How I Met Chögyal Namkhai Norbu by Nicola Rinaudo


Nicola Rinaudo

January 16, 2024 Dzamling Gar

“If we want everything to remain as it is, it will be necessary for everything to change.” Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Italian writer, nobleman, and Prince of Lampedusa

I was born Trapani, Sicily, which for me was not a nice place to stay,  but it’s a very nice place to visit. “If we want everything to remain as it is, it will be necessary for everything to change,” said Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.  It was not a good place for me. I was 18 years old when my family moved to Florence. We moved to Florence because my father became the top official of infrastructure in Florence.  I liked Florence much more.

When I was 19 years old I started studying Jungian psychology at the University in Florence, Italy, and I was an assistant to the professor. When I was around 24 or 25 years old I started to work as a psychotherapist. Also I started to study western esotericism, like the Free Masons, and parapsychology when I was around 26.

There was an old woman, astrologer, a very good friend of mine and we would speak often. One day she told me there was a Tibetan master developing a new community close to Siena in Arcidosso, and she said I should come. As I was very disappointed in western esotericism, I told her I didn’t want any more Masters, I stopped with the Masters.

But her invitation stayed in my mind and the first retreat in Merigar was going to start a few days before my birthday in June, [I turned 29] and I went to Merigar. When I arrived I saw a group of 20 people full of mud because it had rained the night before. They did not make a good impression. I saw one man dressed similar to North American Indians. There was one man wearing glasses so I thought, oh if he wears glasses maybe he can read a book. This man was Mario Maglietti. (ed .old student of Rinpoche who passed away on February 02, 1999) So I asked Mario about the man who looked like a Native American, I asked if he was a student of this Master, and Mario said, “This man is the Master.”

I stayed for the retreat, and there was a lot of heavy work and the teachings. There was also the practice of chöd. I did not know the chöd so I read the small book about it. I saw that you had to put everything in the cabala and I said to myself, this is black magic so it’s better I go. In 5 days I left 3 times. I would go 10 or 15 kilometers and then I thought there should be something more and I came back. So I stayed all summer until I went back to work in university in autumn. In Merigar I was safe.

This first retreat at Merigar was outside, only the Master slept inside in very simple conditions. At that time the idea of the community started to get fixed in our minds. I went back to Florence after the summer where I had a private practice, I worked in the university some times and also at a psychiatric hospital. I did this work for 7 or 8 years.

I also had a very big blessing in 1983 when there was a Tibetan Medicine conference in Venice and Merigar, and Trogawa Rinpoche was staying at Merigar. I was lucky to be sick and was sleeping in the room with Rinpoche and Trogawa Rinpoche and they were treating me, giving me precious pills and medicine and massage. I could not eat for 10 days, only tea, then tea with butter and then tea with butter and salt. I also did service for them in the room, cleaning, etc. I remember there was one window in the room near where Rinpoche was sleeping and Rinpoche called me and said, “Nicola, come here” and I stood at the window and Rinpoche said, “Look how beautiful” and I had seen that view many times but this time it was especially wonderful. That window is not there anymore.

In the evenings Rinpoche and Trogawa would play bagchen.

Another memory I have is when I was massaging Rinpoche at a retreat in Spain, I was reticent to massage his head, but the type of massage I was doing started at the head, but I did not want to massage his head so I started at his feet, and Rinpoche said to me, “Is the head more sacred than the feet?”

Now I am living around Dzamling Gar. In the beginning I thought it was not really a Gar as a Rinpoche envisioned, but now I see Dzamling Gar is like one deep sun, where Rinpoche put the vase under the Gönpa, that makes the whole Community warm. We can have a lot of ego problems, but everything is warmed by this deep sun and makes a community. This is the clear sensation now. This happened inside of me and does not depend on the behavior of the people.

So now I am more or less happy here, it is a strange happiness, like a small fire. Sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller, but it includes everything. The idea of the Community depends on how open we are. It is important that we learn from each other. The Community is not a tree or a house, this is just an excuse to develop ourselves. In 10 years the house is still a house, but the people living in the house are evolving.

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