Wrapping up this year’s projects and expanding our reach
The end of the year is a moment of reflection, and the long autumn allowed us to take a more distanced perspective over what we have achieved and which spaces are left open. While throwing one piece of wood after another into the fireplace, it is the time to plan new adventures in this wild Gar’s wonderland.
The Gönpa Renovation project overview
The summer seems long gone and the Gönpa Renovation project was definitely the best moment for receiving the gift of our Community’s presence. Now we are counting its result.
Below you’ll find a brief financial summary of this year’s Gönpa Renovation project. For those of you who somehow missed it, it is the Gar’s main endeavor for 2022 and 2023, focusing on repairing and decorating the temple, making it a truly special place both for practice and as a unique point of interest for casual visitors from all around. The first phase of the project, in May, was dealing with structural repairs and changes – cutting off the buildings walls, replacing the northern entrance door with two windows, a new tile plinth around the building, new silicate plaster and more. The second phase, in July and August, evolved around exterior and interior decorative paintings on the Gönpa and the renewal of the central Vajra Dance mandala.
The first donation we received for the renovation was from Migmar and Cecilia from Dynamic Space of the Elements back in 2021. They kindly offered the entirety of the proceedings of their course on Drawing the Mandala of your Elements, and below it constitutes the cash donations.
Once we started the online fundraising we were happy to receive a continuous flow of donations. Among many generous contributions we wish to thank particularly our main sponsors – Libor Maly and Oliver Leick/Yeselling, for their lavish gifts of €31,800 and €9,000, respectively. To fill up the pot even more, our gakyil decided to also dedicate the proceedings of our annual Lungta Laboratory to the project, as our own contribution to the financing of the project.
Looking at the expenses we can see that the overall cost of both phases was pretty much the same. In the first phase of the project, most of the tasks were outsourced, whereas the second phase was a volunteering workshop. In the first phase, of reconstruction and repair of the walls, the material expenses were the KEIM plaster and paints and the two new windows, while the cost of the company that did the work was €7,173.40. For the decorating part, there’s clearly a big chunk of operational costs. Among the biggest of them were travel, food and accommodation expenses for the approx. 30 volunteers and the scaffolding rentals.
The good news here is clearly that, with your precious help, so far we have managed to accomplish what we set out to do. Overall, the actual costs were what we projected in the beginning of the fundraising. Just as importantly, there were no accidents or major incidents and our impression was that all participants left tired but happy, joyful and rich in experience!
On the downside, the Gönpa Renovation was indeed made possible largely by the generosity of two individuals, which indicates that there’s room for future improvement of our fundraising. Also, despite our strong wish to do so, we did not manage to acquire any ‘non-community’ funds, be it at a national or European level. Reflecting on the reason why, we’re coming back to the common pain points within the IDC centers these days. We are lacking personnel, lacking relevant commercial or financial skills and have difficulty in meaningfully connecting our activities and goals to the world outside the Community.
Gonpa Renovation 2023: Painting the Ceiling
As you probably know, this extraordinary project continues in 2023, where we will focus on finalizing the interior ceiling decoration. We agreed on a provisional cost estimate of €20,000, and should therefore be covered by this year’s surplus. However, due to the economic reality and overall steep price growth, it is not easy to establish a reliable budget and your generosity in the form of donations is always welcome.
Furthermore, we’d like to do our best to draw in more young art students, particularly from Romania, Bulgaria and central Europe. Since, unfortunately, our team is not growing any bigger, we’ll need ad hoc help with promoting the workshop well and also, if successful, for trying to tap into whatever public funding is available. Please join us in this unique project! Support it by giving us your time and precious skills, as karma yoga or work exchange, throughout the year!
Living with Awareness: growing our capacity to reach the public
Between October and December 2022, we hosted a unique course, representing a comprehensive and Dzogchen-specific introduction to the teachings, for the general public.
Meditation is an important tool for anyone to cultivate mindfulness, for self-discovery, for understanding what is happening to us and for learning how to live a harmonious, responsible and joyful life. This process of self-discovery through meditation begins by developing our natural faculties to be present and aware of all aspects of our existence: body, breath (voice) and mind.
Over the course of 8 modules (16 hours), starting on the 16th of October 2022, we had the chance to explore these topics in depth, under the guidance of experienced and well-known teachers in the Dzogchen community: Monica Gentile, Gabriella Schneider, Adriana Dal Borgo and Fabio Andrico.
Starting with the material body, we experienced some valuable exercises to develop this capacity to be present in the present under Monica’s guidance. Breath dynamics with Fabio worked with posture and perception as tools for more coordinated breathing and a less distracted and clearer mind.
Gabriella introduced us to mindfulness practice, training us to recognize patterns of thought, with exercises based on turning inward and observing our minds without being conditioned by impulses and following them instinctively, but acting with awareness of circumstances.
Since our whole life is in motion, we have learned how to be present and relaxed not only when we sit in meditation, but also when we move and come into contact with everything around us through Adriana, who introduced us to the magic of Vajra Dance through which body, breath and mind become more harmonized.
This course was a valuable opportunity to deepen the topics while receiving guidance from our teachers through practical exercises, discussion and direct interaction and to connect all this richness to our daily lives, living more relaxed, yet more present and aware.
It also represents a model of a comprehensive and introductory course for the public, in a way that people who are interested in Dzogchen but have not received transmission can really have a taste of the practices which form Rinpoche’s heritage. This model can be reproduced in other contexts, with translations and be transformed in a standard educational package that our instructors can offer to introduce people to the basics of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s teachings.
We need you!
Our activities are striving because of over-the-top effort from less than a handful of people. We easily get exhausted because of the amount of work that is needed to keep a big Gar running. We need human help. If it is difficult for you to travel here, you can do things at a distance: you can be project manager to our Lungta Factory, help us decide, project and install solar panels, do manual work for the preparation of the flags (cutting, sewing), prepare promotional material (video editing, website programming), organize online retreats. Please apply for supporting the Gakyil in Merigar East, by writing to our contact address firstname.lastname@example.org.