The Power of Practice Online – IDC Kundrolling New York

 

IDC Kundrolling, New York, moved online at the very beginning of the pandemic by starting a Green Tara practice, twice a day. As the U.S. ‘locked down’ for the first time and enormous wildfires moved across the globe, we wanted to practice Rinpoche’s Terma Teaching of Guru Arya Tara, and to recite the 20th action mantra related to contagious diseases. We started out with several members of Dondrubling in California, Tashigar South, Pelzomling in Mexico City, and Kunsangar North, particularly St. Petersburg. Many of us had done the required week of retreat to use action mantras, but many had not. At the suggestion of Johanna Bennett, starting March 16, 2020, we structured a week-long Tara retreat opportunity where practitioners could do one session alone from home in the morning and then join for 2-3 practices together online. At the end of their week of Tara retreat they could therefore join in the action mantra practice which was part of the daily practice. 

The group has been practicing through Zoom twice a day for almost two years, and much like an in-person practice at a local center, the practice is led by people who show up. As a result, any people who did not think of themselves as practice leaders started leading regularly. A core group keeps the fire burning, including Melissa Johnston, Laurel Bellon, Alicia Zuzunaga, Roxana Garcia, Johanna Bennett, Diana and Michael Sullivan, Chris Dye, Foma, and many, many others.

Twice a day the group completes a full practice, reciting the two main mantras, the 20th action mantra for infectious diseases, and 2 other action mantras of their choice, plus the White Tara mantra. We sing the Song of the Vajra, and dedicate the merit to all sentient beings. If there is a Green Tara retreat being webcast from somewhere in the world the group tries to align with and follow it. At points during the two years we have hosted practice chains and multi-day practices of the 21 Praises of Tara. 

Our group is global with regular practitioners not only from IDC Tsegyalgar East, IDC Tsegyalgar West, and IDC Tashigar South, but also IDC Kunsangar and IDC Merigar West. We asked them to comment on their participation in the online group.

A thangka of Green Tara painted by Glen Eddy and property of IDC Kundrolling Yellow Gakyil member Stephen Korns

Melissa Johnston, IDC Tsegyalgar West, California, USA
My first retreat was with Rinpoche in California, and in 40 years in the Community, I had never led a practice. Now I lead almost every day. We practice also with Foma and with Pan from Greece. What I have found from practicing Tara almost 10 times a week (twice a day) since March 2020 is that it is a true path to enlightenment. I have never grown so much before doing this, and with this celestial choir, I found my voice. 

Nanay Valdivia Seibt, IDC Tashigar Sur, IDC Norbuling, Lima, Peru
Since March 2020, the beginning of the confinement, every day confirmed the immense fortune of having us and having received teachings from Rinpoche … I stayed connected daily with the Chöd Group with Steven Landsberg and with Tara at the beginning of the night, from New York, practitioners that I had known and those I met online. Tara’s mantra is the first that I heard in this life when I was very young, and it is one of the first practices that I learned while being part of the community, and knowing the direct connection and history with the Master, she became my great Mother. Tara always gives us the exact thing, what we need. Just like Padmasambava, she is when we call her with certainty, without a doubt. She is within us, she is the energy that manifests Everything … from the Source itself.

Laurel Bellon, IDC Tsegyalgar West, Dondrubling, California, USA
I joined the Tara practice group for several reasons. I had already felt an attraction to the Tara practice, having attended the Praises to Arya Tara retreat with Rinpoche in Merigar, in 2007. I do believe that accumulation of mantras has power, so I thought reciting the mantra of the 20th Tara which protects against epidemics would be the most beneficial thing I could do at this time. It grounds me in the practice, and I have also had a chance to meet so many practitioners worldwide that I ordinarily would not have a chance to meet – it gives me a feeling of connection during a time of intense isolation.

Roxana Garcia, IDC Tashigar Sur
Tara practice helps me in my daily life, as does praying for all sentient beings. The team I feel is very important, like a close family. 

Monica Hernandez, IDC Tsegyalgar West, Dondrubling, California, USA
The daily Arya Tara practice which began in 2020 helped me to break the isolation, the fears and the helplessness. It’s great to practice collectively. Very grateful for the 21 Invocations which I discovered in this practice group. Special thanks to Kundrolling and to Melissa Johnston for keeping the fire of the practice going daily for all of us.

Caroline Hotaling, IDC Tsegyalgar East, IDC Kundrolling, New York, USA
Personally this group helped me stay less afraid during all of the pandemic and also political issues of 2020. I also met and got to know so many practitioners from Dondrubling, from South America, Russia, and elsewhere. I feel much closer to Dondrubling and Tashigar communities as a result. In 2021 I cannot join at the same times, so I switched to a solo daily Tara practice.

Diana and Michael Sullivan, IDC Tsegyalgar East, Wisconsin, USA
Tara and Odser Chenma practice have provided an umbrella while we have been weathering the stormy waves of these times. Meeting and practicing with our vajra brothers and sisters from all over the world has strengthened our sense of sangha. Living outside of larger centers, it’s been wonderful to have access to these shared practices and to be supported by Tara, Odser Chenma and our community.

Irina Romo, IDC Tsegyalgar West, New Mexico, USA
Practicing Tara in a group helped me tremendously to overcome my personal fears and anxiety and to keep me grounded during the challenging time in 2020. I met so many wonderful practitioners all over the world. It helped me feel close to our Dzogchen family. It opened possibilities to other online practices in our community. In 2021 I continued to do Tara practice on my own, but I will gladly join the group again if my schedule permits.

Laura Casinelli, IDC Tsegyalgar East, IDC Kundrolling, New York, USA
Through the regular appointment, the Tara practice not only helped me deepen my knowledge and experience of the practice itself, it also helped me keep a sense of the strength and support of the community in a difficult time. I am very grateful for it.

Laura Welder, IDC Tsegyalgar East, Georgia, USA
The regular Tara practice that started during the pandemic helped me to feel more connected to both the practice and to vajra kin. This was not a practice that I previously felt very connected to, however, it saw (and continues to see) met through both the pandemic and several challenging life transitions. Kudos to those at Kundrolling who have kept this going–it is much appreciated!

Luke Karamol, IDC Tsegyalgar West, Dondrubling, California, USA
The Green Tara practice group facilitated by Kundrolling is/was a gift. I deeply appreciated the opportunity to practice together and connect with others, often daily (in 2020). While we have all received many lungs/transmissions,etc from our Teacher, it was wonderful to practice with others who feel drawn to this practice and attend regularly. For me, the motivation and energy from the practice evokes a heartfelt aspiration for the benefit of all beings. And the opportunity to sing the 21 Praises collectively was particularly important for me. Very grateful to Kundrolling!

Jacopo Surricchio, IDC Tsegyalgar East, IDC Kundrolling, New York, USA
As the Blue Gakyil of Kundrolling for the last 3 years, I feel the Tara practices have become the fire of our local Sangha and the collective umbrella that has protected us in times of Kaliyuga. The group started the input with different devoted practitioners of Arya Tara, like Caroline, Johanna, Michela, Alix, Gleitia, Steve and Fanny, Anjani, Luke, Laura, Liz, Matt, Tara K and Tara F, Dannae, Anna, and many more. During the retreat, the pandemic arrived here in earnest in New York and the US, and we were practicing already online with two Tun daily. Since then, the group has never stopped. For the first six months, we were ensuring to host the practice and to have a leader daily, until we understood that this group was organically becoming a strong and independent daily appointment internationally and nationally of Arya Tara.
I am personally very grateful to have been able to practice the 21 Manifestations of Tara for a very long time, especially with so many devoted vajra brothers and sisters in times of isolation, and to have collaborated to have this group practice. A very special thank you to the many devoted practitioners like Alicia, Melissa, Laurel, Harvey and Rita, Roxana, Nanay, Chris, Johanna, Irina, Wayne, Paula, Foma, Mariano, and many, many others.

Foma Murzin, Kazan Dzogchen Community, Russia
The Kundrolling Zoom Channel was the only channel where Tara’s practice has been conducted every day since the pandemic began. My practice deepened greatly and I felt great protection during this difficult time. My immense gratitude to Caroline and other organizers, as well as all practitioners from different countries, with whom I managed to share the joy of joint practice.

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