Merigar East – A Summer Beyond Hope and Fear

Merigar East News Update

Merigar East is a perfect place to observe our mental processes related to hope and fear. As the winter sky closes up and becomes more and more grey, fear starts to insinuate itself about the future of the Gar and its community. When it’s windy and dark, the Gar’s characteristic feeling of isolation makes us think that the world has forgotten us. At those times, we keep busy with bureaucratic activities to stay legal and in fundraising to pay the bills. These routine activities keep our days full and our minds regular (more or less). 

Nonetheless, around the month of May, when the lilac flowers explode and the grass grows up to the knees, we start hoping. We daydream about the three mandalas full of Vajra dancers, about the sounds of Chöd practice filling up the evening soundscape and about future couples falling in love here while doing karma yoga. Trust us, it is not just imagination: we, the Gakyil members, all met our other halves and fell in love here. 

We involved other people in our daydreaming: instructors and community members close to us. So here is the result. What we have prepared for adventurers to the East lies below. 

Gönpa renovation

Thanks to Migmar Tsering and Oliver Leick’s ceaseless encouragement and some exceptionally generous donors we’ve passed the point of no return in Renovating our Gönpa.
The works auspiciously started on the anniversary of Buddhas birth, attainment of enlightenment, and Parinirvana. Under the coordination of our Geko, the workers have insulated the building’s walls from rising ground humidity, repaired the damage to the walls, painted the outer part of the wooden ceiling, and coated the façade with a new silicate plaster. In other words, we have cut off the walls to get rid of mould and salt stains while giving it a new, improved outer coat to resist the elements for many years to come.
The next phase will take part from 25th July to the 17th of August. It will consist of decorative paintings inside and outside, with Tibetan motifs, under the coordination of Migmar Tsering.
We are looking for artists & volunteers!
We already have seven artists who have registered to decorate the Gönpa, and who wish to learn about Tibetan art from Migmar. We need you, too! If you are skilled in painting or willing to support the works by cooking, cleaning and practicing together, you are welcome! Apply by sending us an email and telling us about your motivation.
If you are not coming, you can still help! We need to cover the costs for the travel and stay of the volunteers. Please donate!

General Assembly on the 17th of July

We are a community. Merigar East, like other places of the Dzogchen Community, is a project that counts on voluntary work for its regular maintenance. With the diminishing numbers of members and somewhat difficult travel circumstances over the past years, we have to figure out a way of sustaining our Gar. What will be the direction to take? Should we commercialize our activities more or try to access public funding? How will we manage the difficult issue of human resources, if the voluntary work of members is less available? How can we become more useful to our members and to the teachings?
These are the questions we are compelled to answer. We also wish to be fully transparent in the decisions and investments we make. For this, we need you to participate, to raise your opinions, to share your vision. We need a little bit of your precious time.
We are happy to say that we have received encouragement from Rosa Namkhai to continue our work and be creative. Moreover, The Namkhai family has donated Rinpoche’s house in the village, as a means to generate extra income for the association. Join us in the General Assembly to be part of this process!

Courses and practice

We will start the summer with one of the high points of the program: a pranayama workshop with Fabio Andrico, between the 23rd and the 26th of June. It is not so often that the pranayamas of Yantra Yoga are thoroughly explained by the main instructors. Such occasions are very precious for experienced practitioners and instructors, as they can take our practice to the next level, enhance our motivation and eliminate doubts. The course will also be transmitted online.

Then we continue with Zoli Cser, among Yantra Yoga lovers: five days for five Yantra Yoga series. It will take place between the 1st and the 5th of July. It will be an intensive retreat where we can practice the whole day and develop our knowledge and capacity. This retreat will also be both online and offline.

Next, from the 6th to the 10th of July, the Sangha and some new guests will be at the Gar in person, in a retreat incorporating various Dzogchen practices such as Yantra Yoga, Vajra Dance, Shiné, and Chöd. The retreat will be guided by Zoli Cser. People from our Sangha have already registered to be here so we have reasons to believe that at least a couple of mandalas will be full of dancers! We will practice from early morning to the evening and continue as much as we can in the state of contemplation.

After a short break, we start painting the murals of the Gönpa, on the 25th of July. Migmar will travel from Italy with a few art students and will join the Romanian artist volunteers in the mural painting and cultural exchange summer camp. On the 30th and 31st of July, he will give a course on The Four Methods of Development, dedicated to those who have received transmission. Furthermore, on the 6th and 7th of August, he will teach a public course on Sa-Che (Tibetan geomancy) or on the Mandala of the Elements (we still have to decide).

On the 8th of August we start one week of teachings and practice to enhance the merit generated through the Gönpa Renovation. Oliver Leick will introduce participants to meditation, discriminating wisdom and meditative stability. These topics are of great interest to Santi Maha Sangha practitioners and such occasions to apply them together are very precious. But the novelty is that this retreat will be open to all, old and new practitioners. 

Indeed, we are opening up almost all of our activities, aiming to bridge the gap between “community” and “the outside world”, a distinction that, at this point in Dzogchen Community’s life, is risking to paralyze us. The formula we have planned so far is to hold mixed retreats, in which morning and evening (or other specific time slots) will be dedicated to those practices that require transmission, while the rest will be open to all. 

So, why should you visit?

Well, we were hoping that the previous points would be enough to convince you. But if you are still “remaining in doubt” whether to come here or not, let us give you some more reasons. The Gar’s life is real community life: we cook and eat together, we practice the whole day, share the work and the holiday joys. The Gar is accessible and friendly for families and children, has a strong ecological imprint and provides “spontaneous pet therapy”. 

We have many options and comfort levels for hosting you within the Gar’s premises or in the village, at very accessible prices. We value DC member’s contribution in supporting the Gar and offer them a further 50% discount on accommodation (that means 6 euro in the dorm, 4 euro in the camping). The camping remains one of the cheapest and most entertaining options we know. It offers cooking facilities, toilets, showers and is as close as you can get to the Gönpa.  

If you decide to invest a consistent part of your holiday to help (we require a minimum of 6 hours a day), then you are hosted for free (as a karma yogi/volunteer) and/or are offered 300 euro (as work exchange). We mention that in this latter case, it would be best to send us an application so we can agree before to your stay. 

And, well, last but not least…we enjoy the seaside! 

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