The Evolution of the ‘Merigar Archive’

evolution merigar archive

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu & H.H. Dalai Lama at Merigar in 1990. Courtesy of the Archive.

What is commonly called the ‘Merigar Archive‘ is actually the archive of many of the activities and events that have taken place for over 40 years within the International Dzogchen Community, obviously starting from the most important ones, which are the formal teachings of our Master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. There are more than 400 retreats, some audio only, others audio and video, all digitized and in the process of indexing.

In addition to this fundamental part, which constitutes the ‘private’ archive, there is another, generally much more extensive part, which represents the ‘public’ archive recognized to be of significant importance by the Archival Superintendence of the Tuscany Region, and of which Merigar is responsible and the custodian, not only for members of the Community, but also for Institutions, by virtue of this recognition.

This part includes the Master’s public events, such as lectures, talks, presentations, and informal public moments; the Teaching retreats given at Merigar by other Masters; seminars and lectures by our Community instructors; photos and documents of various kinds, and much more.

This material remains still largely to be digitized and evaluated on the basis of its real importance, in order of priority, for the Community and for a potential external public.

An archive cannot be defined as such when it is a simple ‘collection’ of material. It becomes so only when this material is organized according to criteria that respond to archival logic, which make it easily catalogable, identifiable, and accessible to interested parties according to previously established criteria.

Over the years, the archive has been managed in various ways, with limits basically derived from circumstances that have taken place over time. In any case, we now have a lot of material available, thanks to contributions from the Gars, Lings, and individual practitioners who have documented activities and sent copies to the archive. This happened partly in an organized way, and partly thanks to the care and dedication of individuals.

Over the past two years, thanks to a project in which the Italian Buddhist Union also participated, Merigar has been able to lay solid foundations to implement a structure that fully responds to the characteristics of a perfectly usable archive.

evolution merigar archive

Consecration of the Great Stupa at Merigar in 1998. Courtesy of the archive.

First of all, hardware equipment of adequate capacity was purchased which allowed the archiving of all the material, previously scattered across various hard disks, in a single server. An internal backup was created and one in a physically different place, to increase security levels. The servers are equipped with an uninterruptible power supply and protection systems against adverse events; all this is essential to ensure the conservation of our precious material.

The second step consists, as mentioned above, in the digitization and indexing of all the content. We are moving forward in this direction, starting with the Teachings of the Master, which are extremely valuable to us, and for the next few months we will still have the funds available from Merigar and the UBI related to the specific project.

It is worth noting that the financial commitment for the archive project has so far been around 160,000 euros, of which more than half has been covered by Merigar. This figure allowed for the purchase of equipment, the implementation of software for managing archived files, and the payment of the person who has physically worked on the archive for this project, Mirella D’Angelo, who kindly and diligently provides the material that is required for activities related to our Gars, Lings, and the International Dzogchen Community in general.

All this is to communicate, as perhaps we have not done so sufficiently, what lies behind the management of the archive and what efforts, work, and investments have allowed us to fulfill the requests for material that we receive.

What we are trying to do is digitize and index all the material, and provide a web platform that allows its use at different levels of access. Additional time and investments will be required to complete this work.

Following the dissolution of the Shang Shung Foundation, Merigar has custody of and is responsible for the archive, but the continuation of the work and its availability to a wider audience of interested parties will only be possible with the contribution of the whole Community. We have material of the highest level, in the spiritual, cultural and research fields, which is just waiting to be made available to those who can benefit from it.

We will try to keep you updated on the evolution of this project and future ones and we thank in advance those who would like to collaborate with their financial support, and everyone for their patience and understanding.

The Merigar Gakyil

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