Merigar West and Assistance for Ukrainians

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In the midst of the organization of events for Losar, which this year could finally be more open and relaxed thanks to the truce that the pandemic seems to have offered us at this moment, came the absurd and unthinkable news of a war in the middle of Europe.

Evidently the rise and spread of Covid more than two years ago has not really taught us that anything can happen in the incessant movement of events, and that our habits, especially mental ones, tend to want to repeat themselves. We struggle to internally accept that things change, and we are always unprepared for changes, especially when they have such impact as a pandemic or a war.

In this case, in addition to the fact of being Europeans, this conflict touches us because it directly affects many of our practitioners, from both sides and neighboring countries, who are suffering and who have to deal with terrible and frightening situations.

Within the Merigar Gakyil we discussed how we could help both our Vajra brothers and sisters, and more generally anyone who needed support in the area. In this situation, emotions and the desire to lend a hand manifested strongly. However, this desire to help had to be accompanied by a concrete evaluation.

First of all we connected via zoom with some Ukrainian practitioners currently at Dzamling Gar, as well as other practitioners from Romania, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Bulgaria, countries that are geographically closest to the Ukrainian borders. Anastasija quickly organized a website through which it was possible for fleeing practitioners to ask for help, receive information on how to enter various countries, the transport situation, offers of hospitality, and so on. Representatives from various countries can respond to these requests, support them and coordinate them. http://helpukrainiansfromdc.tilda.ws/poland-eng

It is a valid and effective tool which lets those in need know that they are not alone, that someone listens to them and tries to do their best to be close to them and give concrete help.

Following a suggestion from Yeshi and Dasha Namkhai, Merigar gathered about 40 yoga mats that we had and brought them to Florence, Italy, where Dasha herself delivered them to the RFK International House Association, which had organized a truck to bring aid directly to the Ukrainian border. The mats had been indicated as a particularly requested and necessary item and not easily available, so it was a fortunate coincidence that we could offer them.

At the same time we made contact with Oksana Snitko, Fabio Tomassoni’s wife, who connected us with two girls, a practitioner who was only a few months pregnant and one of her friends. These two girls have been at Merigar for a few days. We are hosting them and will try to give them all the moral, material, and accompanying help so that they can remain in good health and feel our closeness.

We are also evaluating, together with the International Gakyil, the Gakyil of Dzamling Gar, and ASIA, the concrete possibilities of coordinating our efforts and reaching beyond people in need beyond any type of discrimination, in ways that are legal and in the places where these people are. To do this, it will probably be necessary to rely on one of the large organizations that have the tools and experience to do this professionally. Our goodwill must be able to turn into concrete results.

In all this we are not neglecting the practice, both single and collective, in support of all the people who are suffering from this senseless war. In addition to an intensive 6-hour Ngakong that we held in the Gönpa, we joined the invitation of the Italian Buddhist Union which, on the evening of March 4, organized an hour of collective practice for all 72 member Centers. Merigar offered a practice of Tara, which saw some participate in attendance at Merigar and over 50 other Italian practitioners in a zoom link.

We will continue to practice and organize some concrete help and we count on everyone’s help to do this.

The Merigar West Gakyil.

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