The Principle of the Gakyil System

During the Annual General Meeting of the Merigar West Sangha at the Gonpa on August 18, 2015, before forming a new gakyil, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu spoke about the function of the gakyil. The election of each gakyil is different and Merigar West has gone from a nine-person gakyil to one with three people. For the coming year, several candidates had offered their help and the decision was made to form a six person gakyil with two members for each colour. 

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

First of all I would like to thank this gakyil for doing a good job. Then there is something important that we should all know when we talk about the Dzogchen Community: it is not only an organization related to our limited society but is fundamentally related to the Dzogchen teaching, otherwise we don’t need the Dzogchen Community. In our society we have plenty of different kinds of organizations. We shouldn’t forget that. It is fundamental.

Then we should know what we have to do when we talk about the gakyil. The gakyil is not a tradition. Before the Dzogchen Community [existed] there was nothing called ‘gakyil’ anywhere. We created the gakyil in order not to become too much of a social entity. According to the teaching every individual has body voice and mind. When these three aspects are joined, there is a person who functions. In relation to this we set up the gakyil system that would not be bureaucratic or hierarchical. Those who wish to enter to gakyil should know what the principle of the gakyil is and what they should do.

Many people think that [when] they are gakyil members that they ‘own’ this potentiality, as if they were governing the Dzogchen Community. Those who have that type of idea shouldn’t be in the gakyil. When you are in the gakyil you shouldn’t create any type of personal position otherwise you cannot be in the gakyil. Everyone should remember this. We have to continue like this if the Dzogchen Community exists. When there is no Dzogchen Community then we won’t need a gakyil. We can live quietly in our society. But since we live in a limited society, in a country with its system, even though we are Dzogchen practitioners, we have to relate to this in order to deal with it. This is something I always tell you.

So try to form a gakyil with the elements that are necessary… Perhaps the old gakyil know the people [who were presented] because I don’t really know all of them so I cannot judge anything.

Every now and then we do some kind of voting. This type of limited system is fine in our society, but if we go to the meaning of the teaching, this is not the principle. Many people vote without knowing anything, simply based on whether or not they like someone, for example. How can it correspond? Before you put up your hands [to vote], you should think a little. We should observe ourselves and do our best. I cannot judge [the candidates]. I’m a Dzogchen teacher but I’m not the boss of the organizers. The organization should do what it needs to do, working with and understanding the circumstances. You should understand how to form this new gakyil so try to do your best.

It is very important that people really collaborate with the gakyil. If someone joins the gakyil and creates trouble and makes problems, we don’t want this. As I said before if someone wants to put their personality and their ideas into their position on the gakyil, that is not fine. If a person is ready to work, to collaborate, create something and do something positive for the Community, we need this. So it is very easy to choose people [for the gakyil].

Transcribed and edited by Liz Granger


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