Retreat (A Beginner’s Experience)

Since January 2023, a fundamental-systematic online study seminar of the profound teachings of the “Precious Vase” on the basis of Santi Maha Sangha has been taking place twice a week under the direction of Alexander (Sasha) Pubants and in cooperation with Yeshiling/Munich (Germany). After almost 1.5 years of weekly virtual study, the course leader and 7 participants from Austria and Germany met for the first time in Austria for the Dzogchen Pentecost retreat from May 17 to 20, 2024. 
Here is an experience report from a study participant.

My Dzogchen Retreat (A Beginner’s Experience)

For the past 1.5 years, I have been participating in the Santi Maha Sangha Base course online, led by Sasha Pubants. We study the view, meditation, and behavior of the different schools with the goal of approaching the realization that Dzogchen is the essence of all Buddhist practices.

Sasha repeatedly emphasizes the importance of practicing together in person. This opportunity arose for me for the first time when Wolfgang (a course participant) invited us to St. Valentin/Austria.

What I found there exceeded all my expectations. A 17th-century house with a large garden, which has preserved its original charm, and its own spring that flows through the entire property. In the midst of this oasis, not only alpacas, chickens, and cats live. Everywhere you look, there is a feeling of “incredible joy.”

Indescribable is also the moment when you can hug people you only know online. This experience, a mix of unfamiliar and familiar, was shared by a total of 7 participants. Over the course of the 3 days, the unfamiliar gave way completely to the familiar. We practiced Thun, Ganapuja, Practice of the Guardians, practices from Khorde Rushen, and others. Particularly impressive was the practice of Sangchod. The thick, snow-white smoke rose high into the air, and looking back, I’m surprised none of the neighbors called the fire department.

Sasha tirelessly explained the connections, described events with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and drew from the boundless fund of his teachings. Although I never had the good fortune to meet Chögyal Namkhai Norbu in person, he was undeniably present during these 3 days. I was especially pleased that there were also long-time practitioners present. They gave me a feeling of “being carried,” especially when you feel completely uncertain. To use Sasha’s words: “Transmission takes place through the experienced practitioners of the community.” I am very grateful that some of them found their way to St. Valentin and hope that even more will join next year. Whether you are a beginner or advanced, Wolfgang will open the door of his house again next year and invites everyone to practice together. Will you come too?

Written with gratitude by Diana

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